2003 News Story

Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal interviewed on NBC 'Today' by Katie Couric

KATIE COURIC: On 'Close-Up' this morning, the bombings in Saudi Arabia. Eight Americans were among the more than two dozen killed in the suicide attacks earlier this week. Prince Saud Al-Faisal is Saudi Arabia's foreign minister. Prince Saud, good morning to you, sir.

PRINCE SAUD: Good morning, Katie. And you always make it difficult for me, making me follow Marilyn Monroe.

MS. COURIC: (Laughs) Oh, sorry, Prince Saud. We apologize for that. We want to mention, too, there's a pretty significant audio delay. So we'll try to deal with that as best we can. Can you confirm for us the latest death toll from these suicide bombs?

PRINCE SAUD: Indeed I can. The injured are 194 and the dead are 34 --

MS. COURIC: Thirty-four.

PRINCE SAUD: -- of whom seven are American, not eight --

MS. COURIC: Seven Americans.

PRINCE SAUD:   -- and one British and one Irish.

MS. COURIC: Do you believe, Prince Saud, that this is the work of al-Qaeda?

PRINCE SAUD: It has the markings of that, certainly. And this is the group - and, by the way, I heard the wrong number about the attackers. They said 50. It is 15 that attacked these sites in Saudi Arabia. And they mentioned that the police or the guards were not armed. Indeed, one of the cars was stopped by the resistance of the guards of the compound.

MS. COURIC: I know, Prince Saud, that you met yesterday with Secretary of State Colin Powell. What kind of assurances did you give him …[inaudible]… that you are, in fact, cracking down on terrorists in your country and terrorism?

PRINCE SAUD: Well, that's not assurance that we give to the Secretary of State……   I think if there is one mistake that … [inaudible] … have done is to do this attack, because it now has a united country in front of it in resisting and confronting the work that they are doing … [inaudible]. And His Royal Highness [Crown Prince Abdullah] made a speech yesterday to the public in Saudi Arabia committing the country, people and government, to an everlasting war to rid not only our country but the world of this scourge.

MS. COURIC: Can you confirm, Prince Saud, that there were strong indications that Islamic militants were, in fact, planning this attack? Were you picking up much intelligence that made you quite nervous that this was being planned?

PRINCE SAUD: There was news everywhere, coming from everywhere, that they were planning a major attack. And we had established a committee with the United States to oversee what we can do, both of us, in order to prevent this attack from happening. We came close. We came indeed very close to doing that. But unfortunately they were able to do their damage. But as I say again, whatever success they think they have achieved, they will be sorry for, because this country now is united against them in every way.

MS. COURIC: The State Department, as you know, Prince Saud, has ordered all non-emergency personnel to leave Saudi Arabia. How concerned are you that these attacks will further strain the relationship between the United States and your country?

PRINCE SAUD: I don't think it will strain it at all. It will reinforce the commonality between our two countries. If you count the capabilities of Saudi Arabia and the number of citizens here and in America, this is the equivalent to us to the New York bombings. So it is something of that level for us …… [inaudible]. And it will bring us closer together rather than distance us from each other.

MS. COURIC: How concerned are you, though, that these attacks may ignite some of the sensibilities and the motivations of Islamic fundamentalists in Saudi Arabia itself?

PRINCE SAUD: This will ignite something. It is going to ignite the whole nation against those who perpetrate these actions and those who support them. This is the mistake that they have made.

MS. COURIC: Prince Saud Al-Faisal in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Prince Saud, thanks again for your time. It's nice to see you again.

PRINCE SAUD: Good of you to have me, Katie.