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.
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.
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
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.