In an interview today with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, Adel Al-Jubeir, foreign policy adviser to Crown Prince Abdullah, discussed issues including Saudi Arabia’s determination to crack down on terrorists, Saudi support for Al Qaeda and democratization in the Kingdom.
Al-Jubeir said there is no doubt Al Qaeda was behind the latest suicide bombing in Riyadh. “We have broken up over a dozen terrorist cells in Saudi Arabia since the May attacks in Riyadh, and we’ve discovered a common link between all of these groups. We have no doubt that it was Al Qaeda.” He added: “We want to leave no doubt that we are determined to pursue them vigorously and without mercy until we crush them.”
Regarding the investigation into last week’s bombing, Al-Jubeir said that while some individuals have been questioned, no one has yet been taken into custody with direct links to the attack. As for imminent terrorist threats, her commented: “We are preparing for the worst and hoping for the best. We still have some cells that we need to unravel, we still capture people, we still capture munitions and arms caches. We are going after the financiers of terrorism – we are looking at bank accounts, and we have set up joint task forces with the U.S. We cannot discount the possibility of another attack, unfortunately.”
Asked how much support Al Qaeda has among rank-and-file Saudis, Al-Jubeir replied, “I would imagine very little support. We estimate that this is a small number of individuals around the country.” He referred to a public opinion poll in Saudi Arabia that indicated 90 percent of Saudis polled do not support or condone bin Laden’s actions. Most of the remaining 10 percent did not express an opinion.
Blitzer also asked about the prospects for real democracy in Saudi Arabia. “I would imagine very real,” Al-Jubeir replied. “Saudi Arabia has been on a path of reform since the first Gulf war in 1990. We set up a consultative council. We streamlined our government departments. We offered an agenda for reforming the Arab position that includes broadening political participation, opening up the economy, attracting investment. We have done in the last two years tremendous things in the economic area. We have done things in terms of building institutions, a center for national dialogue, a journalists’ association.”
(full transcript of interview)