- The Washington Times - Monday, July 28, 2003

Bandar hits 9/11 report

Saudi Ambassador Prince Bandar bin Sultan denounced critics who linked his country to terrorism, as he complained about accusations that the congressional report on the September 11 attacks had been censored to avoid implicating the desert kingdom.

Twenty-eight pages in the 900-page report were redacted to avoid embarrassing Saudi Arabia, said Sen. Pat Roberts, Kansas Republican and chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

Prince Bandar, however, insisted that Saudi Arabia had cooperated with the U.S. investigation into the attacks and had no involvement with terror network al Qaeda, even though 15 of the 19 terrorists involved were Saudis and the mastermind of the strikes was Saudi-born Osama bin Laden.

“First we were criticized by ‘unnamed sources,’” the ambassador said in a statement after the report was released last week. “Now we are being criticized with blank pieces of paper. …

“Rumors, innuendoes and untruths have become, when it comes to the kingdom, the order of the day. …

“Saudi Arabia has nothing to hide. We can deal with questions in public, but we cannot respond to blank pages.”

Prince Bandar said Saudi authorities have questioned more than 1,000 individuals and arrested more than 500 suspects they have linked to the attacks. He reiterated that Saudi Arabia also is a target of al Qaeda.

“The idea that the Saudi government funded, organized or even knew about September 11 is malicious and blatantly false,” the ambassador said. “There is something wrong with the basic logic of those who spread these spurious charges.

“Al Qaeda is a cult that is seeking to destroy Saudi Arabia as well as the United States. By what logic would we support a cult that is trying to kill us?”

Prince Bandar said Saudi Arabia has shared intelligence with the United States about “a number” of terrorism suspects and several of the September 11 hijackers.

“It is disappointing that despite everything we are doing, outrageous charges continue,” he said. “They are not based in fact, and only serve to denigrate Saudi Arabia, which is exactly what bin Laden wanted to accomplish.”

Accurate forecast

The U.S. ambassador to the Philippines was accurate in his prediction that the weekend military mutiny would end with the surrender of the rebellious troops rather than bloodshed.

“They are young men. I understand that they are junior officers who will feel that they have made whatever their point is and will now stand down and pursue lawful means to address their grievances,” Ambassador Francis Ricciardone said at a news conference Sunday, hours before about 300 troops ended their 19-hour rebellion.

The rebels demanded the resignation of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and complained about corruption in the military.

Mr. Ricciardone raised questions about the stability of the Philippines, news reports from Manila said.

“The people who undertake actions like these have to calculate the consequences for their country,” the ambassador said. “Evidently, they profess to be patriotic and care about their country, but what they have now done is cast their country in the worst possible light.

“People around the world are now wondering about the stability of the Philippines.”

Chic Canadian affair

Politicians and hockey players turned out during the weekend to celebrate the marriage of a Canadian hockey player and the daughter of the U.S. ambassador to Canada.

Anne Cellucci, the 24-year-old daughter of Ambassador Paul Cellucci, wed Craig Adams, the 26-year-old right-winger of the Carolina Hurricanes, on Saturday in Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica, with the elegant Peace Tower of the Canadian Parliament in Ottawa forming the backdrop. Mr. Adams is from Calgary, Alberta.

Prime Minister Jean Chretien, Deputy Prime Minister John Manley and Foreign Minister Bill Graham represented the government.

The new Mrs. Adams made the ceremony even more of a Canadian affair when she and her bridesmaids wore gowns by Ottawa designer Justina McCaffrey, the Ottawa Citizen newspaper reported.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail [email protected].

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