Theresa May Blocks Re­lease of Saudi Ara­bia Ter­ror­ism Re­port

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Ig­nor­ing last-minute ap­peals by sur­vivors of the 9/11 at­tacks in the U.S., the UK'S Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May re­fused to pub­lish a re­port about Saudi Ara­bia's role in fund­ing Is­lamic ex­trem­ism in the United King­dom.

The re­port in ques­tion was com­pleted in early 2017. It was pre­pared for the Home Of­fice at the di­rec­tion of for­mer Prime Min­is­ter David Cameron, to look into the sources of ter­ror­ism fund­ing in the United King­dom. As more ev­i­dence piles up sug­gest­ing Saudi Ara­bia’s in­volve­ment in that fund­ing and as the UK con­tin­ues to work to­gether more closely than ever with the Saudis, re­leas­ing the re­port to the pub­lic has been con­sid­ered more im­por­tant than ever.

The news that the re­port would not be pub­lished first broke in July. The ra­tio­nale then was that it con­tained a “vast amount of per­sonal in­for­ma­tion” and could also not be pub­lished for “na­tional se­cu­rity rea­sons”.

Sur­vivors of the at­tacks re­jected that first an­nounce­ment. To­gether a group of them put to­gether a pub­lic let­ter to Theresa May to beg her to re­con­sider the July de­ci­sion about the re­port. That let­ter said:

“The UK now has the unique his­toric op­por­tu­nity to stop this killing spree of Wah­habist­in­spired ter­ror­ists by re­leas­ing the UK’S Gov­ern­ment re­port on ter­ror­ism fi­nanc­ing in the UK which, ac­cord­ing to me­dia re­ports, places Saudi Ara­bia at its cen­tre of cul­pa­bil­ity.

The longer Saudi Ara­bia’s com­plic­ity is hid­den from sun­light, the longer ter­ror­ism will con­tinue. They must be stopped, but who will stop them?

We sub­mit that you are uniquely sit­u­ated to shine the cleans­ing light of pub­lic con­scious­ness. We re­spect­fully urge you to re­lease the re­port now, fin­ished or un­fin­ished.

We ask you to con­sider all the vic­tims of state­spon­sored, Saudi-fi­nanced ter­ror­ism, their fam­i­lies and the sur­vivors in the UK and all over the world.

Ad­di­tion­ally, our demo­cratic free­doms con­tinue to be com­pro­mised. How can the UK pub­lic have con­fi­dence in their safety if noth­ing changes?”

Prime Min­is­ter May has now is­sued her fi­nal de­ci­sion re­gard­ing the re­port, and will not re­lease it. The de­ci­sion was es­pe­cially an­ger­ing in view of the wave of re­cent ter­ror­ist at­tacks in the United King­dom and across Europe. Sharon Re­moli, who was on the 80th floor of the North Tower of the World Trade Cen­ter in New York when the first plane made its at­tack on 9/11, was one of the sign­ers of the let­ter that was sent to May, and now re­jected. As she said in an in­ter­view with The In­de­pen­dent news­pa­per, she has been in­ves­ti­gat­ing who the real guilty par­ties were be­hind the 9/11 at­tacks ever since they hap­pened. She said that she and oth­ers have “pur­sued the money trail…we are al­ways led to the source: Saudi Ara­bia”. She also makes it clear that the United States and the United King­dom have a ma­jor fi­nan­cial stake in keep­ing Saudi Ara­bia happy, largely be­cause of weapons sales to the coun­try. So per­haps it is no won­der Prime Min­is­ter May will not al­low the re­port to sur­face.

Af­ter U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s visit to Saudi Ara­bia in May along with many Amer­i­can com­pa­nies present, deals in­volv­ing mostly mil­i­tary-re­lated items worth over $350 bil­lion were signed with the Arab king­dom. Of those, $110 bil­lion would be go­ing into ef­fect im­me­di­ately.

The U.S., with it be­ing the sin­gle largest weapons-ex­porter – and, there­fore, ‘war mer­chant’ – in the world, sup­plies ap­prox­i­mately one-third of all arms sales world­wide. 47% of all those weapons for the years from 2001 to 2016 went to three main coun­tries: Saudi Ara­bia, the United Arab Emi­rates (UAE) and Turkey. Saudi Ara­bia was by far the largest buyer of those arms, which means keep­ing Saudi Ara­bia happy is def­i­nitely in the in­ter­ests of the U.S.’S pow­er­ful mil­i­tary-in­dus­trial com­plex.

So it is with the UK’S gov­ern­ment as well, which made an es­ti­mated £5.6 bil­lion in sales of fighter jets, arms, and other mil­i­tary equip­ment to the Saudi Ara­bian gov­ern­ment from 2010 to 2016, un­der the David Cameron ad­min­is­tra­tion. That’s about $7.5 bil­lion U.S. at cur­rent ex­change rates.

This could be a se­cu­rity or pri­vacy based de­ci­sion, as Prime Min­is­ter May has in­di­cated. But to many look­ing in from the side­lines, this looks far more like a fi­nan­cial de­ci­sion than any­thing else. The UK needs the mil­i­tary sales for its own busi­nesses and con­trac­tors, and does not want to do any­thing to jeop­ar­dize them, es­pe­cially in the frag­ile post-brexit econ­omy.

It also may have fi­nally put a price on the value of all those hu­man lives lost in the tragedy of 9/11, which is per­haps the ugli­est truth of all in mak­ing the de­ci­sion to keep the 9/11 re­port quiet.

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