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Mueller: Saudi Attacks Resemble al-Qaida

Mueller: Saudi Attacks Resemble al-Qaida

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RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) -- FBI Director Robert Mueller on Sunday said the Riyadh suicide bombings bore "all the hallmarks" of Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida terror group, and he praised the U.S.-Saudi cooperation in the investigation of the attacks.

Mueller, who arrived in Saudi Arabia earlier in the day from Jordan, said he was in the Gulf kingdom to praise Saudi officials for their support in the war on terror and the probe into the fatal May 12 attacks.

The State Department announced Sunday that a ninth American had died from injuries received in the late night bombings at three Riyadh residential compounds. No personal details were released at the family's request.

Some 35 people are reported to have been killed, including nine bombers.

"I think we assume that, yes, there are ties (in the attacks) to al-Qaida," Mueller said during a press conference in the Saudi capital late Sunday.

"I don't want to get into the details because the investigations are ongoing, but clearly this type of undertaking has all the hallmarks of an al-Qaida operation."

A U.S. diplomat said Mueller planned to stay in Saudi Arabia through Monday. Moroccan officials in Rabat said the FBI chief is also expected to travel to Morocco within days for talks with King Mohammed VI.

Four days after the Riyadh attacks, the Moroccan city of Casablanca was rocked by nearly simultaneous bombings that killed 43 people, including 12 bombers.

The Casablanca bombing plotters are suspected of financial ties to senior al-Qaida leaders outside of Morocco, U.S. officials have said on condition of anonymity.

When asked Sunday if a link has been established between the Saudi and Moroccan attacks, Mueller told reporters: "It's too early to make any definite statement as to the relationships."

Mueller said since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States and last month's Riyadh bombings, officials in both countries have been enhancing domestic security precautions, but more needed to be done.

Mueller would not disclose how many people have been arrested since the investigation into the Riyadh attacks was launched, but he said none of those in detention were thought to be on the FBI's most wanted terrorist list.

"(Our) Saudi counterparts have moved aggressively to identify and detain those who would have some participation, either directly or more remotely, to these events," he said.

Saudi authorities have announced the arrest of 11 terror suspects -- including three clerics -- in the holy city of Medina. It is unclear what charges the suspects may face.

Mueller said he was "tremendously gratified" by statements made by Saudi King Fahd and Crown Prince Abdullah following the May 12 attacks "expressing solidarity with (America) ... and others on the war against terrorism."

U.S. investigators are in Saudi Arabia to only "assist their Saudi counterparts at the three sites," Mueller said.

"We were pleased to be able to complement and help our Saudi counterparts in continuing ... gathering evidence at the site of the bombings," he said.

Only one team of U.S. investigators remains in Saudi Arabia. A team that arrived following the bombings has since returned to America. A smaller team of six or seven U.S. analysts and experts is expected to arrive soon.

After a 1996 truck bombing killed 19 U.S. military personnel in Saudi Arabia, U.S. officials complained about Saudis blocking access to evidence, witnesses and suspects.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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