A trial under way in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, of a Saudi Arabian accused of financing a militant group illustrates the challenges involved in shutting loopholes exploited by the terrorist factions and their shadowy facilitators on a global scale. Ali Abdullah is charged with providing 54 million rupiah — about $6,000 — to a terrorist faction linked to Jemmah Islamiah, an al-Qaida affiliate and the main jihadist group in Southeast Asia…
In the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, al-Qaida attacks on the United States, Saudi Arabia, a longtime U.S. ally, was accused of allowing the financing of Islamist militants. Other Gulf states, such as the United Arab Emirates — in particular its freewheeling financial hub, Dubai — were also branded as key conduits for global terrorist financing.
Riyadh denied these allegations but U.S. and European intelligence services have repeatedly claimed that wealthy Saudis, including members of the royal family, were surreptitiously funding al-Qaida and its offshoots, often through Dubai.
The U.S. Government Accounting Office declared in September that the Saudis had made significant progress in the war against terrorism, including shutting down financial conduits to al-Qaida from individuals and charities.
The GOA stressed there was no indication that the Saudi government was providing funds but warned that much more needed to be done by Riyadh to curb the clandestine bankrolling of terrorism.
Last June 14, security authorities in Yemen, Saudi Arabia’s southern neighbor and a hotbed of al-Qaida activity, announced the capture of a Saudi named Hassan bin Hussein Alwan, allegedly al-Qaida’s biggest financier in Yemen and Saudi Arabia.
But in the meantime, another Islamist organization called Lashkar-e-Toiba, largely based in Pakistan, is increasingly spreading its tentacles and in some quarters is seen as a possible global rival to al-Qaida.
Lashkar-e-Toiba, known as LeT, was behind the November 2008 carnage in Mumbai and is believed to be plotting similar high-profile attacks financed in the Gulf.