IF YOU WISH TO UNDERSTAND THE SAUDI RELATIONSHIP WITH AL QAIDA, REMEMBER THE IKHWAN
There has been much written about the 28 redacted pages detailing the often intimate relationship between highly placed persons in the House of Saud and the Saudi government and al Qaida, including several 9/11 highjackers. It is important to recall that this is a phenomena not exactly new in Saudi history and that the administration ( and it's critics) need to continue to hold Crown Prince Abdullah's feet to the fire.
The founder of Saudi Arabia, King Abdul Aziz had an analogous relationship with the grandfather of today's Islamist terrorist networks, the Ikhwan
. These militant warriors of Wahhabist Islam operated with the support of Abdul Aziz in attacking the King's enemies. When their fanaticism and aggressive raiding provoked the superpower of that era, Great Britain, into a military response Abdul Aziz would disavow any official responsibility and order some punishments be applied for excesses. Like al Qaida, when the Ikhwan eventually turned against Abdul Aziz the King broke them as a military and ideological threat to his rule. But until that point, the Ikhwan were useful agents of Saudi Arabia's foreign policy and continually harrassed Abdul Aziz's many enemies. When they became a liability to the regime the Ikhwan were destroyed.
Something to consider when evaluating the nature of Saudi friendship and their ties to al Qaida because it illustrates how that regime really views the rest of the world. Saudi Arabia is an important but dependent link in America's international security system but let us have no illusions on how they would behave if they were strong rather than weak.