2004-05-12 10:12:00
Embassy Kuwait
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S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 04 KUWAIT 001500 




E.O. 12958: DECL: 1.6X1

Classified By: CDA FRANK URBANCIC; REASON 1.4 (B,C,D).

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 04 KUWAIT 001500




E.O. 12958: DECL: 1.6X1

Classified By: CDA FRANK URBANCIC; REASON 1.4 (B,C,D).

the Prime Minister May 4, delivered the President's letter to
the Amir, and pressed for more aggressive action against
extremists. The PM instructed his security services to
cooperate strongly with the U.S., but was clearly focused on
maintaining "calm" inside Kuwait. He insisted the GOK's
approach of monitoring and rehabilitating extremists was
working, saying "if we use force, it will create violence,"
mostly against Americans. He urged strong action against
Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiyya satellite TV stations, which he
said are inciting hatred and violence. The PM also
complained of practices that make the U.S. military
vulnerable in Kuwait: convoys moving without notifying MOI,
and soldiers visiting restaurants and shopping malls in

2. (S) In a follow-on meeting with the Chairman of the
National Security Bureau, who had attended the meeting with
the PM, Ms. Townsend reiterated more starkly that the USG is
not satisfied with the leadership of Kuwait State Security
(KSS). She also met with the Justice Minister, who said he
was receptive to increasing cooperation against terrorist

3. (S/NF) PARTICIPANTS: Deputy National Security Advisor
for Counter-Terrorism Frances Townsend was accompanied by
Charge, NSC Director Nicholas Rasmussen, Arabic interpreter
Gemal Helal, ORCA Chief, and A/DCM (Notetaker). Prime
Minister Shaykh Sabah al-Ahmed was accompanied by Chairman of
the National Security Bureau (NSB) Sabah al-Khaled, MFA
Undersecretary Amb. Khaled al-Jarallah, the PM's Office
Director Amb. Ahmed al-Fahd, and the NSB Chairman's Office
Director Thamer al-Sabah. Minister of Justice Ahmed Baqer
al-Abdullah met with the delegation alone. Sabah al-Khaled
and Thamer held a follow-on meeting with the delegation.
(NOTE: Only the meeting with the PM was conducted through

the interpreter. END NOTE.)


4. (S) After a cordial exchange of greetings in which the PM
congratulated Ms. Townsend on her appointment as Advisor to
the President for Homeland Security, she gave him the
President's letter to the Amir and Mr. Helal read an Arabic
translation aloud. Stressing that she came in the spirit of
strong friendship and partnership between the two countries,
Ms. Townsend urged the GOK to be more aggressive against
Kuwaiti extremists who are supporting violence in Iraq. She
said KSS has competent people but lacks strong leadership.
She noted that the U.S. had learned from its own mistakes
about the need to take strong actions internally against
extremists. She added that the Saudi crackdown could lead
terrorists to turn their sights on Kuwait, including the
ruling family here. In Saudi Arabia, extremists had demanded
the withdrawal of U.S. forces, but when that occurred, they
shifted to target Saudis and the royal family. Closing her
initial presentation, Ms. Townsend noted that we have
provided information to the KSS, but we are looking for more
cooperation from the Kuwaiti side in acting on that
information. She told the PM that his leadership would be
enormously helpful in inspiring KSS to work with the U.S.
more effectively.

5. (S) The PM promised to convey the letter to the Amir. He
emphasized the excellent bilateral relationship and Kuwait's
commitment to close security cooperation with the U.S.
However, he insisted that the GOK's approach of monitoring
and trying to rehabilitate extremists was more appropriate
here than confronting terrorists directly with force as be
believes the U.S. and Saudi Arabia have done: this is a
small country, the Government knows everyone and stays in
close touch with society; few in Kuwait wish harm to
Americans; the GOK cannot jail people who have not violated
the law, but it does jail violators, as in the case of Hamed
al-Ali who was recently arrested "just for talking" and is
being prosecuted.

6. (S) Sabah al-Ahmed made clear that his focus is on
maintaining "calm" inside Kuwait: nobody is allowed to cross
the Kuwait-Iraq border to do harm; the GOK cannot prevent
citizens from traveling to Syria (and thence to Iraq),but it
monitors those who do so; "if we use force, it will create
violence" mostly against "guests" (read: Americans); "if it
is calm here, there is no need for a different approach"; no
American has been harmed here in over a year; it is true that
some Kuwaitis have been killed fighting in Iraq but if
anybody were to attack Americans in Kuwait, "obviously our
position would be very different."

7. (S) DNSA Townsend reiterated to the PM that our two
countries can do more to identify and disrupt those who would
do us harm. She cited Jaber al-Jalahma as an extremist who
needs to be stopped. Sabah was familiar with Jalahma and
insisted "we have him under control."

8. (S) The PM voiced two complaints:
-- Al-Jazeera satellite TV station broadcasts from Qatar, a
GCC country that claims friendship for the United States, yet
it is inciting hatred and violence against the U.S. and
against Saudi Arabia with no apparent detriment to its
relationship to the United States. It is regrettable that
this is sponsored by a GCC member; he had discussed this with
the Qatari Amir recently. The U.S. should use all its
influence forcefully and relentlessly to stop it. The same
problem exists with Al-Arabiyya in the UAE. Ms. Townsend
replied that the USG has addressed this concern very directly
with Qatar.

-- U.S. military forces have crossed to/from Iraq without
going through border controls; some 1,197 U.S. military
convoys have been reported moving in Kuwait without
notification to MOI, which thus could not provide protection;
U.S. soldiers frequent restaurants and shopping malls in
uniform, making themselves obvious targets. The Charge
thanked the PM for Kuwait's protection, noted that an MOU on
border controls is close to being signed, and promised to
remind the military to follow existing procedures. He said
however that this dialogue on logistics should not be allowed
to detract from the issue of extremists operating in Kuwait.

