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U.S. Department of State
96/06/26 Press Conference on Bombing of US Military Barracks
Office of the Spokesman

                          U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE 
                           Office of the Spokesman 
For Immediate Release                                 June 26, 1996 
                        JOINT PRESS CONFERENCE 
                             June 26, 1996 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  Good evening, at President Clinton's request 
I've come here to Dhahran to confer with U.S. military and Saudi 
military officials about the terrible tragedy that took place here 
yesterday.  I want to express my deepest sympathies and condolences to 
the loved ones of those who were injured and killed in this tragic 
Before I leave, I also want to meet some of the dedicated men and women, 
who were wounded in this attack.  I particularly want to thank Prince 
Saud, Prince Bandar, the Deputy Governor and the many Saudi authorities 
who've helped in so many ways to provide extraordinary assistance in the 
course of this tragedy.  I heard many stories of heroism on the part of 
the Saudis, who took action to try to ensure that all of the wounded 
were out of the building, and who tried to save all of those who could 
possibly be saved. 
The bomb that exploded last night was a direct and deliberate attack on 
the citizens of the United States and on our friends and allies.  The 
men and women who are here at this base are on a mission of peace.  A 
mission to deter aggression by Iraq and to enforce the "no fly zone" in 
Iraq.  The President and I are determined to do everything that we can 
to identify and track down and punish those who are responsible for this 
cowardly act of It's a danger that knows no 
borders or geographic limits.   
The President and I have made combating terrorism a central objective of 
our policy both at home and abroad.  We and our friends around the world 
will not be intimidated.  These acts of terror only strengthen our 
resolve to stay the course and to defend peace and those who take risk 
for peace.   
I'm very grateful to King Fahd, Crown Prince Abdallah, and the Saudi 
authorities who could not come here and join me on very short notice, 
for their strong support -- a support they've always given in the fight 
against terror not only here in their country but throughout this 
region.  The people of America are especially grateful for the historic 
efforts that I mentioned in this instance to try to save a maximum 
number of lives.  And also in many instances to deter others from other 
Later tonight, I will fly from here to Lyon to join President Clinton at 
The Lyon Summit.  Already on the agenda, at the Lyon Summit, was the 
issue of international terrorism, but I'm absolutely sure, in the wake 
of this terrible attack, the eight leaders will place an even higher 
priority on taking firm international steps to deal with terrorism and 
to root out the terrorist; to chase them down wherever they are.  
Your Highness, Mr. Ambassador, the Governor, thank you very much for all 
of your help and cooperation here today and on-going help and 
cooperation as we seek to hunt down those who did this dastardly act. 
FOREIGN MINISTER SAUD:  Mr. Secretary, I'm deeply appreciative too, for 
being here because this gives me an opportunity, in the name of the 
custodian of the two holy mosques and in the name of the people and 
government of Saudi Arabia, to express our condolences to those who have 
lost their loved ones.  I know that words can not console in tragedies 
like this, but one thing we can be sure and make sure is that those who 
have perpetrated this act, everything that can be done will be done in 
order to apprehend them -- to bring justice. 
And also the other aspect of it, is whatever the objective of those who 
carried out this dastardly and cowardly act, whatever their objectives, 
it will not be achieved.  They will neither deter nor divert our common 
endeavor.  Our hearts, in Saudi Arabia, go out to those who have lost 
their loved ones, but we assure them that everything that can be done 
will be done to apprehend those and to add to the security of everybody 
who is a guest in our country.  Thank you Mr. Secretary. 
QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary and Foreign Minister Saud, I know you've had 
very little time to talk, but I wonder in your discussions have you yet 
touched on security?  On our quick visit to see the explosion, it looks 
like there was fairly easy access to the outside of the compound for 
just such a thing to happen.  Have you talked about the whole security 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  As you can see from the site, it was a 
horrendous explosion.  It's now estimated that it was at least a 3000 
pound bomb, perhaps TNT. It left a crater -- looked to me like 30 or 35 
feet deep and of equal distance across -- that blew the whole face off 
of the building, leaving just nude all of the bedrooms and bathrooms in 
the building.  That's the building where all the casualties occurred. 
There will be an intense investigation conducted jointly by the Saudi 
officials and our officials.  There are already FBI officials on the 
scene.  I've met with them and, discussed their processes that could be 
a joint endeavor between the Saudis and the American officials. 
I think that it would be unwise and premature to try to analyze the 
situation at the present time.  Certainly, we will make every effort to 
investigate fully how it happened and to follow every single lead.  
These crimes are usually solved by painstaking, hard forensic work, and 
I'm sure that will be done in this instance.  There will also have to be 
a look at security issues, but here tonight, I can only point to the 
fact that this was a bomb of extraordinary proportions.  As you perhaps 
know from being out at the scene, it knocked windows out in the American 
compound a half mile away, buildings were damaged.  Every building all 
the way back a half mile was injured by the size of this enormous blast.   
