Clinton knew Saudi Arabia, Qatar provide ‘clandestine’ support to ISIS – WikiLeaks
Emails published by Wikileaks between Hillary Clinton and her presidential campaign chairman John Podesta pull back the curtain on the fight against Islamic State. One reveals the presidential candidate identifying Saudi Arabia and Qatar as "financial and logistic" supporters of the terrorist group.
Contrary to Qatar and Saudi Arabia’s assurances that they do not support Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), Hillary Clinton apparently believes that they are in fact providing “clandestine financial and logistic support to IS and other radical Sunni groups in the region,” according to an August 17, 2014 email released by WikiLeaks on Monday.
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“While this military/para-military operation is moving forward, we need to use our diplomatic and more traditional intelligence assets to bring pressure on the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which are providing clandestine financial and logistic support to ISIL and other radical Sunni groups in the region,” she wrote to Podesta.
“This effort will be enhanced by the stepped up commitment in the KRG [Kurdish Regional Government]. The Qataris and Saudis will be put in a position of balancing policy between their ongoing competition to dominate the Sunni world and the consequences of serious U.S. pressure,” she added.
Saudi Arabia has previously been accused of funding other terrorist organizations, such as Al-Qaeda and the Taliban. The kingdom also has a policy of torture and public executions, not entirely dissimilar to the actions of IS.
What pressure the US plans to put on the Saudi government remains to be seen. However, following the UN’s Committee on the Rights of the Child’s scathing report on the country’s human rights abuses, if the US doesn’t put pressure on the government, others may do so instead.
Earlier this year, it seemed that Qatar and the US had at least a working relationship in the effort to fight IS. In June, American B-52 Stratofortress bombers flew to the Al Udeid Air Base, where they were to be deployed to fight IS.
Saudi Arabia has also claimed to be on the US’ side in the fight against IS. However, actions speak louder than words. In September, an Al-Nusra commander identified as “Abu Al-Ezz” claimed that both the US and its Persian Gulf allies were providing his group with weapons.
While the US categorically denied arming the terrorist organization in order to fight IS, State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters, “there are those – not the US – who back various opposition groups in Syria, who might also seek to arm them,” and that would lead to escalation.
Podesta is not the first person to accuse Saudi Arabia of funding IS. In July, Britain’s Foreign Affairs Sub-committee urged Gulf states to apply pressure and legal barriers to prevent royal family members from sponsoring extremist organizations.
UK Foreign Office senior civil servant Dan Chugg said when “dealing with royal families, wealthy princes and those kind of things,” it is “difficult with some of these countries to know exactly what is government funding.”
He implied that Saudi Arabia had donated money in the past, saying the Foreign Office must “work with local partners in the region to ensure they have the capacity and resolve to rigorously enforce local laws to prevent the funding of Islamic State, so that the group cannot benefit from donations in future.”
IS and Al-Nusra may not be the only groups benefiting from Gulf state money. In May, the New York Times reported that Muslims in Kosovo were being indoctrinated into Wahhabism by extremist clerics who received funding from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and others.
Saudi charities began popping up in Kosovo following the unrest of the Balkan wars and offered to rebuild mosques and provide assistance in exchange for following stricter Islamic rules, such as requiring women to wear headscarves.
If Saudi Arabia’s funding of spreading Wahhabism in Kosovo is anything like its alleged funding of IS, then the US may be in for a bigger fight. For example, Al Waqf al Islami, one of the Saudi funded organizations, pumped in more than $11 million from 2000 through 2012.