Bankrupting Terror: Blocking the Saudi Aramco IPO
By Kristen Breitweiser, one of the four 9/11 widows – known as the “Jersey Girls” – instrumental in forcing the government to form the 9/11 Commission to investigate the 2001 attacks. Follow Kristen Breitweiser on Twitter: www.twitter.com/kdbreitweiser.
Who’s the most reviled person you know? David Duke? Bernie Madoff? Vlad Putin? Kim Jong Un? Well, whomever it is, just imagine how you would feel if they weren’t held accountable for their bad acts? Worse, what if they were not held accountable, but actually rewarded and enabled to continue to do more of their bad acts. Worse still, if they were not held accountable, rewarded and enabled to continue their bad acts—by your very own family and friends. How would that make you feel?
That’s kind of what has happened to the 9/11 Families with regard to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia during the past 16 years since the September 11th attacks. Our most reviled entity, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, who we want to see held accountable for their alleged financial and logistical role in the mass murder of 3,000 on September 11th seems to continually evade accountability, get rewarded for its bad behavior, and encouraged to continue its bad acts with the help of the very same people who should be holding the Saudis accountable and protecting Americans.
Yet, maddeningly, it seems that many leaders in the United States would prefer to reward and enable the Kingdom so it can continue to carry out its bad acts that are far too often connected to lethal terrorism.
Whether its Congress signing off on $100 billion weapons deals that give Saudis a stockpile of weapons and machinery to be used against innocent people in places like Yemen and Syria. Or, giving Saudi officials CIA Medals of Honor for their dubious counterterrorism achievements. Or, giving a seat to the Kingdom to serve on the UN Commission on the Status of Women and a second seat to serve on the UN Human Rights Council. Or continuing to let Saudi Royals off the hook for crimes they commit because of diplomatic and/or sovereign immunity. Or, the most recent example of Wall Street Executives and others bending over backwards to try and win the Saudi Aramco IPO. Why do such intelligent individuals, agencies, or entities seemingly continue to kowtow to the Kingdom? How can they overlook the Saudis track record of human rights abuses, funding of Sunni radical terror groups, horrific treatment and oppression of women, and alleged participatory role in the 9/11 attacks.
Within the next 6 months or so, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will choose the venue for its Aramco IPO. Stock exchanges around the globe are jockeying, wooing, and coddling the Saudis to try and win this business. Admittedly, because of the size of Aramco, this IPO will be one of the largest in history. This explains why the exchanges in Hong Kong, London, and the U.S. are vying to win the deal. Yet, as someone whose husband worked on Wall Street until he was killed on September 11th while working at his desk on the 94th floor of Tower 2, WTC, I find the collective fervor of these stock exchanges disappointing; and those of the American exchange particularly appalling. Et tu Brute? Nothing like inviting criminals back to the scene of the crime to gloat, cash in and make a cool trillion. So much for hallowed ground.
So while Wall Street head honchos like Jamie Dimon are likely dropping to their knees drooling for such a whale of a Saudi deal, a few blocks away the 9/11 Families (16 years out from the 9/11 attacks) are still in federal court trying to hold the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia accountable for its alleged role in the 9/11 attacks that killed our loved ones—many of whom worked on Wall Street. When you are a family member of a U.S. victim of terrorism, you must live within the short blocks of such incongruities and disloyalties. And, learn to be patient in your pursuit of justice.
Indeed, we are now on our third U.S. President since the 9/11 attacks and not one of these Presidents (or any of the ones before them for that matter) has seen fit to hold the Kingdom accountable for their participatory role in Sunni radical terrorism, in general, or the 9/11 attacks, in particular.
How does President after President give speech after speech continuing to take us into foreign land after foreign land to fight terrorists from al Qaeda, the Taliban, and ISIS, yet never crack down on the one country in the world that is constantly and consistently the biggest benefactor of those very same terror groups—year in and year out. Indeed, think–tank, after think–tank, after think–tank, and report, after report, after report after report and classified cable, after classified cable, reveal that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia continues to fund and logistically support the very terror groups that our U.S. military has been fighting against for nearly two decades. Our leaders talk about their mistakes of relying on bad intelligence; believing in nation building and the false promise of spreading democracy; and/or accidentally creating power vacuums. Yet, not one of these men seems to have the principled realism to see and acknowledge the one constant connected to terrorism decade after decade: the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its oil dollars.
