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Blasts in Riyadh, other states not linked: Naif

November 18, 2003

RIYADH, Nov 17: Saudi interior minister Prince Naif bin Abdulaziz has ruled out any possible link between the recent Riyadh blast and explosions in other countries.

Addressing a news conference in Madina, he said certain quarters were keen on undermining the security of Saudi Arabia.

Prince Naif turned down any possibility of conducting a dialogue with terrorists. “However, penalties on terrorists who surrender will be lightened after being convicted,” he said.

The Saudi minister added that the terrorists involved in the blast incidents in the kingdom were trained and affected by the ideology of Al Qaeda organization.

“Moreover, they have been used by certain quarters which are keen on destabilizing the situation in the kingdom.

“However, terrorists do not have any specific demands, and even if they have certain demands, those will be rejected,” he said.

About the issue of a Saudi citizen who was reported to have been kidnapped from Iraq, the prince said: “It was not an incident of kidnapping, but it came under a security cooperation framework.”

The Saudi Press Agency quoted him as saying: “Moreover, the Saudi citizen is currently under interrogation.”

OFFER TO MILITANTS: Saudi Arabia will be lenient with any of the militants who took part in this month’s suicide bombing in Riyadh as long as they renounce violence and give themselves up, Interior Minister Prince Nayef said, adds Reuters.

Nayef, addressing a news conference on Sunday night, also said the security forces were still hunting down the masterminds of the Nov 9 attack at a residential compound which killed at least 18 people and injured some 120.

Excerpts of the news conference were carried by the official Saudi Press Agency and Arab television Al Arabiya on Monday.

“I’ve said this before, but I want to repeat it: He who gives himself up, or gives in his father or relatives, his sentence will be reduced,” he said in the holy city of Medina.

“If he has the same (militant) ideology, but has not taken part in attacks, and he gives himself up and assists the security forces, we will consider him an upstanding citizen.”

Saudi Arabia, battling a surge in violence, has launched a crackdown on militants believed to be part of, or influenced by, Saudi-born Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda group.

The government has blamed Al Qaeda for last week’s bombing of Riyadh’s Muhaya compound whose residents were predominantly Arab expatriates.

Al Qaeda, in an unauthenticated statement published on a militant website on Saturday, denied it had a role in the blast.

But Nayef said the attack bore all the hallmarks of the group and said Saudi Arabia was doing all it could to help international efforts to capture bin Laden.

“The training... and the orientation is that of Al Qaeda,” he said. “Our country is targeted, and a group of ignorant people are being used by foreign forces to further their aims.”

Nayef reiterated the kingdom’s refusal to hold a dialogue with the militants, who want to topple the ruling Saudi family.

“It doesn’t matter how far they run, we will capture them with God’s will,” he added.

The United States says Osama is the mastermind of the Sept 11, 2001 hijacked plane attacks on New York and Washington. Fifteen of the 19 suicide attackers were Saudis.—Reuters