UK MPs urge Saudi to stop Daesh funding by royal families
A British parliamentary committee says Saudi Arabia and other Arab states must prevent their rich ruling families from funding the Daesh terrorist group.
In a report on the state of Daesh finances, lawmakers from the Foreign Affairs Select Committee say the terror organization is enjoying financial support from wealthy Arab families.
The report also says Daesh funding has dwindled because of the collapse in oil prices as well as airstrikes targeting its financial sources. The group is therefore resorting to “gangsterism and protection rackets” to fund its operations
The committee further urges Riyadh to enforce laws the interior ministry passed last year to make it illegal for Saudi residents to provide financial support for Daesh.
Citing Foreign Office minister Tobias Ellwood, the report says it was hard to know how the royal families operated in some of the Persian Gulf states.
“It is very opaque. When somebody who is close to the top of a royal family is a very rich individual donor … that is very likely to happen,” Ellwood was quoted as saying.
Dan Chugg, a senior Foreign Office official, told the committee inquiry, “It is difficult with some of these countries to know exactly what is government funding and what is not when you are dealing with royal families, wealthy princes and those kinds of things.”
Riyadh is widely viewed as one of the major regional supporters of Daesh. Takfirism, the terrorist group’s trademark, is influenced by Wahhabism, the radical ideology dominating Saudi Arabia and freely preached by Saudi clerics.
According to US government cables leaked by WikiLeaks, “Donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide.”
“It has been an ongoing challenge to persuade Saudi officials to treat terrorist financing emanating from Saudi Arabia as a strategic priority,” reads a leaked 2009 cable, written by then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Persian Gulf Arab families deny they have been supporting Daesh, insisting they are contributing to the campaign to destroy the extremist group.
Meanwhile, the UK government itself has come under fire in recent months for ramping up arms sales to Saudi Arabia, which stands accused of committing war crimes during its military campaign in Yemen. London has shrugged off international calls for an arms embargo on Riyadh.