LONDON – Saudi Arabia may not have been directly implicated in the conspiracy that killed more than 3,000 people on September 11, 2001, but it has been consumed in a conspiracy of silence ever since. The Kingdom remains in sullen denial of the fact that the terrorists’ ideology – their inspiration to behave as they did – was created and nurtured within its borders.
That stance appears to have been contagious, because the United States, too, has done everything possible to change the subject whenever the Saudi role in the 9/11 attacks is raised. The US has found it much safer, it seems, to focus on mortal threats that remain more notional than real – be it Saddam Hussein or Iran’s Shia mullahs.
From the moment the Twin Towers fell in New York, the US sought to define for the world how to view the terrorist attack. President George W. Bush declared that, “you are either with us, or against us,” and quickly began to classify entire nations in these Manichean terms.
Muslim leaders everywhere worried that they would be stigmatized, perhaps nowhere more so than in Saudi Arabia, whose regime feared that its decades of friendship with the US might end.