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Saudi active all levels { August 6 2002 }

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Rand report: Saudis 'active at every level of the terror chain'

Tuesday, August 6, 2002
WASHINGTON The Defense Department has been issued a recommendation that the United States threaten Saudi Arabia with military and financial measures unless the kingdom ends its support for Islamic insurgency groups.

Officials said the recommendations were presented in a study from the Washington-based Rand Corporation to the Defense Policy Board. The board was established by the Pentagon to provide advice on U.S. defense and military policy.

A Pentagon source said the briefing represented what he termed "forward thinking" in dealing with Saudi Arabia amid any U.S.-led war against Iraq, Middle East Newsline reported.

The briefing took place on July 10 and for the first time reviewed the deteriorating U.S. relations with Saudi Arabia. Officials said the board was warned that the Saudi royal family has grown dependent on Islamic insurgency groups linked to Al Qaida and spends billions of dollars in supporting anti-Western religious activities throughout the world.

Pentagon spokesman Victoria Clarke confirmed that the Defense Policy Board was briefed on U.S. relations with Saudi Arabia. But Ms. Clarke, in a written statement, said the views expressed at the meeting did not reflect the Pentagon.

"Neither the presentations nor the Defense Policy Board members' comments reflect the official views of the Department of Defense," the Pentagon statement on late Monday said. "Saudi Arabia is a long-standing friend and ally of the United States. The Saudis cooperate fully in the global war on terrorism and have the department's and the administration's deep appreciation."

On Tuesday, the Washington Post quoted the Rand report as urging the Bush administration to present Saudi Arabia with an ultimatum to end its support for Islamic insurgency groups. The Rand report, drafted by Rand analyst Laurent Murawiec, a former adviser to the French Defense Ministry, termed Riyad as the most dangerous opponent in the Middle East and recommended that the United States be prepared to seize Saudi oil fields and freeze Saudi assets in the United States.

"The Saudis are active at every level of the terror chain, from planners to financiers, from cadre to foot-soldier, from ideologist to cheerleader," the Rand briefing was quoted as saying. "Saudi Arabia supports our enemies and attacks our allies."

The source said U.S. intelligence agencies have been increasingly dismayed by reports that Riyad is cooperating militarily with Iran and Iraq and might have relayed information on U.S. troop movement in the kingdom.

The Pentagon advisory board contains such members as former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, former Vice President Dan Quayle; former defense secretaries James Schlesinger and Harold Brown. The Post said Kissinger expressed heated objections to the recommendations in the Rand report, arguing that Washington can persuade Riyad to change its policies without the use of force.

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