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One bombed compound owned by pro-Western Saudi


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CNN's Christiane Amanpour on Americans who live and work in Saudi Arabia.
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Colin Powell tours damage caused by the attacks in Riyadh.
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A witness describes gunfire and an explosion at one of the targeted compounds.
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RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (CNN) -- Three of the 20 people killed in Monday's car bomb attacks were support staff workers at the Dorrat Al Jadawel, a compound owned by a loudly pro-Western Saudi billionaire.

The planning and execution of the attacks -- which also killed nine suspected bombers -- bear markings of al Qaeda, U.S. officials and terrorism experts said Tuesday. (Full story)

Nearly 200 people were wounded in the bombings, which targeted three residential compounds housing Americans and other Westerners, including employees of U.S. defense contractors. (Full story)

The presence of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia is one of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden's grievances against the United States. (On the Scene)

The attack on the Jadawel community caused the least damage of the three, said a spokesman for MBI International and Partners, which owns the compound.

Also hit were the Al Hamra Oasis Village compound and the Vinnell Corp. compound. Vinnell is a Virginia-based defense contractor training Saudi Arabia's national guard, a company spokesman said. Al Hamra is owned by Saudi-based Arab Supply and Trading Co., according to its Web site.

In addition to the three deaths at Jadawel, seven other staff workers were injured, two seriously. All were taken to a hospital, he said.

A car packed with explosives attempted to enter the service gate at the Jadawel compound, the spokesman said. A security guard and a member of the Saudi Royal air force exchanged gunfire with the people in the car and at 11:15 p.m. the car bomb detonated outside the service entrance, killing the Saudi air force guard, the security guard and a support staffer, the spokesman said.

Some residents suffered cuts and bruises from the explosion, he said.

"The car never made it inside the compound because of bravery of the air force guardsman and the compound guard," the spokesman said. "The mood of MBI team is that they feel pretty fortunate under these conditions. Those two guards made a heroic stand. They saved lives."

MBI International and Partners is a multinational corporation based in Saudi Arabia and headed by Mohamed Bin Issa Al-Jaber.

Bin Issa wrote a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell in February endorsing the removal of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, according to a Washington Times article posted on his company's Web site.

"I see Arabs and Americans as partners in the cultural, educational, social and economic transformation of the region," the letter stated. "The necessary first stage is the removal of Saddam Hussein. The second state, reconstruction, is about hearts and minds."

'Don't think God doesn't know what tyrants do'

He also took out an ad in Al Hayat, a London-based Saudi newspaper, in April congratulating Iraqis on their new freedom. The ad included a large image of the toppling of a statue of Saddam, taken the day Baghdad fell.

The ad quoted from the Koran: "Don't think God doesn't know what tyrants do."

A spokesman for MBI said they have no evidence that Bin Issa's anti-Iraq, pro-American views were a factor in the attacks.

Dorrat Al Jadawel is home to fewer than 1,000 people, most of whom are American or British, according to the spokesman. The support staff largely is made up of residents from other countries, he said.

The facility, the first phase of which opened in 1997, includes a formal restaurant that can serve 400, a snack bar that seats 250, a 450-seat auditorium, an eight-lane bowling alley, a post office, a barber shop and a beauty shop, according to the Dorrat Al Jadawel Web site.

The residences have traditional Arab exteriors and are furnished with American furniture.

Security in the compound includes two access gates with 24-hour security, closed-circuit, perimeter and interior cameras, motion and infrared detectors and barriers, drop-arm gates and roving foot and mounted patrols.

"Our security allows execs to relax and enjoy their lifestyle in one of the finest facilities of its kind in the region," according to the promotional material on the Web site.


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