June 30, 2003 Special Dispatch No. 532

Saudi Ambassador to Britain Denies Connection Between Al-Qa'ida Attacks & Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

June 30, 2003
Saudi Arabia | Special Dispatch No. 532

The Arabic-language London-based daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi recently reported on a symposium regarding "Al-Qa'ida, Saudi Arabia, and International Security" which was held at the Royal Institute of International Affairs. During the meeting, the Saudi ambassador to Britain, Prince Turki Al-Faysal, formerly responsible for the Saudi security services, denied there was any connection between Al-Qa'ida's terror operations and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The following are excerpts from the report: [1]

"In a symposium on 'Al-Qa'ida, Saudi Arabia, and International Security' at the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London, Saudi Ambassador to Britain Prince Turki Al-Faysal rejected all connections between the spread of violence in the region [i.e. the Middle East] and the suffering of the Palestinians."

"The statements by [Saudi] Ambassador Prince Turki came in response to statements by the symposium participants… among them Sir Timothy Garden, former deputy commander of the British Armed Forces and lecturer at Kings College, and researchers Drs. May Yamani and Maha 'Azzam."

"In his response to the raising of the issue of the link between the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the influence of developments in this conflict on Al-Qa'ida operations, Turki Al-Faisalsaid:
'A solution to the Palestinian-Israeli problem will not affect Al-Qa'ida operations. This is because even if the Palestinian problem were to be solved, this organization would continue to look for reasons to carry out terror operations. [But] this does not mean that the problem need not be solved.'"

"Dr. [Maha] 'Azzam claimed that there was no doubt that the escalation of the Palestinian-Israeli problem was intensifying the mass Arab and Islamic support for organizations such as Al-Qa'ida. She said that assassination attempts on [Hamas leader Abd Al-'Aziz] Al-Rantisi and other [figures] among the Palestinian leadership will greatly increase the likelihood of the spread of terror, [reduce] the [possibility] of stopping the escalation, and remove the considerations [that currently hinder the radicalization] of acts of violence."

"Prince Turki said that the war of the Al-Qa'ida organization is not directed only against the U.S. but against other countries as well, such as Saudi Arabia and Morocco…" "Dr. 'Azzam agreed that the Al-Qa'ida organization had other enemies besides the U.S., but said that its ideology focused on its hostility towards the U.S. and its military presence in the Gulf. Thus, for example, [Al-Qa'ida] draws the leadership of the Jihad organization in Egypt, such as Ayman Al-Zawahiri and those like him, as [this organization] has focused the struggle against the U.S. and Israeli policy in Iraq, Palestine, and other parts of the Muslim world… In her statements, Dr. Azzam referred also to regions on the margins politically and economically that constitute fertile ground for the manufactur[ing] of supporters of the Al-Qa'ida organization…"

[1] Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), June 11, 2003.

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