Khobar Towers Bombing
June 25,1996..Riyadh, Saudi Arabia..9:21pm..a man driving a fuel tanker began his slowing trek toward the entry point of the U.S. base (Khobar Towers), the security checkpoint denies the unknown man entry due to insufficient identification. The truck pulls out and leaves. At 9:43pm, the same tanker truck, a Datsun scout vehicle and another car, drove in an adjacent parking-lot next to the building. Only a chain link fence and small trees separated the vehicles and the building. The unknown male, leaves the truck and joins his companions in the Datsun. They leave, with the truck left behind. U.S. Air Force security policeman, Staff Sergeant Alfredo R. Guerrero notices the idle vehicle from atop the tower, and his suspicions are warranted enough to enter back down the building and warn numerous personnel they should evacuate the premises. He would be at the westward point of the building down a stairwell on the 7th floor, furthermost point of where the truck was sitting. While heading down the stairs, the blast had initiated.
The force of the explosion was enormous. The size of the explosion created an intense dust storm as the forces of the high pressure blast wave and the subsequent vacuum forces caused considerable damage in their own right. Several military vehicles parked to the left side of building #131 suffered no direct impact from debris, but were heavily damaged by the sheer intensity of the shock wave. The blast violently blew out every window for a mile in all directions. Within a few hours of the blast, the crater began to fill with salt-water from the Persian Gulf. In the minutes following the blast, the residents of the complex evacuated severely injured U.S. military personnel from the area. When the smoke cleared and damaged assessed days later a total of 20 people were killed, 498 wounded. Afterwards many organizations took credit, Al Qaeda, Muslim Brotherhood and Hezbollah..even Osama Bin Laden.
In 1997, Canada will catch one of the Khobar Towers suspects and extradite him to the US. However, in 1999, he will be shipped back to Saudi Arabia before he can reveal what he knows about al-Qaeda and the Saudis. In June 2001, an indictment was issued in United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in Alexandria, Virginia charging the following people with murder, conspiracy, and other charges related to the bombing:
Ahmed Ibrahim Al-Mughassil
Abdelkarim Hussein Mohamed Al-Nasser (Fugitive)
Ali Saed Bin Ali El-Hoorie (Fugitive)
Ibrahim Salih Mohammed Al-Yacoub (Fugitive)
Hani al-Sayegh who had been previously in U.S. custody but deported to Saudi Arabia, when charges against him were dropped due to a lack of evidence.
Eight other Saudis
One Lebanese man listed as “John Doe”.
Afterwards, Saudi Intelligence stated that 11 of the suspects were already in Saudi Prisons and will be tried collectively in a Saudi court and will not be extradited.
None of the top leaders of the plot were captured, since they have all fled to various parts of the region including Iran, immediately after the bombing. The remaining participants were executed in Saudi custody without letting the FBI interview them. In 2015 Saudi Intelligence is said to have arrested one of the ringleaders of the bombing, Ahmed Ibrahim Al-Mughassil. He is currently awaiting trial. But the incident was not without intelligence failures, in which weeks prior to the bombing, numerous intelligence briefs and warnings were made available to military command. Approximately ten such warnings were made available to the intelligence community between April-June of 1996. Even officials under the Clinton administration had stated received a wave of threats against Americans and American installations in Saudi Arabia. Officials also noted that it was the Central Intelligence Agency which had “misjudged” the capabilities of the Saudi suspects in their bomb making capabilities.
Years after this attack, US officials would still shift blame from Al Qaeda, to Saudi operatives, and currently Hezbollah. Much like previous attacks on US targets, the intelligence community failed the citizenry time and again.