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7/15/04 - TERRORIST SURRENDER - 2004-07-16

Khaled al-Harby has surrendered to authorities in Saudi Arabia. He is a Muslim cleric said to be a close confidant of al-Qaida terrorist leader Osama bin Laden. His surrender comes during a thirty-day amnesty period offered to Islamic extremists by the Saudi government. Mr. al-Harby turned himself in to the Saudi embassy in Tehran and was flown to Saudi Arabia.

Mr. al-Harby, also known as Abu Suleiman al-Makky, was seen on a videotape with bin Laden. In the tape, bin Laden is shown discussing the destruction of the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. The tape was made shortly after the September 11th, 2001, terrorist attacks against the United States.

Appearing on Saudi television, Mr. al-Harby said he had decided to -- in his words -- “come obeying God and obeying [Saudi Arabia’s] rulers.” He also called the Saudi amnesty “a gracious initiative.”

Since May 2003, Saudi Arabia has seen a wave of suicide bombings and kidnappings. Dozens of policemen and civilians have been killed. The terrorist acts have been blamed on al-Qaida and related groups.

President George W. Bush says that “terrorists were well-established in Saudi Arabia”:

“Inside that country, fundraisers and other facilitators gave al-Qaida financial and logistical help, with little scrutiny or opposition. Today, after the attacks in Riyadh and elsewhere, the Saudi government knows that al-Qaida is its enemy. Saudi Arabia is working hard to shut down the facilitators and financial supporters of terrorism. The government has captured or killed many first-tier leaders of the al-Qaida organization in Saudi Arabia.”

Prince Nayef Ibn Abdul Aziz al-Saud, Saudi Arabia’s Interior Minister, says that he hopes more Islamic extremists will surrender. Saudi officials say the amnesty offer will not be extended.