Department of Justice Seal




(202) 616-2777


TDD (202) 514-1888



WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Justice Department has informed Hani El-Sayegh, a Saudi Arabian citizen who has been in removal proceedings since October 1997, that he will soon be removed from the United States and sent to Saudi Arabia.

El-Sayegh is suspected of involvement in the attack on U.S. forces in Khobar, Saudi Arabia in 1996 and faces charges there in connection with the attack.

In June 1997, El-Sayegh was paroled into the United States from Canada. After he failed to abide by an initial plea agreement with the Justice Department concerning a separate case, the Justice Department terminated his parole in October 1997, and placed him in removal proceedings.

Shortly thereafter, El-Sayegh sought immigration relief, including a claim under the Convention Against Torture. But, last week, after a thorough review of his claims, the Justice Department determined that El-Sayegh was not entitled to remain in this country and that his removal to Saudi Arabia was appropriate.

As a result, last Wednesday, Attorney General Janet Reno authorized the removal of El-Sayegh and informed his attorneys of the decision.

Deputy Attorney General Eric H. Holder issued the following statement:

"Last week, Attorney General Janet Reno authorized the removal of Hani El-Sayegh following close consultation with the Secretary of State and other senior Administration officials.

"The decision to defer prosecution in the United States in favor of prosecution in Saudi Arabia was based on several factors, including the fact that 1) the U.S. does not presently have evidence which it can use in a U.S. court to prosecute El-Sayegh for the Khobar attack, 2) the Saudi Arabian government believes it has a basis for prosecuting El-Sayegh for the Khobar attack under its legal system; and, 3) Saudi Arabia has cooperated with the United States in the investigation of the Khobar case, has several other individuals detained pending trial in this case, and has, in the past, demonstrated resolve in the prosecution of terrorists.

"The U.S. investigation of the attack at Khobar is on-going. We are investigating information concerning the involvement of Saudi nationals, Iranian government officials and others. And we have not reached a conclusion regarding whether the attack was directed by the government of Iran.

"Our investigation into the Khobar bombing will continue, as will our law enforcement efforts to combat terrorism on all fronts.

"We are determined to see that those responsible are brought to justice, and our record demonstrates that we are prepared to persevere until we are successful. For instance, in the case of the attack at CIA headquarters it took four years of constant effort to bring the guilty party into custody, and he was then tried and convicted. In the case of the World Trade Center bombings, it took approximately two years to apprehend several of the indictees so that they could answer for their crimes. And, in the case of Pan Am 103, it took eleven years to bring accused parties to justice, and soon they will be tried.

"In the case of the attack on Khobar towers and the terrorist murder of 19 Americans there, the United States will remain unceasing in its efforts to achieve justice. U.S. law enforcement will continue the vigorous pursuit of the investigation and, more broadly, their program to defeat terrorism worldwide."

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