Patterns of Global Terrorism 2001 - Saudi Arabia

After September 11 and the realization that 15 of 19 of the attackers were Saudi citizens, the Saudi Government reaffirmed its commitment to combat terrorism and responded positively to requests for concrete action in support of Coalition efforts against al-Qaida and the Taliban. The King, Crown Prince, Government-appointed religious leaders, and official news media publicly and consistently condemned terrorism and refuted the few ideological and religious justifications made by some clerics.

In October, the Saudi Government announced it would implement UNSCR 1373, which called for, among other things, the freezing of terrorist related funds. The Saudi Government has ratified six of 12 UN conventions relating to terrorism and signed an additional three, including the UN Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism. The remaining three conventions are under consideration. The Saudi Government also pressed nongovernmental organizations and private agencies to implement existing Saudi laws that govern the soliciting of contributions for domestic or international humanitarian causes. These laws were not scrupulously enforced in the past, and some representatives of international terrorist organizations solicited and collected funds from private citizens and businesses in Saudi Arabia. In December, Saudi authorities agreed to cooperate with US investigators in suspected cases of terrorism financing.

Several threats against US civilian and military personnel and facilities in Saudi Arabia were reported in 2001, but none materialized. By year's end, Saudi authorities had finished an investigation into a series of bombings in Riyadh and the Eastern Province (Ash-Sharqiyah) and determined that the bombings were criminal rather than political in motivation. In October an apparent suicide bombing in al-Khubar killed one US citizen and injured another. The Saudi investigation since revealed that the bomber was a Palestinian, acting alone, for unverified motives relating to the Palestinian intifadah.

There was only one significant act of international terrorism in Saudi Arabia in 2001 – the hijacking of a Turkish plane en route to Russia in March, perpetrated to protest Russian actions in Chechnya. Saudi forces stormed the plane, rescuing most of the passengers. The Saudi Government denied requests from Russia and Turkey to extradite the hijackers.

The Government of Saudi Arabia continued to investigate the June 1996 bombing of the Khubar Towers housing facility near Dhahran that killed 19 US military personnel and wounded some 500 US and Saudi personnel. The Saudi Government continued to hold in detention a number of Saudi citizens linked to the attack, including Hani al-Sayegh, extradited by the United States in 1999.


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