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
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
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
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
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
Source: The New York Times Company