A Fire Underground

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KHOBAR, Saudi Arabia: FBI investigators are looking into whether a homegrown Saudi terrorist movement might be behind Tuesday's attack. The London Al-Arab newspaper received a phone call on Wednesday claiming the previously unknown "Legion of the Martyr Abdullah al-Huzaifi" was responsible for the bombing, and threatening more attacks if the foreign troops "occupying the holy Saudi land" did not leave. In Khobar, the investigation of the cordoned-off blast site is underway. An FBI team equipped to search through the rubble for clues is hunting for pieces of the fuel truck that carried the 5,000-pound bomb. Even before the phone call claiming responsibility, suspicion had begun to settle on Islamic fundamentalists opposed to the U.S. presence in Saudi Arabia. At least one of these shadowy extremist groups threatened the U.S. with retaliation after four of its members were beheaded by the Saudi government for their involvement in a car bomb attack that killed five U.S. citizens last November. "The Islamic fundamentalist movement in Saudi Arabia is a loose collection of different underground groups following a similar ideology," says TIME's Middle East correspondent Scott MacLeod. "In Saudi Arabia, there is no legal Islamic opposition to the government. These groups are not organized political bodies like Hamas or Hizballah, but the Saudis and the United States are taking them seriously anyway." Even in tightly controlled Saudi Arabia, says MacLeod, these groups are dangerous. "Some members of these bands fought in Afghanistan, possibly gaining military experience there. If one of them did attack the compound in Dhahran, they showed considerable technical expertise." -->