Prince Turki Al-Faisal, Saudi Arabia's former chief of intelligence, said in a June 14, 2019 interview on Al-Arabiya TV (Dubai/Saudi Arabia) that he believes that Iran had not originally supported Al-Qaeda, but that when Al-Qaeda disintegrated following the American invasion of Afghanistan, some Al-Qaeda members – including senior members – found refuge in Iran, which began cooperating with Al-Qaeda, particularly when it came to targeting Saudi Arabia. He explained that some of Al-Qaeda's attacks in Saudi Arabia had been planned in Iran. Prince Al-Faisal also said that Qatar had coordinated and communicated with Al-Qaeda, that it allowed Al-Qaeda to use Al-Jazeera TV as its mouthpiece, and that it provided Al-Qaeda with material, financial, and logistical support so that it could "play a role in the world." He said that Qatar has also supported other factions in the Arab world, such as anti-government factions in Bahrain, the Al-Nusra Front and other groups in Syria, and the Houthis in Yemen, which he said Qatar supported even before the 2011 Yemen revolt.
Prince Turki Al-Faisal: "I do not think that Iran is responsible for Bashar Al-Assad's ascendance in Syria. He replaced his father and earned the blessing of the leadership back then. He had relations with Arab countries, and so on and so forth... [This continued] until the unadulterated and moderate popular uprising against his oppression. He dealt with [the protestors] in a cruel and barbaric manner, and this situation was exploited by Iran. Iran did not plan to put Bashar Al-Assad in this situation, but Bashar allowed them to exploit it. Iran, for example, exploited the American invasion of Iraq."
Prince Turki Al-Faisal: "Iran expanded its influence in Iraq due to this invasion and so on."
Interviewer: "Your highness, as Chief of Intelligence, didn't you observe clear Iranian support for Al-Qaeda, at least during your time in office?"
Prince Turki Al-Faisal: "In the beginning, in my opinion, there was no Iranian support for Al-Qaeda. It began only after the American invasion of Afghanistan. When Al-Qaeda disintegrated as a result of the American invasion, and its members got dispersed all over the world, some of them found refuge in Iran. Bin Laden [said] in his memoirs – excerpts of which were published – that he had strived to maintain fragile relations with Iran. He prevented his followers from attacking Iran because he had sent part of his family there and some of Al-Qaeda's leaders had also found refuge in Iran.
"I think that Iran and Al-Qaeda were in agreement about targeting Saudi Arabia. On this basis, there is no doubt that Iran provided refuge for Al-Qaeda members. Operations against Saudi Arabia were planned in these [refuge] places. According to what I read in the press, some of the orders to carry out terrorist attacks came out of Iran to Al-Qaeda operatives in Saudi Arabia, back when Al-Qaeda was still active in Saudi Arabia. This is clear proof that Iran supported Al-Qaeda and allowed it to use its territory in order to hurt the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia."
Interviewer: "Were there Arab states that supported Al-Qaeda, especially against Saudi Arabia? What about Gulf countries? Did Qatar support Al-Qaeda?"
Prince Turki Al-Faisal: "Qatar was one of the countries that was in contact with Al-Qaeda. We cannot forget that after the American invasion of Afghanistan and the disintegration of Al-Qaeda – and even before that – the Al-Jazeera TV network was the mouthpiece of Al-Qaeda."
Interviewer: "Bin Laden's tapes, for example..."
Prince Turki Al-Faisal: "Recordings, pictures, statements, and so on... This required some coordination and communication. Therefore, there is no doubt that Qatar was in direct contact [with Al-Qaeda]."
Interviewer: "What sort of cooperation is Your Highness talking about?"
Prince Turki Al-Faisal: "Providing material and financial support, providing refuge for Al-Qaeda members, by accepting them in Qatar and then finding places for them to go... They provided financial and logistical services for Al-Qaeda."
Interviewer: "Was Saudi Arabia the main target?"
Prince Turki Al-Faisal: "I believe that Saudi Arabia was one of the targets, but not the only target. The sole purpose of Qatar's activities is to gain an active role in world affairs.
"Therefore, you can see that Qatar tried to reach out to all the factions that are considered to be opposing some countries. These include not only Al-Qaeda in Saudi Arabia, but also factions that are involved in anti-government activity in Bahrain. Qatar was, and still is, one of the biggest supporters and financiers of this activity. In Syria, after what has happened there, we see that Qatar was the biggest supporter of the Nusra Front and other factions in Syria. The same goes for the Houthis in Yemen, even before the 2011 events in Yemen."