U.S. Steps up Pressure on Saudis

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WASHINGTON: In a coordinated salvo of criticism, Attorney General Janet Reno and FBI Director Louis Freeh lashed out at Saudi Arabia for withholding important evidence in its investigation of the deadly bombing of a U.S. military housing complex in Dhahran last June. The attack killed 19 servicemen and has not been solved. Reno said the Saudis had repeatedly failed to turn over "some very important information" crucial for the FBI "to assess what action should be taken." Freeh complained that Saudi authorities had provided him in many cases with mere "hearsay." TIME's Elaine Shannon reports that the remarks are signs of sheer frustration in the Clinton Administration over months of Saudi stonewalling. "This is terrorism, a murder conspiracy investigation, so the FBI wants to know everything about the suspects, their communications, their support and financial networks, the device they used." Investigators are especially steamed that they have not been given access to some 30 suspects detained in the case. "You have to do in-depth interviews and not just look at summaries to assess their credibility and whether they made statements under duress," explains Shannon. The FBI reportedly has doubts about Saudi Arabia's contention that Iran masterminded the bombing. King Fahd has balked at U.S. requests for such information before. Last year, his security forces beheaded four men convicted of killing five Americans in Riyadh in 1995 without letting the FBI interrogate them. This time, Freeh is not willing to be so patient.