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13 May 2003

Bush Denounces Terrorist Attacks in Saudi Arabia

(President says United States will find the killers) (830)
By Wendy S. Ross


Washington File White House Correspondent


Washington -- President Bush denounced the terrorist attacks at three
housing compounds for foreigners in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, as the work
of "killers whose only faith is hate" and said "the United States will
find the killers, and they will learn the meaning of American
justice."

Estimates of casualties in the attacks varied widely. Early press
reports said at least 29 persons, of whom ten were said to be U.S.
citizens, were killed and some 200 persons were injured in the four
attacks that occurred late May 12, and early May 13. In a Washington
speech May 13, Vice President Cheney said "some 91 people" were
killed.

"(T)he ruthless murder of American citizens and other citizens,
reminds us that the war on terror continues," Bush said. "My thoughts
and prayers and those of our fellow citizens are with the families of
the victims of yesterday's murder in Saudi Arabia. We pray for them.
We mourn the loss of life."

"(A)nytime anybody attacks our homeland, anytime anybody attacks our
fellow citizens, we'll be on the hunt, and we'll find them and they
will be brought to justice," he said.

Bush said "we've destroyed about one-half of al Qaeda, the top
operators of al Qaeda, and that's good. But we've got more work to do.
And the other half of them are going to get on the run, and we will
find them."

The president spoke at the Indiana State Fairgrounds as he continued a
Midwest tour to promote his proposed tax-cut and economic stimulus
plan. From Indiana Bush flew to Missouri.

In Pierce City, Missouri, Bush told reporters that "there's a lot of
suspicion" that al Qaeda is behind the bombings.

"Al Qaeda is a group of people that don't care about taking innocent
life. And obviously, these killers didn't care about innocent life.
And we'll find out. We'll find out -- we're going to find out," Bush
said.

And Secretary of State Colin Powell, as he toured the site of one of
the attacks in Riyadh May 13, said the bombings had "all the
fingerprints of an al Qaeda operation."

White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer told reporters on Air Force
One as they accompanied the president to Missouri that President Bush
"is angry" about what happened.

"Terrorists attacked our fellow citizens and took innocent lives. And
this is why this president has repeatedly said to this country that
this is a war against terror. And he is determined to wage it. That
terrorists will not be able to attack us with impunity, that we are
engaged in a battle and the enemy struck against us yesterday. And he
is determined to wage this war for whatever period of time it takes,
so we can prevail," the press secretary said.

Fleischer said the attacks are "a reminder to the American people that
the war is ongoing. And this is why our operations will continue
unabated, to round up, to arrest, to bring to justice, to work closely
with allied nations in the war against terror."

Fleischer reported that an FBI team has been dispatched to Saudi
Arabia to help investigate the bombings, and the State Department has
sent people to Riyadh hospitals "to identify whether or not United
States citizens are present." The State Department, he said, also has
established a unit to monitor subsequent developments and has set up
an 800 phone number and offices for families to contact to identify
U.S. citizens found.

In addition, the United States is working closely with the government
of Saudi Arabia as it investigates the bombings, Fleischer said.
"These terrorists have targeted the United States and other countries.
It's likely several other nations have been hit by this attack. Saudi
Arabia is the host country and we are working closely with the
Saudis," he said.

Asked if President Bush believes al Qaeda is involved in the car
bombings, Fleischer said, "I'm not going to engage in any speculation.
Obviously, we have some suspicions. But as for the president, the
president will await the word of the experts who review these
matters."

Asked about reports that some of the possible suspects may have ties
to Iran, Fleischer said, "There are numerous reports; they will all be
thoroughly looked through. I'm not going to speculate about any one or
other report."

Fleischer, in response to a question, said the attacks will not affect
in any way U.S. plans to pull its military out of Saudi Arabia.
"(T)his has no impact on our military operations," he said.

Fleischer said President Bush was first informed of the attacks
following a May 12 speech in Omaha, Nebraska. He later conferred by
phone with National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice and White House
Chief of Staff Andrew Card on the situation and "has been monitoring
events as events warrant."

(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International
Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site:
http://usinfo.state.gov)