RIYADH, 15 October ó Saudi Arabia has officially protested to the American
administration against the mistreatment of Saudi citizens in the United States
by security authorities after the Sept. 11 attacks.
"The Saudi Ambassador to Washington, Prince Bandar ibn Sultan, has presented
a letter of protest against excessive behavior by American security agencies in
relation to Saudis," Ahmad Qattan, director of Prince Bandarís office in
Speaking to Okaz Arabic newspaper, Qattan added that US authorities have so
far arrested and questioned 173 Saudis living or studying in the US in
connection with the terrorist attacks.
"Fifty-four of them are still under investigation," he explained.
The embassy, he said, has facilitated the travel of 395 Saudis back to the
Kingdom in the wake of the ongoing American backlash against Saudis and other
Arabs and Muslims.
"The Saudis in detention are generally in a satisfactory condition, despite
individual cases of excessive interrogation and maltreatment by US authorities,"
The majority of Saudis have been detained over visa complications and traffic
Qattan advised Saudis residing in the United States to legalize their stay,
as required by law.
The embassy has appointed lawyers to defend all Saudis detained since the
The FBI has released the names and pictures of 19 Arab suspects in the
hijacking, the majority of whom are Saudis. But Qattan said Prince Bandar had
told the US authorities that a number of Saudi suspects were either alive in the
Kingdom or died long ago.
"The presence of Saudi passengers on board the hijacked plane does not mean
they were behind the attack. We have to wait until the investigations are
completed before we can find out who the perpetrators were," he said.
"Even if it is proved that the attacks were carried out by a group of Arabs
or Muslims, it does not mean they represent Islam or Muslims, and as a
consequence to punish Arabs and Muslims for the wrongdoing of a few insane
"Otherwise, the United States should have taken revenge against all
Christians for the Oklahoma bombing by Timothy McVeigh and against all the Jews
for the terrorist acts of Kahana," Qattan told Okaz.
Assaults against, and general abuse of, Arabs and Muslims ó especially Saudis
ó have become rampant in Western countries since the terror attacks.
A Saudi woman from a prominent business family in Jeddah said she was
virtually manhandled by security officers at a London airport. They asked an old
Saudi woman whether she was a terrorist. Another Saudi woman at the same airport
was asked: "Are you a Bin Laden supporter?"
Interior Minister Prince Naif told a recent international press conference in
Riyadh that Saudi Arabia would not tolerate mistreatment of its citizens abroad.
"We will not tolerate if Saudis are treated badly," he told reporters.
Meanwhile, three men of Arab origin were asked to leave a charter flight
before it took off from the Swedish capital of Stockholm on Saturday after
several fellow passengers expressed their unhappiness at their presence, a
Swedish daily reported yesterday.
In another development, the FBI has looked into a Denver truck school where
up to 35 Arab male students paid in cash and did not seek job placement
assistance afterward, TIME magazine reported yesterday.
Federal Bureau of Investigations agents are trying to head off possible
future attacks after the Sept. 11 air assaults on the World Trade Center and the
Some authorities fear truck bombs might be used in the future, either with
traditional explosives or with hazardous or chemical cargo.
The magazine said a truck school executive tipped off the FBI that between 25
and 35 Arab men attended the school in Denver during the past two years. They
did not speak English and each group used the same interpreter.
TIME said the men all received driverís licenses, even though English
proficiency is a requirement.