Burton slams Saudi PR show

By WND Staff

WASHINGTON – Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind. and chairman of the House Government Reform Committee, says Saudi Arabia is conducting an impressive public-relations campaign, but the kingdom is covering up its active participation in kidnappings of American citizens.

In a hearing today, Burton charged Saudi officials have dodged subpoenas from his committee, which has been investigating the kidnapping of Americans by Saudi citizens and the holding of those citizens against their will in the kingdom.

Burton commended Adel al-Jubeir, the foreign policy adviser to Crown Price Abdullah, for his whirlwind U.S. media campaign in recent days, but suggested the Saudis were being disingenuous.

“The spokesman for the Saudi embassy, Mr. Jubeir, has been all over national television indicating that the Saudis are very cooperative and want to work with the United States government in every area possible to make sure that we continue to have a good relationship,” Burton said. “And he is a very good spokesman. I watched him on Fox this morning, and I watched him on some other channels. It’s amazing how adept he is at skirting the truth.”

Burton’s remarks came at the opening of a hearing in which two mothers of children allegedly kidnapped and held in Saudi Arabia provided testimony.

“The Saudis said that they were not complicit in kidnapping American children whose mothers had parental rights and had custody of their children,” Burton continued. “But we know for a fact that the Saudis, even though they had been notified not to give passports to children who were kidnapped, they did. They issued passports to the children of Joanna Tinetti and Margaret McClain, even though they knew the American courts had ordered the fathers not to take them out of the country, and the embassy had been contacted on some of these cases. And so they lied about that.”

He further denounced rampant anti-Semitism promoted by the kingdom, including recent remarks by officials attributing the Sept. 11 attacks to “Zionists.” He reminded those present that 15 of the 19 Sept. 11 hijackers were Saudi citizens. And he pointed out that Saudi Arabia had sponsored the brutally repressive Taliban regime in Afghanistan that provided safe harbor to Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida.

Burton, who went to Saudi Arabia months ago to investigate the charges of mothers whose children are held incommunicado in the kingdom, said his plane had to make an unscheduled and unwanted stop in Jordan because the kingdom would not allow it to land on a direct flight from Israel.

“I don’t see how they can be seen as reasonable people and allies in the war on terror when they won’t even let our airplane fly from Tel Aviv to Riyadh,” he said.

The Saudis have much explaining to do but avoid formal hearings like his committee’s proceedings, Burton continued.

“In the issue of kidnapped American citizens, the Saudis have completely been inflexible,” he said. “We recently got a letter from the foreign minister. He said, ‘We totally reject anything that damages our Islamic sharia law on which a total system of the state is founded, and which one-quarter of the population on this earth believe. The sharia regulates and guarantee all humanitarian rights without any prejudices. It is founded on God’s orders, which we follow as well as the good objectives of Islam, namely justice.’ And I’d like to know where the justice is in denying Pat Roush her daughters for 17 years. And where is the justice for harboring kidnappers? And we know that that’s been done, and we know they’ve been complicit in this.”

Pat Roush is the mother two daughters snatched from the United States 17 years ago and held in Saudi Arabia by their estranged father. She is currently chronicling her story in a book for WND Books, a partnership of WorldNetDaily and Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Burton said his committee asked American lobbyists and lawyers retained by the Saudi government to answer questions. They refused, he said, citing provisions of the Vienna Convention. His committee then attempted to serve subpoenas on the lawyers and lobbyists compelling them to testify.

“When the U.S. marshals went to serve the subpoenas they weren’t at their homes, they weren’t at their offices – they were nowhere to be found,” Burton said. “Now, you would say if this was one lobbyist, that would be understandable. But the fact of the matter is there were three lobbyists from three different concerns, and none of them were anywhere to be found. And so they have been hiding, and I think that that says a lot about the Saudi government and their openness and their willingness to cooperate with the United States government in helping us solve problems, like these kidnappings, and the money that has been going through them to families of terrorists who have blown themselves up in Israel, and possibly al-Qaida cells.”

Burton said he met with American women in Saudi Arabia who begged him to just put them in boxes with their luggage and take them home.

“I talked to women over there who were absolutely terrified that their husband would even find out that they were talking to us,” he said.
“And so when the Saudis say that no Americans are being held against their will, they just don’t know. They don’t get it. They are misleading. At one hearing alone we heard from five parents who testified that their children are being held against their will. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.”


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