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Indictments Issued for Saudi Bombing

Aired June 21, 2001 - 13:08   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DONNA KELLEY, CNN ANCHOR: Fourteen indictments have been issued in the 1996 bombing that killed 19 U.S. service personnel in Saudi Arabia. The Americans were killed when a truck bomb exploded outside the Khobar Towers, which is a military housing complex.

CNN's justice correspondent Kelli Arena is in Washington and joins us now with the latest -- Kelli.

KELLI ARENA: Donna, U.S. officials tell CNN that 13 out of those 14 indictments are of Saudi citizens. The 14th indictment is of a Lebanese John Doe, who I am told was the Lebanese chemist who allegedly helped build the bomb that blew up the Khobar Towers. There are no Iranians that wee indicted today. That, of course, causing some consternation because intelligence sources have told CNN all along that there was evidence linking the Bombing to Iranian government officials.

But again, no Iranians were indicted today. Bottom line: 14 indictments almost five years to the day after that Khobar bombing. We should be hearing from FBI Director Louis Freeh and Attorney General John Ashcroft at 1:30. They have scheduled a press conference outside of the FBI. We will get more details then. But for right now, no Iranians, 13 Saudis, one Lebanese chemist -- Donna.

KELLEY: Kelli, if that is the case, and I know we're waiting for more information when we get to the press conference coming up in less that a half an hour now, do they expect some more indictments in addition to the ones that you heard about?

ARENA: I'm sorry, Donna, I lost you for a moment there.

KELLEY: Do we expect more indictments even though the press conference I know is coming with more information for us. But do they expect more than the indictments that we've heard about so far?

ARENA: At this point, no, Donna. It was very difficult coming up with enough evidence involving these indictments. Intelligence sources have told us that part of the reasons there were no indictments against Iranians at this point is because there were evidentiary problems in the first place. There were no first-hand witnesses of any kind that they could turn to.

So it was hard enough to bring indictments against those Iranians. As for any more Saudis, once again, evidence-collecting has been problem. While the Saudi government has been cooperative, some intelligence sources have said, not cooperative enough. And those intelligence sources also point out that this was not only a law enforcement decision, but was also a foreign policy decision and that the administration is eager to maintain good relations with the Iranian government, Donna.

KELLEY: Kelli Arena, our justice department, thanks very much.

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