The Saudi Connection to Terror

Exclusive: While Official Washington devotes much sound and fury to demands for a wider war in Syria and the need to turn away Syrian refugees, Democrats and Republicans dodge the tougher question: how to confront Saudi Arabia about its covert funding for Islamic State and Al Qaeda terrorists, writes Daniel Lazare.

By Daniel Lazare

How does ISIS pay for its operations? This is the key question as the war against the terror organization advances to a new level in the wake of the Paris atrocities. But the mainstream’s approved answer is part of the problem.

That approved answer, from many political leaders and assorted “terrorism experts,” is that ISIS (also known as ISIL, Islamic State and Daesh) funds its operations through a variety of illicit activities such as illegal antiquity sales, kidnapping for ransom, holding up banks, and peddling crude from oil fields it controls in northern Syria and Iraq.

Saudi King Salman meets with President Barack Obama at Erga Palace during a state visit to Saudi Arabia on Jan. 27, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Saudi King Salman meets with President Barack Obama at Erga Palace during a state visit to Saudi Arabia on Jan. 27, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

The line, dutifully parroted by news outlets from The New York Times to The Wall Street Journal and the Guardian, is nothing if not politically convenient. If ISIS is truly self-supporting, then it’s essentially self-contained. If so, then all the Western powers have to do once they’ve sealed it off in its self-proclaimed caliphate is to send in the F-18’s and Mirage 2000’s to rain down smart bombs and blow it to smithereens.

This is the thinking behind President Barack Obama’s unfortunate remarks on Nov. 12. When ABC This Week host George Stephanopoulos asked whether ISIS was gaining strength, Obama shot back that it was simply not the case:

“What is true is that from the start, our goal has been first to contain, and we have contained them. They have not gained ground in Iraq. And in Syria they’ll come in, they’ll leave. But you don’t see this systematic march by ISIL across the terrain. What we have not yet been able to do is to completely decapitate their command-and-control structures. We’ve made some progress in trying to reduce the flow of foreign fighters.”

Contain and decapitate this the essence of the U.S. strategy. Hence, the more the Obama administration tries to contain ISIS militarily, the more it puts out word that it is also self-sustaining economically.

But what if it isn’t? In fact, there is every reason to be skeptical of the U.S. position and not only because American leaders have been claiming success for close to two decades in various struggles against Islamic terrorism even as it has morphed from a few scattered cells to a vast movement stretching from Nigeria to Bangladesh.

Exaggerating the Sums

So let’s start with antiquities. Last year, NBC News breathlessly reported that ISIS was tapping into a $7 billion underground market in order to finance its operations. “Priceless pieces of history snatched from illicit diggings or swiped from museum cases have become one of the four most common commodities – next to drugs, weapons and human beings – to be trafficked by smugglers,” it declared.

But the $7 billion total is dubious considering that the contemporary art market, entirely above board of course, amounts to only $2 billion. Black markets are all but impossible to measure for the simple reason that participants scatter like rats as soon as the lights go on.

ISIS’s role, moreover, is doubly difficult since it operates under deep cover. But we do know a few things, one of which is that antiquities do not move as easily as, say, corn or wheat. To the contrary, buyers are relatively few and far between, appraisals are required, and haggling is standard. With so many police snooping around, buyers are especially wary of getting caught funneling money to ISIS. So the role of antiquities would seem to be no more than ancillary.

The same goes for bank heists. Although ISIS was widely credited with making off with $400 million when it took Mosul, in northern Iraq, in July 2014, The Financial Times described the seizure as the biggest heist that “never happened.”

“We speak to the banks there all the time,” it quoted an Iraqi banking official as saying. “We have been informed that all are guarded from the outside by their own guards and that nothing has been removed from the premises of any banks, not even a piece of paper.”

Kidnapping for ransom also seems less than lucrative in an economy inside ISIS-controlled territory that is going increasingly downhill. Ditto local taxation. While illicit oil sales may play an important role, they are also probably not as profitable as believed. Assuming they were filled to the brim, the 116 tanker trucks that U.S. planes destroyed on Monday may have contained a hundred barrels of crude each, oil that, at today’s prices, ISIS would be lucky to sell for around $30 a barrel. Thus, the damage to the Islamic State’s “treasury” weighs in at a relatively minor $350,000 or so.

Moreover, ISIS is by now a very large operation. Troop-size estimates start at 20,000 to 31,500 (figures put out by the C.I.A. in September 2014) and go as high as 200,000, although 100,000 seems more plausible. Fighters reportedly earn anywhere from $350 a month to $800 or more. These are very imprecise numbers, but at the very least they suggest an organization with a monthly budget in the tens of millions.

So the proceeds from a hundred-odd oil trucks doesn’t explain how ISIS pays its bills. Nor does the speculation about ISIS’s antiquity sales. So if Islamic State does not get the bulk of its funds from such sources, where does the money come from?

The Saudi Connection 

The politically inconvenient answer is from the outside, i.e., from other parts of the Middle East where the oil fields are not marginal as they are in northern Syria and Iraq, but, rather, rich and productive; where refineries are state of the art, and where oil travels via pipeline instead of in trucks. It is also a market in which corruption is massive, financial controls are lax, and ideological sympathies for both ISIS and Al Qaeda run strong.

This means the Arab Gulf states of Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia, countries with massive reserves of wealth despite a 50-percent plunge in oil prices. The Gulf states are politically autocratic, militantly Sunni, and, moreover, are caught in a painful ideological bind.

