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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Saudi Arabia Bombings Kill 10 Americans

Aired May 13, 2003 - 06:10   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Case you're wondering, 12,000 Americans live in Riyadh. Of course those attacks happened on the eve of Colin Powell's visit to Saudi Arabia, but they did not stop him. He is there now as scheduled.
We placed a "Wake-Up Call" to our State Department producer Elise Labott.

Good morning -- Elise.

ELISE LABOTT, CNN STATE DEPARTMENT PRODUCER: Good morning -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Elise, we understand Mr. Powell will tour one of those bombed out compounds. What else is he likely to do today?

LABOTT: Well, Carol, it couldn't have come at a worse time for the Saudi Kingdom on the eve of that visit. Secretary Powell's agenda was supposed to be dominated by post-war Iraq issues and the Israeli- Palestinian conflict, now, obviously, those attacks front and center.

There's been a lot of concern about the potential for a terrorist attack against Americans and American facilities in Saudi Arabia, specifically by al Qaeda. Earlier this month, the State Department issued a travel warning for American citizens citing information that al Qaeda was in the final phases of planning terrorist attacks against American interests. And officials say intelligence coming in as recently as this weekend suggested the threat was still there.

And viewers remember last week Saudi authorities seized 800 pounds of explosives, a huge stash of weapons and other equipment officials say was for use in a terrorist attack. And they did -- Saudi officials put out an all-out bulletin for 19 suspects, 17 of which were Saudi, believed to be linked to that weapons stash. And a Saudi official told us last night those explosives of a very high grade meant to inflict maximum damage and suggested that terrorists were planning something big.

So obviously Secretary Powell will want to continue with the other issues of his agenda, but certainly he's going to want to know what's going on with the investigation and recovery efforts, things like that -- Carol.

COSTELLO: And, Elise, Mr. Powell seems fairly certain al Qaeda is to blame, why?

LABOTT: Well there are several reasons that they've been talking about over the last 12 hours or so. First of all, of the simultaneous nature of the explosions. A number of explosions at once is an al Qaeda hallmark. The most recognizable example of that were the bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. But most recently, those bombings in Mombassa, Kenya believed to be the mark of al Qaeda. Plus the house that Saudi authorities seized that stash of explosives and weapons last week was also believed to be linked to al Qaeda, was in very close proximity to one of the bomb sites from last night.

And officials say these attacks could indeed be the ones that al Qaeda was in -- they felt was in the midst of the final planning stages, the ones that the U.S. has been worried about which lead them to issue that travel warning for Americans in Saudi Arabia.

And, Carol, we can't forget that Saudi Arabia is the birthplace of Osama bin Laden. And one of his main mandates, if you will, was -- has always been to get the U.S. military out of Saudi Arabia. So certainly that's on the mind of officials right now -- Carol.

COSTELLO: Yes, the irony here is that is actually going to happen now.

Elise Labott, thanks for waking up early with DAYBREAK. We appreciate it.

If you're concerned about family members in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, you can contact the Department of State. We have the number for you, 1-888-407-4747. If you're calling from outside of the United States, here's the number, 317-472-2328.

We'll have more on Saudi Arabia in just a moment.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM AT www.fdch.com




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