2003 Press Release

Saudi Ambassador responds to Newsweek article
The Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Washington DC has issued the following statement:

Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball of Newsweek magazine have once again shown their anti-Saudi bias in an article posted on the magazine's website titled 'The Saudi-Al Qaeda Connection'.  In the article, the authors have dropped all pretense of objectivity to further perpetuate the myth that the Saudi Government, a strong ally in the global war on terrorism, is linked to the Al Qaeda terrorist network -- a network which has the ultimate goal of bringing down the Saudi government and destroying the relationship with the United States.

Isikoff and Hosenball use a letter, supplied by the 9-11 trial lawyers, allegedly from Mullah Omar, the ex-Taliban Leader in which he orders a diversion of "Saudi Arabia aids" to a known terrorist, as evidence of a Saudi connection to Al Qaeda.  They do not make any such claim with regard to aid funds received by Afghanistan from other countries.

What Isikoff and Hosenball do not reveal is that in the late 1990s the Taliban was the official government of Afghanistan, and Afghanistan was the recipient of foreign aid from countries all over the globe.  Countries including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, the United States and European countries gave substantial foreign aid to Afghanistan over the years as the country was rebuilding after the Soviet occupation.  According to the Congressional Research Service, the United States alone gave Afghanistan $76.6 million in aid in 1999 and another $113.2 million in 2000.

According to the Kingdom's Ambassador, Prince Bandar bin Sultan: "It is clear that reporters Isikoff and Hosenball have a substantial bias against the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and are doing the public relations campaign for trial lawyers trying to prove an impossible case.  If it is not bias, then it is incompetence in applying the basic tenets of honest journalism, namely, checking the facts.  And the facts would reveal that many other countries, including the U.S. contributed foreign aid to Afghanistan while it was under Taliban rule in the 1990's.  Would the authors also allege that these other nations who provided Afghanistan with aid also funded Al Qaeda?"

The article mainly relies on information and quotes from trial attorney Ron Motley, who seeks to make hundreds of millions of dollars in a baseless law suit, driven by the grief of families who lost loved ones at the hands of the Al Qaeda, a terrorist cult that Saudi Arabia is trying to destroy.

According to Prince Bandar: "While Mr. Motley may be playing on the tragedy of others to make money for himself and other lawyers, Saudi Arabia will continue to capture and kill the terrorists responsible."

This is not the first time Mr. Isikoff has sensationalized erroneous information.  In recent months, he reported that Omar al-Bayoumi was a "Saudi government agent" who provided material support to the 9-11 hijackers.  This report was based on anonymous sources and a clumsy attempt to connect un-connectable dots.  It is now clear, based on U.S. and Saudi investigations, that al-Bayoumi is neither a government agent nor an accomplice of the hijackers.

Mr. Isikoff also reported and appeared on television to allege that Prince Bandar's wife, Princess Haifa al-Faisal, provided financial support to the hijackers, by way of providing assistance to a needy Jordanian woman.  This also was proven false.

Mr. Isikoff also reported about a Saudi diplomat in Berlin, Mr. Mohammed Fakihi, and alleged that he provided funding of several hundred thousand dollars to various extremist groups from Embassy accounts.  The story also alleges that Mr. Fakihi told Saudi investigators that he was receiving instructions from Bin Laden, and that Saudi officials informed their American counterparts.  He attributed these facts to un-named American officials.

"This is pure fiction.  The accounts had a fraction of the amounts alleged, and all the funds are accounted for.  Mr. Fakihi did not tell Saudi investigators he was receiving instructions from Bin Laden, nor did any Saudi officials pass on such information to their American counter-parts because it did not exist", said Prince Bandar.

"For some strange reason, when it comes to the Kingdom, journalistic standards drop to new lows.  Time and again, Mr. Isikoff has twisted facts and reported baseless and unsubstantiated charges against the Kingdom as fact. And time and again, his malicious stories have fallen apart like a house of cards," stated Prince Bandar.  "I once thought of Mr. Isikoff as a serious journalist.  Now I am beginning to believe that he is Motely's fool."