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Bush Says He Would Not Be Surprised if al-Qaida Behind Saudi Bombing - 2003-05-13

President Bush says he would not be surprised to find al-Qaida terrorists were behind Monday's suicide bombings in Saudi Arabia that claimed at least 29 lives. Mr. Bush vows those responsible will be tracked down and brought to justice.

The president says all the facts must still be sorted out. But he leaves no doubt he suspects an al-Qaida link. "I can't say for certain it was al-Qaida yet. But I wouldn't be surprised if it was," he said.

Mr. Bush spoke to reporters while inspecting damage from a killer tornado that struck last week in the town of Pierce City, Missouri. He said he would learn more about the bombings after his return to Washington and that he would be briefed by the head of the Central Intelligence Agency.

"George Tenet of the CIA will give me a full briefing on what we know. Let me get back to Washington and sort through the facts," he said.

He brushed away questions on whether Saudi Arabia did enough to prevent the bombings. But his determination to find those responsible for the attack was very much in evidence.

"We will assess all the threats. We will take the necessary precautions," he said. "But one thing is for certain. The people that killed Americans and other innocent life will be tracked down and will be brought to justice. It doesn't matter how long it takes."

President Bush was informed of the bombings Monday while traveling in the American midwest. Aides described his reaction to the news in one word: "anger."

The bombings comprised the first major attack on U-S targets since the war in Iraq. The president said it was a reminder to all that the war on terrorism goes on.

"And this incident in Saudi Arabia shows the country that we still have got a war to fight," he said. "And we will fight it. And we will win it."

He said the suicide bombings appear to have been well-planned, although he noted it does not take much money to construct a car bomb. "It takes hatred. It takes hatred in your heart. It takes an absolute disregard for innocent life," he said.

Earlier, the president called the bombings "despicable acts." He told a crowd in Indianapolis, Indiana, these acts were committed by killers whose only faith is hate.