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Three Westerners -- a Briton, a Canadian and a Belgian -- have been arrested in connection with two explosions
Feb 8th, 2001
Three Westerners -- a Briton, a Canadian and a Belgian -- have been arrested in connection with two explosions that killed a British man and injured four other British subjects in Saudi Arabia last fall, Interior Minister Prince Nayef said Sunday.

On Nov. 17, Christopher Rodway, 48, a British citizen working in a Saudi hospital, died after a small explosion in the capital tore through his car, which was believed to have been booby-trapped. Rodway's wife was slightly injured. On Nov. 22, a bomb exploded in another car in Riyadh, wounding two men and a woman, all British workers at an unidentified company.

``The source of the explosives and many other relevant facts are known to us, but in the interest of the investigation we will not disclose them now,'' Prince Nayef said in a statement on state-run Saudi television. He did not say when the three were arrested.

He also said nine others had been arrested ``in connection with other crimes, and they are still under investigation.'' He did not reveal their nationalities, except to say none were Saudis. The statement was vague and it was not clear if those arrests were connected to the case of the three Westerners.

Prince Nayef said diplomats from the three countries have visited the men in custody.

A Canadian Foreign Affairs ministry spokesman, Oussamah Tamim, said the Canadian, William Sampson, 42, has been in custody in Saudi Arabia since November and that consular officials visited with him as recently as last week. He said they tried to provide them with assistance earlier but were denied permission by Saudi authorities.

A British Foreign Office spokeswoman said Sunday night that she was aware of the broadcast but could not confirm whether any of the details were true.

``We are currently seeking official confirmation of what was alleged,'' she said on condition of anonymity.

A Belgian foreign ministry spokesman declined to comment, saying Belgium does not release the names of nationals accused or arrested abroad.

Following Prince Nayef's announcement, the three men appeared on state-run Saudi television and confessed to the bombings. On a street map, they pointed out the location of the victims' homes and the blast sites.

All three men spoke in English, with a voice-over in Arabic. Their names were translated from Arabic, and except in Sampson's case, the spellings could not be immediately confirmed.

The first man identified himself as Alexander Mitchell, of Britain. He said that he had received instructions to carry out the Nov. 17 bombing with the help of Sampson. He did not say who gave the order for the bombing.

Mitchell said he planted the explosive device on Rodway's car, then that the two men followed the victim and his wife to a main thoroughfare where Sampson detonated the explosive by remote control.

Sampson, who said he worked as a marketing consultant, said he was ordered by Mitchell to make preparations for the second bombing with the help of a Belgian he identified as Raf Schifter.

Schifter said he was at Mitchell's home and heard a conversation between Mitchell and Sampson about the first explosion.

Later, Mitchell told him he would need his help in the second bombing, Schifter added. He said he received an explosive device from Sampson which he was ordered to plant on a car parked near his car outside a residential complex. He said he followed the car and saw it explode.

``I immediately stopped my car behind it and helped the wounded people,'' he said. ``What I have said is the truth.''
Source: The New York Times Company

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08 February 2001 05:11:43 PM

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