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SAUDI ARABIA: Muted response to Osama bin Laden's death

May 2, 2011 |  3:52 pm

Bin laden saudi reax 

Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Osama bin Laden, expressed hope Monday that the death of its most notorious native son would help the battle against terrorism. 

“An official source expressed the hope of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia that the elimination of the leader of the terrorist Al Qaeda organization would be a step toward supporting international efforts aimed at fighting terrorism," the state’s official news agency said, Reuters news agency reported.

The muted reaction underscored Saudi Arabia’s complicated history with Bin Laden.

As a young man in the 1980s, Bin Laden helped Saudi efforts in funding Arab fighters battling the Soviet-backed Afghanistan government.

Eventually, Bin Laden turned against the Saudi royal family over its decision to allow U.S. troops on the Arabian peninsula during Iraq’s 1990-1991 invasion of Kuwait. He was stripped of his citizenship in 1994, but his family retained privileged status in Saudi Arabia.

Bin Laden’s radical politics continued to hold sway with some Saudi youth as Al Qaeda carried out attacks in the desert kingdom mainly in 2003. With an internal crackdown against Al Qaeda, Saudi fighters headed to Iraq to battle the US military and Iraq’s Shiite-led government through 2007.

Only after concerted pressure from the Americans, did the Saudi royal family make a serious effort to try to stop the the migration of young Saudi radicals to Iraq.

— Ned Parker in Cairo

Photo: Saudi men watch a TV broadcasting a report about Osama bin Laden in Riyadh. Credit: Hassan Ammar/AP

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