Worldwide, Sunnis outnumber Shi‘ites by at least four to one. But among the eight nations ringing the Persian Gulf, the situation is reversed, with Shi‘ites outnumbering Sunnis by nearly two to one. The more theocratic the world grows and theocracy is a trend not only in the Muslim world, but in India, Israel and even the U.S. if certain Republicans get their way the more sectarianism intensifies.

At its most basic, the Sunni-Shi‘ite conflict is a war of succession among followers of Muhammad, who died in the Seventh Century. The more one side gains political control in the name of Islam, consequently, the more vulnerable it becomes to accusations from the other side that its claim to power is less than legitimate.

The Saudi royal family, which styles itself as the “custodian of the two holy mosques” of Mecca and Medina, is especially sensitive to such accusations, if only because its political position seems to be growing more and more precarious. This is why it has thrown itself into an anti-Shi‘ite crusade from Yemen to Bahrain to Syria.

While the U.S., Britain and France condemn Bashar al-Assad as a dictator, that’s not why Sunni rebels are now fighting to overthrow him. They are doing so instead because, as an Alawite, a form of Shi‘ism, he belongs to a branch of Islam that the petro-sheiks in Riyadh regard as a challenge to their very existence.

Civil war is rarely a moderating force, and as the struggle against Assad has intensified, power among the rebels has shifted to the most militant Sunni forces, up to and including Al Qaeda and its even more aggressive rival, ISIS.

In other words, the Islamic State is not homegrown and self-reliant, but a product and beneficiary of larger forces, essentially a proxy, paramilitary army of Gulf state sheiks. Evidence of broad regional support is abundant even if news outlets like The New York Times have done their best to ignore it. Some of the highlights of this money trail:

–In a 2009 diplomatic memo made public by Wikileaks, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated that “donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide.”

(On Thursday, in a hawkish speech to the Council on Foreign Relations, Clinton, now the frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination, focused on her plan for military escalation, including a U.S. invasion of Syria to “impose no-fly zones” and secure what she called a “safe area.” But she added a brief and exasperated reference to the financial reality, saying: “once and for all, the Saudis, the Qataris and others need to stop their citizens from directly funding extremist organizations as well as the schools and mosques around the world that have set too many young people on a path to radicalization.”)

–An August 2012 report by the Defense Intelligence Agency stating that Al Qaeda, Salafists, and the Muslim Brotherhood dominated the Syrian rebel movement and that their goal was to establish a “Salafist principality in eastern Syria” where Islamic State’s caliphate is now located.

–The Times’s own report two months earlier stating that the C.I.A. was working with the Muslim Brotherhood to channel Turkish-, Saudi- and Qatari-supplied arms to Sunni rebels in Syria.

–Vice President Joe Biden’s remarkable admission at Harvard’s Kennedy School in October 2014 that “the Saudis, the emirates, etc. were so determined to take down Assad and essentially have a proxy Sunni-Shia war [that] they poured hundreds of millions of dollars and tens of thousands of tons of military weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad except the people who were being supplied were Al Nusra and Al Qaeda.”

–A Times editorial just last month complaining that Saudis, Qataris and Kuwaitis were continuing to channel donations to Islamic State.

–Finally, in a front-page article on Friday, the Times belatedly acknowledged the devastating DIA report, a mere six months after it was made public by the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch. But even then, reporter Ian Fisher managed to leave out the most important part, which is that the Salafist stronghold that the Sunnis were seeking to establish is “exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition” i.e. the West, the Gulf states, and Turkey “want in order to isolate the Syrian regime.”

In asserting that there are “many strands of blame” in the ongoing debacle, Fisher managed to criticize everyone except his own paper.

Money Talks

Why is telling the truth so difficult? A big part of the answer is money. Because the U.S., France and other Western powers are dependent on the Gulf states for oil and see the Gulf states as an increasingly important market for high-tech weaponry.

Just last month, the Pentagon announced that it was selling to the Saudis up to four Littoral Combat Ships made by Lockheed for a total of $11.25 billion, while last week it followed up with the news that it was selling the Saudis $1.29 billion worth of smart bombs manufactured by Boeing and Raytheon to replace those the kingdom has dropped on Yemen as part of its crusade against the Shi‘ite Houthis.

The U.S. thus supplies the Saudis with bombs with which to flatten Yemeni neighborhoods, generate more refugees and, in the process, strengthen “Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula” so that the U.S. can then send in drones to take out a few Al Qaeda operatives.

Everyone makes out arms manufacturers, the Pentagon, Washington politicians like the Clintons who benefit from Saudi largesse, even Al Qaeda, which, while it may lose a few personnel, sees its power grow as a consequence.

Making too big a point about how money from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states is flowing to groups responsible for the carnage in Paris would put at risk this mutual-benefit society. Jeopardizing this lucrative money cycle is something that Washington cannot bear to do, which is why the Obama administration prefers to make ISIS appear to be a self-supporting operation that can be crippled by such military actions as bombing a convoy of oil trucks.

While Europe explodes with xenophobia, the real issue is not the Arabs or Islam, but the “special” U.S.-Saudi relationship which may be even more sacrosanct than the relationship with Israel. It is an alliance that demands of the U.S. that it see, hear and speak no evil about its major Arab partner. Hence, Washington must cover up the real cause of the horrors ranging from the World Trade Center to the Bataclan concert hall to the Syrian civil war.

As long as this U.S.-Saudi “special” relationship continues, the bodies will keep piling up.

