2004 Transcript

Adel Al-Jubeir on alleged terrorist funding in Iraq
Crown Prince Abdullah’s Foreign Affairs Adviser Adel Al-Jubeir was interviewed by Wolf Blitzer on CNN on October 26, 2004

BLITZER: Welcome back to New York. I'm Wolf Blitzer reporting allegations that Saudis are financing Iraqi insurgents; now a key Saudi adviser responding to the accusations. Ever since 9/11, there have been allegations that terrorists are getting help from inside Saudi Arabia. Now those accusations, once again, have resurfaced.

BLITZER: CNN's Zain Verjee joining us now live from the CNN Center -- Zain.

ZAIN VERJEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the U.S. military is indicating rebels in Iraq appear to be getting a little help from friends across the border in a country that is a U.S. ally.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) VERJEE (voice-over): Iraqi insurgents need cash to kill. According to recent U.S. military intelligence reports, those insurgents depend on external donors for financing attacks, attacks the U.S. believes are being bankrolled by some Saudi money. U.S. Senator Bob Graham tried to turn it into a campaign issue on CNN's ‘LATE EDITION’.

SEN. BOB GRAHAM (D), FLORIDA: I believe a real test of leadership for President Bush would be to let the American people know what the Saudis are doing and what he intends to do about it, if he continues as president.

VERJEE: The Pentagon believes wealthy Saudi individuals and charities sympathetic to Iraqi rebels are providing the cash. U.S. officials say that money is being funneled through Syria, a charge the Saudi government rejects. Nonetheless, the report has raised questions for some about Saudi Arabia's commitment to the U.S.-led war on terror.

GRAHAM: That was a disingenuous ally during September the 11th, has continued to take steps that are adverse to our interests in Iraq and Afghanistan and other places around the world.

VERJEE: A senior Saudi official says this view is distorted and motivated merely by election-year politics. The Kingdom adds, it has taken substantive steps to combat terrorism. Congressional Republicans support that view.

SEN. RICK SANTORUM (R), PENNSYLVANIA: We have continued to try to put pressure and work with the Saudi government to try to get the insurgents within Saudi Arabia to bring them to justice.(END VIDEOTAPE)

VERJEE: Wolf, Saudi Arabia says, if the U.S. provides specific evidence against Saudi individuals who fund Iraqi insurgents, the kingdom will crack down.

BLITZER: Zain Verjee reporting us -- Zain, thank you very much.

And joining us now from Washington to discuss these serious allegations is Adel Al-Jubeir. He is the chief Saudi foreign policy adviser to Crown Prince Abdullah. Adel Al-Jubeir, thanks very much for joining us.


BLITZER: You know Senator Bob Graham. He is a serious man, former chairman of the Intelligence Committee. You think this is election-year politicking on his part?

AL-JUBEIR: Because he's a serious man, I find it hard to believe that he actually believes what he says. The statements he has made with regard to Saudi Arabia have been irresponsible and are not borne by the facts. We have been serious in combating terrorism because terrorism is out to murder our people and our residents. Allegations that he has made about Saudi Arabia have been debunked by the 9/11 Commission report. He proceeds to write a book repeating those same allegations. It seems to me that where he is getting his information, it's not very reliable.

BLITZER: But he's getting that information in part from a Defense Intelligence Agency report, a DIA report, that came out in recent days, suggesting that there is Saudi money - not necessarily Saudi government money - but individual Saudis are funneling money through Syria into the insurgency in Iraq. You're familiar with that?

AL-JUBEIR: Yes. And I believe, Wolf, that the actual report put out by the Defense Intelligence Agency is slightly different from the way it was reported. When people say Saudi money has gone into Iraq, how do they know? We have taken very strong steps to ensure that our banks are solid, to make sure that our charities cannot send money abroad, to ensure that it's very difficult for people to raise cash and try to take it through couriers in Iraq.

We have stopped individuals from doing so. We have captured individuals who have tried to send money to Iraq and we have put them in jail. Our point is, we are very serious about making sure that no Saudi money or no Saudi individuals go to Iraq to fight in the insurgency, because they will come back and fight us in Riyadh.

And if anyone has any information that can help us apprehend those individuals, please provide it to us, so we can take very firm action against them.

BLITZER: Usually, these kinds of allegations are accepted by a lot of Americans, who remember that 15 of the 19 hijackers were, in fact, Saudis. How much support do you sense there is among Saudis for the insurgency against the U.S.-led coalition and the interim government in Iraq? How much support is there in Saudi Arabia for the fighting against the Iraqi government and the U.S.-led coalition?

AL-JUBEIR: Very little, Wolf, because nobody will condone the killing of the innocent. We are fighting our own insurgency against the terrorists in Saudi Arabia. Al Qaeda has set off bombs in our various cities. They have murdered our people. They have murdered residents of Saudi Arabia. Al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia has some sympathizers among the extremists. And I would imagine that those sympathizers who support the murder of people in Saudi Arabia would probably support the killing of people in Iraq. It's a small group. We're going after them. We're going after the mindset. We're going to after the finances and we're making progress in rooting them out from our midst.

BLITZER: How do you know and how can you check in Saudi Arabia, especially during this holy month of Ramadan, when Muslims give to charity, whether some of these charities are not funneling the money to the terrorists around the world or to the insurgents in Iraq?

AL-JUBEIR: The charities in Saudi Arabia are prohibited from withdrawing cash from their bank accounts. They don't even have bank cards. The charities in Saudi Arabia are prohibited from transferring funds abroad until we have a new entity in place through which all charitable contributions abroad can flow.

We have advised our citizens not to give contributions during the holy month of Ramadan in the form of cash, but to deposit their donations in bank accounts, so we can track it. You're right. It's a very difficult challenge and we're working very, very hard to ensure that we have control over it.

And so, the charges that are being bandied about by someone like Senator Graham to say that Saudi Arabia is not doing enough or that Saudi Arabia has been negligent are really not only irresponsible, but not supported by the facts.

BLITZER: Adel Al-Jubeir joining us from Washington -- Adel, thank you very much for spending a few moments with us.

AL-JUBEIR: My pleasure.