Khobar Towers bombing

From Academic Kids

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Building #131 after the explosion

Khobar Towers is part of an Al-Khobar, Saudi Arabia housing complex near Dhahran. In 1996, it was being used to house foreign military personnel. On June 25, 1996, guerrillas, identified by the U.S. as members of Hezbollah, exploded a fuel truck adjacent to Building #131 in the housing complex. This eight story building mostly housed United States Air Force personnel from the 4404th Fighter Wing. In all, 19 U.S. servicemen and one Saudi were killed and 372 wounded. This is known as the Khobar Towers bombing.

According to the United States, a group of men who wanted to remove Americans from Saudi Arabia organized the attack. They smuggled explosives into Saudi Arabia from Lebanon. They purchased a fuel truck in Saudi Arabia and converted it into a bomb. It contained 3,000 to 5,000 pounds of explosives.

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Around 10:00 pm on the night of the attack they drove three vehicles, two cars and the bomb truck, to a parking lot adjacent to building #131. A chain link security fence separated the parking lot from the compound. Building #131 was adjacent to the fence. The first car entered the parking lot and signalled the others by flashing headlights. The bomb truck and a getaway vehicle followed shortly after. The men parked the truck next to the fence and left in the third vehicle. The bomb exploded between three and four minutes later.

An American sentry, Air Force Staff Sergeant Alfredo R. Guerrero, was stationed atop Building #131. He witnessed the men, recognized it as a threat, reported it to security, and began evacuating the building. His action is credited with saving dozens of lives. Many of the evacuees were in the stairwell when the bomb went off. The stairwell was on the side of the building away from the truck bomb, perhaps the safest location in the building.

Another measure also is thought to have minimized damage. Along the security fence were Jersey barriers, concrete barriers commonly used along roadways. These deflected the blast from the lower floors of the building, perhaps preventing a total collapse.

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The crater remaining after the truck bomb explosion, building #131 is on the right

The force of the explosion was enormous. It heavily damaged or destroyed six high rise apartment buildings in the complex. Windows were shattered in virtually every other building in the compound. An enormous crater, 85 feet wide and 35 feet deep, was left where the truck had been. The blast was even felt by some 20 miles away in the Persian Gulf state of Bahrain.

On June 21, 2001 an indictment was issued in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Virginia charging the following people with murder, conspiracy, and other charges related to the bombing:

The remaining five -- Sa'ed Al-Bahar, Saleh Ramadan, Ali Al-Marhoun, Mustafa Al-Mu'alem and Fadel Al-Alawe

In 2004, the 9/11 Commission noted the possibility that Osama bin Laden may have helped the group, possibly by helping to obtain explosives and possibly with assistance from Iran.

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