Saudi Arabia's new ambassador to the United States, Prince Turki al-Faisal, says Osama bin Laden may be in hiding abroad but he continues to direct terrorist activities of the al-Qaida network in his homeland.
Prince Turki is quoted as saying that a number of terror attacks in Saudi Arabia since 2003 "were under the immediate directions of the leadership of al-Qaida, particularly bin Laden."
His remarks came in an interview with Reuters Television that was broadcast Sunday, before the announcement of King Fahd's death.
Islamic militants in Saudi Arabia have killed scores of foreign nationals and Saudi citizens in a series of violent attacks dating back more than two years. Many leading militants have been killed or captured, and the pace of attacks has slowed, but foreign diplomats say there is a continuing threat of further attacks.
Prince Turki was named Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States following the resignation last month of Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the late King Fahd's longtime envoy in Washington. Prince Turki most recently has been the Saudi ambassador to Britain, but he also has served as the kingdom's foreign intelligence chief, and he says he tried for years to have Osama bin Laden arrested abroad and returned to Saudi Arabia for trial.
Prince Turki says the Saudi-born terrorist leader deliberately chose 15 Saudi nationals to be among the 19 hijackers who staged the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington on September 11, 2001. The prince says this was a tactic intended to damage ties between the United States and Saudi Arabia.Some information for this report provided by Reuters.