For the second time in a decade, Saudi bombers target the U.S. company which has been training the Saudi military. Monday’s triple car bombing killed 34 including eight Americans.
U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia Robert Jordan appeared on U.S. morning talk shows yesterday and said that just days before Monday’s car bombings, US intelligence officials detected signs of an impending attack and urgently asked Saudi Arabia to increase security at residential compounds inhabited by Westerners. But Ambassador Jordan said the Saudi government failed to act.
Later in the day, White House Spokesman Ari Fleischer said Saudi Arabia “must deal with the fact that it has terrorists inside its own country.”
34 people died in the bombings, including eight Americans. Nearly 200 people are injured.
Saudi foreign minister Prince Saud al-Faisal denied receiving any request for additional security. But he also admitted his country needs to learn from its mistakes.
This, as Saudi security chiefs claimed yesterday the mastermind of the suicide car bombings took his orders directly from Osama bin Laden. Officials named Mohammed al-Juhani as the leader of the al-Qaeda cell and said he entered the country two months ago on orders to target Westerners. Intelligence sources also admitted that cell had been under surveillance for nearly two months, that they knew the identities of the leader of the cell and many of its members, and that police had failed to capture any of them despite two armed encounters this year.
The unprecedented criticism of the oil-rich kingdom comes as President Bush has himself come under unprecedented criticism. Two days ago, Senior Democratic Senator Bob Graham said: “We essentially ended the war on terror about a year ago, and since that time al-Qaida has been allowed to regenerate.” He said: “The war on Iraq was a distraction. It took us off the war on terror, which we were on a path to win. But we’ve now let it slip away from us.” Graham is a former chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee and a presidential candidate. He also charged the Bush administration ignored relevant intelligence about terrorism before the Sept. 11 attacks–and is still doing so today.
Meanwhile, details of precisely who was targeted are emerging. The car bombings directly targeted a U.S. company — the Vinnell Corporation.
Vinnell’s work in Saudi Arabia dates back nearly three decades ago, when it won a contract to train Saudi troops to guard oilfields.
- William Hartung, the President’s Fellow at New School University. He is the Director of the World Policy Institute’s Arms Trade Project.
- Dan Briody, author of The Iron Triangle: Inside the Secret World of the Carlyle Group
- Pratap Chatterjee, independent journalist and creator of the WarProfiteers card deck which “exposes some of the real war criminals in the US’s endless War of Terror.”