- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 17, 2002

From combined dispatches
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia A Saudi official said yesterday he told President Bush and Congress in a letter that Palestinian suicide bombers are not terrorists but rather are sacrificing "their souls for freedom."
The member of the unelected Consultative Council, which acts like a parliament, also warned that Washington's perceived support for Israel would intensify mounting hatred toward the United States.
Ahmed al-Tuwaijri said in his letter that U.S. policy has "destroyed our dreams and the dreams of peace-lovers around the world." The 120-member council is appointed by the king and reflects government opinion.
Elsewhere in the Persian Gulf, newspapers dismissed Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's call for a new Middle East peace conference as a ploy to distract attention from his nation's military operations in the West Bank.
"Sharon's proposal is another attempt to waste time and turn attention away from the latest butchery of the Palestinian people," said the United Arab Emirates' official Al-Bayan daily.
The paper said Secretary of State Colin L. Powell had "closed his eyes and covered his nose so as not to see or smell the massacres committed by his ally Sharon under the cover of the U.S. administration."
The Abu Dhabi government daily Al-Ittihad described the call, which has been backed by Mr. Powell, as a "farce" and "nothing but an attempt to turn attention away from the massacres" in the West Bank.
"Colin Powell is a hostage of Sharon the executioner and his terrorist clique," the newspaper said, regretting that "the Arabs continue to nourish hopes of the American administration."
Similar commentaries appeared in Saudi Arabia, Oman and Iraq.
Mr. al-Tuwaijri's comments in Riyadh came after the Saudi ambassador to Britain, Ghazi Algosaibi, wrote a poem in the Arab daily Al-Hayat over the weekend praising a female suicide bomber.
Last week, a government-run telethon raised more than $100 million to help the Palestinians amid the Israeli operation in the West Bank. Some in the United States accused the Saudis of fueling violence, though the Saudis denied that any of the money was going to suicide bombers.
In his letter, Mr. al-Tuwaijri condemned Washington's classification of Palestinian suicide bombings as terrorist acts while it defends Mr. Sharon's incursion into West Bank areas.
"When young men and women offered their souls for the sake of freedom and independence and in defense of their religion, dignity, self and family, the United States could not find anything to describe these great sacrifices except to say they are terrorist, criminal actions," Mr. al-Tuwaijri said.
"What's the difference between the taking of innocent lives in New York and Washington and the taking of innocent lives in Ramallah and Bethlehem?" asked Mr. al-Tuwaijri, a U.S.-educated Islamic fundamentalist.
He said U.S. support for Israel "provokes hatred against America all over the world and is also a major element that sparks extremism and terrorism."
During a Cabinet meeting Monday, Saudi Arabia's King Fahd said the "continuation of the aggression, committing vicious massacres on a daily basis, the killing of innocent people and the demolition of camps in the Palestinian territories" had shown "Israel's reluctance to comply with the will of the international community."
His remarks were carried yesterday by the local press.

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