Saturday, February 16, 2008

Indirect terrorist blackmail by Saudi Arabia?

Here is an allegation (via the Guardian) that definitely belongs in the category of "interesting, if true."
Saudi Arabia's rulers threatened to make it easier for terrorists to attack London unless corruption investigations into their arms deals were halted, according to court documents revealed yesterday.

Previously secret files describe how investigators were told they faced "another 7/7" and the loss of "British lives on British streets" if they pressed on with their inquiries and the Saudis carried out their threat to cut off intelligence.

Prince Bandar, the head of the Saudi national security council, and son of the crown prince, was alleged in court to be the man behind the threats to hold back information about suicide bombers and terrorists. He faces accusations that he himself took more than £1bn in secret payments from the arms company BAE. [....]

The threats halted the fraud inquiry, but triggered an international outcry, with allegations that Britain had broken international anti-bribery treaties. [....]

Lord Justice Moses, hearing the civil case with Mr Justice Sullivan, said the government appeared to have "rolled over" after the threats. He said one possible view was that it was "just as if a gun had been held to the head" of the government.[Etc.]
I suppose this is the kind of response that some people would describe as "realistic" and "responsible" (unless, of course, Tony Blair is somehow involved).
Yesterday, anti-corruption campaigners began a legal action to overturn the decision to halt the case. They want the original investigation restarted, arguing the government had caved into blackmail.
Isn't that language very moralistic, judgmental, and ethnocentric (almost "neocon," as people say nowadays)?

As the story is reported in this Guardian article, parts of it actually sound a little fishy to me ... but it's not at all implausible that some version of it might be close to the truth ... in which case it should be a major scandal. Then again, maybe it's just more anti-Arab and Islamophobic propaganda? I guess we'll have to wait and see.

--Jeff Weintraub

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