News & Politics

Saudis Threaten U.S. Asset Sell-Off if Congress Passes 9/11 Bill

Photo by: Hubert Boesl/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

Since September 11, 2001, the Saudi Arabian government has been extremely sensitive about charges that they helped facilitate the attacks on America. The 9/11 Commission as well as the Senate Intelligence Committee both alluded to the role of Saudi Arabian nationals in assisting the hijackers while they were in the United States.

Now Congress is considering a bill that would allow the families of 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia. In response, the Saudi government is threatening to sell off hundreds of billions of dollars in U.S. assets.

Are they serious? Their reasoning is that U.S. courts would probably freeze most of those assets anyway so why not get what they can for them.

Fox News:

Saudi Arabia has reportedly told the Obama administration and congressional leaders that it will sell billions of dollars in U.S. financial assets if Congress passes a bill to make the Saudi government legally responsible for any role in the 9/11 attacks.

The administration has tried to stop Congress from passing the legislation, a bipartisan Senate bill, since Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir last month told Washington lawmakers his country’s position, according to The New York Times.

Al-Jubeir purportedly informed the lawmakers during a trip to Washington that Saudi Arabia would be forced to sell as much as $750 billion in Treasury securities and other American financial assets on the world market, fearing the legislation could become law and U.S. courts would then freeze the assets.

The revelations about the Saudis’ ultimatum come several days after reports that President Obama will soon decide whether to declassify 28 pages of sealed documents suspected of showing a Saudi connection to the deadly 9/11 terror attacks.

Former Florida Democratic Sen. Bob Graham told Fox News on Tuesday that the White House told him a decision on whether to declassify the documents would be made within 60 days.

Graham helped lead a 2002 congressional inquiry into the attacks.

The Bush and Obama administrations have refused to unseal the documents, arguing their release would jeopardize national security.

Critics claim the reluctance is a calculated move to hide Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the al Qaeda terror attack that killed almost 3,000 people on U.S. soil on Sept. 11, 2001.

Obama had come under renewed pressure to release the documents ahead of a scheduled trip next week to Saudi Arabia for a summit of Persian Gulf leaders.

Economists are purportedly skeptical about the Saudis making good on their vow to sell the assets, considering such a move would be difficult to execute and could severely hurt that country’s economy, which depends on the U.S. dollar.

The Saudi royal family is terrified about what revelations connecting the Saudi government to the terrorists would do to the stability of the Kingdom. Implicating members of the royal family in the attack, not to mention elements of the intelligence service, would roil the politics of the country and, in some scenarios, lead to the downfall of the monarchy.

I don’t think it would be as bad as all that, but it would certainly blow up the carefully crafted, squeaky clean image the Saudis have cultivated as the defenders of Mecca and Medina, Islam’s two holiest cities. Behind that image is debauchery on a scale rarely seen in the modern world. But to the outside world, the Saudis like to present a pious, peaceful image of the Kingdom.

The president should release the documents and let the chips fall where they  may.