Saudi Said to Hold Man Suspected of Sept. 11 Links


RIYADH (Reuters) – A Saudi family has handed over to Saudi authorities one of its sons wanted by the United States on suspicion of being an associate of the September 11 hijackers, Saudi newspapers reported on Saturday.

They quoted Abdel-Aziz Saud al-Rasheed as denying his 21-year-old son Saud was linked to terrorism, saying Saud had never visited the United States or any European country.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has issued a worldwide alert seeking the arrest of or information about Saud, saying he was “armed and dangerous” and his whereabouts were unknown. It posted Saud’s photograph on its Web Site.

Saud’s father told Saudi newspapers his son had cut short a holiday with his cousins in Egypt and returned home on Thursday after the family became aware of the alert. He turned himself over to Saudi authorities on his return, they added.

“He has never been linked to terrorist groups. He came back from Afghanistan ( news – web sites) a long time back (before Sept. 11) and never been to the United States. So, how could he participate in such terrorist incidents?” al-Riyadh daily quoted Rasheed as saying.

Another Saudi newspaper, al-Watan, quoted Rasheed as saying Saudi authorities were questioning Saud.

The FBI said a picture of a Saudi Arabian passport issued to Saud in Riyadh on May 29, 2000, was recovered among materials related to several of the hijackers.

Fifteen of the 19 hijackers were Saudis. All had entered the United States legally, but three had overstayed their visas.

FBI spokesman Bill Carter told Reuters Saud’s photograph turned up along with pictures of some of the hijackers in the materials recently examined by the FBI. But he declined to say what the materials were or where they were found.

Carter said authorities wanted to locate and interview Saud because he may be able to provide valuable information about the attacks. The U.S. has blamed Saudi-born dissident Osama bin Laden ( news – web sites) and his al Qaeda group for the attacks.

U.S. forces have recovered many documents, some related to bin Laden’s al Qaeda group, from Afghanistan since it helped overthrow the militant Muslim Taliban movement.

Rasheed said he believed his son’s picture might have reached the United States via Pakistani authorities, possibly from his visa application or from his passport when he traveled to Afghanistan prior to the attacks.

Newspapers reported his family as saying Saud did charity work while in Afghanistan, but did not give details.

Many Saudi charities were providing relief supplies to fellow Muslims in the war-torn country prior to the attacks.