Shia or Sunni?

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OTTAWA, Ontario: U.S. officials are continuing efforts to have Hani Al-Sayegh extradited a day after Canada accused him of participating in the Khobar towers bombing in Saudi Arabia last year that killed 19 U.S. soldiers. Hearings will begin on April 28 to decide whether Al-Sayegh will be sent to the U.S. or back to Saudi Arabia, where he could face the death penalty. FBI agents are anxious to question Al-Sayegh, since the Saudi government has so far not allowed them access to any suspect in the case. According to a report from the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, Al-Sayegh is a member of the Saudi Hizballah, a group with ties to Iran. If true, the news poses a difficult diplomatic problem for the U.S. of how to retaliate against a growing power in the Persian Gulf, notes TIME's Scott MacLeod. "A military response could escalate anti-American feeling throughout the Gulf, already high because of American support for Israel in the Palestinian crisis. On the other hand, U.S. officials would be dismayed to learn that the Khobar blast was the work of Saudi Sunnis, since this would suggest a deeper opposition to the pro-American Saudi regime than had previously been thought." Although the Saudi government would like to have Al-Sayegh returned, don't look for any moves that might upset Iran until after the annual Haj to Mecca concludes in mid-April, MacLeod notes. "The pilgrimage of hundreds of thousands of devout Muslims is a major source of prestige for the Al Saud family throughout the world, and the Saudi government is determined to make it go as smoothly as possible. It will not be eager to antagonize anybody at such a delicate moment, least of all Iran, which has stirred up trouble at Mecca in previous years."