From the interview on Democracy Now! with As’ad AbuKhalil, a professor of political science at California St. Univ. at Stanislaus and visiting professor at UC, Berkeley.
His blog is called, funnily enough, The Angry Arab News Service:
AMY GOODMAN: As’ad AbuKhalil, can you talk about the man who will replace — well, who the Bush family call fondly Bandar Bush, the long-time Saudi ambassador to the United States — Prince Turki?
AS’AD ABUKHALIL: [I]t’s important that we note that Prince Turki was sacked or he left on his own his job as head of the foreign intelligence in Saudi Arabia a mere ten days before September 11. Nobody explained the circumstances under which he left.
We know for sure that he was tasked by the United States government back in the late 1970s and on to assemble the kind of Arab Muslim fanatical volunteers to help the United States and the C.I.A. in the fight against the Soviet communist regime. In the course of doing that, this man is single-handedly most responsible for the kind of menace that these fanatical groups now pose to world peace and security. And yet there is very little accountability that is being demanded on him. [….]
… I put on my site some links in order to tell readers about the background of this man. … Read his interview with The Independent last year. Read his interview last year with Der Spiegel magazine or the talk he gave at the Center for Contemporary Studies at Georgetown two years ago. And all of these remain online. And you will find out that he continues to speak fondly of bin Laden … his theory is that bin Laden was great man and a wonderful man, but that he slipped only on September 11. That before that, he was somebody with whom he was close.
[Some] believe that when he last went to Afghanistan and met with the Taliban about surrendering bin Laden, that he may not be forthcoming … he may have met bin Laden back then. We are talking about the 1990s. So, there are claims that his relationship with bin Laden continued long, long after he was asked to leave the kingdom.
And let us remember that there was a footnote in the September 11 Commission which indicated that bin Laden was able to leave the kingdom through the help of a disaffected member of the Royal Family. That also didn’t get attention in the press or in Congress.
Another interesting tidbit from the interview about life in Saudi Arabia:
AMY GOODMAN: The situation now in Saudi Arabia – I mean, we rarely hear, for example, about regular gun battles that are taking place in the streets. Who are they between, and what do you think will happen?
AS’AD ABUKHALIL: I hear from a lot of people who are coming from Saudi Arabia, and I met many Saudis in the last several weeks when I was in Lebanon. I’ll tell you that many of them are telling me that people who are in the middle class or above are scrambling to arrange for themselves to leave the kingdom.
Some people who lived in Lebanon’s civil war tell me that some streets in Riyadh at some points look like the Lebanese civil war.
Checkpoints are rising up in so many parts of the kingdom. And the kingdom is all blaming it on some underground network for bin Laden, but my impression, talking to many Saudis, that they don’t even know what is happening.
And the man who is in charge of dealing with terrorism and dissent in Saudi Arabia, because they never make a distinction between the two, is one of the most hated and detested people in the kingdom. I am talking about Minister of Interior Nayef, the brother of King Fahd, who has a very long record of persecution, torture, against dissidents, including some liberal dissidents, the likes of which usually would get the support of Condoleezza Rice if they happened to be in a country that doesn’t have oil wells.
Read the full interview. Or you can listen to or watch video of the interview.
As’ad AbuKhalil is the author of several books, his latest is “The Battle for Saudi Arabia: Royalty, Fundamentalism, and Global Power.” His blog is The Angry Arab News Service.