Saudi Alarm Ignored

Article excerpt

Byline: James Morrison, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Saudi alarm ignored

The newly appointed Saudi ambassador to the United States says that during his years as the kingdom's envoy in Britain authorities ignored his warnings about dangerous Saudi dissidents in London.

Prince Turki al-Faisal, the Saudi ambassador in Britain for 21/2 years, told the Times of London he got the runaround from prosecutors, politicians and Britain's MI5 security service when he urged them to seize the assets or shut down Web sites of Mohammad al-Masari and Saad al-Faqih, two Saudis living in exile in Britain.

"When you call somebody, he says it is the other guy," he said in an interview published yesterday.

"If you talk to the security people, they say it is the politicians' fault. If you talk to the politicians, they say it is the Crown Prosecution Service. If you talk to the Crown Prosecution Service, they say, 'No. It is MI5.'

"So we have been in this runaround for the last 21/2 years."

The United States suspects al-Faqih was involved in the 1998 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Kenya, and the United Nations placed him on its terrorist list last year. Al-Masari operates a Web site that glorifies suicide bombings in Iraq and Israel.

The Saudi government has been urging Britain to extradite them to Saudi Arabia since 1996, Prince Turki said.

"During my 21/2 years here, it was one of the most persistent and consistent topics," he said.

Earlier, Prince Turki gave a farewell interview to the Sunday Telegraph in which he called Islamist extremists "evildoers" as he discussed Saudi efforts to combat terrorism.

"We still have some way to go before we can say that all the evildoers have been eliminated," he said. "The most important and decisive factor is that the people of Saudi Arabia have rejected terrorism."

He confirmed that his government also warned Britain of an impending terrorist attack four months before bombs killed 56 persons, including four suicide attackers, and injured 700 in July in London.

Prince Turki is scheduled to replace Prince Bandar bin Sultan in Washington in the fall. …