The New York Times today has an editorial about Saudi Arabia’s new ambassador to the United States. They give him feint praise, while noting that
As head of Saudi intelligence from 1977 until Aug. 31, 2001, he personally managed Riyadh’s relations with Osama bin Laden and Mullah Muhammad Omar of the Taliban. Anyone else who had dealings with even a small fraction of the notorious characters the prince has worked with over the years would never make it past the immigration counter at Dulles Airport, let alone to the most exclusive offices in Washington.
In the editorial they mention that lawsuits by victims of 9/11 against Prince Turki had been thrown out by US courts. Still, it is interesting to read the original complaint of Cantor Fitzgerald & Co [2.5 MB PDF]. (More documents here.)
From 1977 to 2001, defendant Prince Turki headed the Saudi Arabian Department of General Intelligence (“Istakhbarat”). During this period, Prince Turki met several times with defendant OBL [Osama bin Laden] and with Taliban representatives. At these meetings, Prince Turki agreed that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia would provide financial and material support to Al Qaeda and OBL.
For example, according to U.S. intelligence sources, captured Al Qaeda leader Abu Zubaydah was told by OBL that in 1991 OBL and Prince Turki met and agreed that OBL would be secretly funded if he would leave Saudi Arabia and wage jihad outside the Kingdom. This agreement was reached despite the fact that Prince Turki knew that Al Qaeda: (A) was soliciting and raising funds in and from Saudi Arabia through Saudi-based businesses and financial entities; and (B) intended to use the material support and substantial assistance it acquired to kill Americans and attack American interests around the world.
Thereafter, Prince Turki met with OBL, Al Qaeda and the Taliban, including at least two meetings in 1998. These meetings resulted in an agreement whereby Al Qaeda would not attack Saudi Arabian targets, and in return, Saudi Arabia would make no demands for the closure of OBL’s network of training camps. According to U.S. intelligence sources, Zubaydah attended one of these meetings in Kandahar where he witnessed Prince Turki agreeing to continue the flow of money and material support to Al Qaeda from Saudi Arabia. After these meetings, 400 new pickup vehicles arrived in Kandahar, still bearing Dubai license plates.
Zubaydah’s information that Prince Turki directly participated in providing financial and material support and substantial assistance to Al Qaeda is corroborated by Mullah Kakshar. Mullah Kakshar was a former Taliban leader who has defected. In a sworn statement, Mullah Kakshar implicated Prince Turki in facilitating the transfer of funds from wealthy Saudi financiers directly to Al Qaeda.
Prince Turki therefore knowingly and intentionally lent repeated financial and material support and substantial assistance to OBL and Al Qaeda.
If there is any substance to these charges, the New York Times is being a little disingenuous when they say:
Prince Turki is … the ideal person for the Bush administration to speak frankly with about finally persuading Riyadh to play a less ambiguous role in the global struggle against terror committed in the name of Islam