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Four Saudis Confess to Planting a Bomb That Killed 7 at a U.S. Base in November

By Robin Wright
Los Angeles Times

In a television broadcast Monday, four Saudi nationals confessed to planting the Nov. 13 car bomb that killed five Americans and two Indians at the U.S. military headquarters in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. About 60 people were injured in the deadliest attack ever conducted against American interests in the kingdom.

U.S. officials have not yet had access to the four young men, Pentagon officials said Monday. But the suspects' stories are consistent with leads that U.S. investigators had been working on with the Saudi government, they said.

Yet U.S. officials have come to a different conclusion from that of their Saudi counterparts about the implications of the arrests.

"The four (suspects) seem to represent a home-grown phenomenon that is largely independent of any outside connection other than some ideological leanings," said a senior Pentagon official. A U.S. investigation has tentatively concluded that no patron state ordered or sponsored the attack.

But in interviews Monday, Saudi officials said they believe the four men were directly or indirectly manipulated by a foreign power, in part because they used sophisticated C-4 semtex explosives, and none is missing from the Saudis' inventory. Among the foreign countries mentioned were Iran and Sudan.

The Saudis are now probing whether the suspects were part of a wider network plotting against the kingdom. Last week, the Saudi government reported the arrest of a Saudi man who was smuggling 80 pounds of explosives from Lebanon. And in February, Pakistan deported Hassan Sarai, a Saudi national, wanted in connection with opposition activities.

Both cases led to other arrests. But Saudi officials have not disclosed whether either incident had a formal connection to the Riyadh bombing.

The four men were identified as Abdul Aziz Fahd Nasser, Riad Hajri, Muslih Shamrani and Khaled Ahmed Said.

After considering several Saudi facilities and the homes and workplaces of American residents, the alleged bombers said, they chose the U.S. military facility because of the open parking lot that provided easy access.