I didn’t consider this a threat until 1999, when it occurred to me terrorism might be used as an excuse to ally with Saudi Arabia and begin a series of regime changes first considered in the 1980’s. I was listening to officers with the U.S. Naval War College express frustration in Washington as they prepared a cadre of non-commissioned officers to assist with the few al Qaeda focused initiatives running at the time. I had always felt Saudi Arabia was given the benefit of the doubt when it shouldn’t. Now I was learning that sensibility was shared by those determined to break the network supporting Osama bin Laden.
Trust is a difficult thing to lose. I lost it enough then to leave the Marine Corps, my goal to commission unfulfilled. In 2016, due to diligence of 9/11 families, Congress was forced to admit it hid from the public evidence Saudi diplomats were feeding al Qaeda hundreds of millions annually through transactions carefully disguised as charitable contributions. Not only that, it knew the Saudi Ambassador to the United States was directly connected to the Saudi operative who provided the Pentagon attackers support without which they would not have been successful.
Saudi Arabia was running covert operations through terrorists, just as the Pentagon had routinely warned Washington it would. Washington’s response was to hide that information and double down on its efforts to strengthen relations with that country. The wars we fought afterwards had more to do with that than with anything else. In our unwillingness to address this we leave those affected alone to deal with the consequences. I believe that has a lot to do with the psychological problems we see expressed through violence as we did this week.
If you are struggling to wrap your head around these things, talk. Though difficult, breaking the silence is also liberating. Frustrating? Stressful? Yes, but it’s also the way we learn to accept how little control we have. The world is like this. Treacherous acts are performed by leaders who are frightened or motivated by greed. But there are also good people close to home who were taken in, just as you were. I say talk, but know I mean talk and ponder. Ponder the moments that bring value to life despite the ugliness you’ve witnessed.
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