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Saudi Crown Prince Offers Amnesty to Militants - 2004-06-23

Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah, speaking Wednesday on national television on behalf of King Fahd, said Muslim militants have one month to surrender to security forces. The Saudi foreign minister said earlier in the day the government will continue its campaign to rid the country of terrorists.

Reading King Fahd's speech on television, Crown Prince Abdullah gave militants one month to surrender.

He said the government will give amnesty to those who have gone outside the law and committed crimes in the name of religion and have not been caught yet. "We give them the chance from the time of this speech and for one month, to return to what is right," he said. "Those who surrender voluntarily will be treated according to God's law."

Crown Prince Abdullah said that those who had not committed crimes against others would be safe and that those who had hurt others would be dealt with in accordance with sharia law.

Earlier in the day, Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister, Saud al-Faisal, hailed security forces for their recent success in dismantling terrorist cells but said the threat of terrorism remains. Referring to the al-Qaida terror network, he said the government will chase this "criminal group" and eliminate it.

He was quoted on Arab television networks as saying Saudi Arabia is determined to eradicate what he called the evil of the militants and make the kingdom safe for all its residents.

Saudi forces killed four prominent militants on Friday, including Saudi al-Qaida leader, Abdulaziz al-Muqrin, just hours after militants decapitated the U.S. hostage, Paul Johnson.

In a related development, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State William Burns said in Cairo that Washington and Riyadh are cooperating on several fronts.

"We are continuing to provide all the support that we can to Saudi authorities as they conduct a very vigorous campaign against violent extremists inside Saudi Arabia," he said. "We are also cooperating with Saudi Arabia on the broader problem of the financing of terrorist groups and again, that cooperation has intensified especially over the course of the last years and we will continue to do everything that we can to help."

The Saudis have stepped up security throughout the country, following a string of attacks on foreign targets. The United States and Britain have warned non-essential personnel to leave the country.