September 26, 2005:
Saudi Arabia believes that 18 of its thirty most wanted Islamic terrorists have fled the country. The Saudis have given Interpol the names (which have not been made public) and asked for help in tracking down these men. The Saudis are not happy with the lack of cooperation from Syria and Yemen in tracking down Islamic radicals. In the last two years, nearly a hundred people have died in Saudi Arabia as a result of Islamic terrorism, and most Saudis are hostile to Islamic radicalism because of this.
Many Saudis blame the United States for all this, seeing the invasion of Iraq as an opportunity for Islamic terrorists to increase recruiting, and gain practical experience in carrying out attacks. The surviving Saudi terrorists then come home, along with their deadly skills. So far, the Saudis have been able to control the Islamic terrorists. But the Saudis are more concerned about the growing influence of Shia Iran among the Shia Arabs of southern Iran, and eastern Saudi Arabia (and the other Arab Gulf states.) Saudi Arabia has always made it clear that it preferred someone like Saddam Hussein (a Sunni Arab dictator) running Iraq, rather than a democracy that would allow the Shia Arab majority to rule. This would have provided a better opponent to Iran, which is a nation of non-Arabs (Iranians are Indo-Europeans), who practice a variant of mainstream Sunni Islam.
Saudis are also reluctant to admit that their country is still a major source of support for Islamic terrorism. While the Saudis have cracked down on Islamic radicals in schools and mosques, as well as trying to prevent financial contributions to terrorist causes, much support for Islamic radicals still comes from Saudi Arabia. The Saudis also downplay the participation of young Saudis in terrorist operations in Iraq. The Saudis now insist that earlier evidence, showing half the foreign terrorists in Iraq are Saudis, was wrong. Saudi officials believe fewer than twenty percent of the foreign terrorists in Iraq are Saudis. Many Saudis still cannot believe that 79 percent of the 911 terrorists were Saudis.
Thus you have a situation where the Saudis will confront, and deal with, Islamic terrorism if it shows up in their own vicinity. But, otherwise, the Saudis prefer to look the other way and insist that Islamic terrorism has little to do with them.