Prince Turki bin al-Fayçal,
|Sunday Herald Sun August 19, 2001, Sunday
SUNDAY WORLD; Pg. 44
AFP CAIRO: A rogue member of the Saudi royal family -- sentenced to three years' hard labour earlier this year for a multi-million dollar jewellery theft -- has used a legal loophole to sidestep charges of swindling her servants.
Princess Hind al-Fassi, sister-in-law of King Fahd, was accused of spending the salaries of 50 servants who cater to her every need at her hotel-home in Cairo.
An Egyptian court this week ruled the servants, who had not been paid for between six and 10 months, could not sue because the princess had not given them employment contracts. The judge heard how her husband had given her money to pay the staff, but instead she spent it on herself and her nephew.
It was not the first brush with the law for the royal, 40, who lives on the top two floors of the luxury Ramses Hilton hotel.
Another Egyptian court sentenced her to hard labour in February for sending her Lebanese cook to pick up $2.5 million worth of jewellery from a Cairo store, and then refusing to pay for it or return it.
Further outrage was sparked when her lawyers successfully argued the sentence could not be imposed because she had not been present at the hearing. Though in Cairo, she had refused to attend.
The case was further complicated when the government ruled that, even though the princess had not challenged the verdict, the sentence would not be imposed until after an appeal court hearing.
"The verdict against Princess Hind al-Fassi can not be carried out because it is not final and she can appeal," deputy interior minister Ahmed Sawan said.
He was responding in parliament to questions about the "negligence of the authorities to apply the law against the princess", who does not have diplomatic immunity.
The princess, daughter of an Egyptian father and Moroccan mother, moved to Egypt 10 years ago after being expelled from Saudi Arabia and Tunisia for allegedly committing similar jewellery thefts.
Scandal followed closely behind. In February last year, an Egyptian court sentenced her -- in her absence -- to one year in jail for stealing $4.5 million from a financial adviser, but police made no move to arrest her.
Her husband, Prince Turki -- fourth in line to the Saudi throne and said to be "bewitched" by the princess -- was questioned by police in 1998 when Egyptian and Filipino maids accused him of holding them prisoner and refusing to pay them.
In September 1999, two nephews of the prince -- Fahd and Turk al-Fassi -- were jailed for beating up a policeman at the Ramses Hilton, while Prince Turki's bodyguard was jailed in a separate case for beating a cook at the same hotel.
| By JOHN F. BURNS
ADEN, Yemen, Oct. 18
Yemeni and American teams investigating the bombing of the destroyer Cole centered their inquiry today on two safe houses and a car found abandoned across the harbor from where the ship was attacked last Thursday, killing 17 sailors.
Al Ayyam, Aden's main newspaper, said today that bomb-making equipment had been found in at least one of the houses, which had been rented, and that traces of explosives had been found in the car. A senior Yemeni police officer confirmed that investigators had questioned the landlord of a house and a real estate agent involved in renting it to a man shortly before the attack. The man has since disappeared.
Other Yemeni sources, including Al Ayyam, said that two men had used the houses. The two had raised walls around one house but had still been seen doing welding work.
In a television interview broadcast throughout the Middle East tonight, the Yemeni president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, said investigators had found "the house that the people who carried out the crime were living in," as well as a workshop where the engine of the boat used in the attack had been assembled.
He said a 12-year-old Aden boy had provided a crucial lead. President Saleh said the boy had described a bearded man with glasses who gave him small change and told him to watch a car near Aden harbor on the day of the bombing.
The president said that according to the boy, the man then took to the sea in a rubber boat he had transported to the harbor on the roof of the car, and did not return. Mr. Saleh said that the boy's story had led the police to an apartment in Aden, the scene of further discoveries.
The reference to a rubber boat supported descriptions of the boat involved in the attack as a small and inflatable, with an outboard motor. United States Navy officials, citing debris aboard the Cole, have suggested that the boat could have had a fiberglass hull.
The car, and a boat trailer near it, were found across from the city and ports of Aden, at the north end of a peninsula known as Little Aden, a place with a sweeping harbor view. Last Thursday it would have been a short journey from there across the water to the Cole.
Witnesses said that a small boat carrying two men approached the destroyer from its port side, weaving among other boats involved in refueling and servicing the destroyer. The small boat then detonated against the side of the Cole. Mr. Saleh said investigators had determined that the two men were killed in the blast.
