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Saudi princess condemns terrorism

Haifa's brother, Prince Turki al-Faisal, told CNN that his sister would have never knowingly given money to terrorists.
Haifa's brother, Prince Turki al-Faisal, told CNN that his sister would have never knowingly given money to terrorists.

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A Saudi princess whose donations to Saudi students in the United States have come under scrutiny in a probe of terrorist financing calls suggestions that she gave money to two September 11 hijackers "outrageous."

"My father, King Faisal, was killed in a terrorist act in 1975," said Princess Haifa al-Faisal -- the wife of Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi ambassador to the United States -- in a statement issued by the Saudi Embassy.

"I find that accusations that I contributed funds to terrorists outrageous and completely irresponsible. This is the time for people to come together to combat the scourge of terrorism so that others will not suffer the loss of loved ones."

The statement, released Sunday, refers to the killing of Faisal by a nephew whose brother had been killed in violent protests over the introduction of television to the conservative Islamic kingdom a decade earlier.

Investigators are looking into whether money from the princess reached suicide hijackers Khalid Almihdhar and Nawaf Alhazmi via two Saudi students in San Diego, California. But U.S. and Saudi officials insisted the princess did not intentionally provide money to al Qaeda members.

An inquiry by the joint House-Senate Intelligence Committee has suggested there is evidence that money from the Saudi government made its way to Almihdhar and Alhazmi via Omar Al Bayoumi and Osama Basnan.

Basnan's wife had asked the princess for financial help, signing checks she received over to her husband and Bayoumi.

Haifa's brother, Prince Turki al-Faisal, told CNN that his sister would have never knowingly given money to terrorists.

"My sister believes that what she did was to help someone who was in need -- someone who was ill and who wanted money to help reach a cure for her illness," said Turki, a former chief of Saudi intelligence.

PRINCESS' STATEMENT
"I heard U.S. lawmakers in the American media today say that money that I have donated to a needy Saudi family living in the United States was transferred to two Saudi 9-11 terrorists.

"My father, King Faisal, was killed in a terrorist act in 1975. I find that accusations that I contributed funds to terrorists outrageous and completely irresponsible.

"This is the time for people to come together to combat the scourge of terrorism so that others will not suffer the loss of loved ones."
-- HRH Princess Haifa Al-Faisal

"She is chagrined that she could be involved in anything like this," he said Monday on "Connie Chung Tonight."

Saudi Arabia has been stung by the fact that 15 of the 19 hijackers on September 11, 2001, were Saudi nationals, including Alhazmi and Almihdhar, and by deepening U.S. concerns about its citizens' support for militant Islamic fundamentalists.

Investigators said Almihdhar and Alhazmi were part of the al Qaeda crew that crashed American Airlines Flight 77 into the Pentagon, killing 184 people in the building and aboard the plane.

The students named in the investigation are back in Saudi Arabia. Both were charged with visa violations during their stay in the United States and were questioned and released by the FBI.

Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Alabama, the top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Monday he is "suspicious" about Saudi charities' ties to terrorist organizations. "I think the truth will not be very nice," he said.

White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said Tuesday that President Bush considers the Saudi Arabia "a good partner" in the war on terrorism.

"The president, however, continues to say that Saudi Arabia, our good partner, can do more, and we want to work with them to help them do more," Fleischer said.



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