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Bush: Attackers to learn 'meaning of American justice'

Officials suspect al Qaeda behind bombings in Saudi Arabia

Tuesday, May 13, 2003 Posted: 1634 GMT (12:34 AM HKT)

Police officers guard the entrance of a Riyadh community called the Hamra on Tuesday.
Police officers guard the entrance of a Riyadh community called the Hamra on Tuesday.

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Colin Powell tours damage caused by the attacks in Riyadh.
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CNN's Andrea Koppel reports on officials' suspicions about al Qaeda.
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A witness describes gunfire and an explosion at one of the targeted compounds.
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INFORMATION
Family membersconcerned about Americans in Riyadh may contact the U.S.State Department from inside theUnited Statesat (888) 407-4747

Or from outside the United States at
(317) 472-2328.
SPECIAL REPORT

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (CNN) -- President Bush said Tuesday that those responsible for suicide bombings in Saudi Arabia that killed dozens of people, including seven Americans, would "learn the meaning of American justice."

The suspected al Qaeda bombings Monday night at three housing compounds in the Saudi capital killed 20 people, plus nine suspected bombers, whose bodies were found at the scenes of the explosions, Saudi officials said. (Locations of blasts) Nearly 200 others also were injured, the officials said.

"These despicable acts were committed by killers whose only faith is hate," Bush said Tuesday in Indianapolis, his last stop on a tour to promote tax cuts. "And the United States will find the killers, and they will learn the meaning of American justice."

He said the bombings "remind us that the war on terror continues." (More)

An FBI team was expected to depart Washington for Riyadh on Tuesday to assess what is known about the attacks. They also will be asking the Saudi Arabian government for unfettered access to any evidence, government officials said.

Arriving in Riyadh on a previously scheduled visit, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell condemned the attacks. He said they bore the "fingerprints" of the al Qaeda terrorist network. (On the scene: Peter Bergen)

Touring one of the wreckage-strewn target areas, Powell said the attack had been well-planned and that the facilities obviously had been "cased."

"The damage you see here today will not deter the United States, and I'm sure it will not deter Saudi Arabia in our mutual effort to go after this kind of terrorism and roll it up," Powell said.

The blasts came less than two weeks after the U.S. State Department warned Americans of possible terror attacks in Saudi Arabia. Last week, the Saudi government issued an all-points bulletin for 19 suspected terrorists -- 17 of them Saudis -- for suspicion of planning attacks.

Saudi Interior Minister Prince Nayef told a Riyadh newspaper Tuesday that those suspects were behind Monday's bombings.

Fifteen of the 19 hijackers involved in the September 11, 2001, attacks were from Saudi Arabia, as is al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. (Special report)

A witness to one of Monday night's attacks who would give only her first name -- Helen -- said she was watching television when she heard gunfire.

"Before I knew it, there was a huge explosion. The sky lit up, and I just fell to the ground. The whole villa shook -- six bedrooms, eight bathrooms. The whole house shook like a cardboard box," she said. (More from the scene)

Other developments

•International condemnation of the bombings was quick and severe. France on Tuesday condemned "with the greatest firmness" the bombings. The French Embassy in Saudi Arabia said three French nationals were injured and told its citizens to maintain "utmost vigilance." (More reaction)

•One of the attacked compounds was occupied by a defense contractor that trains Saudi Arabia's National Guard, said Jay McCaffrey, a spokesman for the Vinnell Corp. McCaffrey said about 250 U.S. citizens live there, including Vinnell employees and their families. None of the children or spouses were injured in the attack, he said.

•U.S. military and intelligence officials are reviewing intelligence collected over the past several weeks for clues to the terrorist attacks in Riyadh, U.S. defense officials said Tuesday. (More)

•U.S. officials said they were "not surprised" by the scale of the attacks because intelligence had suggested for weeks that a large-scale plot to strike Westerners in the kingdom was in the "final phases."

CNN Correspondents Rula Amin, David Ensor, John King, Andrea Koppel and Brent Sadler and Producer Elise Labott contributed to this report.


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