US freezes Saudi dissidents' assets

The United States has frozen the assets of two Saudi nationals for allegedly providing support to al-Qaida, and has asked the United Nations to take similar action.

    Saad al-Faqih has called for the overthrow of the monarchy

    London-based dissident Saad al-Faqih and Adil al-Battarji were listed by the US Treasury on Tuesday

    as "specially designated global

    terrorists" for providing financial and material support to al-

    Qaida and its leader Usama bin Ladin.

    "The US is submitting both names to the United Nations [

    Security Council] 1267 committee, which will consider adding

    them to the consolidated list of terrorists tied to al-Qaida,

    OBL [Usama bin Ladin] and the Taliban," the Treasury said in a

    statement.

    It added that the two men are not linked to each

    other.

    Al-Faqih, who lives in Britain, is a leading Saudi dissident

    and heads the London-based Movement for Islamic Reform in

    Arabia, which says it seeks to topple the monarchy by peaceful

    means.

    His group has recently called for demonstrations in the

    conservative kingdom, but the protests failed to materialise

    after blanket security precautions.

    Saudi officials accuse al-

    Faqih of exploiting social and economic discontent to further a

    radical Islamic cause, hiding his agenda behind calls for

    rights and greater accountability.

    Al-Faqih denials

    The Treasury statement said al-Faqih has maintained

    associations with al-Qaida since the mid-1990s, including an

    individual linked to the 1998 East Africa US embassy

    bombings. 

     

    "Due to the pressure we have caused [by the demonstrations] and the danger we have caused the Saudi regime, it is in the interest of the current US administration to save or rescue the royal family"

    Saudi dissident Saad al-Faqih

    It also accused al-Faqih of contact with Bin Ladin and

    Khalid al-Fawwaz, whom it called Bin Ladin's de facto

    representative in Britain.

    Al-Faqih has denied the claims.

    "I have no contact or relationship with al-Qaida and I challenge any authority to show any real substantive relationship with al-Qaida," he said.

    "We are known for our peaceful policies and we are committed to avoiding any violence or incitement to violence.

    "Due to the pressure we have caused [by the demonstrations] and the danger we have caused the Saudi regime, it is in the interest of the current US administration to save or rescue the royal family."

    Speaking to Aljazeera, al-Faqih added that the US decision would not affect his organisation as it had no funds in the US and very little in the UK.

    Political violence

    The US Treasury said al-Battarji, who is based in Saudi Arabia,

    is ranked "as one of the world's foremost terrorist

    financiers, who employed his private wealth and a network of

    charitable fronts to bankroll the murderous agenda of

    al-Qaida".

    Saudi Arabia has recently been
    wracked by political violence

    Al-Battarji has so far been unavailable for comment.

    Saudi Arabia has recently been wracked by political violence and internal dissent.

    Opponents of the ruling House of Saud say it is dictatorial, corrupt and beholden to the US for its survival.

    They say the US is desperate to ensure the House of Saud's survival to protect the cheap flow of oil from the world's largest producer.

    On the other hand, the Saudi government accuses its opponents of "terrorism" and the desire to provoke instability in the country.

    Since 11 September 2001, the United States has designated 396 individuals

    and entities as terrorists, or of being their financiers or facilitators

    .

    The Treasury statement said the global

    community had so far frozen more than $144 million in "terrorist"-

    related assets.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera + Agencies


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