The revolutionary Khomeinist movement succeeded in reviving many fundamentalist movements. After Khomeini's arrival in Tehran, Bin Laden described Khomeini as "great”, wishing to achieve a similar dream in Saudi Arabia.
Starting in the 1980s, Bin Laden gained knowledge from the experiences of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, Hezbollah and Imad Mughniyah who later become an ally for assisting in bombings, including the Khobar operation in 1996.
The cooperation between Iran, its branches, affiliates and Al-Qaeda is familiar to Americans. When Saudi Arabia insisted on conducting an investigation into the circumstances of the bombing, a long story unfolded, as recounted by Prince Bandar bin Sultan. He bitterly narrated the suspicious deal between the Clinton team and Iran to tamper with the investigation and kill it after leads showed Iran's explicit involvement in supporting the perpetrators of the bombings in question.
Clinton appointed then-FBI director Louis Freeh to cooperate with the Saudis to complete the investigation, and told him “to leave no stone unturned”.
If the world is serious about combating terrorism, then fighting and besieging evil states should be the first step towards achieving this goal.Fahad Suleiman Shoqiran
Iran’s hand in Khobar blast
William Simpson in his book ‘The Prince’, which is a biography of Prince Bandar, reveals the complications that occurred, including the dispute between the Clinton administration and the FBI. This is in addition to the hesitation due to the legal jurisdiction of the FBI’s work outside the US. He differentiated between the National Guard bombings and the Khobar bombings and noted that the latter’s victims were Americans, hence, as much as it violates Saudi sovereignty and security, American families need a clear result after the investigation.
According to Simpson, Freeh noted two important findings; the discovery of Iranian involvement at the highest levels made the kingdom subject to retaliate against due to any action taken against Iran, even more than the United States. The second thing is that the Saudis approved of legal procedures to record the statements and the evidence provided by witnesses in Saudi Arabia in the presence of American prosecutors, the lawyer of the accused, and an American judge, and to take this material to the United States and use them in any American trial.
What is shocking about the whole issue is that Freeh himself admitted that the bombing was not just an attack perpetrated by Hezbollah Al-Hejaz, but was a whole operation financed and carried out by the senior leadership of the Iranian government from abroad.
Freeh admits that Saudi Arabia succeeded against all odds to extensively complete the investigation. Freeh stated that Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz and Prince Bandar bin Sultan were confident of Iran being behind the bombings.
A disagreement then occurred between Freeh and Sandy Berger, the former National Security Adviser. The latter warned against political repercussions on the United States if the investigation results accuse Iran. Prince Bander responded by saying: "We do not want to be accused of pushing you into war”.
The whole administration was in line with Sandy's position. A lengthy narration of details by Simpson about what Prince Bandar said, showed that it became clear in 1997 that the US administration was lenient in its investigation, choosing to go cold. He said that the administration intentionally left the investigation unanswered, while it focused its efforts on improving ties with Iran’s moderate government.
The Saudis felt coldness on the part of the Americans when the investigation proved the involvement of Iran. As for Saudi ambassador to the United States Prince Bandar, he said: "If George W. Bush or Reagan was instead of Clinton and I provide the evidence we had submitted to the US administration, Iran would have been invaded. I am certain of that."
Delaying the investigation results and killing them off was the major path in which Clinton issued a statement in April 1999 extending a hand to Iran. The US decided that dealing as such with the investigation was up to it since the victims were all Americans. Freeh’s case was thus crushed. Prince Bandar bitterly commented on this ominous deal, stating: "I and Freeh felt the worst abuse of power. Sandy pushed towards aborting all charges and was glad that no one had known, therefore: (Keep your mouth shut).”
Simpson also said that weakening the investigation regarding the Khobar Towers bombing is the most obvious example of the long mistrust and deep-seated hostility between Clinton and Freeh, adding that the hostility turned into a deep divide and the White House was cold about following up on the Khobar case.
This brief summary, extensively narrated in the book, shows the extent of hit and run between the international community and Iran. The latter has been rewarded for carrying out catastrophic terrorist operations. Clinton delayed the investigation in the Khobar bombings and Obama turned his back on his main allies and engaged in flattering Iran, the primary passage of all forms of terrorism around the world.
What’s more alarming is Hassan Nasrallah boasting that Hezbollah was offered a deal worth a billion-dollar by the Obama administration through a European mediator. All this has happened and then the world wonders about the source of terrorism and the reason behind its perpetual spread!
Iran today has militias in Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Lebanon and Africa, and which it directly funds without any deterrence. If the world is serious about combating terrorism, then fighting and besieging evil states should be the first step towards achieving this goal. This information shows the extent of the catastrophe in terms of how the world's major powers are dealing with Iran.
Vali Nasr, a former adviser during the Obama administration, narrated in one of his books that in a frank argument with the president, late King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz angrily said to him: “Cut off the snake's head”.
The article is also available in Arabic.
Fahad Shoqiran is a Saudi writer and researcher who also founded the Riyadh philosophers group. His writings have appeared in pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat, Alarabiya.net, among others. He also blogs on philosophies, cultures and arts. He tweets @shoqiran.