Daniel Lazare is the author of several books including The Frozen Republic: How the Constitution Is Paralyzing Democracy (Harcourt Brace).

44 comments for “The Saudi Connection to Terror

  1. Reza
    November 28, 2015 at 14:06

    Dear Daniel Lazare,

    I enjoyed your article, but I think by changing historically called Persian Gulf to Arab Gulf make us start wondering that you don’t believe in what you say.

    Today it is clear that if ,still,there are people, who can’t accept the fact that those countries that you mentioned in your article plus Turkey are the main supporters of ISIS and AL-QAEDA in the region, either are self -interested or naive.

  2. Reza
    November 28, 2015 at 14:03

    Dear Daniel Lazare,

    I enjoyed your article, but I think by changing historically called Persian Gulf to Arab Gulf make us start wondering that you don’t believe in what you say.

    Today it is clear that if ,still,there are people, who can’t accept the fact that those countries that you mentioned in your article plus Turkey are the main supporters of ISIS and AL-QAEDA in the region, either are self -interested or naive.

  3. Rabbitnexus
    November 24, 2015 at 00:12

    The Saudis? Sure they’re funding them but so are many other countries, the USA included. Putin just named G20 nations as supporters of IS and customers for their oil and you could have heard a pin drop in the Western media.

  4. Bruce
    November 22, 2015 at 11:29

    That’s MOSSAUDI !

  5. Bikinis not Burkas
    November 22, 2015 at 03:13

    Somebody forgot to mention the Halal Certification money coming from Australia via Islamic Charities.

  6. MrK
    November 22, 2015 at 01:04

    ” While Europe explodes with xenophobia, the real issue is not the Arabs or Islam, but the “special” U.S.-Saudi relationship which may be even more sacrosanct than the relationship with Israel. ”

    Actually it is part and parcel of the same thing. Think of how Saudi oil makes it to Europe – it has to go through the bab-el-mandeb which is protected by the US Navy’s 5th Fleet at Bahrein and Djibouti, onwards through the Red Sea, towards the Suez Canal, which in 1956 during the Suez Crisis, was protected by Israel, when it rolled it’s tanks down the Sinai Desert and took physical control of the Suez Canal. Then into the Mediterranean, and out through the Strait of Gibraltar, which is still protected by the UK from Gibraltar.

    And there you have it – the oil alliance of the Saudi Arabia-US-Israel-UK.

    Countries have no permanent friends, only permanent interests. And the permanent interest of the US, UK, Israel and Saudi Arabia is to keep Saudi oil flowing into European cars, instead of Iranian or Russian oil.

    • November 22, 2015 at 04:43

      “While Europe explodes with xenophobia … ”

      Sometimes, we, who actually in Europe get the feeling no matter how well Americans think they know us, they don’t. Living in the south of Spain from where we can see Morocco, across the Straits of Gibralatar, from our windows most clear days, I can assure you we are far from ‘exploding with xenophobia’. Here in Andalucia, we are on very friendly terms with Muslim neighbours, and I do mean neighbours, as we have several Moroccan families living a few doors away. One family even brings us delicious homemade Moroccan bread sometimes.

      I can assure all you people worrying yourselves sick about us across the pond we Europeans are not nearly as worried as your panicky media would have you believe.

      The silent majority was a term the politicians and the corporate media used to drag out when a tiny minority of very vocal right wing xenophobes, amongst their ranks, found their popularity on the wane. Excuse me for resurrecting it, but it fits an actual silent majority that does exist in Europe. A silent majority our politicians and news barons would rather ignore.

      Though there are some large pockets of very vocal xenophobes (Islamaphobes) – particularly in the newer EU states from Central and EastEurope – the silent majority, though not against migrants entering Europe per se – would prefer a more orderly movement conducted at a more reasonable pace, and not the chaos that is being dictated by the failed string of US military adventures being conducted in our backyard at Israel and Saudi Arabia’s behest.

      However, the fact US wars are being held as responsible for the present debacle is leading to a big rise in anti-American sentiments. Don’t believe your media outlets – or even ours – when they talk of xenophobia, that’s exactly what they want you to believe. If there is xenophobia, beyond that being generated by the usual suspects, it is being whipped up by the very people who are reporting it. Confusion, distraction, fear and division are the main ingredients of a chaos cake.

  7. November 21, 2015 at 16:29

    The article focuses on funding of IS by Saudi Arabia, which is an important aspect. There are other supporters (Turkey, Israel) and various social, cultural, economical, and ecological issues which could have been mentioned, but apart from this I find nothing objectionable in the text and I consider the negative reactions as too harsh.

    Oil is for sure an important revenue source. Are international commodity traders (Vitol, Trafigura, Mercuria, Tornqvist) involved or are that all Turkish and Iraqi Kurdish companies?

    IS can be viewed from various angels. It is a social phenomenon (male aggression, attraction of guns), a cultural phenomenon (humiliation of Arabs by Western colonial powers), an economic phenomenon (inequality, unemployment), an ecological phenomenon (desertification, water scarcity). IS is a political tool (regional hegemony), a geopolitical tool (full spectrum dominance, disaster capitalism), a proxy army, a media hype, a laboratory for covert operations, a fright to herd and subdue rambunctious populations.

    Crime, barbarity, terror, war are nothing new, sex slaves, mass slaughter, genocide are nothing new, marauding mercenary armies are nothing new. Human history is a history of crime.

