January 30, 2004
The Al Quaeda Next Door?
This report (via Instapundit) about the US quietly expelling dozens of Saudi diplomats that were "suspected of helping promulgate Al Qaida ideology" can be supported with an anecdotal firsthand observation: I live a block away from what used to be a second Saudi Diplomatic Office that was separate from the official embassy. I'm straining to remember, but its official title had the term "Information" in it. At the time this report says Saudi diplomatic staff was booted, the office closed down and then changed ownership.
Was an Al Quaeda propaganda or recruiting office operating one block from my apartment and less than one mile from the White House?! That possibility really pisses me off. And scares me.
I walked by this building every day for years after September 11th, and would curiously wonder what the guys smoking cigarettes on the front porch thought about the whole deal. I wondered if they perhaps had been quietly pleased at the attacks on NY and the Pentagon. And then, of course, I would mentally flagellate myself for being a suspicious, racist, paranoid American.
We've got to take a hard-ass, critical view on the Saudi situation. I get annoyed when leftists screech "but the real problem is the Saudis," making the assumption (based on the nationality of the majority of the September 11th terrorists) that the Saudi government is officially dedicated to supporting terror. As if any of these auto-contrarians really would advocate doing anything about it if it didn't conveniently strike them as an argument that diverges from the visible policy of this Republican administration. Assuming the official ill-will of a government based on the actions of some of its citizens is a mistake.
BUT - when terrorist sympathizers work as official government attaches, the problem goes beyond tolerating and nurturing the growth of a cancerous culture in their country, and really blurs the lines of whether even well-meaning Saudi government officials are indeed our enemies through their incompetence, impotence or some form of schizophrenic collusion.
And the new residents of the building? The Egyptian government.