George Bush and the Saudi connection

Cheney falsely claim that defeat of Saddam ended suicide bombers (The New Republic, Oct. 7, 2004)

During Tuesday night's debate, when moderator Gwen Ifill asked Dick Cheney to talk about administration policy toward Israel, the vice president instead decided that he'd rather keep talking about Iraq. "In respect to Israel and Palestine, Gwen, the suicide bombers, in part, were generated by Saddam Hussein, who paid $25,000 to the families of suicide bombers," Cheney said. "I personally think one of the reasons that we don't have as many suicide attacks today in Israel as we've had in the past is because Saddam is no longer in business." Cheney was right that Saddam rewarded families of Palestinian suicide bombers with $25,000 checks. He was also right that the number of terror attacks in Israel has dramatically decreased in the last year. But while Cheney is entitled to "personally think" whatever he wants, his attempt to link the two has no basis in truth....

Cheney's assertion was odd for another reason: Saddam was hardly the primary state sponsor of suicide terrorism in Israel. The $25,000 checks were a gimmick designed to burnish Saddam's image among Palestinians who saw him as a champion of their cause. But countries like Iran (which directly funds Palestinian terrorist groups and provides them with arms via Hezbollah) and Syria (which shelters Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders) are having a more pernicious effect on the level of terror in Israel than Saddam ever did. Israel has routinely blamed Tehran and Damascus for their support of Palestinian terrorism, while also noting that Hamas fundraisers have been held in Saudi Arabia. "If we're going to take out everybody in the Middle East who is supporting suicide bombers in Israel by giving them money, then I can think of a whole bunch of targets other than Saddam who would be at the head of the attack," says Marc Ginsberg, a Democratic foreign policy strategist and former U.S. ambassador to Morocco.

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