    IS effectiveness is amplified by modern technology: powerful weapons (RPGs, TOWs, explosives, nerve gas), mobility, electronic communication, sophisticated propaganda via slick videoclips, web magazines (Dabiq), web sites (khilafah, khilafalive).

    Cutting off money transfers will surely help, closing the Turkish border will help, going after the oil traders will help, addressing social and economic grievances will help.

    Bombing campaigns, indiscriminate police raids, closed borders, stigmatization will not help.

  8. Erik
    November 21, 2015 at 15:03

    Really this is all to be expected historically. Let’s play devil’s advocate and hear some rational consideration of this scenario:
    1. The Sunnis of W Iraq and E & NE Syria have been denied self-determination, by the US invasion of Iraq which installed a Shiite government denying them participation, and by the Shiite/Alawite government of Syria;
    2. The Sunni Gulf states in sympathy covertly funded revolution in both areas to establish a Sunni state, using Daesh solely as the army, having no philosophy of its own or credentials of government, like all armies;
    3. Daesh takes over and its mandate and popularity decline over a generation or two as civil authority predominates, as in most revolutions including that of the US, leaving a Sunni religious state that gradually becomes enlightened.

    If that or eternal domination of the Sunnis there is the inevitable outcome, why would we oppose the quickest route to improvement? Why would we look only at the violence of revolution rather than the ultimate benefit? Why would we assume that self-determination must be nonviolent for them when it has never been so elsewhere? What force will create a Sunni nation for the Sunnis there by moderate means? I imagine that the Girl Scouts have tried and failed.

    We can easily imagine a thousand better scenarios (no extremism, no military losses, no harsh words) but there is no reason to believe that these would work, when they have not worked anywhere else. So why hate the violence instead of the underlying problem? Do we really expect downtrodden victims to catapult themselves into the suburban middle class by leaps of academic propriety? Should we not let history take its course, moderated only by massive humanitarian aid, however painful that it is to the right wing?

    So why recommend Russia-US-Turkey-Gulf State diplomacy to crush Daesh with no plan for a better alternative, instead of containment and the same diplomacy to negotiate their independence under a moderate elected government controlled by humanitarian aid? If the Islamic State includes nearly all Sunnis NE of Saudi Arabia, where is the rationale for Daesh, who would they be fighting, and who would support their militancy? Just give Russia its port on the Med, maybe let Assad govern his supporters in a special district, set up UN buffer zones, and go home and pay NGOS to tend the wounds and educate the people.

    • Abe
      November 21, 2015 at 23:28

      … while Israel keeps the Golan and anything else it can grab from any and all of its neighbors.

      Indeed, all this is to be expected.

      The scenario outlined here is the very “strategy to secure the realm” that the devil has been fervently advocating for over two decades.

      In this truly diabolical scenario, a “clean break” from all rational consideration, there will no longer be a meaningful State of Syria, no State of Iraq.

      Replacing them will be shattered “Islamic” States, provisionally designated as Sunni and Shia, cobbled from the mutilated rumps of former nations with little or no political, economic and military sovereignty.

      This was and is the plan for the New Middle East.

      Saudi Arabia and Turkey have thus far been spared, but their hour will come soon enough.

      Egypt and Jordan will be similarly deconstructed in due time.

      Iran is a challenge, but Israel’s friends will make sure that America supplies the heavy ordinance to get the job done.

      And Palestine will be a forgotten name of a forgotten people.

      Either this strategy will end in Syria or the all of Eurasia will be engulfed in war.

      The Russians know it.

      The Iranians know it.

      It’s a formula for Armageddon.

      Ah, but don’t worry ’cause Jesus is comin’ any day now.

      • November 22, 2015 at 04:08

        Letting IS live out their caliphate dreams in the rugged deserts of Syria and Iraq, evacuating the few innocent civilians left there, containing and isolating the IS brutes seems not a bad idea. The British did that, when they sent criminals and other undesirable people to Australia, the Russians sent their outlaws and dissidents to Siberia, all colonial powers had prison islands or areas where troublemakers could live their lives in whatever fashion they wanted without bothering normal people.

        But, has “might is right” now become the basic principle of international relations or does the principle of “Westphalian sovereignty” still apply? Can Israel keep the Golan Heights, can Turkey steal the waters of Euphrates and Tigris from the downstream neighbors?

        Was the ideal of national sovereignty and non-interference always an illusion?

      • Erik
        November 22, 2015 at 09:06

        This scenario doesn’t give Israel any opportunity at all: put a UN DMZ on the Golan. The idea is to link the Sunni territory of N&E Syria and W Iraq with the Saudi border in Iraq, perhaps with no coastline. Then IS becomes a NE frontier of Sunni lands, with UN DMZ boundaries. Iraq and Syria lose some land but gain stability.

        Leave Alawite-Assad Syria Damascus, the Lebanon border, Homs corridor, coast and oil fields, linked to an Iran – Russia corridor along Turkey to Lebanon and the Med base. Syria is reduced in size but protected from Sunni insurgency.

        This would be simpler in form if the Alawite areas near Damascus were further N, and the NE Sunni areas further S, but they are not likely to agree to move.

    • Abe
      November 22, 2015 at 14:44

      The redrawing and partition of the Middle East from the Eastern Mediterranean shores of Lebanon and Syria to Anatolia (Asia Minor), Arabia, the Persian Gulf, and the Iranian Plateau responds to broad economic, strategic and military objectives, which are part of a longstanding Anglo-American and Israeli agenda in the region.

