This is a partial transcript from Your World with Neil Cavuto, July 31, 2003, that was edited for clarity. Click here for complete access to all of Neil Cavuto's CEO interviews.
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NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: Well, from what did they know and when did they know it to what did they spend and when did they spend it. The Saudi terror connection part two?
This has not been an easy week for the Saudis, and it did not get any easier today. Before, the fuss was over those missing 28 pages in that 9/11 report. Today, it’s over the money the Saudis might have wittingly or unwittingly provided to make 9/11 happen in the first place.
Joining me now is the chairwoman of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee looking into this very issue. Susan Collins of Maine held hearings today on finding and stopping the sources of terror money, and she joins me now from Washington.
Senator, thanks for joining us.
SEN. SUSAN COLLINS, R-MAINE, GOVERNMENTAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE CHAIR: Good afternoon.
CAVUTO: What do we know now, Senator?
COLLINS: We know that there’s compelling evidence that the high-level officials in the Saudi government took little or no action to cut off sources of financing to terrorist groups. That includes using some Islamic charitable organizations as a funnel. There’s compelling evidence that there was money going from high-ranking Saudis or with the knowledge of the Saudi government to Hamas, for example, as well.
CAVUTO: Do we know unequivocally that’s the case, though, because, as you know, ma’am, the government of Saudi Arabia, the foreign minister earlier this week also says that it has been unfairly targeted and stained as a result of constant accusations, many of which, at least in the past week, have been based on 28 pages of a missing report very few people know the details of.
COLLINS: Well, first, let me say that none of the evidence discussed at the hearing came from the classified portion of that report.
Some of the evidence came from the unclassified portions of the report, but, also, from documents that described a web of connections between the Saudi government, some of these Islamic charitable groups, and then terrorist organizations.
It’s a very troubling pattern. Some of the evidence isn’t as strong as other, the overall pattern is very convincing.
CAVUTO: Now a lot of people asked today, Senator, all right, that’s ancient history, as tragic as it is, do we know of financial, you know, connections be it between the government of Saudi Arabia or anyone else, for that matter, that would be keeping terrorists doing their thing today?
COLLINS: Well, since May 12, when the Saudi government itself experienced the terrorist bombings in Riyadh, there has been a new commitment by the Saudi government to cooperate with the United States and to crack down on some of these terrorist groups.
But one of the witnesses said today that most of the efforts of the Saudi government had been to control terrorism within the country and that there still is this worldwide network of terrorist organizations that are still to this day receiving some funding from Saudi-related groups, and that’s troubling to me.
CAVUTO: So still today and getting worse?
COLLINS: It’s difficult to say. I think it’s probably not getting worse. I think that the May bombing in Saudi Arabia has caused a turnaround to some extent in the efforts and the attitudes of the Saudi government.
COLLINS: But one of the witnesses said that, with one terrorist group, it is getting worse.
CAVUTO: All right. Thank you.
The Riyadh bombing you’re referring to back in May that killed 34 people -- eight were Americans.
Senator Susan Collins.
Thank you, ma’am. Appreciate it very much,.
COLLINS: Thank you, Neil.
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