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The BBC's Caroline Hawley
"The Saudi interior minister said the authorities had more information, but were not going to reveal it yet"
 real 28k

Sunday, 4 February, 2001, 23:21 GMT
Westerners confess to Saudi bombs
Briton Alexander Mitchell confessing to bomb attack on Saudi TV
Alexander Mitchell looked nervous as confessed
Saudi Arabian television has shown pictures of a British man, a Canadian and a Belgian confessing their involvement in a bombing campaign in the kingdom.

I confirm and confess that I received orders to carry out the bombing in Riyadh on 17 November

Alexander Mitchell
The three men, who were shown separately sitting behind a desk, appeared nervous as they told of their roles in the car bombings in the Saudi capital in November.

One man was killed and at least five people were injured when two bombs exploded in Riyadh.

There was no mention of who issued the orders, or the bombers' motive. The Canadian, William Sampson, and the Belgian, Raaf Schifte, were also quoted as admitting their involvement.

Roadblock after Riyadh blast
There was speculation the blasts were political
A voice-over in Arabic quoted one man, identified as Alexander Mitchell from Britain , saying: "I confirm and confess that I received orders to carry out the bombing in Riyadh on 17 November."

Another Briton, Christopher Rodway died in the attack.

Mr Mitchell said that he and the two other men were all involved in the second car bombing on 22 November, which injured three Britons and an Irish woman.

If convicted of the bombings, the men will face execution by the sword under Saudi law.

Two months of bombs
17 Nov: Man killed, woman injured in Riyadh
22 Nov: At least three injured in Riyadh
15 Dec: Man seriously injured in Khobar, Eastern Province
14 Jan: Bomb defused without injury in Riyadh
The Saudi Interior Ministry says nine others are still under arrest in connection with the blasts, all of them non-Saudis.

Motive unclear

The men also described how they planted the explosives in the two cars and used remote control devices to detonate them.

They also pointed out the location of the victims' homes and the sites of the blasts on a street map.

Mr Schifter said he was only involved in the second bombing after he had overheard Mr Mitchell and Mr Sampson discussing the first blast.

William Sampson
Canadian suspect William Sampson gives his confession
Both he and Mr Mitchell said they worked at Saudi military hospitals, while Mr Sampson said he worked as a marketing consultant at the Saudi Industrial Development Fund.

Saudi Interior Minister Prince Nayef said on television before the apparent confessions were aired that authorities knew who "the source" for the explosives was and would reveal further details at a later stage.

The Saudi authorities have been playing down speculation of a political motive for the bombings, and have suggested that they may be linked with illegal trading in alcohol.

Anti-western connection

A Saudi dissident based in London, Dr Saad Al-Faqih, says he believes the car bombs were planted by small local groups with a grudge against the West.

He says they do not have the resources to mount a major attack like the one on a US warship in Aden harbour in October and so go for softer targets such as British expatriates.

A spokeswoman from the UK Foreign Office said British diplomats had not been forewarned of the broadcast nor of the confessions themselves.

Speaking late on Sunday, she said: "We are currently seeking official confirmation of what was alleged. We do not expect any further updates tonight."

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See also:

16 Dec 00 | Middle East
Saudi bombers 'must be caught soon'
23 Nov 00 | Middle East
UK helps probe Saudi bomb
23 Nov 00 | Middle East
New Saudi car blast
17 Nov 00 | Middle East
Briton killed in Saudi blast
13 Oct 00 | Middle East
The West in danger
20 Jul 00 | Country profiles
Country profile: Saudi Arabia
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