      The Middle East has been conditioned by outside forces into a powder keg that is ready to explode with the right trigger, possibly the launching of Anglo-American and/or Israeli air raids against Iran and Syria. A wider war in the Middle East could result in redrawn borders that are strategically advantageous to Anglo-American interests and Israel.

      […] The Eastern Mediterranean has been successfully militarized by NATO. Syria and Iran continue to be demonized by the Western media, with a view to justifying a military agenda. In turn, the Western media has fed, on a daily basis, incorrect and biased notions that the populations of Iraq cannot co-exist and that the conflict is not a war of occupation but a “civil war” characterised by domestic strife between Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds.

      Attempts at intentionally creating animosity between the different ethno-cultural and religious groups of the Middle East have been systematic. In fact, they are part of a carefully designed covert intelligence agenda.

      Even more ominous, many Middle Eastern governments, such as that of Saudi Arabia, are assisting Washington in fomenting divisions between Middle Eastern populations. The ultimate objective is to weaken the resistance movement against foreign occupation through a “divide and conquer strategy” which serves Anglo-American and Israeli interests in the broader region.

      Plans for Redrawing the Middle East: The Project for a “New Middle East”
      By Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya

      • Erik
        November 22, 2015 at 20:20

        The map is interesting, not necessarily a malignant or commercially-motivated plan.
        But it shows Syria intact, merely making W Iraq a Sunni state, which might work, but adding NE Syria would include many disaffected Sunnis there.

        The question is whether Syria could be reintegrated with or without Assad after its civil war.

        I do not yet see enough reason to agree that these states are weakened by sectarian repartitions, if this reduces the sectarian tensions. The question is whether external guarantors like the UN can prevent conflicts between sectarian states. The multisectarian states did not ensure equality well enough at this stage.

        I have little doubt that keeping factions in conflict has been the plan of Israel and the US right, but UN-guaranteed sectarian boundaries would seem to reduce that.

        I admit that such tidy plans seldom work out as planned, and the problems of relocation etc are substantial, but the potential to avoid war seems worth a lot of trouble.

      • Abe
        November 23, 2015 at 01:28

        The war in Syria is a well-documented internationally-financed terrorist mercenary assault on the central government — NOT a civil war.

  9. Andrew X
    November 21, 2015 at 13:15

    Let’s look at some numbers here. According to the article, US planes took out 116 oil tankers on one day and this oil was worth 350,000 dollars. Well, if, if this is one’s days take for ISIS, and assuming the planes did not get all the tankers which I am sure they didn’t, then ISIS is making easily a half million dollars a day on oil sales. That’s a lot of cash and easily enough to keep say 40,000 fighters fed and armed. I’m not doubting that ISIS receives money from these Sunni gulf countries, but ISIS gets a good portion of their funds from other sources.

  10. skepticxx
    November 21, 2015 at 13:11

    I don’t understand Lazare’s logic concerning the amount of money ISIS receives selling oil. First he states that US planes took out 116 oil tankers on one day. That this oil was worth 350,000 dollars. Well, if, if this is one’s days take for ISIS, and assuming the planes did not get all the tankers which I am sure they didn’t, then ISIS is making easily a half million dollars a day on oil sales. That’s a lot of cash and easily enough to keep say 40,000 fighters fed and armed. I’m not doubting that ISIS receives money from these Sunni gulf countries, but ISIS gets a good portion of their funds from other sources.

  11. Peter Loeb
    November 21, 2015 at 12:26


    Daniel Lazare has put together an amazing analysis
    of the funding of ISIS (etc.).

    The pressure of defense contractors to sell
    arms is a crucial point. The sales are worldwide
    and US and other western politicians prefer
    not to mention it at all. The contractors located
    (not accidentally) in almost every state in the
    US are desperate. Mergers and profits and
    as they put it “jobs” (in the US and in their
    constituencies) support the competition
    for profit. See William Greider’s FORTRESS

    Thanks as well for analysis of Hillary Clinton’s
    position as well as those of others.

    France, England, and the US are putting
    a “draft resolution” before the UN Security
    Council and Russia is promoting a contradicting
    resolution emphasizing the centrality of
    the Syrian Government. If the western
    draft fails to pass, one can write the
    press releases of “shock” and blame to
    be heaped on Russia at this time.

    After a western invasion, what will result?

    Russia maintains that they are following the
    letter and spirit of S/Res/2139(2014) —22 February
    20014) point # 14 (page 4 of the document, at
    the UN Security Council website). I believe
    this is the case. There are other issues
    involved in international law such as Art. 51
    but the famous or infamous “Chapter VII” has
    not been invoked.

    I doubt it will be but that is a hunch of
    mine at this time.

    Thanks also to Lazare and Consortium’s other
    writers, there is much to be learned.
    His careful consideration of the options for
    funding–not just sloganeering misinformation—
    is what must be kept in mind.

    —-Peter Loeb, Boston, MA, USA

    PS: An American President is traditionally
    credited with the term “the buck stops
    here!” Harry Truman has most often
    been mentioned.

  12. Abe
    November 21, 2015 at 12:24

    ISIS is everywhere; Syria, Iraq, Europe, the US, in the closet, under the rug…everywhere. So we need to get busy and kill them all pronto before they rape our women, behead our children and turn us all in to sex slaves.

    Ever heard that mantra before? Maybe just once or twice?

