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U.S., Saudis Investigate Possible Terror Payments - 2002-11-27


Officials from the United States and Saudi Arabia are investigating whether money donated by the wife of Prince Bandar, Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to the U.S., may have helped al-Qaida. The FBI is reviewing financial records that show the princess donated tens of thousand of dollars to the wife of a Saudi citizen, Osama Basnan.

The Saudi government says it was to cover medical expenses. But Basnan’s wife signed some checks over to man named Omar al-Bayoumi. A U.S. media report says Mr. Bayoumi may have given the money to two of the September eleventh hijackers, Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdar.

The report has sparked criticism from U.S. lawmakers. Senator Charles Shumer says Saudia Arabia must do more to stop terrorists in their country.

U.S. SENATOR CHARLES SHUMER, (R-NEW YORK)
“The bottom line is that for years the Saudis have played a duplicitous game. They’ve said to the terrorists, “we’ll help you in just about any way you want, just leave us, an unstable regime, alone and the Saudis have not cooperated with our war on terror at all.”

U.S. senator John McCain says the U.S. government needs to do more to stop Saudi Arabia’s financing of terrorists.

U.S. SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN, (R-ARIZONA)

“I believe our government has been very lax in our efforts to make the Saudis cooperate in a broad variety of ways.”

Adel-al Jubeir, the foreign policy advisor to Saudi crown prince Abdullah, says his country is investigating the payment by the princess. He denies she supported terrorists.

ADEL-AL JUBEIR, SAUDI FOREIGN POLICY ADVISOR

“To think that princess Haifa, whose father was murdered by a terrorist, who’s a mother, who’s a grandmother, would write checks to people who give it to terrorists is crazy.”

U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher says the United States and Saudi Arabia are working together in the investigation.

RICHARD BOUCHER, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN

“We, as an administration, have supported that investigation fully, and I would note as well that the Saudis are cooperating fully with the investigation.”

Mister Boucher said the U.S. believes the Saudi response to the war on terrorism has been very strong.

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