US says Saudis ‘must deal’ with terror threat
WASHINGTON: The United States, in a carefully worded criticism, said on Wednesday that Saudi Arabia “must deal with the fact that it has terrorists inside its own country” in the aftermath of deadly suicide bombings.
White House spokesman Ari Fleischer essentially backed up criticism leveled at Riyadh from the US ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Robert Jordan, who said the kingdom did not respond quickly enough to US requests for more security at a compound attacked this week by suicide bombers.
“As with many countries around the world, the fact is that Saudi Arabia must deal with the fact that it has terrorists inside its own country, and their presence is as much a threat to Saudi Arabia as it is to Americans and others who live and work in Saudi Arabia,” Fleischer said.
At least seven Americans were killed in the triple suicide bombing at expatriate compounds. The United States has strong suspicions that Al Qaeda was behind the bombings. An FBI team was on its way to Saudi Arabia to help investigate the triple suicide bombings.
While saying the United States would push Saudi Arabia to “do more” against terrorism, Fleischer went out of his way to praise Saudi Arabia’s cooperation. US-Saudi ties were strained after the Sept. 11 attacks because 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudis.
He said the United States was not reassessing its entire relationship with Saudi Arabia. President George W Bush spoke to Saudi leader Crown Prince Abdullah on Tuesday.
“The United States continues to have strong relations with Saudi Arabia. The one thing the terrorists want more than anything else is to be able to attack the United States, to attack others in the region and force us into changes in our policies. That will not happen,” Fleischer said. Fleischer dismissed them as “nonsense” connected to what he called Democratic manoeuvring on who shall be the party’s nominee to run against Bush in the 2004 presidential campaign.
15 Saudis carried out bombings: Fifteen Saudis carried out the triple suicide bombings against expatriate residential compounds that killed and wounded scores of people, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al Faisal said Wednesday. The minister said Riyadh had intelligence information ahead of the bombings that members of Qaeda were plotting to carry out an “important operation.”
Prince Saud Al Faisal vowed to find those behind suicide bombings in Riyadh which killed at least 34 people and said the suspected Al Qaeda masterminds would be sorry.
Washington ordered FBI agents to Riyadh to join Saudi troops already hunting for those behind the triple suicide bombings which killed at least seven Americans and has been blamed on Al Qaeda by the United States. “Whatever success Al Qaeda think they have achieved they will be sorry for, because this country is now united against them in every way,” Prince Saud said in an interview on NBC’s ‘Today’ show. —Agencies