WASHINGTON, D.C.—Prince Turki, the former head of Saudi intelligence, said he doesn’t think Osama bin Laden has any nuclear weaponry. He also said in an interview with the Middle East Broadcasting Center in Riyadh that estimates of the terrorist’s wealth are greatly exaggerated. In this week’s interview, the prince estimated Bin Laden has only about $50 million, far less than the $300 million fortune some say he has.
In his capacity as head of Saudi intelligence, Turki a couple of years ago went to Kandahar, the Taliban stronghold, where he attempted to persuade Supreme Leader Omar to turn over Bin Laden—dead or alive, preferably dead. The last thing the Saudi royal family wanted was a public trial of Bin Laden that might well dredge up information embarassing to the family.
The royal family originally encouraged and provided financial backing to Bin Laden in his efforts to form a foreign legion of Arabs to fight against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan during the 1980s.
Prince Turki went on to say that Bin Laden, who has since been stripped of his Saudi citizenship, probably kept his money stashed in secret bank accounts or under a different name. He said he didn’t know whether Bin Laden still had funds in Saudi Arabia.
Despite numerous reports that Bin Laden and other terrorists were anxious to procure weapons of mass destruction, Turki claimed none could be verified. “As of the time when I left the general intelligence, we received no decisive proof that any of these organizations has obtained weapons of mass destruction, either biological, chemical, or nuclear weapons,” he said.