The Saudi Committee

The Saudi Committee is an internationally recognized humanitarian organization sponsored by the government of Saudi Arabia. Specifically, the Saudi Committee was established to provide relief to thousands of families in need, including widows, orphans and those who were wounded, left homeless or lost wage earners, as a result of the Second Intifada between Israel and Palestine.

Plaintiffs argue that the government of Saudi Arabia was engaged in supporting terrorism through the Saudi Committee even though it was and remains in good standing with the U.S. government.

Fast Facts about the Saudi Committee

  • The Saudi Committee was overseen by the late Saudi Minister of Interior and chief counterterrorism official Crown Prince Nayef, whom President Obama praised upon his death in June 2012 for his leadership and partnership in combating terrorism.
  • The Saudi Committee provided welfare funds to Palestinian families in need including widows, children and families who lost breadwinners or suffered in other ways from the civil conflict.
  • The Saudi Committee also joined forces with the Red Crescent Society and various United Nations agencies to provide medical and education assistance, such as first aid tools, millions of textbooks and new hospitals and schools.
  • Both Secretary of State Powell and White House Press Secretary Fleischer publicly stated in 2002 that the Saudi Committee’s purposes were humanitarian.
  • In December 2004, James T. Morris, the then-American head of the United Nations World Food Program (WFP), expressed his appreciation for the “generous support extended by the Saudi Committee,” which set up a program for the distribution of food baskets to several hundred thousand needy Palestinian families.

Fast Facts about the Case

  • No government in the world designated the Saudi Committee as a prohibited party during the time period relevant to the case. To this day, the Saudi Committee remains in good standing in the U.S.
  • In the first and only Arab Bank case to reach a final decision, a federal judge dismissed the case, concluding that “plaintiff points to no evidence of any substantial probative force suggesting that the Bank’s provision of banking services to the Saudi Committee was a willful attempt to aid the terrorist… who injured plaintiff.”
  • The Saudi Committee was not a customer of Arab Bank, and the Bank did not have any role in determining the recipients of aid provided by the Saudi Committee.
  • The Bank processed automated, electronic fund transfer instructions, initiated by the Saudi Committee through its Saudi-based bank, and screened all of these transactions in compliance with applicable laws and regulations.

Meet The Press

May 5, 2002

Secretary Powell: “The Saudis…say that the donations that they are making and the telethon money they are raising are going through the International Committee for the Red Cross, going to UNRA, the United Nations Relief Agency, and going for humanitarian purposes to families, and not a reward for suicide bombing, but taking care of people in need. That is their position.”

Mr. Russert: “Do you believe them?”

Secretary Powell: “From what I have heard, yes.”

White House Press Briefing

April 12, 2002

Press Secretary Ari Fleischer: “According to information that we have about the telethon, and the assurances that we have received from the Saudi government, the money is raised to help with the broader humanitarian needs of the Palestinian people. Something the United States is committed to. The United States provides…financial assistance for the Palestinian people. So the simple granting of money to the Palestinian people cannot, on its face, be said to be support of terrorism…”