Khobar Towers , June 25, 1996
” The Khobar Towers bombing was a terrorist attack on part of a housing complex in the city of Khobar, Saudi Arabia, located near the national oil company (Saudi Aramco) headquarters of Dhahran. In 1996, Khobar Towers was being used to house foreign military personnel.
A rigged truck adjacent to Building #131 in the housing complex was said to have exploded, and the eight-story building housed United States Air Force personnel from the 4404th Wing (Provisional), primarily from a deployed rescue squadron and deployed fighter squadron. In all, 19 U.S. servicemen and one Saudi were killed and 372 of many nationalities were wounded. Although Al-Qaeda has been incorrectly described by some sources as the likely culprit, the official June 25, 1996 statement by the United States identified members of Hezbollah Al-Hejaz (Party of God in the Hijaz) as the responsible party “
” Shortly after 9:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 25, 1996, Staff Sergeant Alfredo Guerrero climbed up to the rooftop of Building 131 in the Khobar Towers residential complex in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, to check on the two sentries positioned there.� It was a clear, cool night.� Building 131 was on the northern perimeter of the sprawling complex of high-rise apartment buildings.� Similar buildings where the locals lived stood beyond the barbed-wire fence that surrounded Khobar Towers.�From the rooftop, Sergeant Guerrero surveyed the landscape below, looking for anything unusual.� After a terrorist bombing in Riyadh seven months earlier in which five Americans were killed, U.S. forces in Saudi Arabia were in a heightened state of alert…. “
” At the same time, on the roof of Building 131, Sergeant Guerrero saw something he didn’t like. At about 9:45 p.m., a Datsun drove into the parking lot.� The compact car circled the lot, then stopped and flashed its headlights before leaving.� Two other vehicles then entered the lot a white Chevrolet Caprice and a large sewage tanker truck.� The truck drove down the second-to-last row of the lot, then turned left as if it were heading back in the direction that it had come.�But the truck pulled to a stop, and Sergeant Guerrero heard the grinding of gears as it went into reverse.� The driver started backing up toward the fence directly across from Building 131.
Guerrero and his men wasted no time.� As the truck was still in motion, they contacted the wing operations center to issue an evacuation alert.� Running back into the building, they initiated a “waterfall evacuation,” yelling to residents on the top floor to vacate the building.� These airmen were trained to notify the residents on the floor below as they departed, each floor notifying the next until the entire building was empty.� During a false alarm the previous month, Building 129 had been evacuated in five minutes.� But that night only the residents of the top three floors ever received the warning…. “
||A tanker truck filled with 5,000 pounds of plastic explosives was driven into the parking lot of the Khobar Towers residential complex in Dhahran, and parked about 80 feet from a building housing 100 U.S. Air Force personnel.
Sentries noted the suspicious truck and attempted an evacuation, but they had little time before the bomb was detonated.
Nineteen Americans were killed, most of them from Eglin and Patrick AFBs in Florida.
In June 2001, the Justice Department charged 13 Saudis and one Lebanese with the bombing. The Lebanese was identified only as “John Doe.”1
||It really isn’t clear who is responsible for the bombing. The Saudis and Americans blamed a little-known group called “Saudi Hezbollah,” which has ties to Iran and the better-known Lebanese Hezbollah.
Iran denied any role in the bombing.
The 9-11 Commission said evidence of Iranian involvement is strong but there are also signs al-Qaeda played a role.2