KUN0028 4 GEN 0277 KUWAIT /KUNA-SSX9
Blair repeatedly failed to tackle radical Muslims in his backyard
LONDON, Aug 10 (KUNA) -- Prince Turki Al-Faisal, the outgoing Saudi Arabian
Ambassador to London, has said that he had been "going around in circles"
during his two-and-a-half-year posting in a failed attempt to make Britain
understand the danger posed by Saudi dissidents in London linked to Al-Qaeda.
Prince Turki, 60, has established himself as one of the most open and
articulate members of the Saudi Arabian Royal Family and put public diplomacy
at the heart of his assignment, The Times newspaper said Wednesday.
He will be taking up his new post as Ambassador to Washington in the autumn.
In a farewell interview with The Times, Prince Turki Al-Faisal looked back
fondly on his time in London, with the exception of the British Government's
inadequate response to dealing with extremist Muslims.
The most frustrating experience was being shunted around government by
departments trying to pass the buck, he said.
"When you call somebody he says it is the other guy. If you talk to the
security people, they say it is the politicians' fault. If you talk to the
politicians they say it is the Crown Prosecution Service. If you call the
Crown Prosecution Service, they say, no, it is MI5 (Britain's domestic
intelligence agency). So we have been in this runaround for the last
two-and-a-half years", Prince Turki told the paper.
His remarks coincided with an outburst from President Musharraf of Pakistan
who accused the British Government of being too timid with homegrown Muslim
extremists who use mosques to preach hatred.
Asked by the BBC if Britain had been too soft, the Saudi diplomat
replied "Yes, I think so, absolutely. It should be stopped, nobody should be
talking of hatred and militancy and aggression ... That is not what the mosque
is meant for".
Most of Prince Turki's criticism focused on the failure of the authorities
to take action against two Saudi dissidents, Saad Faqih, the head of the
Movement for Islamic Reform in Arabia, and his former colleague, Mohammad
Faqih, who lives in Willesden, north-west London, was placed on the UN
terror list last year. He is accused by the United States of involvement in
the 1998 bombing of the US Embassy in Nairobi.
One of the claims for the London Underground bombings was placed on his
website by an Al-Qaeda group. He is also accused by the Saudis of involvement
in a Libyan-inspired plot last year to kill King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.
Al-Masari runs a jihadi website which posts videos of suicide bombings in
Iraq and Israel and anti-Western propaganda.
In spite of their activities, Prince Turki said that the British had
largely ignored the threat.
"We have been urging your Government to send them back since 1996, if not
earlier. During my two-and-a-half years here it was one of the most persistent
and consistent topics", he added.
The matter was raised with British Prime Minister Tony Blair by the then
Crown Prince Abdullah, at the G8 meeting in Evian, two years ago.
Blair said there was nothing he could do. Prince Abdullah suggested he
changed the law. The Prime Minister promised he would, but again no action was
The Saudis were so angry that Prince Abdullah then warned British Foreign
Secretary Jack Straw, and the former British Defense Secretary Geoffrey Hoon,
when they visited Saudi Arabia this year, that relations with Britain would be
damaged if nothing were done.
The message was driven home by King Abdullah last week when Blair traveled
to Riyadh for the funeral of King Fahd. Again the Prime Minister promised that
new laws would be introduced.
Prince Turki said that he hoped that the authorities would belatedly act,
though he doubted whether anything would be done before his departure next