09:23 GMT +319 November 2019
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    Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah, left, speaks with his half-brother Salman, who has been appointed King following Abdullah's death early Friday.

    Obama to Go to Saudi Arabia Despite 9/11 Connection, Human Rights Issues

    © AP Photo / Saudi Press Agency
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    The White House announced that President Obama is cutting his trip to India short in order to visit Saudi Arabia to show respect for the new Saudi king. Saudi Arabia has been implicated in the 9/11 attacks and is also under increased scrutiny for human rights violations.

    The White House previously told reporters Vice President Biden would represent the U.S. in Riyadh following Friday’s death of King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz. That apparently changed overnight.

    A screenshot of Raif Badawi, a Saudi Arabian writer and creator of the website Free Saudi Liberals. He was arrested in 2012 on a charge of insulting Islam through electronic channels and apostasy. He was sentenced to seven years in prison and 600 lashes in 2013, then resentenced to 1000 lashes and ten years in prison plus a fine in 2014.
    © Wikipedia /
    A screenshot of Raif Badawi, a Saudi Arabian writer and creator of the website Free Saudi Liberals. He was arrested in 2012 on a charge of insulting Islam through electronic channels and apostasy. He was sentenced to seven years in prison and 600 lashes in 2013, then resentenced to 1000 lashes and ten years in prison plus a fine in 2014.
    The trip comes despite heavy criticisms of Saudi Arabia’s human rights record, the nation’s adherence to Sharia law and accusations they were at least partly behind the 9/11 attack. 

    Fifteen of the 19 9/11 hijackers were Saudi nationals as was Osama bin Laden. While Saudi officials have disavowed any connection with the government or the Saud ruling family, some members of Congress who have read classified material from a 9/11 investigation have specifically stated that Saudi officials were involved.

    The “Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities Before and After the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001” released an 832-page report but 28 pages were redacted and several members of Congress have said they were “shocked” when they read them. Reportedly, they include a CIA memo that claims high-level Saudi diplomats and intelligence officers helped the hijackers logistically and financially.

    Screenshot of video leaked from Saudi Arabia showing the beheading of a woman accused of beating her daughter to death.
    Leaked
    Screenshot of video leaked from Saudi Arabia showing the beheading of a woman accused of beating her daughter to death.
    Former Senator Chuck Schumer has been pushing for the declassify of those pages and a group of family members of 9/11 victims have also sued to force the government to release them. In a press conference last September, Schumer called for full disclosure and connected the current events in Syria.

    “Terrorism just didn’t happen on its own,” Schumer told reporters. “It took money. There were many countries and groups that funded al-Qaeda. Today, similar groups are funding ISIS [ISIL].”

    Congressman Walter Jones, who has read the redacted pages, has called on the White House and the State Department to reconsider the relationship with Saudi Arabia.

    “If we don’t have mutual respect, then there is no relationship,” he told MintPress News. “It’s time for the truth to be the conversation and then we can deal with the relationships.”

    Saudi Arabia has also come under massive fire for an atrocious human rights record. Saudi nationals are regularly beheaded and most recently they have been criticised for sentencing a liberal blogger to thousands of public lashings for insulting Islam through electronic channels and apostasy. A recently leaked video also showed the beheading of a woman accused of beating her daughter to death.

    While the U.S. government used ISIL’s beheading practices to garner support for bombing Syria, the beheadings in Saudi Arabia have not elicited any such condemnation.

    “Saudi Arabia has stepped up arrests, trials, and convictions of peaceful dissidents, and forcibly dispersed peaceful demonstrations by citizens,” Human Rights Watch says on its website. “Authorities continued to violate the rights of Saudi women and girls and foreign workers. Authorities subjected thousands of people to unfair trials and arbitrary detention. Courts convicted human rights defenders and others for peaceful expression or assembly demanding political and human rights reforms.”

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