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Viewing cable 09JEDDAH343, PRESIDENTIAL ASSISTANT BRENNAN'S SEPT 5 DISCUSSION

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09JEDDAH343 2009-09-11 13:01 2010-11-28 18:06 SECRET//NOFORN Consulate Jeddah
O 111328Z SEP 09
FM AMCONSUL JEDDAH
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1512
INFO AMEMBASSY SANAA IMMEDIATE 
NSC WASHDC IMMEDIATE
AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 
AMCONSUL DHAHRAN PRIORITY 
CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
S E C R E T JEDDAH 000343 
 
NOFORN 
 
NEA/ARP; NSC FOR JOHN BRENNAN 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/12/2029 
TAGS: ASEC PGOV PREL PTER SA
SUBJECT: PRESIDENTIAL ASSISTANT BRENNAN'S SEPT 5 DISCUSSION 
WITH SAUDI INTERIOR MINISTER PRINCE NAYIF 
 
REF: RIYADH 1178 
 
Classified By: CG Martin R. Quinn for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d) 
 
 
SUMMARY 
-------- 
 
1. (S/NF) During CDA Richard Erdman's September 5 meeting 
with Saudi Second Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of 
Interior Prince Nayif bin Abdulaziz (reftel), John Brennan, 
Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and 
Counterterrorism, stressed USG condemnation of the August 28 
terrorist attack on Assistant Interior Minister Prince 
Mohammed bin Nayif (MbN) and strong USG support for Saudi 
Arabia in combating violent extremism.  Nayif emphasized that 
the attack had in no way diminished the SAG's resolve to 
eliminate terrorism -- despite the danger -- and described 
SAG's multifaceted approach, which combines refuting 
terrorist ideology, security operations, and rehabilitation. 
The Prince also complained that Iran had breached its 2001 
security agreement with KSA and was supporting aggression 
against the kingdom; expressed frustration with European 
nations for allowing terrorists to operate against KSA rather 
than handing them over, and requested US intercession to 
change this European policy.  Both parties reaffirmed their 
commitment to the US-Saudi relationship begun by FDR and King 
Abdulaziz, especially the partnership between security 
channels.  End summary. 
 
USG SUPPORT FOR SAUDI ARABIA 
---------------------------- 
 
2. (S/NF) At a previously scheduled September 5 farewell call 
on Prince Nayif, Charge introduced Mr. Brennan and asked him 
to brief on Washington perspectives on current 
counterterrorism challenges and efforts.  Brennan opened by 
conveying U.S. condemnation and concern over the August 27 
attack on Assistant Interior Minister Mohammed bin Nayif as 
well as our great relief that he had survived the cowardly 
attack.  In this regard, he said he had brought a personal 
letter from President Obama to Prince Mohammed expressing our 
concern and best wishes.  The U.S., he continued, greatly 
admired and appreciated the courageous work being done by the 
Ministry of Interior and the Mabahith against violent 
extremism and terrorism. 
 
SHARED CONCERNS ABOUT YEMEN 
--------------------------- 
 
3. (S/NF) President Obama felt personally outraged by the 
attack, Brennan said, and emphasized that it was critically 
important that the U.S. and Saudi Arabia went forward in the 
fight against violent extremism.  Noting that he would be 
visiting Yemen the following day, Brennan said he would 
stress to President Saleh, in the strongest possible terms, 
the importance of combating terrorism and resolving the 
serious problems facing his country.  Brennan also confirmed 
to Prince Nayif that the USG was working very closely with 
the Mabahith and would be discussing in the coming days how 
to approach the threat coming from Yemen. 
 
 
NAYIF: NO WEAKENING OF SAUDI RESOLVE AGAINST TERRORISM 
--------------------------------------------- --------- 
 
4. (S/NF) Thanking Brennan for USG support, Nayif emphasized 
that the attack had not weakened SAG's resolve to eliminate 
terrorism.  Following the incident, he said, the King met 
with MbN, who stressed that acts of terror "would not keep us 
from working and doing our job."  At the same time, the door 
must always remain open to those militants who wanted to 
return to society.  These terrorists were attacking the 
country as a whole and would not hesitate to attack anyone to 
reach their goals. "Every Saudi official is at risk of 
attack," he said.  "Despite this, we are still willing to put 
forth more effort against terrorism, which is more dangerous 
than any illness."  Fear of losing one's life was not a 
reason to stop working. We had a duty to defend the country, 
and it was preferable to die doing one's duty.  "God 
determined a person's fate and everyone will go back to God." 
 
5. (S/NF) Nayif then described SAG's approach to terrorism as 
including countering terrorist ideology, armed 
counterterrorism operations, and a rehabilitation program for 
militants who surrendered. The SAG has created a strategic 
communications center where intellectuals and imams worked to 
explain to the public that terrorists were working against 
the true ways of Islam and attacking Saudi society.  In 
countering the spread of jihadist ideology, Nayif added, the 
Friday mosque sermons -- delivered four times a month in the 
country's more than 15,000 mosques -- were one of the most 
effective vehicles. 
 
