Al Qaeda Finances Down, Panel Says
But the 9/11 commission says the terrorist network is still dangerous because its attacks are relatively inexpensive. Financial support for Al Qaeda and the size of its operating budget have plummeted in the three years since the Sept. 11 attacks, but the network “continues to fund terrorist operations with relative ease,” according to new findings released Saturday by the commission that investigated the strikes. The report from the panel also says that the Saudi government provided lackluster cooperation to stanch the flow of money to Al Qaeda for two years after the attacks, but began to respond more aggressively after several Al Qaeda strikes in the kingdom last year. Al Qaeda’s annual budget appears to have shrunk from about $30 million a year before the Sept. 11 attacks to as little as a few million dollars a year now, the commission reported. Funding for the terrorist network has shriveled during that period, partly because of the more aggressive stance by Saudi Arabia in combating Al Qaeda financial support, the report said. But the financial falloff has not caused a commensurate decline in Al Qaeda’s capabilities because the attacks it sponsors are relatively inexpensive. It has shed high-cost obligations, including its support for the Taliban in Afghanistan, and the network can still find ready funding from its most solid supporters, the report said.