    Of course this is all music to the ears of the weapons manufacturers, the pudgy bankers and the other ne’er-do-wells who assemble at these elitist gatherings. They just love the idea of everlasting war, perpetual war, war stretching in all directions across all continents forever and always. That’s the perennial dream of elites, isn’t it; making sure that we’re all at-each-others-throats so they can lend us the money to buy the weapons to kill each other as efficiently as possible? That’s like Braham’s Lullaby to these guys, but for everyone else, it’s holy hell.

    And what, pray tell, does Clinton have in store for us all once she’s sworn in and comfortably ensconced in the Oval Office? Well, more war, of course. […]

    A “new phase” in the war on terror, says she, and it will only cost you 100,000 troops or so…for starters, that is. And, of course, she’s drawing on her vast military experience to make that calculation.

    Oh, that’s right, she doesn’t have any “vast military experience”, in fact, she doesn’t have any military experience at all, she was a flunkey diplomat at the State Department who knows nothing about these matters.

    But, maybe we’re being too harsh, after all, Don Rumsfeld didn’t have any experience either, and look how that turned out.

    Hillary’s War Whoop
    By Mike Whitney

    • Abe
      November 21, 2015 at 12:58

      3 Democrats and 14 Republicans, all vowing their undying love for Israel.

      What do they all want? — WAR

      Yes, but is it good for the Jews?

      • Kevin Schmidt
        November 21, 2015 at 14:11

        Are warmongering Jews good for the Palestinians? Twenty years of genocide, terror and land theft say no.

      • November 22, 2015 at 18:10

        Of course it is good for the Jews. That’s the reason for all that has happened over the past 20 years of US military dalliances, false flags and assassinations.

        It is called “Eretz Israel” Look it up. Shamelessly all over the web, open for all to see and more yet to come. It’s Israel mindset sported by the US Congress.

        They have the US by the vitals and squeeze them every hour of every day, all with the competing and grovelling support from both feckless, corrupt political parties in the US. Now there is the problem. They are corrupt. Look at Graham and McCain alone. Possibly up to 60% of the elected stooges, the willing participants in the fifth column AIPAC Rallies.
        March 3, 2015. A day to remember. Allegiance to Israel, the big finger for America.

        Don’t rely on the people to change anything there soon either. They’re asleep, one and all, all except the traitorous Zionists, alive and well and working to bring the US down. The parasites on the now fascist body, thriving.

        And succeeding as parasites do, against the odds..

  13. m s 57
    November 21, 2015 at 11:35

    There is another aspect to this multi-faceted problem — that was not the subject of the piece above — is the fact that Assad has used ISIS as well in order to vanquish those Syrian forces who have engaged him in civil war. These were the first targets the Russians bombed. Captured ISIS fighters were put into prison alongside the first demonstrators against Assad as a way of disciplining them. Imagine the “discussion” that would have taken place between an ISIS fighter and a university-educated Communist, for example. This is Arabia, where the enemy of my enemy is my friend, where alliances come and go with remarkable fluidity — day to day. Each actor has its own interests in mind, running along the deep fault line separating Sunni and Shia. And the US is as completely lacking in the knowledge or sophistication or the practice of fluid alliances as the typical teen in constitutional law.

  14. MEexpert
    November 21, 2015 at 11:08

    A fair article except Saudi support to ISIS is not covert. Most of the weapons that USA sells to Saudi Arabia end up with ISIS. Then there is the support from Turkey. Israel’s medical support to ISIS and Al-Qaeda fighters who are injured. And of course the support from US and “not so Great” Britain to the these “good terrorists” who finally end up with the “bad terrorists” along with all the weapons supplied by the US.

    The DIA report admitted that US has been supporting ISIS for a long time. They have been supplying modern arms to these terrorists, sometime by “mistake.” How could a country that can put a man on the moon and has a GPS technology to pinpoint locations of targets, drop these weapons, supposedly meant for friends, in the middle of ISIS territory?

    Covert support? My foot.

  15. Deschutes
    November 21, 2015 at 08:14

    Shocking! Saudis secretly funding ISIS, who knew! ….another mind bending article for you, dear reader from Consnorium Snooze, your first choice in snoozenews….zzzzzz….

  16. Pat
    November 21, 2015 at 04:59

    Remarkable op-ed in yesterday’s New York Times explaining the Saudi connection:

    Black Daesh, white Daesh. The former slits throats, kills, stones, cuts off hands, destroys humanity’s common heritage and despises archaeology, women and non-Muslims. The latter is better dressed and neater but does the same things. The Islamic State; Saudi Arabia. In its struggle against terrorism, the West wages war on one, but shakes hands with the other.

    Read the rest:

  17. Abe
    November 21, 2015 at 01:42

    American public is “becoming aware of the treachery” of Ankara and Riyadh.

    New York Times sees Saudi Arabia as “A Daesh That Has Made It”.

    • Yuri
      November 21, 2015 at 12:06

      It is not the New York Times sees Saudi Arabia as a “daesh” in sheep’s clothing but an Arabic op-ed piece, published by NYT for “balance”.

    • Abe
      November 21, 2015 at 13:24

      The November 20 2015 issue of the New York Times featured an Op-Ed Opinion piece by Algerian journalist Kamel Daoud, “Saudi Arabia, an ISIS That Has Made It” in both English (translated by John Cullen) and French.

      Daoud’s debut novel, Meursault, contre-enquête, finished second for France’s most important literary prize, the Goncourt. The novel won the 2015 Goncourt first novel prize, the 2014 Prix François-Mauriac and the 2014 Prix des cinq continents de la Francophonie.

