- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 17, 2001

A senior Saudi diplomat insisted yesterday that his country is supporting U.S.-led efforts to freeze terrorist funds and has done all it can to block the flow of cash to Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda network.
The diplomat, Jaafar Allagany, chief information officer at the Saudi Embassy in Washington, denied press reports that Saudi Arabia was refusing to cooperate with the U.S. request for all countries to dry up the flow of financial support for terrorists.
"It is absolutely not true," he said in an interview. "We have followed the money until it came to the United States. There, the United States said they can't give up information about it that was of course before Sept. 11. We had no cooperation from you in drying up bin Laden's sources of funds."
Mr. Allagany, a former Saudi ambassador to the United Nations, rejected reports that the Saudi government was too frightened of militant bin Laden supporters at home to confront their financial backers.
Saudi Arabia has been deeply humiliated and disturbed by the fact that Saudi citizens formed about half the 19 hijackers who crashed planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon last month.
Mr. Allagany further denied that his country has failed to speak up in favor of the U.S.-led war on terrorism for the same reason fear of stirring up anti-Western Islamic fundamentalists.
"Not one time, not one man, not one single demonstration has shown support for bin Laden," he said. "You saw demonstrations in Pakistan, Egypt, Iran and Oman, but never in Saudi Arabia."
It remains unclear whether the tight control over public expression in Saudi Arabia, not a lack of support for bin Laden, was in fact responsible for quelling demonstrations.
The diplomat conceded, however, that the Saudi government has at times seemed ambivalent about its support for the anti-terrorism campaign.
"Saudi Arabia is always like that we do not make much noise like other countries," he said. "We do things quietly."
Saudi Arabia continues to allow several thousand U.S. troops to remain on Saudi soil since they arrived in 1990 to drive Saddam Hussein's Iraqi army out of Kuwait. However, it has never publicly acknowledged that U.S. troops are still in the country.
Osama bin Laden's Saudi citizenship was revoked after he criticized the Saudi royal family for allowing non-Muslim American troops to remain in the country.
The Saudi government was one of three to recognize the Taliban regime after it seized power in Afghanistan in 1996. This was due, in part, to the fact that the Taliban practice the Wahhabi branch of Islam, which is favored by the Saudi royal family.
But when bin Laden took shelter in Afghanistan, criticized the royal family and then was held responsible for attacks on U.S. troops in the Middle East and on two U.S. embassies in East Africa in 1998, the Saudis asked the Taliban to hand over bin Laden.
"We have tried to get bin Laden out of the Taliban but were not successful," Mr. Allagany said. "That was the reason we pulled our embassy staff out of Afghanistan four years ago."
Saudi Arabia remains a key U.S. ally in the Middle East. It's the world's-largest oil producer and has at times increased production to reduce oil prices when they threatened to push the industrialized countries, such as the United States, into recession.
But the monarchy has become a target of bin Laden, who is hoping to inspire a pan-Islamic holy war against the Christian nations and any Muslim nations that are their allies.

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