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Under trial calls Saudi princes patrons of al-Qaida

Posted in World

Published on February 06, 2015 with No Comments

In highly unusual testimony inside the federal ┬áprison, a former operative for al-Qaida has described prominent members of Saudi Arabia’s royal family as major donors to the terrorist network in the late 1990s and claimed that he discussed a plan to shoot down Air Force One with a Stinger missile with a staff member at the Saudi Embassy in Washington.

The Qaida member, Zacarias Moussaoui, wrote last year to Judge George B Daniels of United States district court for the Southern District of New York, who is presiding over a lawsuit filed against Saudi Arabia by relatives of those killed in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. He said he wanted to testify in the case, and after lengthy negotiations with Justice Department officials and the federal Bureau of Prisons, a team of lawyers was permitted to enter the prison and question him for two days last October.

In a statement  the Saudi Embassy said that the national September 11 commission had rejected allegations that the Saudi government or Saudi officials had funded al-Qaida.

“Moussaoui is a deranged criminal whose own lawyers presented evidence that he was mentally incompetent,” the statement said. “His words have no credibility.”

Moussaoui received a diagnosis of mental illness by a psychologist who testified on his behalf, but he was found competent to stand trial on terrorism charges. He was sentenced to life in prison in 2006 and is held in the most secure prison in the federal system, in Florence, Colo. Moussaoui’s accusations could not be verified.

The allegations from Moussaoui come at a sensitive time in Saudi-American relations, less than two weeks after the death of the country’s longtime monarch, King Abdullah, and the succession of a half-brother, King Salman.

There has often been tension between Saudi leaders and the Obama administration since the Arab uprisings of 2011 and the efforts to manage the region’s resulting turmoil. Moussaoui describes meeting in Saudi Arabia with Salman, then the crown prince, and other Saudi royals while delivering them letters from Osama bin Laden.

 

 

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