Last week, the United States’ National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States issued its final report. We appreciate the 9-11 Commission’s hard work over the past 20 months, as well as the time spent by the Commission’s staff in Saudi Arabia and with Saudi officials. They have produced a serious and comprehensive report, and we welcome their findings.
[See press release: Facts about Saudi Arabia in 9-11 Commission Report]
The 9-11 Commission has put to rest the false accusations that have cast fear and doubt over Saudi Arabia. For too long, Saudi Arabia stood morbidly accused of funding and supporting terrorism. In contrast to the insinuations of the infamous Congressional report, with its 28 redacted pages, which aimed at perpetuating these myths instead of investigating them seriously, now there are clear findings by an independent commission that separate fact from fiction.
The 9-11 Commission has confirmed that there is no evidence that the government of Saudi Arabia supported or funded Al-Qaeda. According to the report “…we have found no evidence that the Saudi government as an institution or senior Saudi officials individually funded the organization.”
The falsehoods that were disseminated about the flights that carried some Saudis after 9-11 when American airports and airspace were closed were shown by the report for what they were: at best a figment of the imagination, and at worst an intent to incriminate. The Commission found that these flights were handled professionally, and “they concluded that none of the passengers was connected to the 9/11 attacks and have since found no evidence to change that conclusion.”
The 9-11 Commission goes further to highlight the fact that the Saudi government was pursuing Bin Laden prior to the attacks on the United States. The report refers to the Kingdom’s success in disrupting Bin Laden cells in Saudi Arabia “that were planning to attack U.S. forces with shoulder-fired missiles.”
We are pleased with the report and we feel vindicated. We also hope that the “Saudi bashing” will now come to an end as people acknowledge the true facts about terrorist activity and our determined efforts to combat it. Today, the government and the people of Saudi Arabia are engaged in a determined and deadly battle with Al-Qaeda forces. This is a battle that we cannot and will not lose, God willing. But to succeed, we need encouragement, not recrimination; we need partners, not prejudice; and we need cooperation, not condemnation.
For too long, almost any rumor about Saudi Arabia was accepted as truth and a rush to judgment ensued. What the pundits and constant critics of Saudi Arabia may not realize is that the image of Saudi Arabia they tried to impress on the American psyche is in line with what the terrorists themselves wanted to accomplish. And both pundits and terrorists, through their actions, intended to sever ties between our two countries and peoples.
But now is the time to put the hyperbole behind us and join hands to build a better future. There is much work to be done to restore U.S./Saudi relations to the basis of friendship and trust that existed in years past, and which both countries recognize as critical to national and international interests. We welcome the Commission’s call for a reassessment of our relationship. Together, we need to strengthen the pillars upon which the Saudi-American relationship rests. Our relationship is built upon goals for global energy security, combating terrorism, the stabilization of Iraq, regional peace and security, and extensive trade and investment. Each of these areas is of great importance and directly impacts the economic well-being and security of both countries. And in each of these areas, there is much work to be done to broaden and deepen ties between us to herald a new era in our relationship.