Byline: Laura Davis
THE father-of-two shot dead in Saudi Arabia last week was the victim of a terrorist act, the US embassy in Riyadh said last night.
Officials said they believed the killer also has links with known terrorists.
Robert Dent, 37, from Southport, was killed by a gunman who pulled up alongside him as he waited at traffic lights in the Saudi capital.
``Based on preliminary results of the ongoing investigation into this tragic event, we believe that it was a terrorist act directed at a Westerner who was randomly selected as a target of opportunity,'' said the embassy.
``We believe the individual currently under arrest for the murder of the British national has associations with known terrorist elements,'' it said in a message to the American community in Saudi Arabia, posted on the embassy's website.
Last night a British Embassy spokesman refused to comment.
Western diplomats suspect groups sympathetic to al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden are behind a string of attacks against Westerners in Saudi Arabia since late 2000.
However, the Saudi government blames rival Western gangs fighting over the illegal liquor trade.
Bin Laden, whose Saudi citizenship was revoked in 1994, wants the Saudi royal family overthrown and demands American troops leave the country, which was home to 15 of the 19 September 11 hijackers.
Mr Dent, an employee of defence giant BAe Systems, had lived in Saudi Arabia for 10 years and was married with two children.
He was on a day off from his job as a commercial officer when he was gunned down in his car on Khaled bin al-Waleed Street in the Granada area. …