From the sketchy accounts of the investigation's early efforts, it was not clear whether the Yemenis or the American team, led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, had conclusively linked the houses, the car and the trailer to the attack on the Cole. American officials leading the inquiry and overseeing recovery efforts have refused to discuss their progress, to avoid compromising chances of tracking down those ultimately responsible.
American officials said that Louis J. Freeh, the F.B.I. director, was scheduled to arrive in Yemen on Thursday to oversee the inquiry.
The recovery over the past 24 hours of 8 more bodies left 4 of the 17 dead sailors still unaccounted for. Navy officials said divers and metal-cutting specialists were still working aboard the destroyer.
The Navy has described the search for the bodies as dangerous. It involves working in a heavily blasted area of tangled metal, much of it underwater, not far from where large amounts of unexploded ordinance, including cruise missiles, were stored when the attack occurred. Some of the Navy divers involved worked in the salvage operations off Long Island after the crash of of T.W.A. Flight 800 in July 1996.
As eight metal coffins were loaded aboard a United States military plane for the journey home, it was clear there had been a major breakthrough in the case. But it was less certain whether any of the evidence had given investigators a better idea which group carried out the attack, or what the motives were.
By midafternoon the chief of Saudi Arabia's intelligence services, Prince Turki bin al-Faisal, arrived in Aden, apparently to help with the investigation.
Prince Turki, who remained in Aden overnight, has more than two decades of experience monitoring leftist and Islamic radical groups.
In the 1980's, the prince led Saudi Arabia's effort to finance and train Muslim guerrillas fighting Soviet occupation forces in Afghanistan, and it was these guerrilla groups that later spawned many of the Islamic terrorist organizations operating in the Middle East.
Although the Saudi Embassy in Yemen insisted that the prince's visit was unrelated to the Cole investigation, a Middle East specialist said, "Nobody knows the Islamic radical groups operating in Yemen any better than Prince Turki."
Tonight, American officials here reiterated that they had no firm leads on the Cole's attackers. Partly because of Yemen's history as a refuge for Islamic and leftist radical groups, theories in Aden have covered a broad spectrum of possibilities. The most common one is that the attack may be linked to Osama bin Laden, the exiled Saudi millionaire believed to be hiding in Afghanistan, who has been indicted in the United States in connection with the bombings of two American Embassies in Africa in 1998.
Defense Secretary William S. Cohen plans to announce on Thursday that two senior military leaders will be pulled from retirement to head a Pentagon inquiry, with special emphasis on force protection and any security lapses, Kenneth H. Bacon, the Pentagon spokesman, said.
The two men are Adm. Harold W. Gehman, Jr., the recently retired commander of the Joint Forces Command in Norfolk, Va., and Gen. William Crouch, who commanded United States troops in Europe at the beginning of the Bosnia peacekeeping operation.
Pentagon officials also said the Camden, an oiler, arrived in Aden this evening to refuel the six Navy ships already in the harbor with the Cole. The Tarawa arrived on Tuesday, joining the Anchorage and Duluth, which are part of an amphibious group that includes 2,100 Marines sent to Aden to provide protection.
|August 9, 1999, Monday, SOONER EDITION
SECTION: WORLD, Pg. A-4, WORLD BRIEFS
LOS ANGELES - Saudi officials reached a secret deal with Afghanistan's Taliban rulers last summer for the surrender of suspected terrorist Osama bin Laden, two months before the bombing of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, the Los Angeles Times said yesterday.
Taliban supreme leader Mullah Mohammed Omar and his ruling council agreed to end the sanctuary they provided bin Laden since 1996 in a June 1998 meeting at their headquarters in Kandahar, Prince Turki al-Faisal, the Saudi chief of intelligence, told the Times.
Bin Laden, whose Saudi citizenship was revoked, was wanted for his campaign demanding the overthrow of Saudi Arabia's monarchy, said Turki, who said he negotiated the deal.
The Taliban had made his handover conditional on his being tried by an Islamic court and not be extradited to face any U.S. prosecution.
But the deal began to crumble during the same period that authorities now believe the embassy attacks were being plotted, the newspaper said.
The negotiations ended amid a flurry of recriminations in the aftermath of the Aug. 7, 1998, bombings.
|Mideast: Afghans Backpedaled On Hand-Over Of Bin Laden
After U.S. Embassy Blasts, Riyadh Official Says
August 8, 1999, Sunday, Home Edition
SECTION: Part A; Page 1; Foreign Desk
BYLINE: WILLIAM C. REMPEL, TIMES STAFF WRITER
DATELINE: RIYADH, Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan's Taliban militia reached a secret deal to send Osama bin Laden to a Saudi prison last summer, nearly two months before deadly bombs devastated two American embassies and put the suspected terror mastermind on the FBI's 10 most wanted list.
