Saudi Ambassador to the United States Prince Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz has attested to the fact that the government and people of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia deny any connection to terrorism. In a statement yesterday that appeared on U.S. stations as well as on Saudi Television, Prince Bandar responded to media reports describing Osama bin Laden as "Saudi" by reiterating that bin Laden's Saudi nationality had been withdrawn from him long ago, on account of his irresponsible acts.
Attesting the innocence of Islam in these terrorist attacks, Prince Bandar expressed the hope that the mass media and the politicians will not arbitrarily throw out accusations against Muslims: whoever committed these criminal acts, which violate all divine religions and all religious, moral and human values, is not Muslim. He added that Islam specifically refutes terrorists and terrorism, declaring that if it turns out, beyond reasonable doubt, that those who carried out these acts were people who claim to belong to Islam, they are Muslim in name only. He went on to comment that there are indeed people like this, but pointed out that they represent only themselves; such people are everywhere, in every religion and nationality, and of every color and race. He reiterated that the Saudis, like all Arabs and Muslims, are standing firm behind efforts to unveil the identity of those who committed these acts.
As for oil, Prince Bandar gave assurances that Saudi Arabia, and all the members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), are committed to keep prices stable and to meet all oil demands.
In response to a question on the United States' reaction in the Middle East following this terrorist attack, he urged patience for the results of investigations, and cautioned against anticipating events. To a question as to whether he had had contacts with the U.S. administration, he said he had been in touch with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, and with Condaleeza Rice, advisor for national security affairs to President George W. Bush. Prince Bandar reiterated that Saudi Arabia offers full assistance and cooperation in efforts to eradicate terrorism.
To a question on whether Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon would exploit the latest events, Prince Bandar expressed deep concern at Sharon's past acts, citing the invasion of Lebanon in 1982 and the recent practices against the Palestinians. Stressing that what is currently happening in the Palestinian territories is unprecedented, he pointed out that other terrorist acts have not been punished by destruction of homes or bombing of towns. The U.S., he said, had not destroyed the home of Timothy McVeigh after the Oklahoma bombing, and the British Prime Minister did not destroy IRA homes when 10 Downing Street was attacked. He emphasized that although discussion must now focus on this huge disaster in a friendly country, we should not forget the plight that Palestinian people going through at the hands of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.