23.11.1994: SAUDI ARABIA: 1994 ANNUAL TERRORISM REPORT



C O N F I D E N T I A L RIYADH 006031

S/CT FOR REAP

E.O.12356: OADR TAGS: PTER SUBJECT: SAUDI ARABIA: 1994 ANNUAL TERRORISM REPORT

REF: STATE 286744

1. (U) SAG POLICY HAS NOT CHANGED SINCE THE ISSUANCE OF THE LAST TERRORISM REPORT. THE SAG IS PRIMARILY CONCERNED WITH PREVENTING TERRORIST INCIDENTS DURING THE HAJJ, AND IS ALSO ALERT TO POTENTIAL IRANIAN- AND IRAQI-SPONSORED TERRORISM.

2. (U) THE SAG DID NOT EXTRADITE OR REQUEST THE EXTRADITION OF TWO ETHIOPIANS WHO HIJACKED A SAUDIA AIRLINE FLIGHT FROM JEDDAH TO ADDIS ABABA AND FORCED IT TO LAND IN NAIROBI ON MARCH 8. THE SAG DID NOT EXTRADITE OR REQUEST THE EXTRADITION OF AN ETHIOPIAN WHO HIJACKED AN ETHIOPIAN AIRFLINES FLIGHT FROM JEDDAH AND FORCED IT TO LAND IN SANAA, YEMEN ON APRIL 25. IT WAS REPORTED THAT IN BOTH INCIDENTS THE HIJACKERS WERE BEING DEPORTED AFTER ENTERING SAUDI ARABIA ILLEGALLY OR ILLEGALLY OVERSTAYING THEIR PILGRIMAGE VISAS, AND NOT POLITICAL TERRORISTS.

3. (C) ALTHOUGH BOTH HIJACKINGS OCCURRED OUTSIDE SAUDI AIRSPACE, THESE TWO INCIDENTS RAISE QUESTIONS ABOUT THE ABILITY OF SAUDI AUTHORITIES TO DETECT AND RESPOND TO TERRORIST INCIDENTS. SAUDI AIRPORT SECURITY WAS INADEQUATE TO DETECT THE HIJACKING THREAT. SAUDI CIVIL AVIATION AND DIPLOMATIC COMMUNICATIONS PROCEDURES WERE INADEQUATE IN RESPONDING TO THE INCIDENTS; THE SAUDI GOVERNMENT WAS INFORMED THAT THE MARCH 8 INCIDENT WAS IN PROGRESS BY U.S. EMBASSY OFFICIALS. AIRLINE SECURITY HAS INCREASED SINCE THE INCIDENT, AND POLICIES AND PROCEDURES TO HANDLE TERRORIST INCIDENTS ALREADY EXIST. HOWEVER, THE RELEVANT SAUDI MINISTRIES AND AGENCIES DID NOT FOLLOW THEIR POLICIES AND PROCEDURES IN EITHER CASE, WHICH RAISES QUESTIONS WHETHER SAUDI FORCES WILL PERFORM BETTER IN FUTURE HIJACKINGS.

4. (C) REPORTS OF "FRIENDLY-FIRE" INJURIES AND CASUALTIES BY THE SAUDI ANTI-TERRORIST POLICE SQUAD DURING A RECENT NON-TERRORIST HOSTAGE-TAKING RAISE QUESTIONS ABOUT THE SAUDI ABILITY TO RESPOND APPROPRIATELY TO FUTURE TERRORIST HOSTAGE INCIDENTS (SEE SEPTEL).

5. (U) THE SAUDI GOVERNMENT REVOKED THE CITIZENSHIP OF OSAMA BIN LADIN, A SAUDI KNOWN TO SUPPORT EXTREMIST GROUPS AND SUSPECTED OF FINANCING TERRORISM IN YEMEN, SUDAN, AFGHANISTAN, EGYPT, LEBANON, AND THE OCCUPIED TERRITORIES. MINISTRY OF INTERIOR OFFICIALS SAID THAT BIN LADENS CITIZENSHIP WAS REVOKED BECAUSE HE HAD FAILED TO FOLLOW GOVERNMENT DIRECTIVES TO RETURN TO SAUDI ARABIA TO ANSWER CHARGES AND BECAUSE OF HIS "IRRESPONSIBLE ACTIVITIES WHICH CONTRADICTED THE KINGDOMS INTERESTS AND HARMED ITS RELATIONS WITH SISTERLY COUNTRIES." BIN LADEN IS BANNED FROM RE-ENTERING THE KINGDOM.

6. (U) THERE WERE SEVERAL REPORTS THAT THE SAG IS OR HAS BEEN FUNDING TERRORIST GROUPS IN EGYPT, ALGERIA AND ISRAEL. THERE WERE ALSO REPORTS THAT THE INTERNATIONAL ISLAMIC RELIEF ORGANIZATION, A SAUDI-GOVERNMENT- SPONSORED ORGANIZATION, WAS FINANCING EXTREMIST MUSLIM SECESSIONIST GROUPS IN THE SOUTHERN PHILIPPINES. POST HAS NOT BEEN ABLE TO CONFIRM ANY LINKS BETWEEN THE SAUDI GOVERNMENT AND TERRORIST GROUPS.

7. (U) SAUDI AUTHORITIES HAVE REPEATEDLY STATED THAT THE SAUDI GOVERNMENT DOES NOT FUND TERRORIST GROUPS, AND THAT NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS AND PRIVATE VOLUNTARY ORGANIZATIONS MUST OBTAIN FORMAL GOVERNMENT AUTHORIZATION TO COLLECT CONTRIBUTIONS FOR DOMESTIC OR INTERNATIONAL CAUSES. ON OCTOBER 26, THE SAUDI GOVERNMENT ISSUED A STATEMENT CONDEMNING TERRORISM, ESPECIALLY TERRORIST OPERATIONS THAT HINDER THE MIDDLE EAST PEACE PROCESS AND TRY TO DISTURB THE SECURITY OF THE REGION.

WELCH


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