But the deal crumbled as the embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were bombed a year ago Saturday and was dead by the time U.S. forces retaliated two weeks later with missile attacks on camps linked to Bin Laden, according to the account of a top Saudi official who said he negotiated the secret pact.
In the year since the deal unraveled, Saudi Arabia's bitter estrangement from its onetime friend, the Taliban, has compounded the Afghan regime's isolation and complicated international efforts to apprehend the Saudi-born Bin Laden. American embassies remain on terrorist alert, and Bin Laden continues to make threats against the United States.
It is not clear whether swift surrender of Bin Laden to Saudi authorities in June 1998 would have prevented the Aug. 7 bombings that killed 224 people, but both U.S. and Saudi officials believe that he was the architect of those plots and had personal contact with the bombers just before the attacks. Details of the previously undisclosed surrender agreement, and of the diplomatic fallout from its collapse, were obtained by The Times in a rare interview here with Prince Turki al Faisal, the chief of Saudi intelligence.
His account could not be independently verified. U.S. officials said they were not involved in the negotiations and did not learn about the secret talks until earlier this year.
The Taliban's representative in New York, Abdul Hakeem Mujahid, while acknowledging that the issue has badly strained relations with Saudi Arabia, said there was never an agreement to turn over Bin Laden. Instead, he said, the Taliban's understanding was that the Saudis wanted Bin Laden confined in Afghanistan.
According to Turki's account, he led a small Saudi delegation to Taliban headquarters in Kandahar, Afghanistan, in June 1998. The prince said they sought either Bin Laden's ouster from Afghan territory or his custody for trial in Saudi Arabia for advocating the government's overthrow.
During their three-hour meeting, he said, Taliban supreme leader Mullah Mohammed Omar and his ruling council agreed to end the sanctuary Bin Laden has enjoyed in Afghanistan since 1996. But the surrender would have to be carefully orchestrated so that it "would not reflect badly on the Taliban" and would not appear to be "mistreating a friend," according to Turki.
Saudi Pledge for Trial in Islamic Court
The key to that initial deal, Turki said, was a Saudi pledge that Bin Laden would be tried only in an Islamic court--a condition of surrender that would have precluded his extradition to face any U.S. prosecution.
A senior Clinton administration official familiar with international efforts to capture Bin Laden shrugged off any potential conflict between Riyadh and Washington over the extradition matter, saying: "We could live with that. . . . The important thing is for Bin Laden to be brought to justice somewhere."
Final terms for the Bin Laden hand-over were being hammered out between Taliban and Saudi envoys, according to Turki, during the same period that authorities now believe the embassy attacks were being plotted. Those negotiations ended amid a flurry of recriminations in the aftermath of the bombings.
The embassy bombings were linked immediately to Bin Laden by Western authorities, with the apparent side effect of rallying support for Bin Laden within the Taliban. Subsequent retaliatory U.S. missile attacks on Bin Laden's Afghan training camps only hardened that support.
A federal grand jury in New York has since indicted Bin Laden on murder and conspiracy charges for allegedly directing the embassy attacks. The indictment also links Bin Laden to deadly attacks on U.S. military personnel in Saudi Arabia and Somalia.
Earlier this year, Washington imposed trade and financial sanctions on the Taliban, accusing the ultraconservative Islamic group of protecting a terror network. The U.S. also has offered a $ 5-million reward for Bin Laden's capture.
Riyadh's Ties With Taliban Strained
Although the Saudi proposal to the Taliban still stands, there are few signs of a thaw between the former friends. Last month, a Taliban spokesman told the Arab-language daily Al Sharq al Awsat that Bin Laden will never be forced out of Afghanistan against his will. The spokesman specifically ruled out any future surrender deals with the U.S. or Saudi Arabia.
But Mujahid said last week that the Taliban is willing to turn the matter over to a committee of Islamic scholars from Saudi Arabia and other countries in the region who would act as arbitrators.
"If they agree he should be confined, we would abide by that decision; if they say he should be tried in a Saudi court, we are absolutely ready to give him to Saudi Arabia," the Taliban representative said in a telephone interview Friday.
