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THE CONFLICT IN IRAQ

U.S. Looks Into Alleged Libya Plot to Kill Saudi

June 11, 2004|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

WASHINGTON — The United States is investigating allegations that Libyan leader Moammar Kadafi ordered the assassination of Saudi Arabia's de facto ruler, Crown Prince Abdullah, U.S. officials said Thursday.

Washington raised its concerns directly with Kadafi after an American Muslim in U.S. custody alleged last year that the Libyan leader instructed intelligence agents to kill Abdullah, U.S. officials said.

Libya called the allegations "mere lies."

"We were surprised by this, and we deny it completely and categorically," Foreign Minister Mohammed Abderrahmane Chalgam said.

The allegations could jeopardize Libya's efforts to be removed from the State Department's list of terrorism sponsors.

"It certainly will affect the pace of how we move forward on some issues, like the terrorism sanctions," said Richard Boucher of the State Department.

If proved, the allegations could also open to criticism President Bush's April decision to relax an embargo and allow U.S. firms to buy oil and invest in Libya for the first time since 1986.

That move was a reward for Libya's renouncing terrorism and abandoning programs to develop banned weapons.

At Sea Island, Ga., where a Group of 8 summit was wrapping up, Bush was asked what he knew about the allegations.

"When we find out the facts, we will deal with them accordingly," the president said.

"I have sent a message to him that if he honors his commitments to resist terror, fully disclose weapons, we will begin a process of normalization.... And now we will make sure he honors his commitment," Bush said.

Abdul Rahman al-Amoudi, who is awaiting trial on charges of illegal financial dealings with Libya, told the FBI that he was involved in the plot approved by Kadafi, a U.S. official said.

Col. Mohammed Ismael, a Libyan officer in Saudi custody, has made similar allegations.

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