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SLUG: 2-292958 AL-QAIDA SUSPECTS (L-O)
DATE:
NOTE NUMBER:

DATE=08/10/02

TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT

TITLE=AL QAEDA SUSPECTS (L-O)

NUMBER=2-292958

BYLINE=BERMAN

DATELINE=WASHINGTON

INTRO: Some members of Congress are taking a wait-and-see attitude with regard to revelations by Saudi officials that Iran recently handed over 16 al-Qaida members to Saudi Arabia. VOA'S Jessica Berman has more from Washington.

TEXT: The al-Qaida fighters reportedly were on the run in Iran when they were captured and handed over to Saudi Arabia in June.

Appearing on the ABC television program "This Week, " Saudi (Foreign Minister) Prince Saud al-Faisal says the men are now being interrogated.

/// AL-FAISAL ACTUALITY ///

The innocent ones will be let go and the guilty ones will be brought to trial.

/// END ACTUALITY ///

The al-Qaida fighters are reported to be Saudi citizens. The Iranians have said they would return captured al-Qaida fighters to their home countries.

Democratic Senator Carl Levin - chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee - is waiting to see how much the Saudis cooperate with regard to the captured al-Qaida fighters.

/// LEVIN ACTUALITY ///

We've had sort of hot and cold support from the Saudis when it comes to this war on terrorism. The president says you're either with us or against us on the war on terrorism. The answer is sometimes the Saudis are with us. Sometimes they are not. Hopefully they will allow us to participate in that interrogation at miminum of the al-Qaida (suspects).

/// END ACTUALITY ///

On the other side of the political aisle, Republican Senator Fred Thompson said he doesn't think much of the gesture in the war against terrorism - either on the part of Saudi Arabia or Iran.

/// THOMPSON ACTUALITY ///

As far as Iran is concerned, of course, there's indication that they have cooperated with an assisted al-Qaida in times past. And the Saudis you know it's a complex relationship. They're our friends but it's a marriage of convenience right now.

/// END ACTUALITY ///

Senator Thompson made his comments on the television program "Fox News Sunday."

In an interview on the television show "This Week," Prince al-Faisal expressed annoyance over claims that Saudi Arabia is not cooperating with anti-terrorism efforts or recent claims that it's promoting terrorism.

/// AL-FAISAL ACTUALITY ///

Suddenly Saudi Arabia that was considered a staunch ally ten years ago and even four years ago suddenly turns into a kernal of evil that spreads evil all over the place. This is the question to ask. For us, we know that we are fighting terrorism, we are working assiduously with the United States in this regard.

/// END ACTUALITY ///

The Saudi prince said information obtained from his country's interrogation of the al-Qaida members will be made available to the United States.

CN/JAB/MEM



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