RIYADH, Saudi Arabia – Saudi Arabia (search) announced Wednesday it was withdrawing its ambassador to Libya and ordered out Libya's envoy in response to reports that Tripoli plotted to assassinate the Saudi crown prince.
The alleged plot against Crown Prince Abdullah (search) was first outlined by U.S. investigators in their case against a prominent American Muslim activist sentenced earlier this year to the maximum 23 years in prison for illegal business dealings with Libya.
Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud announced the measures, saying the Libyans would be sent a communique later Wednesday demanding that their envoy in Riyadh go home.
He said the Saudi Embassy in Tripoli and the Libyan Embassy in Riyadh would remain open, insisting the kingdom did not want the Libyan people to suffer, particularly with the annual Muslim pilgrimage to holy sites in Saudi Arabia starting next month.
The government has "limited its action to only these measures, ... despite the ugliness of what happened, in appreciation for the brotherly Libyan people," Saud said.
It was unclear whether the Saudi envoy had already left Tripoli.
Regarding another case, Prince Saud said the kingdom will comply with any measures the United Nations imposes against Saudi citizen Adel Batterjee. The U.S. Treasury Department moved Tuesday to block the assets of Batterjee and another Saudi, London-based Saad al-Fagih, saying they provided support to Usama bin Laden's Al Qaeda terror network.
The agency submitted the two names to the United Nations for possible inclusion in its list of terrorist financiers. If the names are included, member countries would have to block financial assets belonging to the two men.
"Any action that the United Nations takes in that, including freezing assets, will be undertaken by Saudi Arabia," Saud said. He added that he did not "have an answer" on whether Batterjee was in the kingdom.
The Saudi move on Libya came months after the assassination plot was first reported.
In July, Abdurahman Alamoudi pleaded guilty before a U.S. judge to accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars from high-ranking Libyan officials while serving as a go-between for them and Saudi dissidents. Americans were banned from doing business with Libya at the time of the contacts.
While Alamoudi was not charged in connection with the alleged plot against Abdullah, prosecutors cited the plot in requesting Alamoudi receive the maximum sentence, which he did in October.
According to a 20-page "statement of facts" filed by U.S. prosecutors, Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi (search) wanted Abdullah killed after a March 2003 Arab League Summit during which the two exchanged sharp insults.
Within two weeks of the summit, Alamoudi, who had in the past frequently traveled illegally to meet Libyan government officials, was summoned to a meeting in Tripoli and told Gadhafi wanted to punish Saudi leaders. The unidentified Libyan officials wanted Alamoudi to introduce them to Saudi dissidents who could create "headaches" for the Saudi regime, authorities said.
Alamoudi was not initially told the ultimate plan was to assassinate Abdullah, learning of it only several months later from an unidentified "high-ranking Libyan government official," the court papers said.