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U.S. searches for clues to Saudi attacks

From Chris Plante
CNN

One of the buildings damaged in Monday's attacks in Saudi Arabia.
One of the buildings damaged in Monday's attacks in Saudi Arabia.

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U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell condemns the 'cowardly individuals' behind the attacks.
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A witness describes gunfire and an explosion at one of the targeted compounds.
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- U.S. officials are reviewing intelligence collected over the past several weeks for any clues in the terrorist attacks on residential complexes in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, U.S. defense officials said Tuesday.

In addition, U.S. military forces in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere in the region --already on a high alert because of possible terrorism and the war in Iraq -- are reviewing security procedures and posture in light of Monday night's attacks.

U.S. and Saudi intelligence officials had issued warnings that al Qaeda appeared to be planning attacks against Western interests in Saudi Arabia, prompting increased attention to counterterrorist security at military and civilian facilities in the kingdom.

Specific security measures for U.S. forces in Saudi Arabia and throughout the region are not ordinarily made public. But defense officials said Tuesday that when the threat of a terrorist attack appears imminent -- or immediately afterward -- it is normal for commanders to raise security posture to its highest level, known as Force Protection Condition Delta.

Neither the U.S. State Department nor the Saudi government has requested any U.S. military assistance following the attacks, according to a spokesman for U.S. Central Command.

Most of about 5,000 U.S. military troops in Saudi Arabia are based at Prince Sultan Air Base, which is in a remote desert location.

The decision to locate U.S. forces at this highly secure base came after a 1995 bombing in Riyadh that killed five Americans and a 1996 attack on a U.S. Air Force housing complex near Dhahran that killed 19 airmen.

Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden's anger with the United States stems in part from a decision by Saudi Arabia -- home to Islam's holiest sites -- to allow U.S. troops to be stationed there during the Persian Gulf War.

After the Gulf War, the U.S. military presence became permanent.

U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld announced last month that virtually all U.S. forces will be moved out of the Saudi base to neighboring Qatar.


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