NY Times downplays Saudis as main source of funding for global terrorism

Leo Rennert
While other media around the world headlined reports about the latest WikiLeaks documents as disclosing that Saudi Arabia remains the principal source of funding global terrorism, the New York Times went to great lengths to downplay ominous Saudi complicity in generously bankrolling jihadist groups in their war against the West.

The latest trove of leaked dispatches includes a sharply worded memo from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that "donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding Sunni terrorist groups worldwide."  In the same memo, Clinton also acknowledges that U.S. efforts to persuade Saudi officials to combat such financing of terrorism as a "strategic priority" have been to no avail.  The Saudis continue to maintain their dubious role as premier Sugar Daddy of global jihad.

Yet, busy readers of the New York Times who scan only headlines and perhaps the first couple of paragraphs of any given article would not have been informed about such treachery emanating from Saudi Arabia when they perused the Dec. 6 front page article on the New York Times.

Instead, the Times led off with a more generic headline and lead paragraph that avoid specifically fingering the Saudis' tolerance for nurturing global terrorism -- "Cash Flow to Terrorists," reads the headline, "Evades U.S. Efforts -- Arab Allies Resist U.S. Moves to Close Aid Pipelines, Cables Say."

In a similar vein, reporters Eric Lichtblau and Eric Schmitt, serve up a lead paragraph that touches only on "allies in the Middle East" as part of a continuing money pipeline for terrorist groups.  No mention that the Saudis rank first among these terror-coddling "allies."

When Lichtblau and Schmitt get down to specifics in the second paragraph about how terrorists get their money, they first of all call readers' attention to a "brazen bank robbery in Yemen last year."  Never mind that this was chump change compared to the millions of petrodollars flowing to jihadist groups from generous Saudis.

Next on the reporters' radar screen are proceeds from the drug trade in Afghanistan -- again a clear runner-up to the far graver role played by the Saudis, according to Clinton.

After that, Lichtblau and Schmitt mention collections taken during pilgrimages to Mecca, which brings the article a bit closer to Saudi Arabia, but ignores the fact that most pilgrims at the hajj are not Saudis -- the primo baddies in the view of the secretary of state.

To illustrate the article, Times editors also keep Saudi Arabia away from the spotlight and instead chose a picture of opium poppies growing in an Afghan field.

It is not until the fourth paragraph of the Lichtblaud-Schmitt article that the Saudis themselves are revealed as prime culprits in financing global terrorism, as documented by Clinton's memo.

Any editor worth his salt -- and true to basic journalism rules to lead with the newest, the mostest and the most significant developments -- would have put right at the top in the headline and in the lead paragraph Clinton's sharp indictment of the Saudis as No. 1 bankers of global jihad.  And, in fact, that's how most other media reported the story. 

Given that the 9/11 terrorists came from Saudi Arabia and killed thousands in the towers of the World Trade Center -- a short distance from the New York Times -- one would think that Times reporters and editors, of all people, would be specially alert to the continuing terror threats emanating from Saudi Arabia.

But evidently and apparently not.
While other media around the world headlined reports about the latest WikiLeaks documents as disclosing that Saudi Arabia remains the principal source of funding global terrorism, the New York Times went to great lengths to downplay ominous Saudi complicity in generously bankrolling jihadist groups in their war against the West.

The latest trove of leaked dispatches includes a sharply worded memo from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that "donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding Sunni terrorist groups worldwide."  In the same memo, Clinton also acknowledges that U.S. efforts to persuade Saudi officials to combat such financing of terrorism as a "strategic priority" have been to no avail.  The Saudis continue to maintain their dubious role as premier Sugar Daddy of global jihad.

Yet, busy readers of the New York Times who scan only headlines and perhaps the first couple of paragraphs of any given article would not have been informed about such treachery emanating from Saudi Arabia when they perused the Dec. 6 front page article on the New York Times.

Instead, the Times led off with a more generic headline and lead paragraph that avoid specifically fingering the Saudis' tolerance for nurturing global terrorism -- "Cash Flow to Terrorists," reads the headline, "Evades U.S. Efforts -- Arab Allies Resist U.S. Moves to Close Aid Pipelines, Cables Say."

In a similar vein, reporters Eric Lichtblau and Eric Schmitt, serve up a lead paragraph that touches only on "allies in the Middle East" as part of a continuing money pipeline for terrorist groups.  No mention that the Saudis rank first among these terror-coddling "allies."

When Lichtblau and Schmitt get down to specifics in the second paragraph about how terrorists get their money, they first of all call readers' attention to a "brazen bank robbery in Yemen last year."  Never mind that this was chump change compared to the millions of petrodollars flowing to jihadist groups from generous Saudis.

Next on the reporters' radar screen are proceeds from the drug trade in Afghanistan -- again a clear runner-up to the far graver role played by the Saudis, according to Clinton.

After that, Lichtblau and Schmitt mention collections taken during pilgrimages to Mecca, which brings the article a bit closer to Saudi Arabia, but ignores the fact that most pilgrims at the hajj are not Saudis -- the primo baddies in the view of the secretary of state.

To illustrate the article, Times editors also keep Saudi Arabia away from the spotlight and instead chose a picture of opium poppies growing in an Afghan field.

It is not until the fourth paragraph of the Lichtblaud-Schmitt article that the Saudis themselves are revealed as prime culprits in financing global terrorism, as documented by Clinton's memo.

Any editor worth his salt -- and true to basic journalism rules to lead with the newest, the mostest and the most significant developments -- would have put right at the top in the headline and in the lead paragraph Clinton's sharp indictment of the Saudis as No. 1 bankers of global jihad.  And, in fact, that's how most other media reported the story. 

Given that the 9/11 terrorists came from Saudi Arabia and killed thousands in the towers of the World Trade Center -- a short distance from the New York Times -- one would think that Times reporters and editors, of all people, would be specially alert to the continuing terror threats emanating from Saudi Arabia.

But evidently and apparently not.