Report: Saudi Arabia Sentences People for Attack on U.S. Servicemen

Saudi Arabia has sentenced some of the people it arrested for the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing that killed 19 U.S. servicemen and injured hundreds, the deputy interior minister was quoted as saying Saturday.

Prince Ahmed, however, did not say how many people were sentenced or what the sentences were. The verdicts "must be announced at the right time," the brother of King Fahd said in an interview with newspaper al-Jazirah.

Last June, the United States indicted 14 people – 13 Saudis and a Lebanese – for the 1996 bombing by members of the dissident Saudi Hezbollah group on the complex in Dhahran, near Khobar. Some of the indicted, who are charged with murder, attempted murder and conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction, are in Saudi jails.

The United States does not have an extradition treaty with Saudi Arabia, and the kingdom said that since it wasn't consulted, it would not recognize the indictments. U.S. officials have criticized Saudi Arabia for not cooperating.

In the interview, Ahmed said the suspects in the bombing, except for two or three still at large, had been sentenced under Islamic law.

"The sentences will go to a higher court, then to the supreme justice council and then to the king for approval," Prince Ahmed was quoted as saying. Under Islamic sharia law, all sentences must go through several stages of ratification before they are carried out.

The kingdom, which follows a strict interpretation of Islamic law, imposes the death penalty for murder, rape, armed robbery and drug trafficking.

Efforts to reach officials for comment Saturday were unsuccessful.

Interior Minister Prince Nayef said last June that two Saudis and a Lebanese suspected in the bombing were still at large.

He identified one of them as Ibrahim al-Mughasil, and demanded that the United States cooperate closely with Saudi Arabia in bringing the suspects to justice.

The United States has had military forces in Saudi Arabia since the buildup to the 1990 Gulf War.

Saudi dissident Usama bin Laden, the prime suspect in the Sept. 11 terror attacks, has called for expulsion of U.S. troops from the kingdom, home to Islam's two holiest sites. Fifteen of the 19 Sept. 11 suicide hijackers were Saudis.