- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 25, 2003

Saudis stop bombers

Saudi Ambassador Prince Bandar bin Sultan yesterday condemned terrorists who tried to detonate a car bomb on the first day of celebrations ending the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

He denounced suspected al Qaeda bombers for trying to turn Saudi Arabia into a “Taliban” society and vowed that they will face “harsh justice.”

Saudi security forces yesterday fatally shot two men before they could detonate a car filled with explosives in the capital, Riyadh. Saudi authorities have blamed Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda terrorist network for several bombings since May, when three suicide bombings killed 35 persons in Riyadh. The capital also was attacked about two weeks ago in bombings that killed 18 persons.

“The fact that these terrorists would try to kill innocent people on the first day of Eid, a time of religious celebration, shows again that they have no moral principles or respect for Islamic values,” Prince Bandar said in a statement.

“They are murderers, pure and simple. Their aim is to take away our security and to take over the state. Instead of progress and reform, they want to turn Saudi Arabia into a Taliban society,” he added, referring to the Islamic extremist regime that the United States overthrew in Afghanistan.

Prince Bandar said Saudi Arabia’s security and counterterrorism operations are growing stronger every day and praised the law-enforcement and intelligence officers who stopped yesterday’s attack.

“With God’s help, they saved many lives,” he said.

The ambassador said his government is “hunting down the terrorists and flushing them from their hiding places.”

“God willing, we will continue to find them and bring them to harsh justice,” he said.

Lithuania’s advice

The Lithuanian ambassador thinks the United States should encourage NATO and the United Nations to take a greater role in the reconstruction of Iraq.

Ambassador Vygaudas Usackas also suggested that Eastern and Central European countries could help Iraq develop a democracy by sharing their experiences transitioning from communism.

“I believe it is worthwhile to consider greater involvement of multilateral institutions, such as the U.N. and NATO,” he told the Caspar, Wyo., Committee of Foreign Relations on a recent visit.

Mr. Usackas said that “would help the Iraqi people to deal with the remnants of the former dictator’s regime and to create a secure environment for the Iraqi people to plant the seeds of democracy and to create representative government and the rule of law in that country,”

The ambassador said his country, which won independence from the Soviet Union in 1990, could serve as an example to democratic forces in Iraq and throughout the region. He addressed the committee last week, before Lithuanian President Rolandas Paksas became embroiled in a political scandal that could result in his impeachment.

Mr. Usackas said, “The experience of Central European nations in getting rid of authoritarian regimes and of building democratic institutions and free-market economies might be employed in the greater Middle East.”

The ambassador also praised U.S.-Lithuanian relations and said Washington will have “another staunch supporter” in NATO when Lithuania joins the Western alliance.

Meanwhile, in the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius, a parliamentary probe is expected to recommend that Mr. Paksas be impeached over accusations that his office has links to the Russian mafia. Mr. Paksas, who is expected to visit Washington December 8, strongly has denied the charges.

“I am not considering stepping down,” he told the Vilnius newspaper, Respublika, this week. “I feel tremendous support from the Lithuanian people, and I value that as the best stimulus to continue.”

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison @washingtontimes.com.

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