Give Obama more credit for killing Osama bin Laden, says Georgetown alumnus Prince Turki al-Faisal, longtime head of Saudi Arabia’s foreign intelligence service until he resigned shortly before Sept. 11, 2001

Former Saudi spy chief: U.S. should have declared end to Afghan war after killing of bin Laden

Amid the crush of 9/11 anniversary seminars and conferences that are dominating think-tank and academic circles in Washington, one featured speaker stood out Wednesday: a former Arab spy chief who knew Osama bin Laden personally.

Prince Turki al-Faisal, the longtime head of Saudi Arabia’s foreign intelligence service until he resigned shortly before the Sept. 11, 2001, hijackings, lent his regal presence to a panel discussion jointly sponsored by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and theIntelligence and National Security Alliance. In an auditorium at the Ronald Reagan Building, Turki lit up the stage in his dapper tan suit and red pocket handkerchief even before he served up a particularly frank assessment of the state of al-Qaeda.

Contrary to those who have argued that bin Laden was primarily a figurehead or a symbolic figure, Turki said the al-Qaeda leader’s deathmarked a watershed moment — so important that its significance has actually gone underappreciated in the United States.

“The killing of bin Laden has not gotten the accolades that it deserves, not just throughout the world but even in this country,” said Turki, who has also served as the Saudi ambassador to the United States and is a Georgetown alumnus.

He recalled how former President George W. Bush had vowed to capture bin Laden, “dead or alive,” and praised President Obama for persisting in that mission. “I think he should have been given more credit for it by the American people and the rest of us.”

At the same time, Turki said the Obama administration was missing an even greater opportunity: to exploit bin Laden’s demise as a pretext for declaring victory in the war in Afghanistan and withdrawing U.S. troops. Not by the end of 2014, which is the current timetable, but immediately.

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By   |  03:01 PM ET, 09/07/2011 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 8)

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