US report: Saudi Arabia responsible for 50 percent of Hamas budget
Saudis have come under fresh scrutiny lately by US and European investigators in Riyadh and in Israel for their political and financial support of the Hamas movement, according to the New York Times.
A few months ago, Khalid Mishaal, a top Hamas leader took part in a charitable fund-raising conference in Riyadh where he spoke with Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah.
In its Wednesday edition, the newspaper said that according to a summary of the meeting written by a Hamas official, Mishaal and other Hamas representatives thanked their Saudi hosts for continuing "to send aid to the people through the civilian and popular channels, despite all the American pressures exerted on them."
"This is indeed a brave posture deserving appreciation," the Hamas officials said, according to the document.
Today, Mishaal, who was recently added to the US Treasury Department list of what it terms "terrorist financiers," controls a wing of Hamas that supports attacks against Israel, including suicide bombings.
According to the Times, citing estimates by US law enforcement officials, US diplomats and Israeli figures, at least 50 percent of Hamas' current operating budget of about $10 million a year comes from people in the Saudi Kingdom.
Following the September 11 attacks, the newspaper, citing US officials, said that the Saudi part of Hamas financing increased as donations from the US, Europe and other Gulf countries dried up.
"It's a ridiculous accusation; no Saudi government money goes to Hamas, directly or indirectly," the paper quoted Adel al-Jubeir, the foreign affairs adviser to Saudi Prince Abdullah, as saying.
"Why on earth would we not stop this kind of funding? Why on earth would our crown prince say we do not want to support Hamas and then allow people to do this under the table?"
Furthermore, Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, has denied that his government has financially supported Hamas or charities that serve as front organizations for Hamas. (Albawaba.com)
© 2003 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)