US Diplomat Accused Saudis of Aiding Philippine Terrorists

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Sept. 6, 2011 (LPAC) — According to recently released Wikileak documents, former US Ambassador to the Philippines Francis Ricciardone accused the Saudi envoy in Manila of interfering in cases against Saudi subjects who were under investigation for supporing terrorists in the southern province of Mindanao.

The US Embassy in Manila, in a May 4, 2005 cable classified as secret and sent by Ambassador Ricciardone, expressed alarm at the “disturbing trend” involving Saudi envoy Mohammed Ameen Wail and senior Philippine police and immigration officials. Wali repeatedly met with government officials, arranging the release of at least three Saudis into his custody for deportation, ending the investigation into their terrorist connections. In one case, Ricciardone said, a Saudi named Talhi “had admitted to giving $8,000 to Cotabato (a city in Mindanao) mayor Muslimin Sema, whose meetings with suspected terrorist financiers caused us to suspend a USAID road project.” Saudi envoy Wali then met with the Philippine Immigration Commissioner, and Talhi was released.

Ricciardone said in one leaked cable that the Saudis’ public pronouncements against terrorism “are contradicted by a developing pattern of effective Saudi embassy influence on GRP (Govt. of Philippines) officials to release suspected [terrorist] financiers.” He added that the Saudis had “powerful access and influence with senior [Philippine] law enforcement officials, undoubtedly stemming from the important role the remittances of overseas Filipino workers in Saudi Arabia play in keeping the weak Philippine economy afloat.” There are about one million Filipinos working in Saudi Arabia.

Ricciardone reported that he told the Philippine Foreign Minister that “there have been no discernible Saudi efforts to guard against private Saudi funding to extremist Islamic groups here.”

The current head of the renegade faction of the MILF, Ameril Umbra Kato, who is refusing to participate in peace talks with the government, was educated in Saudi Arabia.

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