People in Saudi Arabia, the United States, and other countries were shocked by the terrorist attacks on May 12th in Riyadh. The suicide bombings killed thirty-four people, including citizens of the U.S., the Philippines, Switzerland, Lebanon, and Jordan. The coordinated attacks had the earmarks of an al-Qaida operation.
The attacks in Riyadh brought back memories of another terrorist atrocity in Saudi Arabia. In June 1996, terrorists exploded a huge truck bomb at Khobar Towers in Dhahran, a housing complex for U.S. airmen. Nineteen Americans were killed and more than three-hundred seventy were wounded. The American airmen were stationed in Saudi Arabia to enforce the no-fly zone over southern Iraq. Thanks to their courageous efforts, the former Iraqi tyrant Saddam Hussein was unable to use his air force to attack Shia Muslims and others in southern Iraq.
In June 2001, a U.S. federal grand jury indicted fourteen people in connection with the Khobar Towers bombing. Some are in custody and others are still at large. According to the U.S. Justice Department, thirteen of those indicted are connected to the pro-Iran Saudi Hezbollah terrorist group. The fourteenth is linked to Lebanese Hezbollah, also supported by Iran. The indictment makes clear, said Attorney General John Ashcroft, “that elements of the Iranian government inspired, supported, and supervised members of Saudi Hezbollah” as they planned the bombing.
Hezbollah is not the only terrorist group supported by Iran’s extremist Muslim clerical regime. Iran also provides Hamas, Palestine Islamic Jihad, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command with funding, safe haven, training, and weapons.
Moreover, said U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Iran is giving safe haven to members of al-Qaida:
“There’s no question but that there have been -- and are today -- senior al-Qaida leaders in Iran. And they’re busy.”
The U.S. will continue to press Iran to end its support for terrorism and terrorist groups, including the harboring of al-Qaida operatives. Terrorism is never justified, and the perpetrators should be brought to justice.