Chairman Collins Questions U.S. Approach, Saudi Cooperation in Efforts to Combat Terrorist Financing

WASHINGTON—As a follow up to a July hearing, which examined the organizations that are linked to financing terrorism, Senator Susan Collins, Chairman of the Governmental Affairs Committee, today held a classified hearing to address some of the issues that the Senator felt remained unanswered. Senator Collins is questioning whether the Saudi Arabian government is fully cooperating with the United States in efforts to cut off funding of organizations that are known to have ties to terrorist organizations.

“The Saudi government has promised to be a partner in our efforts to cut off funding sources of organizations that are linked to terrorism. I remain skeptical, however, about the cooperation we are actually seeing from the Saudis,” said Senator Collins.

The Governmental Affairs Committee, led by Senator Collins, has been closely investigating individuals and organizations with ties to Saudi Arabia that are suspected of financing terrorism. While Saudi officials have publicly expressed full support for U.S. efforts in this regard, Senator Collins said that she has seen little evidence of this support.

“I am concerned that we are delaying action to combat terrorist financiers in the hope that the Saudis will increase their efforts.

“I want to make sure there is not a gap between rhetoric and reality when it comes to Saudi cooperation. The Saudis have passed new banking regulations and taken some actions that could be grounds for cautious optimism, but the Saudi government as a whole has not been as cooperative as it should be,” said Senator Collins.

Senator Collins suggested that U.S. policy in this regard should be more aggressive and that individuals and organizations with ties to terrorism should be quickly listed as terrorism financiers.

Today’s discussions focused on how the federal government is handling Saudis who are suspected of financing terrorism; how the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), CIA and State Department are working with the Treasury Department to ensure that funds do not flow from Saudi Arabia to terrorist groups; and whether the Saudis have been cooperating with the United States to stop the flow of money to al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups.

The hearing featured witnesses from the Treasury and State Departments, the CIA and the FBI. Part of the discussions focused on previously unanswered questions about how terrorist organizations are funded as well as how to stop those funds from getting into the wrong hands.

“We had a detailed, candid discussion today about what is being done to prevent Saudi individuals and organizations from funding terrorist activities. We have come a long way since September 11, but problems remain,” said Senator Collins.

“Our strategy relies heavily upon the cooperation of the Saudis. There’s a considerable upside to this approach if it is successful. But the downside is that we might end up sitting on our hands while we wait to see whether the Saudis start cracking down on terrorists in earnest.

“My committee will continue to keep a watchful eye on this situation.”

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