KHOBAR TOWERS BOMBINGS
The specific target was a housing complex for the American Air Force personnel and was guarded by Saudi police from the outside and by army guards from the inside.
The attack began when a fuel truck, loaded with 1.5 tone of explosives, driven by Ahmed al-Mughassil came close to an eight-story building, about 30 meters from the compound wall, in the housing complex, and exploded at about 21:50. An enormous crater, 25 meters wide and 10 meters deep, was left where the truck had been. The explosion caused the death of 19 USA Air force personnel and 372 were wounded.
Suspicious activity was reported in the area of the Khobar Towers compound in the weeks preceding the attack and during May 1996. The USA military local area alert was at its third level, on scale of four, due to the recent terrorist bombing.
Because the high level of alert warning, a guard stationed atop building, Sergeant Alfredo R. Guerrero, noticed the car bomb, got cautious and reported to the security force of the compound. He began, a floor by floor, evacuation of the building. Many of the evacuees were in the stairwell, perhaps the safest location in the building, when the bomb went off.
* Already in 02/1996, one of Hizbullah operatives drove a carload of explosives from Beirut, Lebanon, to the Saudi Arabian eastern province city of Qatif in preparation for the attack. In 03/1996, Saudi border guards stopped a second car filled with explosives from Beirut. The car was seized and the driver arrested, and by 04/1996l three other members of the terrorist cell were apprehended. The Saudi security service failed in putting together the picture of the information they had already before the Khobar attack.
* An ephemeral organization, Hezbollah Al-Hejaz, the Martyr Abdullah al-Huzayfi legion, took responsibility on the attack. At least 9 of the attackers were clearly identified and five of them were indicted in the USA, in absentia, for their role in the attack. Their coordinator was identified as a Lebanese connected to the Hizbullah, probably the notorious Imad Mughniyah.
* Osama Bin Laden, not yet known to the public as a dangerous Islamic militant and the future leader of Al Qaeda, hurried to praise the event and, in 09/02/1996, issued a public declaration of war in the “Al Islam” newspaper in London, of Jihad against the USA military in the Middle East, and against its collaborators – the Saudi Arabian regime.
* Saudi Security Service had arrested six of the bombers after the attack. The bombers admitted they had been trained by the Iranian external security service (IRGC) in Lebanon’s Beka Valley and received their passports at the Iranian Embassy in Damascus, Syria, along with $250,000 cash for the operation from IRGC Gen. Ahmad Sharifi.
* The USA and Saudi intelligence assumption is that Iran was behind the Khobar Towers bombing and the Hizbullah in Lebanon the contractor for carrying out the attack.
Note – Abdullah al-Huzayfi was a Saudi citizen that was executed in 1995 because he poured acid in the face of a Saudi Army officer.
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