July 28, 2004 Special Dispatch No. 754

Saudi Minister and Prince Pays Monthly Stipend and Debts of Surrendered Wanted Terrorist and Family

July 28, 2004
Saudi Arabia | Special Dispatch No. 754

On June 23, 2004, Saudi Crown Prince Abdallah declared on behalf of King Fahd a one month ultimatum during which Al-Qa'ida members should surrender themselves to authorities. Responding to this ultimatum, number 25 on the 26 most-wanted list Othman Bin Hadi Al-Maqbul Al-Omari surrendered on June 28, 2004. Al-Omari was described by the authorities as a "weapons smuggler of the first degree." [1] The following is the sequence of events surrounding Al-Omari's surrender, as reported by the Saudi media:

The turning in of Al-Omari was mediated by the extremist Wahhabi cleric Sheikh Safar Al-Hawali, who currently serves as a mediator between wanted terrorists and Saudi authorities.

Al-Hawali described to the Saudi government daily Al-Watan the process of turning Al-Omari in. He said that he met Al-Omari in his home in Jeddah, where they had dinner and discussed Al-Omari's demands in return for turning himself in. Those demands were described by Al-Hawali as "simple demands" which the Ministry of Interior can not reject. During the meeting, Al-Omari confessed to Al-Hawali that he had "planned to carry out an operation that would cause bloodshed and destruction, but reneged after he was convinced it wouldn't bring any good, and that such acts are forbidden."

After the meeting, Al-Hawali accompanied Al-Omari to the home of Prince Muhammad Bin Naif Bin Abd Al-Aziz, who is the son of Interior Minister Prince Naif, for whom he also serves as assistant for security affairs, holding the title of Minister. According to Al-Hawali, the minister prepared a "great human" reception for Al-Omari, and "blessed him and praised him for his courageous stand to surrender himself shortly after the amnesty was declared."

Al-Hawali noted during the two hour meeting that "Prince Muhammad Bin Naif gave the wanted terrorist Othman Al-Omari the possibility of choosing which prison he wishes to remain in until the end of his interrogation – whether in Riyadh, Jeddah, or in the Al-Namas region [in which he lives] in order to be close to his family." Al-Hawali described this proposal as "clear proof that Prince Muhammad Bin Naif understands the feelings of the wanted, and is determined to secure their tranquility." Al-Omari chose to stay in one of Jeddah's prisons.

Al-Hawali also told the daily that "Prince Muhammad Bin Naif stressed to Al-Omari that he would be well-treated throughout his interrogation and trial, and that the state pledges to grant his family protection, and to support it financially and morally, like the families of the other wanted men, whom [the families] are not to blame for what happened." [2]

A few weeks after Al-Omari was turned in, the Saudi newspapers reported that the Saudi authorities had paid off Al-Omari's debts. According to Al-Watan, Othman Al-Omari's mother expressed her "gratitude and appreciation of Prince Muhammad Bin Naif for his noble initiative to pay off the debts of her son, who recently turned himself in to the Saudi authorities." The mother recounted that "Prince Muhammad Bin Naif contributed the entire sum, totaling 170,000 SR [$45,300], as well as a grant of 30,000 SR [$8,000] to Al-Omari's family. In addition, a monthly stipend of 3,000 SR [$800] will be paid to Othman Al-Omari's children, as well as a salary of 2,000 SR [$530] to Othman Al-Omari himself." [3]

The Saudi government daily Al-Riyadh reported that Al-Omari's four children also expressed their gratitude and appreciation to Prince Muhammad Bin Naif for "his initiative which saved their father from debts of 170,000 SR [$45,300]." [4]

[1] Al-Hayat (London), June 30, 2004, Al-Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), July 1, 2004.

[2] Al-Watan (Saudi Arabia), June 30, 2004.

[3] Al-Watan (Saudi Arabia), July 20, 2004.

[4] Al-Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), July 21, 2004.

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