[A-List] US/Saudi tensions
michael.keaney at mbs.fi
Wed Dec 4 01:42:16 MST 2002
Saudis hit back at wave of US criticism
By Edward Alden in Washington
Financial Times: December 4 2002
Saudi Arabia on Tuesday launched an angry denunciation of its US critics,
saying the country has been the target of lies and malicious attacks aimed
at damaging its relationship with the US.
"We believe our country has been unfairly maligned," said Adel al-Jubeir,
foreign policy adviser to Crown Prince Abdul lah, the Saudi leader. "We have
been described as the 'kernel of evil' - the breeding ground for terrorists.
Our faith has been maligned in ways that I did not expect Americans to ever
The comments, made during a rare press conference in Washington, marked a
sharp turn for Saudi Arabia, which had stayed largely silent amid a growing
chorus of US criticism that the kingdom had done too little to crack down on
al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups.
Some conservative US religious leaders have made broader criticisms of
Islam, claiming it is inherently a militant religion hostile to the US.
The charges have escalated since revelations last week that donations made
by the wife of the Saudi ambassador to the US may have been passed on to two
of the September 11 hijackers.
Saudi Arabia's public relations counter-offensive, which included the
release of a report on Tuesday detailing its contributions in the war on
terrorism, is aimed in part at heading off further action by the US
Administration officials said there was still a debate over whether the US
should press the Saudis for greater co-operation in designating and freezing
the accounts of additional suspected terrorist financiers.
But Mr Al-Jubeir dismissed reports that the US might be prepared to act
alone against suspect Saudi charities, saying that while the idea might have
been considered by "somebody in the bowels of the bureaucracy . . . I
guarantee you it didn't go anywhere".
A State Department spokesman said the US supported the steps taken by the
Saudis to improve monitoring of charities to ensure that funds did not flow
to terrorist groups.
The Saudi report said the kingdom had already frozen $5.5m in 33 accounts
held by three suspected terrorist financiers. But Mr al-Jubeir said "we have
not found a direct link between charity groups and terrorism".
Relations between the US and Saudi Arabia have been increasingly fractious
since the September 11 attacks, largely because 15 of the 19 hijackers were
Mr al-Jubeir said al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden had recruited Saudis for
the mission precisely because he wanted to "drive a wedge" between the two
"The irony of it is, those who are most critical or hostile towards Saudi
Arabia in the US are playing right into his hands."
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