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Funding terrorism

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Funding terrorism is the cover story for the December 15, 2003, online issue of U.S. News: "The Saudi Connection. How billions in oil money spawned a global terror network" by David E. Kaplan.

Late in 1998, Kaplan writes, the CIA's Illicit Transactions Group (ITC), "one of those tidy little Washington secrets, a group of unsung heroes whose job is to keep track of smugglers, terrorists, and money launderers," was called upon by the National Security Council "to help them answer a couple of questions: How much money did Osama bin Laden have, and how did he move it around?" Because Osama bin Laden's "al Qaeda terrorists had just destroyed two of America's embassies in East Africa," there was an urgency for the NSC "to find a way to break the organization's back." The NSC formed a task force with ITC "to look at al Qaeda's finances. ... The team soon realized that its most basic assumptions about the source of bin Laden's money--his personal fortune and businesses in Sudan--were wrong. Dead wrong. Al Qaeda, says William Wechsler, the task force director, was 'a constant fundraising machine.' And where did it raise most of those funds? The evidence was indisputable: Saudi Arabia."

The results of months of investigation revealed that "Over the past 25 years, the desert kingdom has been the single greatest force in spreading Islamic fundamentalism, while its huge, unregulated charities funneled hundreds of millions of dollars to jihad groups and al Qaeda cells around the world." What was the source of the funding? Oil.

Read the remainder of the 10-page article.

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