Saudi Arabia reminds militants of amnesty offer

Posted in Broader Middle East | 12-Jul-04 | Source: dawn.com (Pakistan)

A video grab shows Saudi police securing the site after a shootout in eastern Riyadh, June 30, 2004.
RIYADH, July 11: Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has warned militants to take advantage of the days remaining before an amnesty ends this month or face a renewed crackdown.

Only two Al Qaeda militants, only one of whom is on a list of 26 most wanted people, have surrendered under the one-month deal announced on June 23 in the world's biggest oil exporter.

"When this month expires, then neither the state nor the people will allow them excuses," the Crown Prince told members of the royal family, ministers and Saudi citizens in Jeddah late on Saturday.

"We will be with those who follow God's guidance, but we will go after those who follow the devil," he added. The kingdom's battle against Al Qaeda militants has become an election-year issue in the United States, where John Kerry, the Democrat challenger to President George W. Bush, has said he will confront alleged Saudi backing for militant groups.

Al Qaeda has allegedly killed over 3,000 people in September 2001 attacks on US cities. Under the amnesty, authorities have agreed to pardon militants, though victims' families can still seek the death penalty. Al Qaeda has rejected the amnesty. -Reuters

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