U.S., French, British troops in Saudi Arabia on alert for
Militaries follow U.S. lead after truck bombing
August 4, 1996
Web posted at: 9:05 a.m. EDT (1305 GMT)
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- French and British troops are on
highest alert in Saudi Arabia, following the lead of the U.S.
after the June 25 truck bombing that killed 19 U.S.
"The French Defense Ministry confirms that French and
British troops based in the same installations as the
Americans in the Gulf are observing the same security
measures," a French government statement said Sunday.
U.S. Defense Secretary William Perry said Saturday that
U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf region have been on highest
alert since the bombing of the Khobar Towers military housing
complex near Dhahran. He said he expects more terrorist
attacks against U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia, and has ordered
about 700 military
dependents and their school-age children to leave the
A French military source told Reuters that French troops
follow U.S. security precautions at shared bases.
"If the Americans decree a state of alert, we follow," the
More than 4,000 U.S. troops are being moved to a remote
site south of the Saudi capital of Riyadh, and spouses and
children will no longer accompany most Defense Department
personnel working in Saudi Arabia, Perry said.
"We expect more terrorist attacks. The purpose of these
attacks is to drive our forces out of the Gulf, and we will
not be driven out nor will we be divided from our friends in
the region," Perry told reporters in an unusual informal
Saturday session in his Pentagon office.
The secretary said the United States has a "flood of
intelligence" indicating possible attacks against U.S.
forces, which amount to a serious threat.
"We do have, I would say, a flood of intelligence," Perry
said. "No one of which is clearly indicative of a specific
attack at a specific place, but in aggregate have caused us
to raise the threat level in Saudi Arabia to the highest
threat level. That threat level translates into 'an attack
He said the 15,000 military men and women in the region
were well prepared. He especially noted that U.S. soldiers
who tend the stores of armored vehicles and supplies in
Kuwait were keenly aware of the terrorist threat.
"I had a distinct impression they were on a war footing,"
Perry said, describing a recent visit to Camp Doha, outside
"That threat level translates into 'an attack is
-- U.S. Defense Secretary William
Perry outlined the extensive preparations that are being
made to move some 4,000 men and women now living near Dhahran
to a remote Prince Sultan air base 50 miles south of Riyadh.
Perry's order does not affect diplomatic personnel or U.S.
civilians living in the desert kingdom.
He said the Saudis have pledged $100 million to pay for
"incremental costs" of moving the troops, matching a $100
million U.S. tab.
Explains comments on Iran
Perry also elaborated on statements he made Friday in an
interview with National Public Radio in which he hinted that
Iran may have been involved in the June attack.
Perry had said when Saudi authorities complete their
investigation into the bombing, he expects they will find "an
international connection," and that "possibly" they would
conclude that Iran was involved.
He said that by branding Iran a "leading candidate for
international terrorism directed against the United States,"
he was only quoting Iran's own statements supporting
terrorism against U.S. forces. He said his remarks had been
"This is a classic case of adding two plus two and getting
22, " Perry said. He said to tie his statement "to any
imminent action is not warranted at all."
Perry said his suggestion of an "international connection"
was based primarily on the sophistication of the attack and
not on any direct knowledge. He said he was repeating
comments made before a Senate committee last month.
"I said then ... and I still believe, simply because of
the complex nature of this attack: the size, the military
explosive that was used, the military detonator that was
used. I believed that, in and of itself, was evidence of
outside support, an international terrorist connection."
Denial from Iran
Iran has denied that it had any part in the bombing.
"The prejudicial and irresponsible nature of these charges
and defamatory statements against Iran is crystal clear,"
said a statement on IRNA, Iran's news agency, as monitored by
the British Broadcasting Corporation.
"The prejudicial and irresponsible nature of these
charges and defamatory statements against Iran is crystal
-- IRNA, the Iran news agency
On Saturday, Perry declined to discuss possible
retaliation against those responsible for the bombing. On
Friday, he threatened "strong action" in response. (244K AIFF or WAV sound)
McIntyre and Reuters
contributed to this report.