The invasion of Iraq has fuelled anti-western sentiment in Saudi Arabia, strengthening grassroots’ support for terrorist organisations.
Allan Gerson has sued Saudi charities, banks and members of the royal family for two trillion dollars. He accuses them of financing the September 11 attacks and Bali bombing: “We have seen evidence of money that went from Saudi sources through various entities in Europe to support terrorist cells.” These allegations are strenuously denied by Crown Prince Abdullah, ruler of Saudi Arabia. However, there is a growing gulf between the governing elite and their subjects and many Saudis are angered by America’s unwavering support for Israel. “The more the Palestinians are oppressed and the more the Americans support Israel, the more popular bin Laden and his like becomes,” explains Saudi writer Sulayman Al-Hattlan. “Osama stood up for people who were quiet ... He told the States I'm not afraid of you,” admires one student. Her friend agrees: “If Bush makes us choose between our religion or hurting our people, we're going to choose our religion.” Images of the bombing of Baghdad can only galvanise support for Islamic fundamentalists prepared to bank-roll Al-Qaeda.