WASHINGTON — A 2006 memo that became public as part of the WikiLeaks saga warned that “violence, even terrorism” against Americans could occur as a result of the conviction of Saudi sex offender Homaidan al-Turki.
The leaked 2006 cable from the State Department Deputy Chief of Mission in Riyadh, Michael Gfoeller, includes his remarks with a close and longtime friend of al-Turki’s.
At the time, al-Turki’s allies opposed his criminal conviction, seeing it as trumped up and another example of U.S. discrimination against Muslims.
In a revealing passage, Gfoeller writes of al-Turki’s friend, Taleb:
“He said that Saudis … have turned against the current Administration because of the treatment of Arabs and Muslims following September 11, especially Saudis studying and working in the U.S.; the perception that the (U.S. government) unconditionally supports the government of Israel, the invasion of Iraq, and (government) actions against the Palestinians and Lebanon. Taleb … expressed concern that, if this conviction stands, animosity toward the USG could be inflamed to the point of acts of violence, even terrorism, in the U.S. or against Americans in the KSA or elsewhere.”
The memo has renewed significance after the murder of Colorado Department of Corrections chief Tom Clements, who had recently denied a request by al-Turki to serve out his sentence in his home country.
The execution-style murder of the 58-year prisons chief shocked members of the Colorado congressional delegation. They released a joint statement Wednesday morning that read: “We want to express our deepest sympathy to the family, friends and loved ones of Dept. of Corrections Executive Director Tom Clements. We are grateful for his public service and contributions to keeping Colorado safe and enhancing the quality of life in our communities. In the coming days, weeks and months ahead, we offer our support and strength to his loved ones.”
The statement was signed by Senators Mark Udall and Michael Bennet as well as Representatives Diana DeGette of Denver, Jared Polis of Boulder, Scott Tipton of Cortez, Cory Gardner of Yuma, Doug Lamborn of Colorado Springs, Mike Coffman of Aurora, and Ed Perlmutter of Golden.
In an interview Wednesday evening, Rep. Coffman was asked if he thought the shooting death of Tom Clements Tuesday night was linked to Gov. John Hickenlooper’s signing of gun control legislation earlier that day or Clements’ rejection of Homaidan al-Turki’s request last week.
“I don’t think it’s gun control,” Coffman said. “I don’t know about the other issue.” He declined to elaborate.
Coffman’s response represents the first time that a federal official publicly refused to rule out the notion that Clements’ murder may have been linked to the al-Turki case. Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper alluded to the possibility of a connection in his press conference Wednesday.
Gardner said he “didn’t even want to speculate (about the reasons for Clements’ death). It’s a shocking circumstance and a tragic event.” But he did not deny the unusual manner in which Clements was killed.
The ranking Democrat on the House Select Intelligence Committee also suggested that the murder bore the marks of a reprisal against a U.S. official.
Informed by this reporter about Clements’ death, Rep. C.A. “Dutch” Ruppersberger (D-Md.) said, “That’s outrageous. It’s wrong. I was a prosecutor, and I’ve had death threats against me. They’re not going to get away with trying to intimidate law enforcement. You don’t tolerate that. If you do, you’re like the Mexican government giving in to the cartels.”
Ruppersburger, who was a Baltimore County assistant state’s attorney, said the FBI had not briefed him about the case.
Whatever the circumstances, Ruppersberger vowed that the perpetrator or perpetrators will be brought to justice. “This will not stand. We will hunt them down and find them,” he said.
As TCO reported Wednesday, al-Turki’s case was followed closely in Saudi Arabia. Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud opposed the prosecution and the Saudi government reportedly paid for al-Turki’s defense.
Clements’ shooting death occurred the same day that President Obama arrived in Israel to mark the 10th anniversary of the Iraq War.