U.S. and Saudi officials are pledging they will cooperate to find those responsible for Monday's suicide car bombings in Riyadh that killed 34 people. At a rare news conference at the Saudi Embassy here in Washington, a top government spokesman pledged cooperation with U.S. investigators probing the suicide bombings.
Adel al-Jubeir, a foreign policy adviser to the Saudi crown prince, said Saudi Arabia and the United States are both in what he called "the crosshairs" of the al-Qaida terrorist organization. But he added that Monday attacks show that the Saudi government must improve its counter-terrorism efforts.
"Have we failed? Yes. On Monday, we failed," said Adel al-Jubeir. "And we will learn from this mistake. We will ensure that it does not happen again and, if anything, these tragic events of Monday have been a massive jolt to Saudi Arabia, to the United States, to all peace-loving people around the world that we have to redouble our efforts and we have to pursue the terrorists vigorously. We have to punish them mercilessly. We owe it to our people and we owe it to our residents."
The comments came in the wake of a warning from the U.S. State Department of the possibility of another terrorist attack in the Saudi city of Jeddah in the near future. A separate warning was also issued for Kenya.
Earlier this week, the U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Robert Jordan, complained on CBS television that Saudi officials did not act fast enough when U.S. officials alerted them to the possibility of a terrorist attack in the weeks leading up to the attacks in Riyadh.
"We continue to work with the Saudis on this, but they did not, as of the time of this particular tragic event, provide the security that we had requested," said Mr. Jordan. But on Friday, several U.S. officials praised Saudi cooperation in the war on terrorism.
Briefed reporters at the White House, presidential spokesman Ari Fleischer said, "This attack does serve as a reminder to the Saudi authorities and the Saudi government of the importance of taking on terrorism within their own country because this terrorism presents a threat not only to the United States and to Westerners living in Saudi Arabia, but to the Saudi government. And the reaction of the Saudi government has been good."
FBI Director Robert Mueller says the initial Saudi probe of the Riyadh attacks has been "thorough and expeditious." More FBI agents will head to Saudi Arabia soon to assist in the investigation.
Law enforcement cooperation between the United States and Saudi Arabia has been a problem in the past. U.S. officials say Saudi authorities limited their access to suspects in the 1996 Khobar Towers truck bombing that killed 19 American soldiers. Those suspects were beheaded before U.S. investigators could question them.