2004 Transcript

Prince Turki Al-Faisal interviewed on CNN’s ‘Wolf Blitzer reports’

Ambassador to the United Kingdom Prince Turki Al-Faisal was interviewed on June 2, 2004 by Wolf Blitzer on CNN concerning the announcement of a major crackdown on the financing of terrorism, and on the current situation in the global oil market.

WOLF BLITZER: Saudi Arabia today announced a major crackdown on the financing of terrorism. Working with the United States, the Saudis are now moving to block assets of a charity believed to funnel money to al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations. And a national commission will now oversee all charitable work abroad. The steps follow terror attacks in the kingdom, including the weekend assault in Khobar, which killed 22 people.

ADEL AL-JUBEIR, ADVISER TO SAUDI CROWN PRINCE ABDULLAH: Our work is not done. It is ongoing. We are determined to crush this evil. We are determined to go after those who finance it or those who condone it or justify it in any way, shape, or form.

BLITZER: Joining us now is the Saudi ambassador in London, the kingdom's former intelligence chief, Prince Turki al-Faisal. Prince Turki, thanks so much for joining us. (CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: When the U.S. government speaks about terror organizations, as you well know, the State Department includes organizations like the Palestinian groups, Hezbollah, or Hamas. Does Saudi Arabia agree with the Bush administration that those are terror organizations?

PRINCE TURKI AL-FAISAL, SAUDI ARABIA: Well, as far as Hamas is concerned, we believe that there are people in Hamas who use terrorist methods. And we have done whatever we can to try to stop them from doing that by convincing them and telling them that that is the worst thing they can do if they want to help the Palestinian people. But Hamas also does some charitable work in Palestine.

BLITZER: So will Saudi charity -- Saudi money continue to go to Hamas and Hezbollah?

AL-FAISAL: Saudi money has never gone to Hamas. Saudi money has always gone to the Palestine Liberation Organization regularly and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Gaza. And also, all the contributions that we've made directly to the Palestinian people have gone through the apparatus of the United Nations. We have never given direct money to Hamas or even indirect money to Hamas.

BLITZER: Because a lot of our viewers, and I'm sure you will remember, Prince Turki, that famous telethon in Saudi Arabia which raised a lot of money for Palestinians. But the U.S. and others later suggested some of that money was winding its way to various groups the U.S. government would label as terror organization, like Hamas. You're saying none of that money from that telethon went to those groups?

AL-FAISAL: Absolutely none in of it, because, as I told you, they went through either the United Nations or to the Palestinian Authority directly.

BLITZER: How do you make sure now, Prince Turki, that none of the Saudi money winds up in al Qaeda or al Qaeda-related hands?

AL-FAISAL: Well, this organization that Mr. Al-Jubeir was talking about, this overseeing umbrella organization, has been set up several months ago. And its procedures are that all money contributed to charity will have to be done through banks and through bank accounts, where tracing can be easily followed of any amount. No cash will be allowed to be transferred for those operations. Everything will have to be done either through money orders or through checks. And that way, we hope that there will be a curtailment of any quotation or possible leaks that may happen from here and there.

BLITZER: Well, let's switch gears for a second, Prince Turki, and talk about Saudi oil. Can you clarify to our viewers here in North America what Saudi policy will be going into this OPEC meeting in Beirut as far as increasing output, so that perhaps the price of a gallon of gasoline in the United States might go down?

AL-FAISAL: We have already increased output. And we're asking OPEC to increase the quota of each country until the total will be an increase of two million barrels a day over the established quota today. And we hope that countries even outside OPEC, like Russia and Norway and even Britain and Egypt and (UNINTELLIGIBLE) etcetera, will help in that matter.

But the crunch on the prices is not just a supply situation. It has to do with -- particularly in the United States, with refining capacity, which is now very limited in the United States and is not producing as much gasoline as the U.S. market requires. So there are other reasons why the prices are going up than simply supply. In Europe, for example, the taxes that governments in Europe impose on oil and oil products, in Britain, they reach 70 percent of what the Britain individual -- the British individual pays at the petrol pump. So you can see that it is not just a matter of supply.

BLITZER: Prince Turki, as usual, thanks so much for joining us for a few minutes. We'll continue this conversation down the road.

AL-FAISAL: Thank you, Mr. Blitzer.