Fox News Poll

Americans Say Saudis Should Do More to Fight Terror

On the heels of President Bush’s meeting with Saudi foreign minister Prince Saud al-Faisal (search), there is widespread belief among the public that the United States should demand Saudi Arabia take more action against terrorism. Only a small minority of Americans trusts Saudi Arabia as an ally in the war on terror.

These are some of the findings of the latest FOX News national poll, conducted July 29-30 by Opinion Dynamics Corporation.

Seven in 10 (71 percent) think the United States should demand Saudi Arabia take more action against terrorists, while only about one in 10 thinks the Saudis are doing enough already. In addition, 67 percent say they do not trust Saudi Arabia to be a U.S. ally in fighting terrorism. There are no partisan differences on the trust question but there is a gender gap, as 21 percent of men trust Saudi Arabia to be an ally compared to 12 percent of women.

The recently released Congressional report on U.S. intelligence before the 9/11 attacks includes a large blacked-out section that is said to suggest possible links between some Saudi officials and the hijackers. Saudi government officials have requested the section be released, but President Bush has made clear he believes it includes national security information and that it should remain classified.

"Despite the public relations offensive from the Saudis, Americans are skeptical about their role in terrorism," comments Opinion Dynamics President John Gorman (search). "It seems clear that to satisfy the public, the Saudis are going to have to be seen as much more active in cracking down on support for terror in the kingdom."

Americans have conflicting views on where the war on terrorism actually stands. On the one hand, many Americans say they are confident that U.S. intelligence agencies have improved their procedures and will be able to prevent 9/11-type attacks in the future. Sixty-two percent are confident (17 percent “very” and 45 percent “somewhat”) the government will be able to prevent attacks, but a third are not so sure (20 percent “not very” and 13 percent “not at all” confident). A striking partisan difference is seen in the confidence levels, with 78 percent of Republicans confident the government agencies have now made the appropriate fixes but that drops to 50 percent of Democrats and 62 percent of independents.

On the other hand, only about a third (35 percent) think enough is being done to secure the country’s borders, and fully 92 percent of Americans think there are members of the Usama bin Laden-led terrorist group Al Qaeda living in the United States today.

About half of the public (51 percent) is surprised there has not been an attack in the United States since 9/11, and nearly half (45 percent) expect another major attack will happen within the next two years.

Polling was conducted by telephone July 29-30, 2003 in the evenings. The sample is 900 registered voters nationwide with a margin of error of ±3 percentage points.

1. How surprised are you that there has not been another terrorist attack in the United States since the 9/11 attacks?

1. Very surprised 21%
2. Somewhat surprised 30
3. Not very surprised 27
4. Not at all surprised 19
5. (Not sure) 3

2. How confident are you that U.S. intelligence agencies have now improved their procedures and will be able to prevent attacks like the 9/11 attacks in the future?

1. Very confident 17%
2. Somewhat confident 45
3. Not very confident 20
4. Not at all confident 13
5. (Not sure) 5

3. Do you think another major terrorist attack in the United States will happen:

1. Within the next three months, 4%
2. Within the next six months, 10
3. In the next one to two years, 31
4. More than two years from now, or 17
5. Never? 16
6. (Not sure) 22

4. Do you think there are members of the Al Qaeda terrorist group in the United States today?

1. Yes 92%
2. No 4
3. (Not sure) 4

5. Do you trust Saudi Arabia to be an ally of the United States in the war on terror or not?

Yes No (Not sure)
29-30 Jul 03 16% 67 17
20-21 May 03 18% 66 16

6. On the issue of terrorism, do you think the United States should demand that Saudi Arabia take more action against terrorism or is Saudi Arabia already doing enough?

1. Demand more action 71%
2. Doing enough 13
3. (About right) 2
4. (Not sure) 16

7. Do you think America is doing enough to secure the country’s borders?

1. Yes 35%
2. No 57
3. (Not sure) 8

8. After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Congress passed the Patriot Act which, in part, gives federal officials wider authority to use wiretaps and other surveillance techniques. Some people say the Patriot Act is a necessary and effective tool in preventing terrorist attacks, while others say the act goes too far and could violate the civil liberties of average Americans. Which comes closer to your view – overall, would you say the Patriot Act is a good thing for America or a bad thing for America?

1. Good 55%
2. Bad 27
3. (Mixed) 9
4. (Not sure) 9

9. To the best of your knowledge have you or a member of your family had your civil rights affected by the Patriot Act?

1. Yes 4%
2. No 91
3. (Not sure) 5