Dow Jones Business News
April 16, 1997

Iran Opposition Group: Tehran Behind Khobar Towers Bombing

WASHINGTON -- An Iranian opposition group that seeks to replace the current regime in Tehran said Wednesday it has evidence linking the government of Iran with the al-Khobar towers bombing last June, which killed 19 U.S. servicemen.

The National Council of Resistance of Iran, which describes itself as Iran's parliament in exile, told reporters that it has credible evidence linking Tehran to the bombing. The NCRI has offices around the world that track Iran's terrorist activities, spokesman Alireza Jafarzadeh said.

The U.S. State Department had no immediate reaction to the group's claims, other than to say it doesn't maintain a dialogue with the group. Sources familar with the group cautioned that it doesn't have much credibility within the U.S. government.

The group's claims are the latest in a series that accuse the Iranian government of directly or indirectly playing a role in the June bombing. Saudi Arabia has told Washington it believes Iran sponsored the attack. Canadian authorities are holding a 28-year old Saudi Shiite Muslim that Ottawa believes participated in the bombing. The man, Hani Abd Rahim al-Sayegh, is a member of the Saudi Hezbollah, considered an offshoot ofthe Iranian-sponsored Hezbollah terrorist group.

In addition, The Washington Post reported Sunday that U.S. and Saudi intelligence have determined Brig. Gen. Ahmad Sherifi, a senior Iranian intelligence officer, met about two years before the bombing with al-Sayegh.

The group told reporters that the Dhahran bombing was a joint operation of the Iranian Intelligence Ministry and the Revolutionary Guards Corps; the Corps is led by Brig. Gen. Ahmad Sherefi.

Sherefi, who has been identified by the U.S. media as a high-ranking commander of the Revolutionary Guards, actually commands the six corps of the Qods Force, which the opposition group described as the main terrorism group in Iran.

The agents allegedly responsible for the al-Khobar attack trained at the Iman Sadeq Training Base in Iran before flying to Damascus from which the terrorists allegedly entered Saudi Arabia to carry out the attack.

The detail of the operation suggests that Iran's top leaders ordered terrorist attacks broad, the opposition group said.

'The policy of sanctions adopted by the U.S. has therefore been an appropriate approach. This policy, contrary to what some in Europe might assert, has been successful in qualitatively limiting the regime's capabilities,' said Sarvi Chitsaz, a representative of the group.

'We believe that in light of this inrefutable evidence, the U.S. should refer the matter to the U.N. Security Council to implement global sanctions against the mullahs in Iran,' Chitsaz said.

The group said its evidence for these charges comes from its own intelligence sources inside and outside of Iran.

By Laurie Lande