Gaetz Seeks Compensation for 1996 Khobar Tower Attack Victims

Gaetz Seeks Compensation for 1996 Khobar Tower Attack Victims

Mateo Guillamont
Mateo Guillamont
March 7, 2024

US Representative Matt Gaetz (R-FL) has filed a bill to fulfill compensation payments pledged to victims of the 1996 Khobar Towers attack. 

On June 25, 1996, a terrorist blast destroyed part of the Khobar Tower housing complex in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, where US forces had been temporarily housed. 

The bomb killed 19 American servicemen, with nearly 500 more injured. 

According to Representative Gaetz’s office, various of the surviving injured reside in Florida’s First Congressional District. 

The American soldiers had been participating in Operation Southern Watch, a no-fly zone initiative in southern Iraq.

Gaetz’s bill was preceded by the Fairness for 9/11 Families Act, which also attempted to provide compensation for the bombing’s survivors but failed to do so due to mistakes in the law’s wording. 

The legislation would amend the Fairness for 9/11 Families Act to resolve the technical issues preventing survivors from receiving full compensation.

According to Gaetz, the legislation would “ensure that all survivors, including the brave service members residing in Florida's First Congressional District who bore the brunt of that tragic day, are treated with the fairness and respect owed to them.”

Gaetz has previously filed similar compensatory payment bills on behalf of Floridian servicemembers. 

Last December, Gaetz floored a bill that would provide compensation for victims of the deadly 2019 Pensacola Naval Air Base (NAS) terrorist attack.

On December 6, 2019, Saudi Arabian Royal Air Force second lieutenant Mohammed Alshamrani opened fire on American servicemen after being radicalized by al-Qa‘ida’s ideology. 

Alshamrani killed three individuals and wounded eight others, including two sheriff’s deputies.

Representative Gaetz’s bill claims Saudi Arabia was negligent in its duty to inform the US of Alshamrani’s extremist beliefs, which he publicly expressed on social media prior to the attack.

If passed, the bill would prohibit weapons and munitions exports to Saudi Arabia, end support to the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, and freeze all military officer-exchange programs. 

Additionally, Gaetz’s bill would amend the United States Victims of State Sponsored Terrorism Act to provide for compensation of those affected by the attack. 

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Mateo Guillamont

Mateo Guillamont

Mateo is a Miami-based political reporter covering national and local politics

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