Prince Saud’s statement echoes those made by Defence & Aviation Minister Prince Sultan, who in early December called upon the US and anti-Taliban forces to repatriate Arabs fighting in Afghanistan. ‘These are our sons, we’ll take them,’ said Prince Saud. ‘Those who are criminally involved will be punished. But they are our responsibility. we hope other countries will do the same.’

Bin Laden has also been targeted by Riyadh for his role in terrorist operations committed inside the kingdom, including the attack upon military billets in Al-Khobar in 1996, which led to the death of 19 US servicemen. However, the government will not demand precedence in the legal process. ‘Bin Laden is not a Saudi citizen,’ said Prince Saud in an interview with the Washington Post. ‘He is an international terrorist. I don’t know the legal side of the argument, who has the right to him first. I assume it has to do with the crimes that he has committed. but when it is a legal issue, certainly he is involved in crimes in Saudi Arabia. we will pursue our rights as the legal order allows us.’