- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Saudi alarm ignored

The newly appointed Saudi ambassador to the United States says that during his years as the kingdom’s envoy in Britain authorities ignored his warnings about dangerous Saudi dissidents in London.

Prince Turki al-Faisal, the Saudi ambassador in Britain for 2 years, told the Times of London he got the runaround from prosecutors, politicians and Britain’s MI5 security service when he urged them to seize the assets or shut down Web sites of Mohammad al-Masari and Saad al-Faqih, two Saudis living in exile in Britain.

“When you call somebody, he says it is the other guy,” he said in an interview published yesterday.

“If you talk to the security people, they say it is the politicians’ fault. If you talk to the politicians, they say it is the Crown Prosecution Service. If you talk to the Crown Prosecution Service, they say, ‘No. It is MI5.’

“So we have been in this runaround for the last 2 years.”

The United States suspects al-Faqih was involved in the 1998 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Kenya, and the United Nations placed him on its terrorist list last year. Al-Masari operates a Web site that glorifies suicide bombings in Iraq and Israel.

The Saudi government has been urging Britain to extradite them to Saudi Arabia since 1996, Prince Turki said.

“During my 2 years here, it was one of the most persistent and consistent topics,” he said.

Earlier, Prince Turki gave a farewell interview to the Sunday Telegraph in which he called Islamist extremists “evildoers” as he discussed Saudi efforts to combat terrorism.

“We still have some way to go before we can say that all the evildoers have been eliminated,” he said. “The most important and decisive factor is that the people of Saudi Arabia have rejected terrorism.”

He confirmed that his government also warned Britain of an impending terrorist attack four months before bombs killed 56 persons, including four suicide attackers, and injured 700 in July in London.

Prince Turki is scheduled to replace Prince Bandar bin Sultan in Washington in the fall.

American in London

Within days of his arrival in London, the new U.S. ambassador to Britain was laying wreaths at the sites of the July 7 bombings in the city’s subway system.

“I’m amazed at the resilience of the people of London, and I want all of Britain to know that the people of the United States stand with them resolutely,” Ambassador Robert H. Tuttle told the Sunday Telegraph in a recent interview.

Mr. Tuttle said he was reminded of the British support for Americans after the September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001.

“The American people will never forget how the British people reacted after 9/11 and the outpouring of support we received,” he said. “It is just so important for the American ambassador to be here to show that we in America care, and we do care.”

Mr. Tuttle, a wealthy Los Angeles car dealer and art collector, is expected to be a high-profile diplomat, unlike the man he replaced, Ambassador William Farish.

Mr. Tuttle said President Bush realizes that the United States is not getting its message across in Britain, where his policies remain unpopular even though he has strong support from Prime Minister Tony Blair in the war in Iraq.

“The president felt strongly about the public diplomacy side of the job,” Mr. Tuttle said. “The president realizes he could do better on the public relations front, and he wanted someone who would go out and put the U.S. position. He also wanted someone who would listen to the British people.”

Mr. Tuttle, a fundraiser for Mr. Bush’s re-election campaign, added, “I am a great believer in grass-roots politics. When you knock on someone’s door, people are invariably polite, even if they don’t agree with what you say. …

“And I think the British people, even if they do not agree with me, will respect me for stating my position clearly. I just hope that people will listen to what I have to say.”

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

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