Ex-FBI Director Testifies in Khobar Bombing

Former FBI Director Louis Freeh (search) testified in court Tuesday against the government of Iran on behalf of victims' families in the bombing of a U.S. military apartment building in Saudi Arabia (search) that killed 19 Air Force personnel.

In testimony that lasted less than five minutes, Freeh renewed some of his past assertions about an Iranian role in the terrorist bombing that also wounded hundreds of people on June 25, 1996.

If the government allows it, Freeh may testify more extensively in the lawsuit on behalf of the victims' families, who are seeking compensation for their losses.

A U.S. criminal case is pending against 13 Saudis and a Lebanese man for the bombing of the Khobar Towers (search), in Dhahran, which housed U.S. pilots and support crews enforcing the no-fly zone over southern Iraq.

Among those testifying in the case, Air Force Col. Doug Cochran recounted that the force of the nighttime blast threw him across a room and he wound up lying "face down in a pile of glass." He and others made their way floor-by-floor through the dormitory tower, pulling the wounded from the wreckage.

In 2002 congressional testimony admitted in the lawsuit, Freeh said direct evidence strongly indicated that the 1996 bombing was sanctioned, funded and directed by senior officials of the government of Iran. The Ministry of Intelligence and Security and Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps were culpable for carrying out the operation, Freeh testified.

The conspirators were "acting on orders from the highest levels of the regime in Tehran," Freeh wrote in a Wall Street Journal article introduced in the lawsuit.

Those indicted in the case remain fugitives, some of whom are believed to be in Iran.

Freeh took an intense interest in the criminal case, traveling to Saudi Arabia repeatedly to seek cooperation from Saudi officials, who "put their own interests aside to aid the FBI and the United States," Freeh said in congressional testimony.

Freeh has strongly criticized the Clinton administration's handling of the Khobar Towers bombing. He praised the Bush administration for obtaining the criminal indictment "with exactly the same evidence" that the Clinton administration had but with a new prosecutor, James Comey, the acting deputy attorney general.