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Wednesday, 27 November, 2002, 15:51 GMT
Saudi envoy rejects terror allegations
President Bush with Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah
US-Saudi ties have come under considerable strain
The Saudi ambassador to the United States and his wife have strongly denied allegations that they helped finance the 11 September attacks in the US last year.


I am outraged that people think I can be connected to terrorists when all I wanted to do was to help someone in need

Princess Haifa al-Faisal
US media suggested last week that donations by the ambassador's wife, Princess Haifa al-Faisal, indirectly helped two of the men who carried out the attacks.

The Saudi Government has denied the reports and reaffirmed its support for America's "war on terrorism".

The Bush administration has cautioned against jumping to conclusions about the suspected money trail - but has urged Saudi Arabia to do more to combat Muslim militants.

Proof?

Federal agents are investigating news reports that two of the 11 September hijackers - Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi - were given money by Saudi students living in the US, who were allegedly receiving funds from an account in the name of Princess Haifa.

Attack on the World Trade Center
Most of the 11 September hijackers were Saudi
The Saudis are co-operating in the investigation.

But the princess angrily dismissed the reports.

"The least I can say is that I am outraged when people think I can be connected to terrorists when all I wanted to do was to give some help to someone in need," she told the New York Times.

"My mother taught us never to judge anyone by what you hear without any proof, and it seems that people are judging us without any proof."

The princess added that she made many charitable contributions every year to needy Saudis.

Strained relations

In the same interview, her husband Prince Bandar bin Sultan reaffirmed that his government had helped Washington track down al-Qaeda suspects.

He said the relationship between Saudi Arabia and the US remained strong.

However correspondents say relations have cooled since last year's attacks.

Fifteen of the 19 hijackers were Saudi citizens, and many American commentators have accused the Saudis of funding Muslim militant groups.

On Tuesday, the administration urged Riyadh to take further steps to assist President George W Bush's campaign against terrorism.

"Saudi Arabia is a good partner in the war against terrorism but can do more," said White House spokesman Ari Fleischer.


Key stories

European probe

Background

IN DEPTH
See also:

26 Nov 02 | Middle East
24 Nov 02 | Americas
03 Nov 02 | Middle East
17 Oct 02 | Middle East
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