A view of the Khobar Towers, destroyed in 1996. (Saleh Rifai / AP)

Interviews with more than a dozen former FBI, CIA and other federal officials found compelling evidence that the 1996 bombing of a U.S. Air Force barracks in Saudi Arabia was carried out by Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida — not Iran-supported Saudi Hezbollah, as U.S. officials claim.

The findings are significant, writes independent investigative reporter Gareth Porter, because the attack “remains a key part of the litany supporting a coercive US policy toward Iran.”

Published in 2009, Porter’s findings are again relevant because the man accused of planning the attack — Ahmed Ibrahim Al-Mughassil, a Saudi Shiite oppositionist — is reported to have been captured in Beirut on Aug. 8.

At Truthout, Porter summarized the findings:

The official Khobar Towers investigation led by FBI Director Louis Freeh was precooked to arrive at the outcome that had been politically determined by the White House.

The only evidence of Saudi Shi’a involvement in the bombing was from confessions obtained by torture by Saudi secret police.

The investigation ignored compelling evidence that Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda – not Iran-supported Saudi Hezbollah” – planned and executed the bombing.

“From the beginning of the investigation,” Porter continues, “the FBI and CIA were determined to focus solely on evidence of Iranian involvement and to exclude leads linking al Qaeda to the blast. FBI and CIA experts on bin Laden who offered to assist in the investigation were rebuffed. Jack Cloonan, a member of the FBI’s I-49 unit, which had investigated previous terrorist actions by bin Laden, recalled that when he offered his unit’s assistance on the probe to the Washington Field Office (WFO), he was told to ‘fuck off.’ “

Read more from Porter here.

— Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

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