Actions to Counter Terrorism
From September 2001 to May 2003:
More than 300 terrorist suspects were arrested.
About 100 suspects were referred to the courts to stand trial.
Over 1,000 suspects were questioned.
Since May 2003:
Over 130 individuals with suspected ties to terrorism have been arrested.
Over the course of the arrests security officers also seized large quantities of high explosives, automatic rifles, bomb-making materials and devices, false identity cards and documents, and large amounts of cash.
Yousif Salih Fahad Al-Ayeeri, a.k.a. Swift Sword, a major Al-Qaeda operational planner and fundraiser, was killed on May 31 while fleeing from a security patrol.
Ali Abdulrahman Said Alfagsi Al-Ghamdi a.k.a. Abu Bakr Al-Azdi, surrendered to Saudi authorities. Al-Ghamdi, considered one of the top Al-Qaeda operatives in Saudi Arabia, is suspected of being one of the masterminds of the May 12 bombings in Riyadh.
Turki Nasser Mishaal Aldandany, another top Al-Qaeda operative and mastermind of the May 12 bombings, was killed along with three other suspects in a gun battle with security forces that had them surrounded.
Three clerics, Ali Fahd Al-Khudair, Ahmed Hamoud Mufreh Al-Khaledi and Nasir Ahmed Al-Fuhaid, were arrested after calling for support of the terrorists who carried out the Riyadh attacks.
Saudi Arabia and the United States maintain a Counter-Terrorism Committee comprised of intelligence and law enforcement personnel who meet regularly to share information and resources and develop action plans to root out terrorist networks.
In May 2003 a new U.S.-Saudi team was organized from across law enforcement and intelligence agencies to work side by side to share “real time” intelligence and conduct joint operations.
Also in May 2003, Saudi authorities worked closely with U.S. and British law enforcement agents who came to the Kingdom to assist in the investigation of the Riyadh attacks.
Saudi Arabia has provided extensive intelligence and military cooperation in the assault on Al-Qaeda. Public disclosures to date have revealed major Saudi contributions to the breakup of a number of Al-Qaeda cells, the arrests of key Al-Qaeda commanders, and the capture of numerous Al-Qaeda members.
In 2002, Saudi Arabia asked Interpol to arrest 750 people, many of whom are suspected of money laundering, drug trafficking, and terror-related activities. This figure includes 214 Saudis whose names appear in Interpol’s database in addition to expatriates who fled Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia is engaging other countries to locate and extradite Al-Qaeda operatives who may be hiding in those countries.
Actions Taken in the Financial Area
Saudi government departments and banks are required to participate in international seminars, conferences and symposia on combating terrorist-financing activities. Saudi Arabia has hosted many such events; and is a member of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) established by the G-7 in 1988.
Saudi Arabia completed and submitted two FATF self-assessment questionnaires: one regarding the 40 FATF recommendations on the prevention of money laundering and the other regarding its eight special recommendations on terrorist financing.
Saudi Arabia has established a High Commission for oversight of all charities, contributions and donations.
A special Financial Intelligence Unit was established to ensure that funds are not misdirected into the hands of those who would use them to harm others.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United States took steps to freeze the assets of a close bin Laden aide, Wa’el Hamza Julaidan, who is believed to have funneled money to Al-Qaeda.
In March 2002, the U.S. Treasury Department and Saudi Arabia blocked the accounts of the Somalia and Bosnia branches of the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation. While the Saudi headquarters for this private charity is dedicated to helping those in need, it was determined that the Somalia and Bosnia branches supported terrorist activities and terrorist organizations such as Al-Qaeda and AIAI (al-Itihaad al-Islamiya). In May 2003, Saudi Arabia asked the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation and all Saudi charities to suspend activities outside Saudi Arabia until a security clearance mechanism to screen all personnel is implemented. The Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation has closed its offices in Croatia, Albania and Ethiopia while moves are under way to close others in Kenya, Tanzania, Indonesia and Pakistan.
In February 2003, SAMA began to implement a major technical program to train judges and investigators on legal matters involving terror financing and money-laundering methods, international requirements for financial secrecy, and methods followed by criminals to exchange information.
Also in May 2003, the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA) distributed a circular entitled Rules Governing Combating Anti-Money Laundering and Combating Terrorist Financing to all banks and financial institutions in the Kingdom requiring the full and immediate implementation of nine new policies and procedures that relate to accounts of charitable and welfare institutions.
In June 2003, the Consultative Council approved new legislation that puts in place harsh penalties for the crime of money laundering and terror financing. The law consists of 29 articles and stipulates jail sentences of up to 15 years and a fine of more than $1.5 million for anyone laundering money through charities. Other money-laundering offenses are punishable by up to 10 years in jail and a fine of $1.3 million.
Saudi Arabia has investigated many bank accounts suspected of having links to terrorism and has frozen 41 accounts belonging to 7 individuals that totaled $5,697,400.85.
America and Saudi Arabia face a common terrorist threat, and we appreciate the strong, continuing efforts of the Saudi government in fighting that threat.
- George W. Bush
President of the United States
July 1, 2003