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Clinton Vows Terrorists Will Be Punished

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 2, 1996 – The United States will not rest in its efforts to capture, prosecute and punish those responsible for the terrorist bombing at Khobar Towers in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, according to President Clinton.

The 19 airmen killed in the June 25 attack were "felled by hands of hatred in an act whose savagery is matched only by its cowardice," Clinton said June 30 during memorial services in Florida.

"America stands with you in your sorrow and your outrage," the president told families, friends and fellow service members at services at Eglin and Patrick Air Force bases. Of the 19 victims, 12 were from Eglin's 33rd Fighter Wing and five were from Patrick's 71st Rescue Squadron. Two others were from units at Offutt AFB, Neb., and Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio.

Clinton called those who died "patriots" and "quiet American heroes." He said the Air Force pilots, communicators, engineers, mechanics, crew chiefs and technicians "represented the best of our nation and they gave America their best."

Their service made a difference, he said. "They kept our aircraft flying, and they owned the skies. Time and again they gave up the comforts that most of us take for granted, traveling far from home and family to take up America's cause."

While the airmen came from different races, regions, religious and political backgrounds, Clinton said, they were united by love of nation, mission and family. "All of them showed by the example of their lives the same spirit of service they brought to their careers," he said.

"They were always among the first to lend a hand when someone was in need," Clinton said. "They served as soccer coaches and Sunday school teachers. They helped the victims of hurricanes and volunteered as firemen. They loved their cars, their sports, their families and their mission. One of them was on his third tour in Saudi Arabia. Another volunteered so a man with larger family obligations could stay home."

Clinton said America must fight terrorism and continue the struggle for freedom and decency.

"We're blessed to live in a prosperous land in a time of peace, but we are not free from peril," Clinton said. "While the modern world brings to all of us many new opportunities, it also leaves us open to the forces of intolerance and destruction, and especially to terrorism, so often rooted in ethnic and religious hatreds."

Terrorism can strike anywhere, he said, "from the Tokyo subway to the streets of London, from the sacred ground of the Holy Land to the World Trade Center in New York and Oklahoma City, and now, in Saudi Arabia." America will not be driven from the fight against such evil, he said.

"Every American must stand against violence and hatred, and stand for dignity and tolerance, at home as well as abroad," he said. "We must honor the memory of those we have lost by upholding the ideals for which they lived and the mission for which they gave their lives," he said.

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