Appearing on Fox & Friends [August 6, 2003], Saudi Information Office director Nail Al-Jubeir once again defended the Kingdom from accusations made by Sen. Bob Graham (D-Florida), who accused elements of the Saudi government of complicity with the 9/11 hijackers. Al-Jubeir noted in this regard that Sen. Trent Lott (R-Mississippi) has read the same excised section of the 9/11 report, and found nothing damning in it. Al-Jubeir speculated that the difference in perspective between the two senators can be attributed to Graham seeking political capital out of the 9/11 report for his foundering presidential campaign.
Another major issue discussed was the Middle East peace process. Al-Jubeir said in this regard that Saudi aid to the Palestinian Authority was no different than the American aid, and that the Saudis have played an instrumental role in moving the peace process forward through Crown Prince Abdullah’s initiative as presented to the Arab League.
Appearing on CNN American Morning [August 6, 2003], Al-Jubeir reiterated many of the same positions on the 9/11 report and Omar al-Bayoumi.
Interviewed by Neil Cavuto of Fox News [August 5, 2003], Saudi Information Office director Nail Al-Jubeir initially spoke about Omar al-Bayoumi. Al-Jubeir opined that the source of the money al-Bayoumi had received prior to 9/11 would presumably be one of the questions investigators would ask him. He noted that there should not even be talk about bringing al-Bayoumi to the US for interrogation without charges lodged against him first. Al-Jubeir noted that the joint US-Saudi task force has questioned about a dozen Saudis in the Kingdom. He termed Sen. Schumer’s (D-New York) request for al-Bayoumi to be questioned in the US “a publicity stunt.”
When Cavuto pointed out that much of the information about al-Bayoumi and his finances were new, just appearing in the 9/11 report for the first time, hence necessitating a follow-up interrogation by investigators, al-Jubeir corrected this perception, saying that the supposedly new information was actually revealed by the L.A. Times back in November 2002, and al-Jubeir himself had responded to media queries about al-Bayoumi at that time.
On the issue of the Guantanamo detainees and the possibility of military tribunals for some of them, Al-Jubeir remarked that the Saudi concern was that the trials be fair. He expressed preference for Saudi detainees to be allowed back to Saudi Arabia to face justice.
In a separate interview on MSNBC’s Buchanan and Press [August 5, 2003], Director Nail al-Jubeir said that while some American anger over 9/11 is understandable given the fact that 3,000 American citizens were killed, the Kingdom also is concerned that there are a lot of half truths and misinformation alleging Saudi complicity in the conspiracy. The Kingdom has no problem with honest questions regarding the plot and those questions will be met with honest answers from Saudi Arabia. However, character assassination and the widespread misinformation is a source of concern. It is an election year in the United States, he said, “and there are a lot of people who are taking swings at Saudi Arabia and you know I think the facts need to go out there.” Saudi Arabia, stressed Mr. al-Jubeir, is a partner with the United States in the fight against terrorism.
Asked why the International Islamic Relief Organization, which the US alleges has ties to al-Qaeda, publicly thanked HRH Prince Sultan al-Saud for his donation to the charity by co-host Bill Press, Mr. al-Jubeir explained, “I think you have to look at the International Islamic Relief Organization as an NGO based in Saudi Arabia funding a lot of groups. I think where the question comes in is the International Relief Organization here in the US, two separate organizations, not affiliated, but people throw these names out and they are all put as one group. We are not funding terrorist organizations. There are a lot of charges, very little proof. If we are funding it, we want to know. Why in the world are we funding people who are committed to destroy us, to kill us, and the bombing in Riyadh is just an indication of that.”
Mr. al-Jubeir rejected a suggestion from Patrick Buchanan that there is widespread hatred of the United States in Saudi Arabia. He noted that a recent Zogby poll found no support for extremist views in Saudi Arabia and observed that the Kingdom has been host to a major American and British community for generations with no sign of such hatred. Acts against Americans in Saudi Arabia, he explained, are being conducted by a small group of deviants who have brought terrorism into Saudi Arabia, and their actions are directed not just against Westerners but against Saudis and Muslims as well.
He also flatly denied that Saudi Arabia has provided any money for Hamas. He noted that the largest single source of funding for Hamas has been criminal activity conducted in the United States. Terrorist groups, he said, seek to find weak links in any country they operate in and that may have happened in Saudi Arabia as well. But Saudi authorities are doing everything in their power to prevent that from happening.