      Translated into English as The Meursault Investigation (2015) the novel is described by the author as a “dialogue with Camus.”

      Daoud is a columnist for Quotidien d’Oran, a French daily newspaper in Algeria.

  18. Abe
    November 20, 2015 at 21:19

    Saudi rulers adopted an ill-conceived policy to steeply lower the price of oil and provide the country with a global monopoly. This policy has unleashed a frenetic campaign to bolster the financial, political and propagandist aims of terrorists in Syria and other countries, an adventure evidently inspired by the blazing sandstorm that has sparked a war against fellow Arab country Yemen and offers no easy way out. The huge sums spent to burnish Saudi Arabia’s global image, along with feckless expenditures on the royal court, are forcing the Saudis to ponder not merely belt-tightening but the imminent collapse of their economy. According to IMF estimates, Saudi Arabia’s treasury will be depleted within five years if the global oil price stays around $50 per barrel over that period, and this year it faces a deficit of 20% of GDP. Saudi Arabia cannot balance its budget unless the price of oil is at least $106 a barrel, IMF analysts have determined. Tim Cullen, the chief of the IMF mission in Riyadh, said that “the fall in oil prices is leading to a substantial reduction in the kingdom’s export and budget revenues.”


    With that in mind, the International Monetary Fund urged Saudi Arabia to kick its oil addiction. That was the message from IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde after talks with King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and Finance Minister Ibrahim al-Asaf. Lagarde said Saudi leaders ought to diversify the economy as quickly as possible. In particular, the IMF suggested that the country speed up reforms that will stimulate private-sector employment. So far, Lagarde said, Saudi Arabia has coped with its financial problems thanks to large foreign exchange reserves, but those will not last forever.

    New difficulties are in store, though. At the beginning of December, the annual OPEC summit will determine member countries’ strategy for the coming year. Several experts believe that a reduction in output would act as a subsidy for producers with high costs, for example, the United States. However, other OPEC members, like Venezuela and Algeria, are urging production cuts to raise oil prices. Member countries pump out 31.57 million barrels per day, and Saudi Arabia accounts for 10 million barrels of that total all by itself. The price of oil has fallen from $105 per barrel in the summer of 2014 to below $50 today.

    Mohammed bin Hamad al-Rumhi, Oman’s oil minister, blamed OPEC and kingpin Saudi Arabia for depressing global oil prices through its policies. He sharply criticized OPEC and referred to oil production levels as “irresponsible.” “This is a commodity, and if there’s an additional million barrels a day, you just destroy the market,” he said. “We are vulnerable; we are running into problems. And we’re talking about this crisis as if it were an act of God. Unfortunately, I don’t believe that. I think we have created it ourselves.” Oman is not an OPEC member. Al-Rumhi was speaking at a conference in Abu Dhabi, and his remarks came on the heels of a speech by a high-ranking official from the UAE’s oil ministry who urged OPEC to maintain current production levels.

    It will be interesting to see what difficulties lie ahead for this once-wealthy country whose royal voice was heeded by the power brokers of this world. But now the situation has changed dramatically, and the reason can be found in the missteps made by the royal house, which simply lost its way in the global arena. And so it is that the world’s press is writing about the power struggle taking place in Saudi Arabia. The French newspaper Boulevard Voltaire has a good handle on the situation, writing that “Riyadh is now witnessing a fight for supremacy. Radicals are calling for jihad against infidels, and the Wahhabi royal family is being confronted with the tension of differing generations’ conflicting attitudes. No one knows who will eventually manage to gain the upper hand.”

    Saudi Arabia’s Economy is Coming Apart at the Seams
    By Viktor Mikhin

  19. F. G. Sanford
    November 20, 2015 at 21:14

    “ISIS sings the same tune Hitler did”…or at least that’s what they’d like you to believe. OK, full disclosure: I started out in life as an Anthropologist, but was never actually employed as one. The jobs outside of academia are mainly with the CIA or other governmental agencies. A few anthropologists write books… like Margaret Meade or Colin Turnbull. But it’s pretty hard to make a living as a purist without university tenure. So, I was curious when RT’s Sophie Shevardnadze interviewed “Terrorism researcher” and “Anthropologist” Dr. Scott Atran. I SWEAR the first thing that went through my mind was, “This guy has to be working as an advisor to the military or an intelligence agency”, and I wasn’t wrong.

    He constructs what sounds like an ethnographic narrative to describe ISIS, but it lacks the parameters a discerning ethnographer would be expected to achieve. It paints a picture intended to portray a spontaneous cultural phenomenon with homogeneous values, expectations, patterns and sentiments. Part of this “phenomenon” is, if you will, a “Terrorist Manifesto” called “Idarat at-Tawahhus”, or “Management of Savagery/Chaos”. It’s sort of a ‘Mujahideen Mein Kampf’, and it supposedly serves as a guide to provoke the Great Powers in order to create an apocalyptic scenario from the ruins of which they can create a utopian society. Of course, this is a “glorious mission”, but it appeals to youth because it must be performed “under constraints”.

    BULLFEATHERS! This is a classic “psy-op”. A boatload of money and resources has been poured into creating a narrative and writing a “manifesto” which paints ISIS as anything other than what it actually is: a mercenary army of proxies with no shared values or cultural cohesion beyond who pays them and how much. This is part and parcel of the effort to obfuscate the reality that ISIS represents STATE SPONSORED TERRORISM. It is ABSOLUTELY NOT a “cultural phenomenon”, though it may have some cult-like aspects. Atran strikes me as an opportunist the likes of “Anthropologist” David Graber, who has been credited with orchestrating the impotence which became emblematic of the “Occupy Movement”. Legitimate Anthropologists refer to this phenomenon as, “The Weaponization of Anthropology”. In my opinion, they belong in the same category with Psychologists who design torture methodology. Nuff said. And give the man a whole box of cigars.

