Saudi Arabia’s King Fahd fired his intelligence chief for suspected ties to alleged Saudi terrorist Osama bin Laden, just days before hijacked U.S. airliners were flown into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

According to the weekly Internet-based intelligence digest, Fahd – in a royal decree issued the weekend before the Sept. 11 attacks – said Saudi General Intelligence Chief Prince Turki Al Faisal was being dismissed, though the decree said the intelligence chief had tendered his resignation.

Turki was being replaced by Prince Nawaf Bin Abdul Aziz. The royal decree said Nawaf was being given the rank of minister, the digest reported.

“Gulf sources said Turki was dismissed for what appeared to be a variety of reasons. They said the royal court was unhappy with the investigation of the bombing campaign against Westerners late last year and earlier this year,” said.

Also, sources told the digest that Turki was close to the Taliban militia government of Afghanistan – which is suspected of hosting and protecting bin Laden. That relationship “rankled” the United States, the intelligence weekly reported.

Since the firing, European intelligence experts said Fahd dismissed his security chief after the United States had pressured his government to obtain bin Laden from Afghanistan, but Turki failed to deliver the suspected terrorist to U.S. authorities.

“For years, Turki pledged to lure bin Laden out of his Afghan hideout and into a trap set by the United States,” reported. “When that promise failed to materialize, a crisis developed between Riyadh and Washington.”

Turki was Saudi Arabia’s leading liaison to the Central Intelligence Agency in the U.S., European analysts told the digest.

“It was realized that the negotiations between Turki and bin Laden were not working and that the United States and Saudi Arabia were being taken for a ride,” Guillaume Dasquier, editor of a leading European intelligence newsletter, said.

Alexandre Del Valle, another European expert, agreed and noted that Turki was in contact with bin Laden.

Other analysts said the dismissal of Turki was the spark that led to recriminations by Riyadh against Washington’s support for Israel. They said after issuing numerous pledges to Washington, the Saudi leadership wanted to distance itself from any effort to capture bin Laden, the digest said.

Saudi officials deny having any relationship with bin Laden, and point out that the kingdom long ago expelled him for his suspected terrorist activities.

“We in the kingdom, the government and the people of Saudi Arabia, refuse to have any person affiliated with terrorism to be connected to our country,” Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the U.S., Bandar Bin Sultan, was quoted as saying recently by the Saudi Press Agency.

Also, sources told the digest that Riyadh has begun to crack down on suspects believed to be associated with bin Laden. The detainees were said to have resided in Saudi Arabia since at least 1996; Saudi opposition sources say they expect further arrests.

One suspect was identified as a Pakistani national, Shkeel Choudary. The other was identified as an Indian national, Tufail Nizam Eddin. Both were said to have been members of the Muhajiroun group, which represents bin Laden interests abroad, reported.

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