- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 26, 2001

Former FBI Director Louis J. Freeh yesterday promised family members of the U.S. servicemen killed in a 1996 terrorist attack in Saudi Arabia that federal authorities will continue to pursue the case to ensure that those responsible are brought to justice.
During a "No Greater Love" ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery to honor the victims of the June 25, 1996, bombing of the Khobar Towers apartment complex in Dhahran that killed 19 U.S. airmen, Mr. Freeh said the federal indictments last week of 14 suspects in the case was "only the beginning."
"We made a promise to you … that we will not forget," he said. "This case marks … only a milestone, only a beginning, a case that requires continued diligence, good faith and hard work, which I pledge on behalf of my colleagues in the Department of Justice, the FBI and the Air Force.
"We will pursue this matter, as I've said to you before, to whatever end, to whatever consequence, to whatever logical and just conclusion, and you have my promise that I will do whatever I can to see that that occurs in the years to come," said Mr. Freeh, who left as FBI director Friday after serving eight years of a 10-year term.
On Thursday, a federal grand jury in Alexandria indicted 13 Saudi militants and a Lebanese chemist in the Khobar attack on charges of murder, attempted murder of federal employees, conspiracy to commit murder, and conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction.
Included in the indictments was the leader of the Saudi Hezbollah terrorist organization, Abdel Karim Nasser; the head of the group's military wing, Ahmed Mughassil; along with members of terrorist cells in Saudi Arabia who planned and carried out the attack.
None of the 14 suspects, however, is in U.S. custody, and it remains unclear when — and if — the United States will get access to them. Officials in Saudi Arabia have criticized the indictment, saying the American government had no right to take legal action in the case.
The United States does not have an extradition treaty with Saudi Arabia, where some of the suspected terrorists are believed to be held.
Attorney General John Ashcroft, who was visiting federal law enforcement authorities in Florida yesterday and did not attend the Arlington ceremony, said in a statement the Justice Department would continue to "investigate, prosecute and bring to justice" those responsible for the Khobar attack. He told the family members, "We owe you that and more."
Mr. Freeh described the attack as "an act of war against the United States" and said work is needed to continue to ensure that the U.S. government accomplishes "the things I know you want done and justice wants done with respect for their memory."
"I'm not a diplomat; I'm not a politician; I'm a policeman, and that's the way I conducted this case," he said. "And I want to assure you that all the decisions that have been made to date have been made on the basis of a policeman, and not as a diplomat or a politician.
"And I pledge and hope that that will continue, and there are many, many people very devoted to this case who will ensure that that will continue," he said.
Mr. Freeh described the Khobar investigation as "very difficult," but said it continued as a monument to the "bravery and the courage" of those who died in the attack.
"I remember being at Dhahran, Khobar, several days after the attack, and I was as close to your loved ones in death, I think, as anybody could be," he said. "Over the years, the price of liberty has been a steep one, and the sacrifice that these young men gave and the sacrifice that you give every day and will give every day is one that enables this great country to remain a beacon of liberty for those here and also for those around the world."

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