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Bomb Suspect's Actions Imperil Deal With U.S.

May 30, 1997| From Reuters

OTTAWA — A suspect wanted in the truck bombing in Saudi Arabia that killed 19 U.S. servicemen last year has dismissed his lawyer and said he does not want to cooperate with U.S. authorities, the attorney said Thursday.

"He said, 'No deal, no cooperation,' and that was it," lawyer Doug Baum said. "If he gets rid of me, then there's no way for this deal to go ahead. He's burned his bridges."

The suspect, Hani Abdel Rahim Hussein Sayegh, was charged in Canadian court documents as the driver of a car that gave the go-ahead signal for the bomb-laden truck involved in the attack last year on the Khobar Towers.

U.S. officials have long sought to question Sayegh about the June attack on the compound that housed U.S. military personnel in Dhahran in eastern Saudi Arabia. The bombing killed 19 Americans and injured hundreds.

Canada issued a conditional deportation order against Sayegh on May 14 but has not stipulated where he should go.

The leading candidates are Saudi Arabia and the United States, but if he refuses to give evidence on who was behind the attack, it is uncertain that Washington will want him unless it has an iron-clad case against him.

Baum said Sayegh, who had said he fears for his life if he returns to Saudi Arabia, had until Thursday to make a presentation to Citizenship and Immigration Minister Lucienne Robillard but did not do so.

U.S. officials said the problem has been reaching a firm agreement with Sayegh. Among the issues to be resolved are his legal status when brought to the United States and what considerations, if any, he might receive if he cooperated.

"They are very fragile discussions. They have gone back and forth for some time. He's very wishy-washy," one official said. "He keeps changing his mind" on whether he will cooperate and what he will receive in return.

Officials said it still had to be decided whether Sayegh would be brought to the United States as a witness, a subject of the investigation or a suspect.

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