Saudi Arabia is the key source of funding for radical Islamist groups including Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, Hamas and Lashkar-e-Taiba, according to a US diplomatic cable leaked by WikiLeaks on Sunday.
“Donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide,” said the document, an assessment from US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton dated December 30, 2009.
“Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base for Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, LeT (Lashkar-e-Taiba), and other terrorist groups, including Hamas, which probably raise millions of dollars annually from Saudi sources, often during Hajj and Ramadan,” the cable said.
It said that the Saudis had made “significant progress” under US pressure to deal with the issue, especially disrupting Al-Qaeda’s sources of money in Saudi Arabia.
However, it added, “Riyadh has taken only limited action” to interrupt the flow of money to Taliban and LeT-associated groups which have launched attacks in Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.
The same memo said Gulf states remain important sources of financing for Islamist militant groups, singling out Qatar as “the worst in the region” in its overall level of cooperation with Washington in “counter-terror” issues.
Qatar’s approach on the financing issue is “largely passive,” while Kuwait has been “less inclined to take action” on local financiers and facilitators plotting attacks outside the country, the memo said.