Kuwaiti suspect confesses to killing two Americans

Published: Friday, January 24, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 23, 2003 at 9:28 p.m.
KUWAIT CITY - A Kuwaiti suspect who reportedly shared the beliefs of Osama bin Laden confessed Thursday to shooting two U.S. defense workers, the government said.
Police searched for two more suspects. Also Thursday, Kuwaitis and Americans here remembered the man slain in Tuesday's attack and offered sympathy for the second man, who was wounded.
The Kuwaiti suspect was arrested in Saudi Arabia and deported, a statement said.
The Interior Ministry identified him as Sami al-Mutairi, a 25-year-old civil servant, and said the weapon had been recovered at the suspect's workplace.
Al-Mutairi became a suspect "in the first hours after the crime was committed," the ministry statement said without elaboration.
Saudi border guards arrested him early Wednesday.
"He confessed that he committed the crime of assassinating the American citizen and injuring another on Tuesday," the statement said.
"After he was extradited to Kuwaiti authorities, he was interrogated and he confessed he adopts the thought of al-Qaeda organization," the statement said.
A Kuwaiti security officer said al-Mutairi "had partners, maybe two."
In Tuesday's attack, a gunman hiding behind a hedge ambushed a sport utility vehicle carrying the civilian contractors working for the U.S. military. The attack took place at a stoplight about 3 miles from the U.S. military's Camp Doha, which is 10 miles west of Kuwait City.
Tuesday's shooting was the first assault on U.S. civilians in Kuwait and the third on Americans since October in the oil-rich emirate.
, where pro-American sentiment is usually strong. The United States led the coalition that forced Iraq to abandon its 1990-91 occupation of Kuwait. Thousands of U.S. troops are assembling here ahead of a possible new war on neighboring Iraq.
The wounded man, David Caraway, was in stable condition at al-Razi hospital in Kuwait City. His co-worker Michael Rene Pouliot, 46, was killed. Both men worked for San Diego, California-based Tapestry Solutions, a software company.
Members of an organization representing the families of Kuwaitis killed during the Iraqi invasion in 1990 joined other Kuwaitis in a cold rain storm to leave a wreath at the spot where the Americans were shot.
"We didn't expect this to happen, this is not an act of the Kuwaiti people," said Sharouk Qabazadre, whose father was killed by Iraqi troops.
The government erected a billboard Thursday at a major Kuwait City intersection: "Much Obliged to America and Our Allies: God Bless You All."
A memorial service held on Camp Doha for base workers was closed to the public. The base is on a heightened state of alert and U.S. troops are only allowed to leave for critical business, a U.S. official said.
Interviewed from his hospital bed Thursday by ABC news, Caraway extended condolences to Pouliot's family. He said he remembered little beyond a barrage of machine-gun fire coming from behind bushes along the road.
"Couldn't see anything, anyone. They hit us with the first volley," he said.
Caraway said the road was not one he and Pouliot usually used.
Petra Day, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Air Force base at Ramstein, Germany, said Pouliot's body was flown there Thursday and transferred to a hospital at Landstuhl that has facilities to conduct autopsies. Caraway was expected to arrive at the Landstuhl facility this weekend.
The recent attacks are an indication that the anti-American sentiment common in the Arab world, where the United States often is portrayed as pro-Israel and anti-Muslim, is felt even in Kuwait.
On Oct. 8, two Kuwaiti Muslim fundamentalists opened fire on Marines taking a break from war games on the island of Failaka, killing one and injuring another. Other Marines shot dead the assailants, who reportedly had links to the al-Qaeda terror network blamed for the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States. A policeman later described as "mentally unstable" also shot at two U.S. soldiers in their civilian car on a highway on Nov. 21.
The U.S. Embassy said it was urging Americans to be alert to their surroundings. About 8,000 American civilians live in Kuwait, besides military personnel based in Kuwait.

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