- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 5, 2003

From combined dispatches

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said Saudi Arabia has been “especially aggressive” in responding to U.S. requests to fight terrorism.

The Saudis are finding caches of weapons and ammunition intended for terrorist attacks in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere, Mr. Powell told U.S.-financed Radio Sawa on Monday in an interview broadcast to the Arab world.

But, Mr. Powell said, “there are always more things that all of us can do. And when we find areas where we believe the Saudis can do more, we will bring it to their attention.”

FBI agents have interviewed a Saudi man suspected of helping two of the September 11 hijackers, a U.S. Embassy official said yesterday.

Omar al-Bayoumi was interviewed Sunday night in the Red Sea port city of Jiddah, where he lives, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

He said the FBI agents worked for the U.S. Embassy in Riyadh. He gave no other details.

The White House said Monday it was eager to question Mr. al-Bayoumi, who a congressional report says befriended and helped al Qaeda members Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi, two of the hijackers on the jet that crashed into the Pentagon on September 11.

Mr. al-Bayoumi said Sunday in an interview with Dubai-based Al-Arabiya television that he was willing to talk with the FBI, but only in his homeland and in the presence of officials from his government. He told the station that he had done nothing wrong.

Mr. al-Bayoumi studied in the United States on a Saudi government scholarship from 1994 to 2000.

The congressional report said Mr. al-Bayoumi met Almihdhar and Alhazmi in Los Angeles. When the two future hijackers later moved into the same San Diego housing complex where Mr. al-Bayoumi lived, he threw them a welcoming party and put down money for their deposit and first month’s rent, the report said.

Mr. al-Bayoumi left the United States two months before the attacks to study in Britain. British and U.S. officials investigated him immediately after the terrorist attacks and released him.

In a related development, Saudi authorities yesterday identified six al Qaeda-linked militants killed in a July 28 clash with police, saying four were Saudis and two were from Chad.

An Interior Ministry statement said one of the Saudis was on a list of 19 suspected al Qaeda militants planning attacks in the kingdom. The wanted list was issued before suicide attacks in Riyadh on May 12 killed 35 persons, including nine Americans.

The six Islamic militants were killed in a police raid on a farm in northeastern Saudi Arabia — the biggest militant death toll in several clashes since the Riyadh attacks.

The six men had trained at al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan and in the kingdom, Saudi officials have said.

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