    • Sam Beaton
      November 20, 2015 at 23:27


    • Sam Beaton
      November 20, 2015 at 23:34

      Very interesting comment, thank you and I agree completely.

    • Abe
      November 20, 2015 at 23:55

      Truth in Advertising: The Israeli Connection to Terror.

      On August 16, 2015, Arutz Sheva (Hebrew: ערוץ 7‎, lit. Channel Seven — an Israeli media network identifying with Religious Zionism) and the American Media Institute simultaneously debuted the alleged ISIS document with the dramatic headline “ISIS ‘Mein Kampf’ Blames Israel for Global Terrorism”

      The intrepid journalists at the American Media Institute allegedly “found” the document in “Pakistan’s remote tribal region” — ’cause that’s where you find stuff.

      The American Media Institute was founded in 2012 by Richard Miniter, a senior editor of the neocon Hudson Institute and former editorial page editor of The Washington Times.

      The undated document titled, “A Brief History of the Islamic State Caliphate (ISC), The Caliphate According to the Prophet,” advances its own conspiracy theory.

      Taking pains to present ISIS as a direct threat to Israel, the document notes that “No sooner had the British government relinquished control of Israel, Ben-Gurion, the leader of the Jews, declared the independence of the State of Israel, triggering a global migration of Jews to the Jewish State, and launching the systematic persecution of Palestinian Muslims who had to abandon their homes and migrate.”

      The “authenticity” of the document was “confirmed” by retired United States Army lieutenant general Michael Flynn, who served as the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency from 2012 to 2014.

      Flynn insists that the alleged ISIS document “lays out their intent, their goals and objectives, a red flag to which we must pay attention.”

      Indeed, much more attention should be paid to the Israeli connection to terror.

    • Abe
      November 21, 2015 at 00:18

      Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed the release of convicted spy Jonathan Pollard

    • Joe Tedesky
      November 21, 2015 at 02:35

      F.G., just for the fact of what you are saying, I try very hard not to refer to the terrorist as being Muslim. Over a period of time, and with a lot of reading, I came to the conclusion of how these fighters we call Islamic terrorist, are nothing more than paid mercenaries. Recently, I have been attempting to try and study the pictures of these terrorist, and they all look like to me they are in their early twenties. These poor bastards have been raised on war. Their relatives who live in Europe are even more outraged, by the drone attacks, and other atrocities their people have endured over the last twenty five years, to a point that the European Middle Eastern by decent, are yet and even bigger threat to Western Society. I don’t see this all ending by dropping more bombs, as much I see it ending by securing a few selected bank accounts, but that will never happen. That’s because the head of this snake probably owns the bank.

      • dahoit
        November 21, 2015 at 17:41

        Where do the gulf states and saudis bank their money?
        Those who control the gold rule,in a gold loving world at least.

    • Kevin Schmidt
      November 21, 2015 at 14:06

      Whoever and whatever they are, ISIS is still being funded by the US Government, via the Saudi Arabian government.

  20. Jay
    November 20, 2015 at 20:12

    But, but, but, the New York Times’ online “Room for Debate” essays of Friday Nov 20 make no mention this, and just have to believe these thinkers the Times has chosen to publish.


    Here are the Times essays for a good laugh:

    • rexw
      November 21, 2015 at 19:10

      We all have an obligation to participate in the program, however and whenever we can. to promulgate the facts regarding the funders of the terrorists in Syria and Iraq
      The mainstream press do not appear to want to state one word on the members of the G20 who engage in such blatant funding while sitting in their comfortable chairs in various forums taking a “holier than thou” attitude to all things on the agenda. The same hypocrisy was evident in the beginning of WWII. So the scene is being created. Forget the people. They are busy watching sport on Fox. That’s what it’s there for.

      Freedom of the Press”. A fiction in 2015.

      The G20 members are not clean, by any measure. Saudi being the worst, but, and here’s the big BUT, being the largest purchaser of US weapons and military hardware.

      This is the crime of this century and there’s some of them on the record. A withholding of the Russian President’s speech when he clearly identified the G20 members who transgress the boundaries of decency and truthfulness, trash the US Constitution’s first amendment for “Freedom of the Press, Speech and whatever and then have the power to see that the media, Western media, that is, prints not one word on the subject.

      Shades of Joseph Goebbels and the Nazis of WWII fame, such control making the transition to war in 1939 just so much easier.

      In fact, all the conditions that point to fascism are now becoming evident in the USA, all under the noses of the electorate, whose apathy makes it all so easy.

      Yes. Syria is a disgrace, People like Saudi are a disgrace, tolerated just for weapons sales. But, repeating myself, all that pales into nothing when compared the the orchestrated withholding of the Putin press releases on the G20 liars and international criminals and the lack of coverage in “The West” on the funding of ISIL, ISIS and the whole Caliphate consortium.

      One expects that NY Times to be following the Israel dictates as with most of the US media, up to 90%, but this was also all around the world.
      Takes some muscle to make that happen.

      Now, that’s cause for real concern. One step closer to fascism, US-style.

  21. Marc
    November 20, 2015 at 19:00

    “Give the man a cigar”.

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