Ambassador to the United States Prince Bandar bin Sultan was interviewed concerning the ongoing terrorist attack in Al-Khobar, by phone on Fox News Alert by Heather Nauert, who introduced the segment by saying:
Saudi forces today launching a dramatic rescue operation in Saudi Arabia. Terrorists are holding hostages, including Americans. Joining us now on the phone is the Saudi ambassador to the US, Prince Bandar bin Sultan. Prince Bandar, thank you for joining us. What is the latest you are hearing from your sources?
PRINCE BANDAR: Well, the latest is that an exchange of fire, our special forces are engaging those evil terrorists. It is great news that 7 Americans have been rescued by the Saudi security forces. Two were wounded, five are safe, and we congratulate them, pay our regards and happiness, share it with their families. It is tragic, unfortunately, that one American was killed earlier on, plus many other people, Saudis and other people. We pay our condolences to their families.
NAUERT: OK. And we know that a Briton who was also killed earlier today, and his body was dragged through the street and apparently thrown over some type of bridge or something. How can you characterize the Saudi view of Americans and of Westerners?
PRINCE BANDAR: The Saudi view of Americans and Westerners positive. They are our friends, they have been our friends for 50 years. And the majority of Saudi people, there was a poll that was done by Mr. Zogby, showed that over 80 to 90% of the Saudis consider that the Americans and the American people are our friends. This is the work of few who are evil and who represent only evil. They are against you and against us, and we all must stick together so we can fight them because they are truly evil terrorists.
NAUERT: Certainly. Is this rescue operation over with? We know that Saudi special forces and we’ve seen some video of this hovering over the site in a helicopter have rescued some people. We know that some are still being held in this compound. What is the status of the rescue operation?
PRINCE BANDAR: The operation is still ongoing. This is a building of about 8 to 10 floors so the operation is still going and I am like you waiting for the result, and I hope it will be a positive result.
NAUERT: OK. And can you tell us how many Saudi forces are involved in this type of operation? We know that US special forces have been involved in the past in helping train many members of your military. How many, can you tell us, are involved in this specific operation?
PRINCE BANDAR: We have, I would say, and you could count them, over 200 of our special forces are involved. And yes, our special forces and all kind of security forces in Saudi Arabia, we are proud of them. They are very highly trained and they were trained both in the US and in Europe and Saudi Arabia. We are proud of them and I think they are doing a great job. Let’s just wait and see the results.
NAUERT: OK. Now, to your knowledge, did the US government know anything about this operation, that this operation was going to take place, an attempt to rescue these people who are being held by the terrorists?
PRINCE BANDAR: No, not at all. Neither our government nor your government knew anything in advance of this. What we knew was that this is an enemy who is persistent and desperate, and that they were going to make operations. And we were ready for them everywhere, but you cannot ... We have to be successful hundred percent of the time. Those people, the evil people, have to be successful only one time. Even this once we’re going to make it a failure for them, God willing.
NAUERT: Have you or has anyone in your government spoken with anyone in the White House tonight? The president, the State Department, the Department of Defense? What kinds of contacts have taken place so far?
PRINCE BANDAR: Yes, I have personally been in contact with senior officials in your government and informed them of the process, and, most of all, to inform them of the release, of the rescue of the American hostages. And we all have the same idea: There is no compromise with those evil people. We must fight them until we destroy them.
NAUERT: OK. Now the number of attacks that have taken place, both on Westerners and on Saudi Arabians themselves, in the past year is absolutely stunning. I’m looking at a list in front of me right now and there are at least a dozen different events that have taken place from attacks that were thwarted by your forces. Who are these people? I mean, we know, we say they’re terrorists, we know they’re terrorists. But who exactly, can you tell us who these people are? Do you have a handle on it?
PRINCE BANDAR: Yes we do. Those people are all members of Al Qaeda terrorist organization. We have been fighting them, by the way for your information and your audience’s information, before 9/11. Before 9/11, when we used to call many people terrorists, Westerners used to call them dissidents. Now we discovered that both are ugly people. As far as who are they specifically, we will find out soon, but we are after them and I think they are getting desperate because they are finding that their actions are offending and galvanizing the Saudi people against them.
NAUERT: Did you have any intelligence indicating that this attack would take place? Because just the other day, a top Al Qaeda leader in the Kingdom issued what he called a battle plan, essentially, for urban guerrilla warfare that designated strategies for supposedly toppling the royal family in Saudi Arabia. Did you have any intelligence indicating that this act today would take place?
PRINCE BANDAR: Negative. We never had a specific knowledge or intelligence on this operation that took place tonight, this criminal act. However, just like what you heard the other day from Secretary Tom Ridge and from Attorney General Ashcroft, we all are hearing high intensity of noises. We know that they are intent to do evil and we were all looking for it. But what we didn’t have was anything specific on this operation per se.
NAUERT: OK. A couple more quick questions. Do you have any sense as to when this operation, this specific operation will be over?
PRINCE BANDAR: I believe in the next few hours at the maximum we will know the results and this thing will be over.
NAUERT: OK. These militants, or these terrorists rather, were reported to have been wearing military uniforms as they stormed this compound. Do you know anything? I mean, obviously, military uniforms aren’t that difficult to get. But do you have any sense that these terrorists were part of your government’s military?
PRINCE BANDAR: Absolutely not. This report about the terrorists wearing military uniforms is not accurate. We believe they were wearing some sort of track suits that some local observers thought they were uniforms. We are sure that they are not members of our government or security services or armed forces. However, very soon we will find out their identities when, God willing, we capture them or kill them.
NAUERT: OK. Well, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, please keep us up to date as we will be following this through the end of the evening and into the morning.
PRINCE BANDAR: May I say one thing more? I think at this moment we are engaged fighting those evils. I call on all our friends in the United States, particularly those armchair pundits, not to get in a hurry to condemn Saudi Arabia, because we are fighting the same enemy.
NAUERT: Prince Bandar, we have to end it there.