FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEAG
THURSDAY, JUNE 21, 2001(202) 514-2007
WWW.USDOJ.GOVTDD (202) 514-1888
ATTORNEY GENERAL STATEMENT
WASHINGTON, D.C. Attorney General John Ashcroft today released the following statement regarding today's indictment in the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing:
- "Today a federal grand jury in Alexandria, Virginia returned an indictment charging fourteen individuals with murder, attempted murder of federal employees, conspiracy to commit murder, and conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction related to the June 25, 1996 terrorist bombing of the Khobar Towers dormitory complex in Saudi Arabia. As a result of this terrorist act, nineteen United States Airmen were killed and 372 Americans were wounded."
- "Named as defendants are the leader of the Saudi Hizballah terrorist organization, as well as several prominent members, including the head of the Saudi Hizballah's military wing, along with members of terrorist cells in Saudi Arabia who planned and carried out the Khobar attack.
- "The indictment explains that the terrorist activities leading to the 1996 Khobar blast began as early as 1993, when members of Hizballah began extensive surveillance to find American targets in Saudi Arabia.
- "In 1995, according to the indictment, the terrorists focused on Khobar Towers, which housed U.S. Air Force personnel assigned to the Gulf region. After amassing large amounts of plastic explosives, the terrorists, assisted by an as-yet unidentified member of Lebanese Hizballah - referred to in the indictment as "John Doe" - converted a tanker truck into a huge bomb. They detonated that bomb near the north face of building #131 at Khobar Towers shortly before 10 p.m. on June 25, 1996.
- "The indictment explains that elements of the Iranian government inspired, supported, and supervised members of the Saudi Hizballah. In particular, the indictment alleges that the charged defendants reported their surveillance activities to Iranian officials and were supported and directed in those activities by Iranian officials. This indictment does not name as defendants individual members of the Iranian government.
- "Let me add at this point, that as always, every decision in this case has been made under the normal standards we apply to every criminal case. The only limitation on this case -- as with any criminal case -- is what we believe we can prove in a court of law. While Federal District Court rules prohibit my commenting on the evidence available to us at the present time, I can say that this investigation is continuing and we will continue to bring additional charges as appropriate. Today's indictment is however, an important milestone in this ongoing investigation.
- "For five years, the Department of Justice and the FBI have worked to develop the evidence necessary to bring these charges for this terrible crime. This indictment comes at a time of legal and personal significance for this case.
- "As a legal matter, important charges arising out of the Khobar attack, if not filed promptly, might have been lost under our statute of limitations on the fifth anniversary of this tragedy, which is next Monday. As a personal matter for the victims and their families, the indictment returned today means that next week's five-year anniversary of this tragedy will come with some assurance to victim family members and to the wounded that they are not forgotten.
- "I know that all of America joins me in once again offering our condolences for the terrible losses endured by the families of Americans killed or injured in this tragedy.
- "For America it is also an important reminder of the tremendous sacrifices made by those who bravely serve to protect our nation and its freedom. This indictment underscores the commitment of the Bush Administration and the Department of Justice to bringing terrorists to justice. Americans are a high priority target for terrorists. Our nation will vigorously fight to preserve justice for our citizens here at home and abroad.
- "I would like to thank the Saudi government for its assistance throughout this investigation.
- Today's charges would not have been possible without their help and we look forward to working with them as the investigation continues.
- "I would also like to thank the prosecution team and the men and women of the FBI whose hard work on this investigation has been indispensable. Finally, I would like to thank FBI Director Freeh. Since the horrific attack on Khobar Towers five years ago, the Director has not wavered in his pursuit of this investigation. His personal involvement and tireless commitment are substantial reasons why we stand here today. He has also reached out to the victims and their families, meeting with them personally to listen to their concerns, share information, answer questions, and pledge his continuing support.
- "This investigation exemplifies the leadership, integrity, and compassion that Louis Freeh delivered over the past eight years as Director of the FBI. Together with his colleagues, he has moved this institution forward into the twenty-first century, building law enforcement cooperation and investigative capacities respected across the nation and around the world."