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Saudi Official Condemns Berg Decapitation

Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the United States condemned as "criminal and inhuman" the decapitation in Iraq of American Nicholas Berg (search).

Speaking in Arabic on Wednesday to the Saudi media in Jiddah, the Saudi summer capital, Prince Bandar said the al-Zarqawi group, which took responsibility for the execution, was "a criminal, deviant and un-Islamic group allied with (Usama) bin Laden and the criminals of Al Qaeda."

Bandar said the group had also killed Muslims and Arabs for no reason.

"It is not out of character for them to commit acts that violate the teachings of Islam, a noble religion that deplores such acts," Bandar said in response to questions from the Saudi media.

Bandar's remarks were distributed Thursday by the Saudi embassy in Washington. Arab leaders often have condemned terror acts against U.S. citizens and facilities. Making the statements in Arabic to Arabs, as Bandar did, gives the criticism added authority.

The ambassador also said there was no doubt the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by some U.S. military personnel was "despicable and criminal."

However, Bandar said, the Saudi media "should be aware that we do not make the same mistake of generalization that was made by the U.S. media and certain American politicians" in accusing all Saudis of terrorism because 15 of the 19 Sept. 11, 2001, hijackers were Saudis.

Those accusations were "untrue and unacceptable," the ambassador said. "That is why we should now condemn only those who committed these horrendous acts against Iraqi prisoners and make clear that they do not represent the majority of the U.S. military and certainly not the American people and their morality."

The beheading of Berg, 26, a Jewish-American from West Chester, Pa., was broadcast on an Al Qaeda-linked Web site.

The final movements of the telecommunications businessman remain unclear as officials in Washington and Baghdad try to piece together how he crossed paths with a group of Islamic militants who savagely decapitated him in a video released Tuesday bearing the title "Abu Musab al-Zarqawi shown slaughtering an American."

Authorities in Baghdad denied Berg was held in U.S. custody before he disappeared in early April, despite claims to the contrary by his family. The authorities said he had been held by Iraqi police for about two weeks and questioned by FBI agents three times.