Saudis at work on sprucing up image (NEW YORK DAILYNEWS) By KENNETH R. BAZINET WASHINGTON 12/04/02)
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
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WASHINGTON - Saudi Arabia announced yesterday that it would take
steps to keep a closer eye on kingdom money - even as it complained
of being unfairly linked to terrorists.
"We believe that our country has been unfairly maligned," said Saudi
adviser Adel Al Jubeir. "We believe that we have been subjected to
criticism that we do not deserve."
Moving to repair the Saudis´ tattered image amid an FBI probe into a
royal money trail leading to the Sept. 11 hijackers, Al Jubeir said
the government has "pursued terrorists relentlessly and punished them
The government has found "no direct link between charity groups and
terrorism," said Al Jubeir, a top aide to Crown Prince Abdullah.
Still, he said, 33 Saudi bank accounts with more than $5.5 million in
assets have been frozen. He said three Al Qaeda cells have been
broken up and more than 2,000 terror suspects questioned, with 100
The Bush administration immediately praised the moves.
"There is a lot of cooperation that you will never see. They´re not
going to herald it, and we´re not going to herald it because it would
make them less effective. But it´s not like they´ve been passive," a
senior official said.
But the official conceded the Saudis are "not good enough, not doing
enough" to cap the terrorists´ cash flow.
The Saudis have been on the defensive since it was revealed two weeks
ago that the feds are investigating how $2,000 from a Saudi princess
to a sick woman ended up in the pockets of two of the hijackers.
The royal family has vehemently denied it funded terrorists, and Al
Jubeir griped that the criticism has made Saudi attacks a Washington
"What we have in Washington right now, the atmosphere in the United
States, unfortunately, it´s a feeding frenzy. It´s ´Let´s bash the
Saudis´ time,´" he said.
Al Jubeir accused Americans of falling into a trap set by Osama Bin
Laden, who he said intentionally recruited 15 Saudis among the 19
Sept. 11 hijackers.
"Why did he do it? In order to give this operation a Saudi face ...
and drive a wedge between our two countries," he said.
With Thomas M. DeFrank (© 2002 Daily News, L.P. 12/04/02)
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