Judging from recent accounts, it appears that the Saudi government and Safar Al-Hawali may now even be working together. On November 21, the Asia Times reported that Al-Hawali was one of over 40 "Saudi scholars" who recently gathered for a three-day conference in Mecca with Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah. During the meeting, Al-Hawali and his fellow clerics were said to have offered to mediate between the House of Saud and the terrorist elements presently operating within the kingdom. As for the Saudi government's continued blind eye to Al-Hawali's own Al-Qaeda links, Palazzi can only sigh. "To a certain extent," he says. "It is impossible for someone who wants to realize it not to realize it."
Erick Stakelbeck is head writer for the Investigative Project, a Washington DC-based counterterrorism research institute.