RIYADH, Nov 28: Saudi Interior Minister Prince Nayef Bin Abdul Aziz has blamed the Muslim Brotherhood organization (Ikhwan-ul- Muslimeen) “for most of the problems in the Arab world.”

“The Brotherhood has done great damage to Saudi Arabia,” he said.

In an interview with a Kuwaiti newspaper, Prince Nayef accused the pro-jehad group in the Arab world of harming the interests of Muslims.

“All our problems come form the Muslim Brotherhood. We have given too much support to this group... The Muslim Brotherhood has destroyed the Arab world,” he said.

“Whenever they get into difficulty or found their freedom restricted in their own countries, Brotherhood activists found refuge in the Kingdom which protected their lives...But they later turned against the Kingdom.”

Prince Nayef singled out the Sudanese wing of the Brotherhood led by the ousted parliament speaker Hassan Al-Turabi, accusing the now-jailed politician of turning his back on his Saudi benefactors.

“Hassan Al-Turabi lived and studied in the kingdom. I personally consider him a friend...But as soon as he came to power, he turned against the kingdom,” Prince Nayef remarked.

The Muslim Brotherhood has links to groups across the Arab world, including Jordan’s parliamentary opposition, the Islamic Action Front, and the Hamas.

The minister’s outburst against the Brotherhood came amid growing US pressure and criticism on Saudi Arabia for its support to the Muslim groups around the world.

Prince Nayef also criticized the stand taken by certain religious scholars following the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait in 1990.

“A large number of scholars, including Abdul Rahman Khalifa, (Rashid) Ghannouchi, Turabi, (Abdul Majeed) Al-Zindani and (Necmettin) Erbakan came to the Kingdom then and met the King and the Crown Prince. We asked them whether they would accept the attack on Kuwait? They said they came to collect opinion. But when they arrived in Baghdad, they surprised us by issuing statements backing Iraq’s occupation of Kuwait,” he said.

Prince Nayef said the 1979 attack on Holy Ka’aba in Makkah was one of the major security crises that the Kingdom had faced.

“We brought the problem under control within two weeks,” he added. He also revealed that some of the attackers were also influenced by the Brotherhood ideology.

The minister hinted that foreign powers might have provided support to terrorists who carried out the Sept 11 attacks. “I cannot still believe that 19 youth, including 15 Saudis, carried out the Sept 11 attacks with the support of Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda organization. It’s impossible. I will not believe that these people have the power to do so horrendous an attack.”

Agencies add: Prince Nayef said Saudi Arabia had no “tangible proof” to investigate an alleged money trail from the kingdom to the September 11 hijackers, an action demanded by the United States.

“On what basis would we launch (an) investigation against Saudi nationals with no tangible evidence?” the Arabic-language al-Hayat newspaper on Thursday quoted Saudi Interior Minister Prince Nayef as saying.

The White House said on Tuesday it was pressing Saudi Arabia to do more for the U.S. “war on terrorism” and that a working group was seeking ways to persuade Riyadh to freeze some funds.

Saudi Arabia has denied financing any of the hijackers and Saudi newspapers said any such allegations were an attempt by U.S. hawks to get Saudi support for a possible war against Iraq.

The London-based al Hayat said the prince was commenting on a Washington Post report that a working-level group had recommended a plan to force Riyadh to crack down on so-called terror financiers in 90 days or face U.S. action to bring them to justice.

“These recommendations lack the preliminary evidence needed for any conviction. To investigate any person, there is a need for the other side to provide proof,” he said.

Relations between the United States and Saudi Arabia, its long-time Gulf ally and a major oil supplier, have been tested by reports that Riyadh has not done enough to crack down on Muslim militants.

But Prince Nayef said such reports do not reflect the official U.S. attitude towards his country.

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