There are injuries not just in the first building, where all the deaths 
occurred, but injuries ranging back a half mile. That's why there are so 
many injuries, so many still in hospitals. 
It was a bomb of unexpectedly large proportions and we will just have to 
analyze that situation in the future, but I don't think that it would be 
wise to speculate on that situation here tonight. 
FOREIGN MINISTER SAUD:  May I add that security organs of both 
governments are hard at work in identifying any shortcomings if there 
are any.  Those who have visited the site have seen the protection.  
There was a wall in place but as the Secretary said, the size of the 
explosion was well beyond all the protective measures that were taken. 
From every tragedy one learns and I'm sure we will learn from this 
tragedy to add to the security and the safety of all those concerned.  
Already everybody is working hard at this particular issue.  The tragedy 
is a fresh one in everybody's mind and we only are grateful for the 
Secretary for coming here and sharing this tragedy with those who are 
living here from the United States and from other countries -- other 
guest as well as from the Saudi citizens. 
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary and Foreign Minister, I would like to ask you 
both not to analyze how this happened, but perhaps give us your thoughts 
and preliminary analogy of why it might have happened.  Do you agree 
that this was aimed at the American presence in the region or do you 
believe that this time it was aimed at the Royal Family of Saudi Arabia? 
FOREIGN MINISTER SAUD:  It's always in the face of these tragedies it is 
better not to speculate because speculation detracts from the pursuit of 
those who have done this dastardly act.  I think this is the time for 
the security organs to do the searching and leave the talking until we 
have come to our own specific conclusions.  But I would like to stress, 
whatever the objective of those who have committed this dastardly act, 
whatever the objective, at whatever side it is aimed, it shall not 
detract nor deter our commitment to peace. 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I would want to say the same thing as your 
QUESTION:  Your Royal Highness, Mr. Secretary, I understand that prior 
to this happening there have been threats made against the U.S. 
installations.  Could you please give some details about what sort of 
threats these were?  How many threats were made?  Were there any 
organizations who were named as a result of that?  Where there any more 
just made?  Whether now there has been an adequate investigation into 
FOREIGN MINISTER SAUD:  If the Secretary permits me and if I may be 
permitted by all of you I would not like to speculate on any of these 
issues in naming names.  I think it is better left to the security 
organizations to tackle these questions and they will be tackled in due 
time. Thank you. 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  That's exactly my outlook.  It would be unwise 
to speculate at the present time.  That will be part of the 
QUESTION:  Mr. Secretary, I would like to ask  (inaudible) 
responsibility and far as security measures for the American citizens in 
Saudi Arabia? 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  There has been no claim of responsibility at the 
present time.  It's far too early to say whether the bomb that was used 
here was similar to or comparable to any other bombs used elsewhere; 
that would be part of the forensic analysis for our high military 
officials here as well as our Charge d'Affairs.  Of course, steps are 
being taken because they have long been to protect Americans in Saudi 
Arabia.  The investigation may provide reasons why additional steps need 
to be taken, but right now I think we're in the process of weighing a 
great tragedy and trying as the Prince said to see if there are lessons 
that must be learned from them.   
One thing I might add, at this point is that I think the viewers might 
be interested in the fact that the look-out on top of this building, 
which I think was eight or nine stories, saw this unfolding down below.  
He saw the truck parked and the car rush away.  He started down trying 
to alert the people in the building and he was only able to get down one 
or two floors before the bomb went off.  It was estimated to be about 
three minutes after the truck was parked there -- probably a fuse of 
some kind, the experts say -- but I think that this was a very heroic 
act that he performed.  A citizen who's on top of the building saw what 
was happening and rather than saving himself he rushed down to alert 
many and many are alive today because of his heroism and hope to have a 
chance to meet him before I leave.   
QUESTION:  Are you going to reduce your forces in the region? 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  I would say absolutely not.  We will continue 
our necessary missions we need to involve in ensuring that there will 
not be a new round of aggression coming from Iraq.  We will continue to 
carry out that mission undeterred by today's events. 
FOREIGN MINISTER SAUD:  May I mention on a personal level that the 
gentlemen, who the Secretary was so kind to mention, who performed this 
heroic deed that saved many lives is Staff Sergeant Guerero, so to him 
goes our thanks and our gratitude.  Thank you. 
SECRETARY CHRISTOPHER:  If I could just add one phrase, and that is that 
it seems to me that every terrorist act only underscores the need to 
continue the search for peace.  The only long-term answer to this kind 
of terrorism is to produce a region at peace with itself and with its 
neighbors and I am sure that Prince Saud will join me in a recommitment 
to  search for peace in the region. 
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