2004 Press Release

Saudi Ambassador comments on 9-11 Commission
Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia, Washington DC

[Washington, DC] -- The 9-11 Commission recently confirmed in a staff report accounts of Saudi Arabia’s attempts to capture Osama bin Laden prior to 9-11 and efforts to foil Al-Qaeda terror attacks inside the Kingdom as early as 1998.

According to Ambassador to the United States Prince Bandar bin Sultan: “This is what Saudi Arabia has maintained all along: Our government was pursuing bin Laden and his Al-Qaeda network before the 9-11 attacks, and these terrorists, in turn, were targeting the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia before those attacks on the United States.  This refutes the illogical and morbid accusations of Saudi government support for Al-Qaeda.  Why would the Saudi government fund or support Osama bin Laden at the same time that we are working to capture him?  Why would we assist those who are out to destroy us?”

Osama bin Laden fled Saudi Arabia 10 years before the 9-11 attacks.  The government of Saudi Arabia revoked his citizenship in 1994.  In 1996, he publicly denounced the government of Saudi Arabia.

According to a 9-11 Commission Staff Statement: “In the spring of 1998 the Saudi government successfully disrupted a major bin Laden-organized effort to launch attacks on U.S. forces in the Kingdom using a variety of man-portable missiles.  Scores of individuals were arrested.”

Following this incident, the former head of Saudi intelligence Prince Turki Al-Faisal coordinated with CIA Director George Tenet to get Mullah Omar and other Taliban leaders to hand over bin Laden.  According to the statement by the 9-11 Commission’s staff: “In September 1998 Prince Turki, joined by Pakistan’s intelligence chief, had a climactic meeting with Mullah Omar in Kandahar.  Omar reneged on his promise to expel bin Laden…The Saudi government then cut off any further official assistance to the Taliban regime, recalled its diplomats from Kandahar, and expelled Taliban representatives from the Kingdom.”

The 9-11 Commission’s Staff Statement concludes: “The government of Saudi Arabia worked closely with top U.S. officials in major initiatives to solve the bin Laden problem with diplomacy.”

Prince Bandar bin Sultan stated: “Today, our two governments continue to work closely together in the war on terrorism.  Our efforts are more effective now that we have the benefit of comprehensive international cooperation, with greater sharing of intelligence and resources.  I am confident that together we will win this war and end the terrorist threat to the civilized world.”