Sultan, second deputy premier and minister of defense and aviation,
stated yesterday that the US had no right to indict 14 people
including 13 Saudis in connection with Alkhobar bombing that killed 19
US airmen. “Every country has the right to question any person on
its land, especially in the case of Alkhobar bombing. But the
Americans have no right to take any (legal) steps that come under
Saudi jurisdiction,” Prince Sultan said.
they have made (against the suspects) should be passed to the Kingdom
for further investigation as we are the final authority in this
case,” Prince Sultan told reporters at the conclusion of a three-day
official visit to Yemen. “We will be happy to cooperate with any
country that has information on any person implicated in these
explosions,” the prince added.
US Attorney General
John Ashcroft said Thursday that the United States had indicted 13
Saudis and a Lebanese in a bombing in the eastern Saudi city of
Alkhobar. Prince Sultan’s comments were the first official Saudi
reaction to the report of indictments. But Washington disclosed
yesterday that it would continue the investigations into the 1996
blast and that new indictments would be made against others.
Saudi Arabia has
repeatedly stated that the investigation into the incident was still
under way and that no one would be accused until it was completed.
Riyadh has also criticized US press reports implicating Iran in the
bombing. In a previous statement, Prince Sultan said the Kingdom had
no information about the 13 suspects indicted by the US. However, he
said the Kingdom was detaining a number of suspects who had admitted
to their involvement in the bombing.
Iran rejected as “baseless” US accusations of its involvement in
the bombing. Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asafi told the
official IRNA news agency in Tehran that the charges were a show of
submission to the pro-Israeli lobby in Washington.
“The US judiciary
has leveled charges against Iran which have no legal and judicial
basis,” Asafi said. “The charges are only supplemental to the
ceaseless efforts of the US to pressure the Islamic republic,” he
The US accused
parts of the Iranian government of being behind the Khobar bombing.
The charges were brought days before the fifth anniversary of the
attack in which a powerful truck bomb ripped through a US military
housing complex in Alkhobar.
The indictment did
not name or charge any member of the Iranian government. Tehran has
denied involvement in the Khobar Towers attack, saying such
allegations were made by people wanting to stop the development of
good relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia.
Iran state radio
earlier said the accusations reflected Washington’s continued
hostility toward Tehran.
accusations are part of the ongoing hostile policy pursued by the US
administrations,” the radio said in a commentary.
Asafi also slammed
plans by a US House of Representatives panel earlier this week to
endorse a five-year extension of sanctions against Iran and Libya. The
White House favors extending the sanctions by two years. “The
sanctions policy is a failed policy and contrary to international
norms,” Asafi said. “The move to renew the sanctions is a sign of
the lack of logic in America’s foreign relations.”
Asafi said the US
sanctions policy was bound to hurt American companies and prevent them
from competing with other firms for projects in Iran.
resistance movement also denied any tie to the Khobar Towers bombing.
In a statement sent to Reuters in Beirut the group dismissed the
indictment, which alleges that a Lebanese member of Hezbollah helped
build the bomb that devastated the US military housing complex.
charges leveled at Hezbollah through the accusation of one of its
members, and the allegations of providing training, are political
accusations that have no evidence behind them,” it said. “We have
previously denied any link between Hezbollah and Khobar, and the
matter does not require denying anew.”
The United States
yesterday warned Americans abroad of an increase in the risk of
attacks on US citizens, facilities or interests, a State Department
official said in Washington. A worldwide caution under preparation
will note the indictment of 14 people in the 1996 bombing.
US fleet in the Gulf has been ordered to put to sea in response to a
credible threat of attack against US interests worldwide following the
indictment, US sources said yesterday. The US Fifth Fleet, based in
Bahrain, has ordered its ships to put to sea in response to the
threat, the source said.