The former ambassador from Saudi Arabia fears the “stigma” of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, will haunt the subjects of the desert kingdom “forever.”
Prince Turki al-Faisal told editors and reporters at The Washington Times on Monday that the relatives of the more than 3,000 victims of the September 11 attacks will regard their lost family members with greater and greater fondness as the years go by.
“For us in Saudi Arabia, it will be the opposite,” he said. “Fifty years from now, we will bear the stigma. It will be with us forever. It will remain something that weighs down on us, a perpetual feeling of guilt.”
Prince Turki explained that most Saudis took years to accept the fact that 15 of the 19 hijackers who flew airliners into the twin towers and the Pentagon and crashed another plane in a field in Pennsylvania were Saudi subjects and capable of “such a level of barbarity.”
“The effect of September 11 on my country was, to say the least, dramatic,” he said.
Prince Turki, now chairman of the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies, explained that even members of Congress retained a certain coldness to his country when he was ambassador in Washington from 2005 to early 2007. Four years after the attacks, members of Congress were still reluctant to visit Saudi Arabia.
Before Sept. 11, 2001, “we had countless” congressional delegations visiting Saudi Arabia, he said. Since then, “there has been a literal stoppage,” he added.
“You can’t believe how few congressional delegations have come to Saudi Arabia,” Prince Turki said, adding that he could count them on two hands.