A delegation of prominent Evangelical leaders met with Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman in the Red Sea port of Jeddah on Tuesday, the eve of the anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.
“Saudi Arabia is one of America’s most important strategic allies in the war against Radical Islamist terrorism and in countering the rising Iranian threat,” explained New York Times bestselling author Joel Rosenberg who led the delegation, while also recognizing the “significant challenges” in the U.S.-Saudi relationship.
The Christian delegation —the second to meet with the Crown Prince within a year — also included Rev. Johnnie Moore, a co-chairman of President Trump’s Evangelical Advisory Council, Larry Ross, longtime spokesman for Billy Graham, Ken Blackwell who served as U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Human Rights Council, and Wayne Pederson, a member of the Board of Directors of the National Religious Broadcasters.
During their visit, the delegation issued a statement that sought to explain, among other things, why their visit coincided with the commemorations of the 9/11 attacks, perpetrated by Islamic terrorists of al Qaeda from Saudi Arabia and several other Arab nations.
“While it may surprise some that we would choose the week of September 11 to visit the Kingdom, we actually feel there is no more appropriate time to focus on where the Kingdom must go, can go, and where we believe it is going,” the statement read. “In fact, our visit here on this profoundly important week is in defiance of those that aim to derail reform in the Kingdom through an embrace of hate and fear rather than courage and moderation.”
According to Mr. Rosenberg, the group discussed a range of issues with the Prince Bin Salman, including societal reforms, the battle against terrorism, religious freedom, and human rights.
The group also met with Saudi deputy defense minister Prince Khalid bin Salman, U.S. Ambassador John Abizaid, Sheikh Mohammed al-Issa, Secretary of the Muslim World League, and received a briefing from Eitidal, Saudi Arabia’s center for countering extremist ideology.
The Christian delegation’s first visit took place in November 2018 shortly after the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, in which the Crown Prince denies any involvement.