9/11: Saudis Are Not Afraid


As Saudis, we were not bothered by Washington’s intention to open the file of the person responsible for the 9/11 terrorist attacks, despite Washington’s announcement a few years ago about who was actually responsible, having cleared Saudi Arabia of responsibility.

The Kingdom has not led the world in combating terrorism only because of its own suffering or because it is merely a local problem; it has confronted terrorism on a global level through initiatives, centers, cooperation and security agreements with many countries around the world. Furthermore, the elimination of al-Qaida in the Kingdom is neither the first nor the last example of preemptive strikes by its security agencies to thwart and quash terrorist operations. The Kingdom’s effectiveness and ability has extended beyond its borders to save millions of human lives in numerous capitals and cities around the world. Its security and intellectual capabilities have actually eliminated terrorism, providing the Kingdom with extensive experience and global confidence, especially as one of the first to raise awareness and sound the alarm at the sudden decline of al-Qaida activity, something which coincided with the outbreak of the Arab Spring revolutions.

Saudi Arabia’s expectations and analyses have proven true. Similarly, it now says that al-Qaida, as a terrorist organization, has not receded, but that its media star shines less brightly. Its name has been replaced with the emergence of new organizations. Revolutions will not put an end to al-Qaida’s terrorist ideology, but will only increase its ferocity and strength.

Additionally, the records describe the phone call that his Highness Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, then minister of defense, received from U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, in which the two discussed research and expanding areas of coordination with the Kingdom and Gulf states on regional, international and military issues. They also discussed the promotion of opportunities to stabilize the region, including efforts to jointly fight terrorism, as well as coordinating U.S.-Gulf efforts to confront the extremism supported by certain countries. This included addressing the role of Iran in the region, a role that has caused the regional situation to deteriorate. It is not the end of the Riyadh Agreement and the Riyadh summit, but the strengthening of efforts, agreements and historical cooperation between Riyadh and Washington in various general spheres and in the fight against terrorism, in particular.

Therefore, as Saudis, we were not disturbed by Washington’s intention to open the file of the person responsible for the 9/11 terrorist attacks, despite Washington’s announcement a few years ago about who was actually responsible, having exonerated Saudi Arabia.

In its statement regarding Sept. 11, 2001, the Kingdom said that it “has consistently called for the release of all materials related to the United States’ investigation of the attacks. The Kingdom has always advocated for transparency surrounding the Sept. 11 tragedy. And as past investigations have revealed, including the 9/11 Commission and the release of the so-called 28 pages, no evidence has ever emerged to indicate that the Saudi government or its officials had previous knowledge of the terrorist attack or were in any way involved in its planning or execution.

Any allegation that Saudi Arabia is complicit in the Sept. 11 attacks is categorically false. As the administrations of the past four U.S. presidents have attested, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has unwaveringly condemned and denounced the deplorable crimes that took place against the United States, its close ally and partner.

Saudi Arabia knows all too well the evil that al-Qaida represents through its ideology and actions. Along with the U.S., we have been al-Qaida’s top target, even before the 9/11 attacks. And along with the U.S., the Kingdom has spared no effort in tackling the men, money and mindset of terrorism and extremism in all its forms. Saudi Arabia is very proud of its anti-terrorism record, including its efforts to thwart the financing of terrorism, its comprehensive strategies to counter extremist ideology in both the public domain and online, and the degradation and defeat of terrorist organizations throughout our region. The Kingdom is an essential counterterrorism partner to the United States. Together, our two countries have countered Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, and delivered severe setbacks to al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula and the Islamic State group in Yemen, among other successes. The coordinated work of Saudi Arabia and the United States to disrupt and intercept terrorist plots over the last 20 years undoubtedly has saved the lives of thousands of Saudis and Americans, and made the world a safer place.

The Kingdom has carried the banner in the fight against terrorism in all its forms for more than two decades. The whole world witnessed the Kingdom’s security leadership and intelligence capabilities in combating terrorism and its organizations, and saw how terrorist operations have been thwarted by the Kingdom’s security agencies. Not only internally, but also outside the Kingdom and in other countries, such as the U.S. and Britain, even before terrorist operations took place targeting their security.

We cannot forget that Saudi Special Forces in Yemen recently arrested an Islamic State group leader in Yemen, Abu Osama al-Muhajer, as well as the organization’s chief financial official and a number of the organization’s other members. The operation took less than 10 minutes, from the beginning of the attack to the arrest of the wanted individuals and the seizure of terrorist devices.

Therefore, the Kingdom’s extensive track record in combating terrorism puts it at the forefront of countries around the world, transcending its efforts and achievements at the local level to put it on a par with Washington at the global level. It has achieved this, in particular, by allocating huge amounts of its budget to combating terrorism, which constitutes a never-ending threat to the peace, security and stability of the entire world. Moreover, it has announced new initiatives and numerous counterterrorism centers, employing scientific, research and high-tech strategy along withenacting laws to eliminate terrorism.

Against this background, the American news site Al-Monitor reported that Saudi Arabia plays a crucial role in the international war against Islamic extremists and is an indispensable U.S. partner that must be supported.

Al-Monitor stressed that Saudi Arabia, an ally of the U.S. in the fight against terrorism, is targeted by terrorist organizations, despite Saudi Arabia’s success in curbing terrorist threats in recent years.

The report indicated that the U.S. must support its partner in fighting terrorism and extremist organizations, since it has benefited from Saudi counterterrorism policies for years. The Saudi Ministry of Interior has not only protected American diplomats and expatriates in the Kingdom, but has also provided intelligence to thwart attacks within the U.S. and Europe.

The American news site called for effective cooperation with Saudi officials. In his piece, “How Washington, Riyadh Can Work Together To Counter Terrorism,” American national security and counterterrorism expert Bruce Riedel advised the Biden administration that it should pay attention to its work with the Kingdom in combating terrorism.

The Barack Obama years were a disgrace on the international front, after he loosened the reigns and allowed the terrorist regime of Iran and other terrorist organizations to expand and spread. However, Washington learned a great political lesson in light of the six initiatives that came out of the Riyadh summit. Saudi policy is not about the art of the possible; instead, it is about the art of finding more than one possibility and then choosing among them. The problem is not alliances, but the interests of these alliances. The alliances of Saudi Arabia — rooted in history and proven by its weight and centrality among the Gulf states and in the Arab and Islamic world — with its ancient historical ally in Washington are not only in the region’s interests, but also in America’s interest.

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About Erin Lyons 14 Articles
Erin Lyons is a professional translator (Arabic, English, French, Italian, Spanish, Swedish) and holds a BA in Romance Languages and Literature from the University of Chicago, an MA in Translation from the Monterey Institute of International Studies and is completing her MA in MENA Diplomacy at SOAS University of London. Erin has divided her career between the United States, Europe and the Middle East and has a passion for languages, travel and culture. When she's not in front of her computer, you might catch her hiking with her beloved dog Tokyo and her husband, riding her bike or cooking Lebanese dishes.

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