There is a clear link between at least low-level Saudi officials to the 9/11 attacks. That part has been known for a long time. What's changing is the attitude in U.S. congress, says Bennis. Because of pressure campaigns by the U.S. anti-war movement congress just passed and in fact overrode the veto of president Obama on a law that says that U.S. citizens who lost family members in 9/11 can sue Saudi Arabia to get information about what involvement they may have had. “That's a huge shift in U.S. policy.” The same has happened with the latest arms deal to Saudi Arabia. “There was a higher level of opposition than we have ever seen before.” It is also known that a lot the money that funds the IS comes from Saudi Arabia while it’s not clear from where exactly. The government of the gulf monarchy could stop that. “For whatever reason they have chosen not to make that move.”
Phyllis Bennis, Institute for Policy Studies, Washington D.C.
David Goessmann: What is with the Saudi connection? There's a lot of talk in the United States about that.
Phyllis Bennis: All but two of the hijackers were Saudis. There were two who were Egyptians. Right now we're hearing more about a change in the discourse in the United States about the longstanding US support for Saudi Arabia. Despite its legion of years of human rights violations and legion of years of supporting terrorist organizations around the region and indeed around the world. There is a clear link between at least low-level Saudi officials – it's not clear how high up it goes – to the 9/11 attacks. That part has been known for a long time, not a surprise. What's changing is the attitude in congress. Because there's been a big pressure campaign in the last few months, led by Code Pink and other parts of the US anti-war movement, to challenge this notion of what the US-Saudi relationship should be based on. In the past is was always "we're not going to talk about human rights violations. we're not going to talk about the possible Saudi links to 9/11, because they're our most important Arab ally". What makes them the most important Arab ally? Why are we sending them 60 billion dollar in then years of arms for this terrible role they are playing in the region. With our weapons! So of course, appropriately, we get blamed for it. So now suddenly, the Congress just passed and in fact overrode the veto of President Obama on a law that says that US citizens who lost family members in 9/11 can indeed sue Saudi Arabia to get information about what involvement they may have had. That's a huge shift in US policy. The US did not want to allow that to happen. The president vetoed it. But there was enough public pressure – Just Foreign Policy, Code Pink, so many other organizations, Win Without War, everybody was out there – pushing on Congress to override the veto and indeed it did. So that's huge. We also saw it just a few weeks ago on the latest arms deal to Saudi Arabia. It went through Congress. But not without a higher level of opposition than we have ever seen before. Members of Congress, members of the Senate who had never opposed the Saudi requests. Suddenly we're stepping back and saying: you know what? I think we need a little bit information here on just what they plan to do with these weapons. What we do know, even looking at ISIS, by far the most extreme, the most brutal, the most horrific of these terrorist organizations: We know that a lot the money that funds them comes from Saudi Arabia. We don't know whether it comes from the government, from the royal family, from disgruntled individuals, from institutions … we don't know that. But we do know it comes through Saudi Arabia. And we also know that Saudi Arabia is a tightly closed country. With a lot of government control. If they chose to stop that traffic, whoever it was coming from, they could do so. For whatever reason they have chosen not to make that move.