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Op-Ed: Saudis should be held accountable for 9/11

Overriding US President Barack Obama's veto of a law enabling victims of 9/11 and their families to sue Saudi Arabia for damages resulting from the 9/11 terror attacks is one of few positive things Congress has done recently.
Obama Photo Credit: BBC/Channel 2 News

Fifteen years after the notorious terror attacks of 9/11, the victims and their families will finally be able to have their day in court thanks to the recent decision of Congress to override President Obama's vetoing of a bill that enables them to sue Saudi Arabia in US courts.

The administration justified the veto by claiming there was no proof of Saudi Arabian complicity in the attacks since the Saudi citizens involved were not government officials, and were not acting on behalf of the Saudi government.

This is a somewhat disingenuous view. It is true that the Saudi government did not have any role in the attack itself. It never authorized it, and none of the terrorists were in any way connected to the Saudi government or military.

This does not mean that the Saudis are blameless. For over three decades, Saudi Arabia has spent billions of its petrodollars promoting Wahhabism, an extremist reactionary, intolerant fundamentalist form of Salafist Islam. It has funded thousands of madrassas (Islamic religious schools) not only in the Kingdom itself but also throughout the entire Sunni Muslim world. This was official government policy, emanating directly from the Royal Court.

These madrassas were more indoctrination centers than schools. The curriculum consisted primarily of Wahabi thought and texts, the superiority of Islam and the creed of Jihad. The amount of subjects such as mathematics, science, general history, English and any other secular subjects was somewhere between minimal and non-existent.

9/11 Photo Credit: Reuters/Channel 2 News

The vast majority of the pupils were from poor families, for whom the local Saudi-funded madrassa, which was free, was the only educational institute available to them. They were taught to hate the West, and despise its liberal secular values.     

The result was a significant radicalization of the Sunni Muslim world. Until the 1980s, Wahhabism was a marginal school of Sunni Islam. Apart from Saudi Arabia and some of the Gulf States, it had no presence anywhere else. Three decades of indoctrination via Saudi-funded madrassas changed that. In many Islamic countries, traditional more tolerant local forms of Islam lost ground to the imported Wahabi influence, funded and financed by Saudi Arabia as a matter of official policy.  

Saudi Arabia did not participate in or otherwise sanction the attacks in any way. It did, however, for over three decades, invest heavily in creating, fomenting and promoting an Islamic culture that despised liberty, freedom and other core Western values.  This atmosphere created within Islam the womb in which the 9/11 attacks were conceived. 

Since one doesn't need to be a rocket scientist to figure out that when you teach enough people to hate the West and have nothing but contempt and derision for its values, eventually some of them will take action.

This leads to only one possible conclusion. Saudi Arabia, by actively promoting hatred towards the West throughout the Islamic world, played a major role in the 9/11 terror attacks, and therefore should be held culpable. The victims deserve justice, and justice demands that Saudi Arabia be held accountable for its actions.                

JOL Blogger | Yoni Ariel

Yoni was born in South Africa, where he is known as Jonathan Schwartz. He fled to Israel as a political exile. He served in the ANC and subsequently worked with the ANC leadership and Nelson Mandela.

He worked for many years as a journalist. He was the News Editor at Makor Rishon and Editor-in-Chief of both Ma’ariv International and JOL.

He currently works as an entrepreneur and strategic consultant. He worked closely with former Defense Minister Benyamin (Fuad) Ben Eliezer and has worked with other politicians who entered public life after serving in the IDF or other security agencies. In addition, he was a contributing writer to The Encyclopedia of Military Science (Sage Publications), produced by University of Tennessee, as part of its ROTC program.      

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