9. (C) The PM mentioned that according to a tribal shaykh in
Syria (later identified as Ahmed al-Jarba of the Shammar),
the Syrians had caught nine Bangladeshis who were on their
way to Iraq to fight the Coalition; they had been paid one
thousand dollars each.

10. (S/NF) Towards the end of the meeting, the PM made a
point of stating plainly, while looking directly at the NSB
Chairman, that he wanted NSB and KSS to give "serious
cooperation" to the USG on counter-terrorism. He promised to
tell the same thing to KSS, which was not at the meeting. He
concluded by conveying thanks to the President on behalf of
the Amir, and vowing that Kuwait will remain a solid friend
of the United States.


11. (S) In the follow-on meeting with NSB Chairman Sabah
al-Khaled, Ms. Townsend repeated her message more bluntly:
the U.S. is not satisfied with the leadership of the KSS
Director. Calm in Kuwait is not enough while Americans are
being killed in Iraq. It is of "the utmost urgency" to
stabilize Iraq in advance of the June 30 transfer of
authority. The Chairman agreed with the need for stability
in Iraq; he described the PM's instruction to cooperate with
the U.S. against terrorism as a "loud, clear message" and
promised to follow up with KSS and MOI, its parent ministry.
Noting that he participates in weekly national security
meetings with MOD, MOI and the National Guard, he pledged
that Kuwait would "work as a team" with the U.S.

12. (S) Ms. Townsend handed Sabah al-Khaled a one-page list
of Kuwaiti extremists the U.S. is particularly worried about;
this was the same list she had given Kuwait's ambassador in
Washington on April 29. Topping the list was Jalahma, who
she said has committed crimes in many countries; "we would be
happy to take him off your hands." Sabah al-Khaled replied
that KSS has "sat with" Jalahma often and follows him; some
extremists no longer trust Jalahma, perceiving that he has
gone over to the Government's side. The Chairman pointed out
that Kuwaiti law constrains the security forces: a suspect
can only be held for four days, then must be turned over to
the prosecutor who can detain him for 21 days, renewable one
time; neither KSS nor NSB has any control over the prosecutor
or the court. The Chairman brought up a complaint Ms.
Townsend had made to the Kuwaiti ambassador, that another
extremist on the list, Mohammed al-Dosari, was using a
cellphone in jail. "We are reviewing our regulations," Sabah
led said, adding "we will follow this list and share

13. (S) The Chairman said some Kuwaitis are financing
"mujahedin" and the GOK is trying to track the money, but
that is difficult because it moves outside the banking
system. He noted that GCC Interior Ministers were meeting in
Kuwait the same day to sign a counter-terrorism agreement.
He emphasized that the GOK is working bilaterally, within the
GCC, and within the Arab League. It is also providing
information to the UNSC committee established pursuant to
Resolution 1373.

14. (S) Sabah al-Khaled expressed concern that Iran could
see Kuwait as a soft target and activate sleeper cells or use
Hizballah or Shiites from Bahrain or the Eastern Province of
Saudi Arabia. Surrounded by Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia,
Kuwait finds itself in "a triangle of problems." There are
many threats to Kuwait, from the Far East, Usama Bin Laden,
Ayman al-Zawaheri, and others. He was very concerned about
terrorists' evolving tactics and the discovery in Turkey of
"bottles of chemical liquids."


15. (S) Justice Minister Ahmed Baqer al-Abdullah, a Salafi
and the only elected member of parliament in the Cabinet,
began his meeting with Ms. Townsend by stating that all
Kuwaitis welcome cooperation with the United States and
recognize what it has done for them. Most Kuwaitis and most
Muslims, he continued, despise terrorism, which is destroying
the image of Islam in the West. It is important to
understand the reasons for terrorism, first and foremost the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict which needs to be resolved.
That does not justify terrorism, which is a crime regardless
of its cause. In Kuwait, "good Muslim scholars negotiate
with" extremists, teaching that Islam is a religion of peace
and that Kuwaitis should cooperate with other nations.

16. (S) The Minister highlighted the importance of
transparency in the finances of Islamic charities. He said
all legitimate charities accept the need for this. In his
view, Kuwait's laws are sufficiently stringent ever since an
assassination attempt against the Amir in the 1980s, but he
was "ready to study any suggestion" to strengthen controls.
DNSA Townsend pointed out that convicted conspirators in the
Failaka terrorist attack are now free on bail after serving
short sentences. The Minister replied that laws are one
thing, application by the court is another. He stressed the
independence of the judiciary and its multi-stage appeals
process. He considered Failaka "a very obvious case" and
expected that the defendants would be sentenced on appeal.
He did not favor legislating minimum sentences, for fear that
judges would find defendants not guilty if they thought the
minimum sentence was too harsh (there are no juries in the
Kuwaiti judicial system).

17. (S) COMMENT: The meetings were cordial throughout, but
the PM's body language indicated he was unhappy and
defensive. He stuck to his line of argument, which was
characteristic of his desire not to rock the boat. While he
remains fixated on maintaining calm inside Kuwait, we are
certain PM Sabah does not want Americans to be harmed outside
Kuwait either, and shares our desire to stabilize Iraq
urgently. For now, the most constructive course of action is
to keep up the pressure by seizing upon his clear instruction
to KSS and NSB to cooperate with us, and promptly flagging
for him any failure to do so.

18. (U) Ms. Townsend has cleared this message.

19. (U) Baghdad minimize considered.