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Saudis Detain Osama Friends

Saudi authorities have detained a number of supporters of terror suspect Osama bin Laden and banned the others from joining him in Afghanistan, the interior minister said Saturday.

At the same time, Prince Nayef said "we are not happy with what is going on in Afghanistan," and warned the kingdom will side with any Arab country that may become target of U.S. anti-terror campaign.

"We are not happy with what is going in Afghanistan and we believe nobody is, and if the campaign includes (attacking an) Arab country, we will side with our Arab brethren," Nayef told a news conference.

On Friday, U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was asked whether the war against terrorism would have to be fought in countries outside Afghanistan in order to be successful.

"There's no doubt in my mind," he replied.

Saudi Arabia has expressed concern for civilian deaths in the U.S. strikes in Afghanistan, and refused to allow the use of the nation's military bases to launch attacks on Arabs or Muslims.

It is the first time Saudi Arabia has announced arrests of bin Laden's supporters since the Sept. 11 attacks in New York and Washington. Bin Laden, a Saudi dissident, and his al-Qaida network are the prime suspects in the attacks.

Nayef said "a number of people were detained on suspicion of being bin Laden's supporters." But he stressed those detained have no connection with the terrorist attacks in the United States.

"They were arrested for investigation and they do not pose security threat," he said, without specifying how many people were arrested, where and when.

The minister, meanwhile, acknowledged that some of the mosque preachers in the kingdom have called for jihad, or holy war, in support of bin Laden.

He said Saudi authorities "will stop those who are willing to join bin Laden or the Taliban, because this is not patriotic."

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