Saudis threaten to implicate western banks in 9/11 suit

Friday, July 18, 2003

Saudi Arabia has threatened to involve Western banks in a $100 trillion dollar lawsuit by the families of the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 suicide strikes by Al Qaida.

Dallah Al Baraka Holding, a leading Saudi investment institution with ties to the royal family, has notified four major Western banks that they could be incriminated in the lawsuit. Dallah said the banks will be named as institutions that provided services to what the company termed were suspected terrorists or their aides.

The Saudi company is owned by Saleh Kamel and is one of 100 Saudi organizations and individuals sued by the family of the Al Qaida victims. Others among the 3,000 plaintiffs being sued include the defense and interior ministers of Saudi Arabia.

Meanwhile, Saudi opposition sources have provided new information about the kingdom's ties to the deposed regime of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, Middle East Newsline reported.

The Washington-based Saudi Information Agency quoted a defecting Saudi diplomat, Mishael Thaar Al Motairi, 42, the senior administrative attache of the Saudi embassy in the Netherlands, as saying that he witnessed numerous Saudi arms transfers to the Saddam regime during his tenure as a member of the Saudi embassy in Baghdad.

Dallah Al Baraka Group, with headquarters in Jedda, operates in 43 countries in such fields as finances, information property and trade. It has a turnover of $6 billion a year.

Dallah has employed a legal procedure, called Third Party Lawsuit, that allows defendants to name other parties. But the company said in a statement that the U.S. court hearing the suit will not pursue the names of its clients.

"Saleh and Dallah Al Baraka's legal team expects that the court will agree to drop their clients' names from the lawsuit," Dallah said in a statement. "In the unlikely event that Saleh and Al Baraka are not dropped from the lawsuit, the Western banks will also be added to the list of Saudi banks as defendants under the legal procedure known as 'third party lawsuit' which gives defendants the right to name other parties."

On Tuesday, a House International Relations subcommittee held hearings on Saudi financing to Islamic insurgency groups. The Middle East and Central Asia subcommittee heard testimony by former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations, Dore Gold, that the kingdom supplies more than 50 percent of Hamas's budget.

"The Saudi share of Hamas funding is growing, not declining," Gold, a leading researcher who has written a book on Saudi Arabia, said. "We're getting no change in Saudi behavior."

Subcommittee chair Rep. Ileana Ros Lehtinen said her panel would schedule a hearing in September on Saudi financing of Al Qaida. Ms. Ros Lehtinen accused the State Department of continuing to "treat the Saudis far too gingerly."

Al Motairi said he served two years in Baghdad, one of seven Saudi embassies he was based in during his more than 20 years in the Saudi Foreign Ministry. He did not provide details of the weapons deals.

"I have found a lot of financial, moral and administrative corruption within the embassy and I have reported this to the Saudi Foreign Ministry, but I didn't receive any response," Al Motairi told the opposition Saudi agency. "As a matter of fact they were covering [up] these problems.

Therefore, I requested a political asylum to the Dutch government after several lawyers ensured me that my request will be accepted 100 percent."

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