Deputy Chief of Mission at the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Washington DC Ambassador Ahmed Kattan today expressed astonishment at inquiries received by the Embassy concerning financial assistance to Saudi citizens, explaining that any Saudi citizen will receive every attention and care from his Government and Embassy anywhere in the world if he deserves such assistance, whether it relates to medical care or education, or provides humanitarian assistance to cover the high cost of living in the United States. By the same token, the Embassy cannot hold back from providing any help that is needed to any detained Saudi citizen, and is obligated to provide him with legal assistance until proven guilty or acquitted. This does not mean, however, that the Saudi Government, its Embassy or its Ambassador are responsible for any wrongdoing perpetrated by any Saudi citizen. Each person alone bears the consequences of mistakes.
In the case of Saudi student Sami Omar Al-Hussayen, who was recently detained on charges of providing false information on his visa application to enter the United States and of providing financial support to the Islamic Assembly of North America, Ambassador Kattan clarified that while on a scholarship from King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST), and as an outstanding student who obtained his M.Sc. in Computer Sciences in 1996 with a 4.0 GPA, he was awarded Prince Bandar’s Prize for Academic Excellence. Hundreds of Saudi students have received this prize since it was established many years ago by Ambassador to the United States Prince Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz to reward Saudi students who score a GPA above 3.76 at the time of their graduation. Mr. Al-Hussayen was accordingly issued check # 1799 in the sum of U.S. $5,000 from the Ambassador's personal account, dated November 26, 1996.
Mr. Al-Hussayen then pursued his doctorate studies on a scholarship from the Saudi Government until it expired on December 31, 2002. He continued his studies at his own expense while awaiting a decision for extension. Ambassador Kattan denied that Prince Bandar knows Mr. Al-Hussayen personally, although there is a possibility that they met, given Prince Bandar's habit, in his twenty years as Ambassador to the United States, of meeting with Saudi students to listen to their concerns and work to solve their problems.
Ambassador Kattan also denied that the Embassy has any contacts with the Islamic Assembly of North America (IANA), which was established in 1992 as a non-profit organization with headquarters in Michigan and regional offices in Montreal, Canada and Cairo, Egypt. Its present President is Muhammad Al-Ahmary, a Saudi citizen who resides in the United States, engaged in business while studying for his doctorate. He is currently in Qatar where he has recently appeared on Al-Jazeera TV. The Kingdom is not in agreement with many of the views of IANA, which we believe to be influenced by the thinking of the Muslim Brotherhood.
In conclusion, Ambassador Kattan called for reason and deliberation in viewing such matters.