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Saudi King Criticizes Britain's Reaction to Terrorism

On the eve of his historic visit to Britain, Saudi King Abdullah says London is not doing enough to combat terrorism and in an exclusive interview with the BBC, he criticized the then government of Tony Blair for failing to act on Saudi intelligence that could have prevented the deadly suicide attacks in London in July 2005. For VOA, Tom Rivers reports.

Interviewed ahead of his state visit to Britain, Saudi King Abdullah has accused Britain of not acting on Saudi anti-terrorist intelligence that, he says, may have prevented the attack on London's subway system and a bus on July 7, 2005 that killed 52.

Through a translator, he has told the BBC that his government passed on information about the plot.

"I believe most countries are not taking this issue too seriously including unfortunately Great Britain," he said. "We have sent information to Great Britain before the terrorist attacks in Britain but unfortunately no action was taken and it may have been able to maybe avert the tragedy."

But last year, the House of Commons intelligence and security committee uncovered no evidence that the specific information mentioned could have prevented the bombings.

Meanwhile, the government here refuses calls for a public inquiry into what Britain's intelligence community knew about the cell ahead of the attack. It is known that two of the four bombers came under British domestic intelligence scrutiny in the months before the attack was launched in the British capital.

As to the global terrorist threat in general, King Abdullah told the BBC that it will take a long time to suppress.

"No, it has not been completely defeated and I believe strongly as I mentioned to you earlier, I believe and I have said so in my public comments, that it will take 20 to 30 years to defeat the scourge of terrorism with vigilant effort," he said.

Specifically, he said al-Qaida remains a problem for his country.

The King's trip will feature meetings with Britain's royal family and discussions with Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

The visit will also carry with it a share of controversy. Human rights protesters plan a number of demonstrations outside of the Saudi Arabian embassy this week. Also under scrutiny will be some British arms deals to the kingdom dating back some 20 years.