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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Renegade Businessman Suspected in Saudi Blast

DUBAI -- Osama bin Laden, named by U.S. officials as a prime suspect in two deadly bombings in Saudi Arabia, is a renegade businessman who has warned of a holy war against Americans in the homeland of Islam.

Counter-terrorism officials in Washington said Thursday they had received a report from a foreign intelligence service that bin Laden had taken credit for the bombings in telephone conversations and had vowed to strike again.

Some 24 American military personnel and two Indians were killed in the blasts in Riyadh last November and at a barracks in the eastern city of al-Khobar in June.

Bin Laden has denied involvement in the bombings but said they were warnings that the United States should withdraw its forces from Saudi Arabia.

Four Saudis who said in confessions on Saudi television that they were influenced by bin Laden and other Saudi dissidents were beheaded in May for the Riyadh bombing.

A Beirut newspaper close to Saudi circles said Thursday that Saudi authorities had arrested 11 people in connection with the June blast.

"They are being interrogated minutely and in utmost secrecy," al-Bayrak daily said, adding that Saudi Interior Minister Prince Nayef was following up the interrogation closely.

Saudi authorities have said nothing about the report.

In a 12-page statement published in the London-based Arabic-language newspaper al-Quds al-Arabi in August, bin Laden called for a jihad, or holy war, "against the Americans who are occupying the land of the two shrines" -- Saudi Arabia.

He referred to the American forces in the Gulf -- more than 20,000 with scores of aircraft and warships according to the United States -- as a "crusader" army.

Saudi Arabia is home to Islam's two most sacred shrines in the cities of Mecca and Medina. King Fahd styles himself Custodian of the Two Holy Shrines.

Bin Laden had earlier said: "I believe that sooner or later the Americans will leave Saudi Arabia and that the war declared by America against the Saudi people means war against all Moslems everywhere."

The U.S. State Department recently called bin Laden "one of the most significant sponsors of Islamic extremist activities in the world today."

The rebel financier, son of a Saudi construction magnate, was stripped of his Saudi citizenship in 1994. He is reckoned by some Middle East sources to command a fortune of $300 million.