952. 9/15/1996

“After the fall of the Afghan capital [Kabul, to the Taliban in September 1996], [Saudi intelligence chief] Prince Turki recalled [in a December 10, 2001, interview on Nightline], the Taliban sent a message to the kingdom [of Saudi Arabia]: ‘We have this fellow [bin Laden] here. Do you want us to hand him to you, or shall we keep him here? We offered him refuge.’ The Saudis had just turned away from a possible chance to take custody of bin Laden from Sudan the previous spring. The royal family still apparently believed it was better to have bin Laden at large than at home in detention or in jail where he might become a magnet for antiroyal dissent. The Saudis had ample evidence to charge bin Laden with serious crimes–they had already executed four of his followers for carrying out the Riyadh bombing of an American facility in November 1995–but they were still not prepared to endure the political risks of bin Laden’s trial or martyrdom. Prince Turki recalled that his government told the Taliban in reply, ‘Well, if you have already offered him refuge, make sure that he does not operate against the kingdom or say anything against the kingdom.’ Turki felt that the Taliban had agreed to take charge of ‘keeping his mouth shut.’ ” [The 15th used for date-sorting purposes only.]

 – Steve Coll, Ghost Wars, Pages 341-342

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