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FBI director traveling to Mideast

Sunday, June 1, 2003

WASHINGTON -- FBI director Robert Mueller is traveling overseas this week on a tour that will include a stop in the Middle East.

An FBI spokesman said Mueller left yesterday on a foreign trip, but he declined to confirm a Time magazine report that the director would be stopping in Saudi Arabia to thank the Saudis for their cooperation following the May 12 suicide bombings in Riyadh.

A federal law enforcement source speaking on the condition of anonymity, however, said Mueller will visit the kingdom, and possibly make a trip to Morocco as well.

Both countries have been hit in the past month by terrorist bombings.

In the Saudi attacks, the suicide assailants detonated car bombs in three housing compounds for foreigners -- killing 25 bystanders, including eight Americans.

Days later, on May 16, Casablanca, Morocco, was rocked by nearly simultaneous attacks that killed 31 innocents.

Terrorists believed to be linked to al-Qaida are suspected in the bombings.

After questions about the Saudis' commitment to fighting terrorism, the kingdom launched a sweeping crackdown on extremists. Last Tuesday, authorities arrested 11 terror suspects, including three clerics known to be al-Qaida sympathizers.

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