US Has Quietly Expelled Dozens Of Saudi Diplomats
Special To World Tribune.com
The United States has ordered the expulsion of dozens of Saudi
diplomats suspected of helping promulgate Al Qaida ideology,
diplomatic sources said. The State Dept. has refused to either
confirm or deny the action..
The State Department revoked the diplomatic credentials of the Saudi
diplomats in Washington over the last month in an effort to crack
down on Saudi efforts to promote Al Qaida interests in the United
The diplomatic sources said about 70 diplomats and embassy staffers
were expelled in late 2003 and dozens of others were ordered to leave
the United States by mid-February. Many of those expelled were said
to have worked in the office of the Saudi defense attache.
In all, about 70 Saudi diplomats have left the United States since
January, the sources said. They did not include Saudi ambassador to
Washington, Prince Bandar Bin Sultan, the longest serving diplomat in
the United States.
The State Department has refused to confirm the expulsion of the
Saudi diplomats. "I can't confirm it at this point," State Department
spokesman Richard Boucher said on Wednesday. "I'll see if there's
anything I can say for you."
The Saudi diplomats, in a determination made by the FBI and Homeland
Security Department, were said to have abused their diplomatic
privileges in the United States. The sources said most of the
diplomats were responsible for operations of the Institute of Islamic
and Arabic Sciences in America [IIASA] located in Fairfax, Va.
IIASA, established in 1988, has provided free training for hundreds
of Muslims in the United States in Wahabi ideology, the basis for Al
Qaida. The institute is one of six overseas branches of the main
religious university in Saudi Arabia.
The Washington-based Saudi Information Agency, operated by the Saudi
opposition, identified the Saudi diplomats who work at the institute
as Fuad Gunaim, Ibrahim Al Kulaib, Abdallah Al Saif, Saleh Al Sunae,
Fahd Al Amer, Saab Al Saab, and Yousef Al Shubaily.
The U.S. decision to expel the diplomats was said to have stemmed
from a Houston, Texas conference in December 2003. The Saudi
opposition agency said Saudi diplomats had planned to attend the
conference with what it termed "known supporters of Al Qaida leader
Osama Bin Laden. The Saudi embassy canceled its participation in the
conference after the Washington Post reported the involvement of the
The conference was to have been addressed by a senior Saudi cleric
Sheik Abdullah Bin Jebreen, who has publicly supported Bin Laden and
his war against the United States, the agency said. Jebreen addressed
the conference via video link from Riyad.
[On Thursday, a statement purportedly issued by Bin Laden said Al
Qaida's strategy was to launch a major attack on the United States.
The statement, which appeared on the Voice of Jihad website, said Al
Qaida wants to provoke the United States to retaliate against Saudi
The agency said Saudi ambassador Prince Bandar Bin Sultan has refused
to take responsibility for the Saudi embassy in Washington. The
agency cited a source as saying he hasn't entered the embassy in
"Many diplomats have not seen the ambassador for years," the source
said. "Bandar spends most of his time at his mansions around the U.S.
and the world, instead of carrying on his ambassadorial duties."