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In the Crossfire

Are the Saudis supporting terrorism?

Richard Murphy
Richard Murphy: "... There's a big difference between Israeli outlook on Hamas and Saudi outlooks. They do not regard Hamas as a terrorist organization and that's where the paths diverge in analysis from the beginning."

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A new book claims that Saudi Arabia is a prime sponsor of global terrorism. Have the Saudis funded and harbored terrorist groups?

Dore Gold, former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations and author of "Hatred's Kingdom: How Saudi Arabia Supports the New Global Terrorism," squared off Thursday with Richard Murphy, former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia and now with the Council on Foreign Relations, over the issue. The two spoke with CNN's Paul Begala and Robert Novak on "Crossfire."

NOVAK: Ambassador Gold, in your book, I think on page two, you quoted from an unnamed former Iran corporation analyst giving a briefing to the Defense Policy Board saying Saudi Arabia is our enemy. And let me give you the name of the person, which you didn't mention. He's a little bit notorious. I guess you didn't want to mention him, Laurent Murawiec.

And here's what he said. We'll put it on the screen.

"Saudi Arabia supports our enemies and attacks our allies."

Do you agree with that?

GOLD: Well, as you know, Mr. Novak, when you write a book you bring in introductory material by various authors on the various issues that are related to ... a particular subject, and I cited, of course, the Iran study.

But what I tried to do was go one step further, not just have secondary material, but the actual documents to show the link.

NOVAK: Do you agree with the statement though?

GOLD: That's for you to judge, whether Saudi Arabia is an ally or enemy of the United States.

Saudi Arabia supports terrorism, that's documented in "Hatred's Kingdom."

NOVAK: Well, how could you possibly say that they support our enemies or even entertain that thought, when you may not be aware of the fact that Saudi Arabia has agreed to everything the United States has asked. And that air power for the coming attack on Iraq will be based on Saudi Arabia and that the United States is fully satisfied with that.

Are you aware of those facts?

Dore Gold, former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations and author of "Hatred's Kingdom."

GOLD: Well, I'm also aware of a new air base that was built in Qatar because of the problems of deploying in Saudi Arabia, but that's not really the point. Whether you have AWACS or F-16s ...

NOVAK: That's not the point?

GOLD: No. Whether you have AWACS or F-16s deployed in Saudi Arabia, the question is: Is Saudi Arabia at the same time playing the double game with you? Are they funding terrorist organizations like Hamas?

In "Hatred's Kingdom," that funding is documented for the first time.

BEGALA: In fact, Mr. Ambassador Murphy, let me bring you into this as well.

In Ambassador Gold's book, there is a good deal of documentation. Let me read to you a passage from it.

Ambassador Gold writes, "High-level U.S. intelligence officials became convinced that Saudi Arabia had struck a deal with Osama bin Laden. Dick Gannon, who served as director of operations for the State Department's Office of Counterterrorism, observed in October of 1998, less than three months after leaving his post, --quote -- "We've got information about who's backing bin Laden and, in a lot of cases, it goes back to the royal family."

Does Saudi Arabia's royal family back Osama bin Laden, Mr. Ambassador?

MURPHY: Look, the Saudi Arabian royal family is not a monolithic body. You've got to start with 7,000 princes. Are there some bad apples in the lot? Very likely. Does the Saudi Arabian royal family as an institution support bin Laden? Absolutely not, because they're first on his hit list.

BEGALA: Well, but with respect, there are hundreds of members of Congress in America who helped to rule us and if any one of them stood up in support of Osama bin Laden, we consider that, even a member of Congress, to be an enemy of the United States. So I guess you are confirming that there are members of the royal family in Saudi Arabia who support a man who murdered 3,000 Americans.

MURPHY: Well, there may be, but, you know, I spent five, six days in Saudi Arabia this January, just a month and a bit ago, and I went with two principal concerns -- because I've been hearing for the last several months about the money trail -- how they were doing nothing to cooperate and about their educational system and how it was producing hatred-filled students.

And I must say, I came away encouraged on both counts.

NOVAK: And as we go, I want to read from your book.

GOLD: Please.

NOVAK: "The Saudi regime has been a key backer of Wahtuabism's international terror network. Indeed, Saudi Arabia, supposedly an ally of the United States, emerges as a key to the new global terrorism, for the Saudi kingdom has prepared not only the ideology that motivates terrorists, but also manpower and seemingly endless supplies of money for terror operations."

Now isn't it a fact, that as Ambassador Murphy said, that this terror network, one of its first goals, is to bring down the present Saudi regime?

GOLD: Well, you know, if you carefully examine the statements of Osama bin Laden, what you find is by the mid 1990s, he stops naming King Fahd, Prince Sultan and Prince Naef -- part of the Sudari Seven -- as potential targets or as objects of criticism. All of a sudden that vanishes, and he begins to speak about the West.

And then it is in the latter part of the 1990s that al Qaeda operations focused specifically on American targets, your East African embassies in Tanzania and Kenya, the attack on the USS Cole in Yemen, and finally, September 11.

But let me add one point that I think is very important because it relates to this television show. On August 16 of last year, probably in the seat that I'm sitting in, Adel Juber appeared before both of you gentlemen ...

BEGALA: A spokesman for the government of Saudi Arabia.

GOLD: He is the foreign policy adviser of Crown Prince Abdullah. I took the text of what he said from the Web site of the royal embassy of Saudi Arabia in the city in Washington, D.C. In it Mr. Juber made two assertions that I'm quoting from a previous "Crossfire."

"We do not allow funding to go from Saudi Arabia to Hamas. We have done everything we can try to clamp down on any money going to any evildoer, including Hamas."

Well, lo and behold, Israeli forces found checks written to Hamas charities. Moreover ...

NOVAK: From whom? By whom?

GOLD: This is from the corporate account of Al Raji Banking and Investment. I'm sure Ambassador Murphy knows who they are. That is the corporate account of Al Raji Banking and Investment in Chase Manhattan Bank.

NOVAK: You want to respond to that?

BEGALA: Ambassador Murphy?

MURPHY: You know, of course, there's a big difference between Israeli outlook on Hamas and Saudi outlooks. They do not regard Hamas as a terrorist organization, and that's where the paths diverge in analysis from the beginning. ...

BEGALA: But with all due respect, Mr. Ambassador, our government, in the United States of America, does. Hamas is a terrorist organization.

... I think it's plainly a terrorist organization in Hamas, right?

MURPHY: Well, as you know, they see it as a resistance organization. It's an old dispute between the Americans and the Saudis.

GOLD: But Adel Juber, Ambassador Murphy, said on this program that Hamas is an evildoer and they don't support Hamas.

Now add one other point. In October of 2002, that's just a few months ago, one of the heads of Hamas was invited to Riyadh to the conference of the World Association of Muslim Youth, WAMY, a conference under the sponsorship of Crown Prince Abdullah and one of the heads of Hamas had a personal four-eyes meeting with Crown Prince Abdullah.

We know that because we obtained the transcript in the Gaza Strip when Israeli forces when into the headquarters of the Preventive Security Organization. That transcript and that material is in Arabic and English in "Hatred's Kingdom" for anyone to read.

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