SAUDIS - Lament civilian casualtiesgreenspun.com : LUSENET : Current News - Homefront Preparations : One Thread
Today: October 15, 2001 at 8:25:20 PDT
Saudis Lament Civilian Casualties
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) - A top Saudi official said his country is angry about civilian casualties in the U.S.-led strikes on Afghanistan but is doing its best to cooperate in the fight against terrorism, the kingdom's official news agency reported Monday.
"We had hoped that the United States would have been able to extract the terrorists in Afghanistan without resorting to what has happened because there are innocents who have no guilt and the people of Afghanistan as a whole have no responsibility for (the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States)," Interior Minister Prince Nayef said late Sunday in comments carried by the Saudi Press Agency.
"This situation does not please us at all, but that doesn't mean in any way that we won't fight with all our efforts to uproot terrorism," he said.
The campaign against terrorism must be "focused on the terrorists themselves and those who assist them," Nayef told journalists after a meeting Sunday night with visiting Austrian President Thomas Klestil.
The United States began bombing Afghanistan Oct. 7 to destroy camps of Saudi exile Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network and force the country's Taliban rulers to hand him over.
U.S. officials have acknowledged that there have probably been civilian casualties, but there is no way to verify Taliban claims that hundreds have died.
Responding to charges that Saudi Arabia has been slow to comply with U.S. requests to freeze funds of those suspected of helping terrorism, Nayef asserted that the kingdom has in fact blocked such funds.
Amid reports that it was unhappy with Saudi Arabia, the Bush administration said Thursday that Saudi Arabia was taking steps to freeze al-Qaida assets and cooperating fully with the United States in countering terrorism.
Nayef said there is no evidence that money from Saudi Arabia is going to fund terrorists, "only talk about the possibility it comes from contributions to Islamic charities, and we work to ensure that the money is delivered to those who deserve it."
He also sad the United States has not proven that any Saudis were involved in the Sept. 11 attacks.
"There were 400 people aboard the four planes and we find it strange that the focus is on Arabs, and Saudis in particular."
U.S. officials believe that all 19 suspected hijackers abroad the planes used in the attacks were Arabs and many were Saudi nationals.
The Saudi government has expressed muted support for America's anti-terrorism campaign. Many ordinary Saudis have condemned it, saying it targets Arabs and Muslims and questioning whether the United States, which they accuse of siding with Israel in the Mideast conflict, deserves Arab support.
Mindful of domestic opposition, Saudi Arabia barred the United States from using a key air base to launch attacks on other countries in the region. Thousands of U.S. troops have been stationed at the base for years, and Saudi Arabia fought alongside Americans a decade ago in the Gulf War against Iraq, which attacked Kuwait and threatened Saudi Arabia.
-- Anonymous, October 15, 2001