Two contradictory reports are out. Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal says that his government has blocked $90 mn. from going to al-Qaida in the past few months. (That it was blocked is the good news. That Saudis still want to send that kind of money to al-Qaida is the bad news).
The other report was leaked from the United Nations Security Council, saying that efforts to stop money from going to al-Qaida have stalled internationally and it is still getting substantial funding.
This latter conclusion has long been my own conviction. The petroleum wealth in the Gulf, plus the wealth of Islamist expatriates in the West, has created very large numbers of persons for whom a $100,000 contribution is simply not that big a deal. If even a relatively small number of these persons is pro-al-Qaida, they could fund it to the tune of $ 1 mn. per every ten contributors. A thousand of them could come up with very substantial money for terrorist operations, which can often be done on the cheap. Money is fungible, and stopping them from transferring these funds would require a whole new micro-surveillance of wealth transfers in the world. You have to fight al-Qaida by tracking its members down, infiltrating its constituent networks, and developing better human intelligence generally. You can’t completely turn of the money spigots from above.