6. (S/NF) Asked about the economic impact of the recent 
attack, Nayif asserted that Saudi Arabia was better off than 
any country in the region and among the best-situated 
globally in terms of economic activity.  Using a favorite 
line, he said:  "We know that capital is a coward and wants a 
safe place."  For this reason, people could invest with 
confidence in the Kingdom, the economy was growing, and the 
government was continuing its development plans.  The economy 
was thriving and the security situation was good despite 
being among the countries most subject to terrorist attacks. 
Saudi Arabia had thwarted more than 200 terrorist operations, 
he said, and only 5 percent of planned attacks had actually 
occurred.  "We've achieved many things in protecting the 
country and, God willing, we will achieve many more things 
with our friends."  Brennan praised SAG efforts to combat 
terrorism: "I wish other countries in the world were as 
willing and capable." Saudi Arabia, he stated, was on the 
front line of terrorism, a model in preventing individuals 
from being corrupted by the propaganda of Al Qaeda, and thus 
instrumental in demonstrating to the West and the U.S. that 
Al Qaeda was a perversion of Islam and did not represent the 
true faith. 
 
 
IRAN PROMOTING TERRORISM 
------------------------ 
 
7. (S/NF) Nayif complained that over the past two years Iran 
has hosted Saudis (all Sunnis) -- including Osama bin Laden's 
son Ibrahim -- who had contacts with terrorists and worked 
against the Kingdom.  SAG considered this aggressive action a 
breach of the 2001 security agreement between the two 
nations.  The SAG has informed Iran through its ambassador 
and the MFA, asking the GOI to hand over these Saudis.  Nayif 
recalled that after the operations in Khobar in 1996, the SAG 
tried to open channels with Iran and tried to improve 
relations during Khatami's presidency.  He himself had met 
personally with Iranian National Security Secretary General 
Dr. Hassan Rohani (Iran's Supreme Council on National 
Security) and had signed a security agreement in which Iran 
promised to show respect and not take any actions inside or 
outside Iran against the Kingdom.  Brennan agreed that Iran 
had the capacity to cause trouble, and assured the Prince 
that the USG was very concerned and looking carefully at the 
situation.  President Obama's willingness to talk to the 
Iranians did not mean he did not understand the problem. 
Brennan emphasized the SAG's strong friends in the White 
House, including President Obama, wanted to work very closely 
with Saudi Arabia on this front. 
 
 
FRUSTRATION WITH EUROPE 
----------------------- 
 
8. (S/NF) Nayif expressed frustration with the limited 
cooperation of friendly European nations with whom the 
Kingdom has security agreements.  The governments, he 
complained, shared information but did not take any action. 
As a result, "terrorists roam around freely in their 
countries," and the Europeans have not handed over 
terrorists.  For example, Ibrahim (Salih Mohammed Al-Yacoub), 
a very important suspect involved in the Khobar bombing, was 
in Europe.  Saudi Arabia asked several nations to hand him 
over as a terrorist who had acted against the Kingdom and the 
United States.  Nayif complained that while these European 
countries were friendly, had good relations, and shared 
interests with the Kingdom, he failed to understand why 
Europeans harbored terrorists working against Saudi Arabia in 
their countries.  If there were people in Saudi Arabia 
working against friendly countries, the SAG would intervene. 
Nayif requested USG help in convincing Europe to work more 
cooperatively.  Brennan commented that we had similar 
frustrations with some countries. 
 
 
USG-SAUDI SECURITY TIES STRONGER THAN EVER 
---------------------------------------- 
 
9. (S/NF) Throughout the two-hour meeting, Nayif highlighted 
the importance of bilateral security cooperation, noting that 
the level of professional exchange has been excellent.  Nayif 
commented that there has been success in exchanging 
information, procuring the best, newest, most updated 
technology and in finding and preventing terrorist acts 
before they happen.  The final goal, he stressed, was to stop 
terrorists and "dry out their resources."  Asked by Charge if 
he meant terrorist financing, Nayif replied:  "Yes. When we 
say 'resources' we mean people, training, and money.  We have 
found huge sums of money on many terrorists we have caught." 
Nayif expressed the hope that through joint cooperation Al 
Qaeda as the source of terrorism in the Kingdom and 
throughout the world could be destroyed. He added that the 
support from U.S.-Saudi leadership in this area was 
critically important to reach the goal.  Nayif thanked 
President Obama for supporting strengthened security ties 
between the two countries and said that King Abdullah was 
strongly committed to cooperating with the United States 
against terrorism.  Recalling the 1945 visit between FDR and 
King Abdulaziz, Nayif declared, "We're acting upon what they 
decided."  Brennan responded that President Obama would be 
pleased to hear that the Saudi commitment to our special 
relationship remained stronger than ever. 
 
10. (U) This message was cleared by Assistant to the 
President John Brennan. 
 
 
QUINN