In June 1998, the white-robed Saudi delegation on its secret mission to Taliban headquarters had every reason to expect a friendly reception in Kandahar. The Saudi government generously supported Afghan resistance fighters in their long war to oust Soviet occupation forces.
Turki, the intelligence chief and son of a former Saudi king, was a familiar figure himself, having mediated civil strife between rival tribes and religious factions in Afghanistan after the war.
Most significantly, however, Saudi Arabia was one of only three countries--including Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates--to have recognized the Taliban government.
Turki said he and his small entourage were, in fact, greeted with a cordial embrace by Omar, the maimed Taliban leader who lost one eye to Soviet shrapnel. They sat down to tea with about a dozen members of the mullah's ruling council.
The agenda was limited to a single item: Osama bin Laden.
The Saudis intended to prosecute Bin Laden for seditious conduct. The former Saudi businessman, stripped of his citizenship in 1994, had advocated overthrowing the Riyadh government and called its pro-U.S. policies anti-Islamic.
It is unclear whether such conduct would be regarded as an act of treason under Saudi law, thereby raising the risk of a death sentence--as do the federal murder and conspiracy charges pending in the U.S. The Saudi intelligence chief would say only that Bin Laden had committed "grave crimes."
At the time of his mission to Kandahar, Turki said, a number of Taliban leaders considered Bin Laden an unwelcome burden. Bin Laden's presence was seen by some, for example, as an obstacle to foreign investment. Certainly, he was a liability to the Taliban relationship with Riyadh, one of the regime's few friends.
"We made it plain that if they want to have good relations with the kingdom of Saudi Arabia , they have to get Bin Laden out of Afghanistan," Turki recalled.
Like the U.S., the Saudi government regards Bin Laden as a threat to its national security. He objected to U.S. military forces' use of Saudi territory during the 1991 Persian Gulf War and called for the Saudi government's overthrow.
The 17th of 52 children born to a Saudi construction magnate and billionaire, Bin Laden in 1979 helped organize the "Afghan Arabs," young Islamists recruited throughout the Middle East to fight Soviet occupation forces in Afghanistan. He returned to Saudi Arabia a hero, but his support for Iraq during the Gulf War brought him into conflict with the Saudi government and royal family. He moved his four wives and family to Sudan, but his continued criticism cost him his Saudi citizenship.
In 1996, Sudan expelled Bin Laden under pressure from the Saudi government. He returned to Afghanistan, where his alleged support for terrorists prompted the CIA to call him the godfather of radical Islamists. From each base of exile, Bin Laden continued to attack the Saudi government.
"He claims the government is illegitimate. He claims that we subvert Islam. All these are the bases of criminal charges," Turki said in the interview earlier this year.
Turki recalled that, after "very friendly" negotiations with Omar, the Taliban made a definitive promise to hand over Bin Laden.
"It was discussed and repeated many times during the meeting," Turki said. And the subject was discussed at subsequent meetings when aides of both sides met to work out the politically sensitive mechanics of how the surrender would be orchestrated, he added.
Those meetings spanned the next two months. The Saudis were frustrated by the delays but did not suspect that their deal was in trouble until after the embassy bombings. Suddenly, according to the Saudis, Taliban officials said they had made no promise to give up Bin Laden. They blamed translator problems for a misunderstanding. The Saudis were outraged.
"They reneged," Turki said. "They made a promise to get him out of Afghanistan. Then they broke that promise."
Taliban representative Mujahid called the dispute unfortunate and insisted that the Taliban government "has no bad intentions against the kingdom of Saudi Arabia." He said the Taliban will always be grateful for Saudi support, especially in its holy war against Soviet forces.
But Taliban loyalty to Bin Laden also is strong. He personally financed and helped train and recruit Arab resistance fighters in the war to oust Soviet occupation forces. Perhaps most notably, however, according to Turki, Bin Laden also has developed "a very close relationship" with Omar.
Turki noted published reports in Middle Eastern and European newspapers that Bin Laden built a residence for the Taliban leader. And Turki cited unconfirmed intelligence that one of Bin Laden's five daughters may be the latest of the mullah's wives, which would make the fugitive Saudi the father-in-law of the Taliban chief.
Still, the Saudis were surprised by the Taliban's abrupt turnaround. The bombings drastically altered the calculus of compromise by silencing internal critics of Bin Laden.
On Aug. 20, 1998, two weeks after the embassy blasts, swarms of U.S. cruise missiles slammed into remote camps in Afghanistan that Washington said were used by Bin Laden to train terrorists.
