Arrest of ’96 Alkhobar blast suspect ‘big achievement’

Updated 28 August 2015

Arrest of ’96 Alkhobar blast suspect ‘big achievement’

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia is holding the main suspect in the 1996 bombing of the Khobar Towers residence at a US military base in the country, Arab News’ sister publication, Asharq Al-Awsat reported Wednesday.

The newspaper said Ahmed Al-Mughassil, 48, leader of the Hezbollah Al-Hejaz who had been indicted by a US court for the attack that killed 19 US service personnel and wounded almost 500 people, had been captured in the Lebanese capital Beirut and transferred to Riyadh.
Both Riyadh and the Washington have accused Iran of being behind the truck-bomb attack, although Iran has denied any responsibility.
Asharq Al-Awsat quoted Saudi sources as saying the country’s security service had received information on Al-Mughassil’s presence in Beirut.
“The discovery of Al-Mughassil and his arrest in Lebanon and his subsequent transfer to Saudi Arabia is a qualitative achievement, for the man had been in disguise in a way that made it hard to identify him,” Asharq Al-Awsat said, without elaborating on when he was captured and who captured him.
In 2006, a US federal judge ordered Iran to pay $254 million to the families of 17 US service personnel killed in the attack in a judgment entered against the Iranian government, its security ministry and the Revolutionary Guards after they failed to respond to a lawsuit initiated more than four years earlier, Reuters said.
According to the 209-page ruling, the truck bomb involved in the attack was assembled in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley, operated by Hezbollah and the Revolutionary Guards, and the attack was OK’d by Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. However, Iran denies the findings.
The FBI has offered a reward of up to $5 million for information leading directly to his apprehension or conviction.
The Khobar Towers dormitory complex housed US, British, French and Saudi military personnel attached to the nearby King Abdul Aziz air base.
Separately, a court in Jeddah jailed a Saudi for nine years on a conviction of spreading extremist and “terrorist” ideology on Twitter, the Al-Riyadh daily reported Wednesday.
He was also found guilty of calling for protests to demand the release of detainees held in cases linked to “national security” matters, it said.


Riyadh Agreement to “open the door” for broader peace talks on Yemen, says King Salman

Updated 13 min 51 sec ago

Riyadh Agreement to “open the door” for broader peace talks on Yemen, says King Salman

  • King Salman said the oil policy of the Kingdom is aimed at promoting market stability
  • He urged Iran to abandon an expansionist ideology that has ‘harmed’ its own people

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia seeks a political settlement in Yemen and hoped that a recent agreement signed in Riyadh would open the door to broader peace talks, King Salman said on Wednesday.
The king was speaking at an annual address to the Shoura Council.
King Salman said “we deserve to feel proud of our nation’s success in eliminating extremist manifestations, and besieging its ideology by all means, to return to moderation, which is a characteristic of the Saudi society.”
Saudi Arabia and its allies intervened in the conflict in 2015, shortly after the Iran-backed Houthi militia took over the capital Sanaa.
He said the Kingdom’s oil policy aims to promote stability in global oil markets and looks to serve consumers and producers alike.
King Salman also said the initial public offering of Saudi Aramco will allow investors inside and outside the Kingdom to take part and will create thousands of jobs.
The revenues from the sale, he said, will be allocated to the country’s Public Investment Fund.
He said Aramco’s ability to quickly restore oil production capacity after attacks in September proved the Kingdom could meet global demand during any shortage.
“Though the kingdom has been subjected to attacks by 286 ballistic missiles and 289 drones, in a way that has not been seen in any other country, that has not affected the kingdom’s development process or the lives of its citizens and residents,” the king told assembled council members, royals and foreign diplomats.
In the latest attack on September 14, drone strikes targeted two Saudi oil facilities, temporarily knocking out half of the kingdom’s oil production.
The attacks were claimed by the Houthis, but Washington and Riyadh said Iran was responsible, and that the strikes were carried out with advanced missiles and drones.
King Salman also urged Iran to abandon an expansionist ideology that has “harmed” its own people, following violent street protests in the Islamic republic.
A wave of demonstrations erupted in the sanctions-hit country on Friday after an announcement that petrol prices would be raised by as much as 200 percent with immediate effect.
“We hope the Iranian regime chooses the side of wisdom and realizes there is no way to overcome the international position that rejects its practices, without abandoning its expansionist and destructive thinking that has harmed its own people,” the king told the consultative Shoura Council.
The region’s leading Shiite and Sunni powers have no diplomatic ties and are at odds over a range of issues, including the wars in Syria and Yemen.
“The kingdom has suffered from the policies and practices of the Iranian regime and its proxies,” King Salman said, quoted by the foreign ministry, reiterating that Riyadh does not seek war but is “ready to defend its people.”
Meanwhile, King Salman hailed the Kingdom’s “huge achievements” in the past decades, adding that the country is determined to record further achievements through its Vision 2030.
He also mentioned that Saudi Arabia has been ranked in 2019 by the World Bank as the “most advanced and first reformed country among 190 countries in the world.
King Salman also commended his government’s decision to grant tourist visas, describing the move as a way to attract investments, create jobs and showcase Saudi heritage and culture.
Earlier during the meeting, Dr. Abdullah Al-Asheikh reviewed the Shoura Council’s accomplishments during the third year of the seventh session.
Al-Asheikh said: “Thanks to the support of the wise leadership and the council’s cooperation with the Cabinet, ministries and governmental bodies, the council was able to achieve significant accomplishments, where it held 65 sessions and issued 262 decisions that were referred to King Salman, to serve our dear country and guarantee welfare and prosperity for our people.”