Saudis targeted bin Laden in 1998

March 25, 2004 at 10:06 PM

WASHINGTON, March 25 (UPI) -- The U.S. commission probing the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks confirmed Saudi efforts to capture Osama bin Laden Thursday.

In a statement issued Thursday, Saudi Ambassador to the United States Prince Bandar bin Sultan said the commission's accounts of the events prior to the Sept. 11 attacks confirmed that the Arab kingdom attempted as early as 1998 to capture bin Laden.

"This is what Saudi Arabia has maintained all along: Our government was pursuing bin Laden and his al-Qaida network before the 9-11 attacks," said Bandar.

He said al-Qaida terrorists were targeting Saudi Arabia before those attacks in the United States.

"This refutes the illogical ... accusations of Saudi government's support for al-Qaida. Why would the Saudi government fund or support Osama bin Laden at the same time that we are working to capture him? Why would we assist those who are out to destroy us," asked the Saudi envoy.

Bin Laden fled Saudi Arabia 10 years before the Sept. 11 attacks. Saudi Arabia revoked his citizenship in 1994. In 1996, he publicly denounced the Saudi government.

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