At that point, renewal of the Saudi-Taliban deal was hopeless. In mid-September, after an acrimonious meeting between Saudi and Taliban officials, Riyadh called home its envoy to Afghanistan and ordered the Taliban charge d'affaires to leave immediately.
The U.S. has since intensified pressure on the other two countries that, like Saudi Arabia, have recognized the Taliban government.
Last month, the administration dispatched senior officials to press authorities in the United Arab Emirates to halt financial dealings with Bin Laden. The New York Times reported that Bin Laden was using banks in Dubai to circumvent an international freeze on his assets. The U.S. also has held separate high-level meetings with Pakistani officials.
"Pakistan can do a lot more," said a senior administration official.
But in New York last week, the Taliban's representative insisted that Bin Laden is under instruction from Taliban authorities not to take actions harmful to Saudi Arabia, the United States or any other country.
"This person is not allowed to do anything against any country from Afghanistan," Mujahid said.
Times researcher Edith Stanley in Atlanta contributed to this report.
LOAD-DATE: August 8, 1999
|November 6, 1998
Saudi Arabia's attitudes towards Osama Bin Laden, the alleged master-mind of global terrorism, is extremely puzzling. Just about a month ago the kingdom was said to be pressing the Taliban administration in Afghanistan to extradite Bin Laden, even down- grading their diplomatic representation as a means to apply pressure. But yesterday, Saudi Arabia's Interior Minister Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz, in a rare newspaper interview, is reported to have told the Arab Times that the Kingdom believed that Bin Laden was not acting against its interests and was, therefore, not concerned with his activities.
In September, the chief of Saudi intelligence, Prince Turki bin Faisal, was reported to have met the Taliban leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar, in Afghanistan and urged the militia to hand over Mr. Bin Laden to Saudi custody. Soon afterwards the kingdom withdrew its ambassador from Kabul and asked the Taliban to recall its ambassador from Riyadh. Since round about this time the Taliban was making a series of announcements that it did not believe Bin Laden had been involved in any terrorist acts and that it would not send this "honoured guest" out of the country the Saudi diplomatic action was interpreted as a stricture against the Taliban. While the version in the U.S. media was that Bin Laden was being sought for his alleged connection to the embassy blasts in Kenya and Tanzania there was reason to believe that the Saudis were not acting on the basis of this case alone. Bin Laden's name has been linked to the blasts which took place in Saudi Arabia in 1995 and 1996. The Saudis have tried to keep these investigations their exclusive affair and there have been a series of complaints from the U.S. that the kingdom's officials were not providing access to those who were being interrogated in connection with these two blasts. Taken together with the fact that Bin Laden is a fundamentalist who, like others of his ilk, strongly disapproves of the Saudi ruling family and the possibility that he was connected with the Saudi dissidents who were active around the same period it was reasonable to speculate that the Saudis wanted Bin Laden for his actions against their own interests-i.e. that they were not pursuing Mr. Bin Laden solely because of his connection with the embassy blasts.
Now in his interview Prince Nayef has categorically denied that Bin Laden was involved in the bomb attacks which took place in the kingdom. While it was possible that people who were inspired by Bin Laden or shared his ideology could have carried out the attacks in the kingdom it "was not true" that he planned or was involved in these attacks, the Saudi Interior Minister said. He went on to add that Bin Laden did not constitute any security problem for the Kingdom, that he was not involved in any activity there and that since he was no longer a citizen (the kingdom deprived him of his citizenship in 1974 ostensibly because of his involvement in terrorist activities) Saudi authorities were not concerned about his whereabouts.
If speculation that the Saudis were pursuing Bin Laden because he was acting against their own interests can be ruled out then the Kingdom appears to have gone to some unprecedented extent to pressure the Taliban at the behest of the U.S. In this case was the Saudis' pursuit of Bin Laden a diplomatic gambit for some other benefit that they wanted to extract from the U.S? Saudi Arabia and the U.S. do not see eye to eye on all issues and there are a few areas on which the divergence appears fairly sharp. The Saudis have not been entirely satisfied with the U.S. handling of the Israel-Palestine track of the West Asian negotiations, they have reasons to be miffed that the negotiations with their ally Syria has stalled and they are not all happy with the U.S. policy on Iraq or the situation in the oil markets. It is difficult to pinpoint whether the Saudis wanted the U.S. to make concessions in regard to these issues, or any other for that matter.
Copyright(C) 1998 THE HINDU
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