The Saudis need the Aramco IPO because they are running extremely short on cash; they’re in a cash crunch. Indeed, several reports have indicated that the Saudis are behind on payments, and being forced to instill austerity upon their people since they can no longer afford to pay such large subsidies to their citizens. The result of this belt tightening is an increasingly disgruntled Saudi population that had grown accustomed to large government handouts. In short, the natives are restless and that’s never a good thing especially for a Monarchy full of Royals who rule because god says so.
Some would say that in situations like this, cash goes a long way to snuff out those flames of discord and discontent. Yet, without the cash raised by its impending Saudi Aramco IPO, the Saudis wouldn’t be able to pay their way out of their current situation. Again, would that be such a bad thing? What would happen if the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia went broke and its Saudi citizens were less able to give such large amounts of money to zakat? Would it break the cycle of Saudi funding to Sunni radical terror groups? Bankrupt and no longer flush with cash, it’s fair to assume that most Saudi donations earmarked to fund and logistically support radical Sunni Islam would dry up and ultimately come to an end—undoubtedly going a long way in making the world a safer place.
When President Trump gave his speech on Afghanistan last week, he mentioned that our foreign policy must take on a more principled realism. I don’t know how much more real and principled you can get than centering a “pillar” of our national security on the bankrupting of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in order to stop Sunni radical terrorism.
Without the influx of Saudi funds, Sunni mosques and madrassahs would not likely get built and supported; textbooks that spew hate and violence would not likely get written and distributed around the world to brainwash disciples; websites, chat rooms, and social media accounts would likely quickly go dark and quiet; and training camps in places like Afghanistan would likely be abandoned, as well. Gee, that sounds like a net win. And, not one American soldier’s life would be lost in the process.
The facts are clear. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia funds and logistically supports terrorists that are killing us around the globe in places like London, Paris, Belgium, Finland, Spain, and the United States. Our banking executives and governmental officials should ward against financially propping up the Kingdom merely so it can survive another day to continue to fund terror and radical Sunni terrorist groups that wreak havoc upon us. Doing so is in our direct national security interests since the Saudi Aramco IPO is nothing short of a crowd-funding campaign for jihad. And none of us should invest a dime.
Moreover, isn’t blocking the Saudi Aramco IPO merely giving the Saudis a potent dose of their own medicine particularly given the Saudis recent embargo and sanctioning of Qatar because Qatar funds and supports terrorism? As reported by Reuters, “Saudi foreign minister Adel al Jubeir said there would be no negotiations over demands by the Kingdom and other Arab states for Qatar to stop supporting terrorism. Jubeir said, ‘We made our point, we took our steps, and now it is up to the Qataris to amend their behavior and once they do things will be worked out but if they don’t they will remain isolated.’” I wish our U.S. leaders and ‘ministers’ of finance would share a similar “cut and dry” approach towards accountability and terror funding. Additionally, I’d suggest Mr. Jubeir take a good hard look in the mirror and hold his own Kingdom to the same standards he sets for Qatar. Because Adel, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.
To me, anyone who looks to host the Saudi Aramco IPO is akin to being an accomplice before the fact of any future terrorist attack that is carried out by Sunni radical terror groups. Just like any individual investor looking to become a shareholder of Saudi Aramco should be made aware that they’re also knowingly buying a share of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and are, therefore, financially propping up and morally tied to all of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Sunni radical policies and ideologies that contribute to the death and destruction of human lives. Indeed, as a Saudi Aramco shareholder you are financially supporting: the horrific oppression of women; the trafficking and slavery of human beings; the draconian doctrine of Sharia law with its canings, beheadings, eye-gougings, stonings, and torture; and most likely the continued funding of Sunni radical terror groups like ISIS, al Qaeda, and the Taliban that may someday kill someone you love.
Why would anyone ever want to buy into a share of that?
Do Jamie Dimon, Ken Moelis, and Michael Klein like terrorist attacks? Do they realize that hosting the Saudi Aramco IPO is akin to “signing off” and supporting terrorism? Do these three Americans condone people like my husband Ron getting slaughtered and blown to bits by radical Sunni terrorists? And groups like ISIS, al Qaeda, and the Taliban continuing to get infused with their Saudi funded life-blood so they can continue to chop off more “infidel” heads? Does the collective greed of these three men and their Wall Street brethren truly eclipse our entire nation’s right to be safe from terrorists? I think not.