Bowing to growing pressure from Washington to look more carefully at the destination of charitable donations, Saudi Arabia on 3 December published a report detailing steps taken to ensure its charities are not funding terrorism. The move comes in the wake of accusations that the wife of the Saudi ambassador to the US made charitable donations which found their way to two of the 11 September hijackers. Various Saudi charitable institutions are among the accused in a $1 trillion lawsuit being brought by victims of the attacks, against those said to have financed terrorism (MEED 23:8:02).
Measures taken that are spelt out in the report include forcing the institutions to establish financial control and audit mechanisms, creating a government agency to monitor their activities, and imposing stricter rules for sending money abroad. In an attempt to show that the government is taking the problem of terrorist financing seriously, the report gives details of the 33 bank accounts frozen since 11 September, containing funds worth $5.6 million. The Saudi government denies that any money has flowed directly from its citizens to terrorists but admits the possibility of indirect financial support.