95% of Saudis support bin Laden

By ELAINE SCIOLINO

January 27, 2002 RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, Jan. 26 - In a blunt criticism of President Bush, Saudi Arabia's senior intelligence official today called Yasir Arafat, the Palestinian leader, "a man of peace" and warned that any action by the United States to weaken him would destroy prospects for a peace settlement and have serious repercussions for the kingdom.

In a wide-ranging interview, Prince Nawwaf bin Abdul Aziz, the kingdom's director of the intelligence service, also acknowledged that after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, the vast majority of Saudi young adults felt considerable sympathy for the cause of the Saudi-born terrorist Osama bin Laden, even though they rejected the attacks in New York and Washington.

A classified American intelligence report taken from a Saudi intelligence survey in mid-October of educated Saudis between the ages of 25 and 41 concluded that 95 percent of them supported Mr. bin Laden's cause, according to a senior administration official with access to intelligence reports...

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