Terrorism: May 14, 2003


In light of yesterday's suicide car bombings in Saudi Arabia, the U.S. State Department is urging American citizens there to consider leaving the country. All others are advised to stay home for a few days, except for emergencies. Schools for Americans embassy personnel were closed on May 13th, as were embassy facilities. The three simultaneous bombings appeared to indicate al Qaeda involvement. At least 29 were killed, including seven Americans.

Saudi Arabia has long been a primary source of al Qaeda support, and there have been three major al Qaeda attacks on Western targets in Saudi Arabia during the last eight years. One of al Qaedas primary goals is to get all "infidels" (non-Moslems) out of Saudi Arabia (then out of all Moslem countries, then, after establishing a unified Islamic state, go out and convert all infidels to Islam, using force if necessary). It was known that many key al Qaeda people fled to Saudi Arabia, and the Saudis have been reluctant to look too hard for them. The Saudi government is not al Qaeda. After all, al Qaeda loudly calls for the destruction of the Saudi monarchy. But the Saudi government is into not stirring things up. The Saudi monarchy is literally a family affair and it's important not to start a family feud against those family members who support al Qaeda. Yes, it makes no sense. But that's Saudi Arabia for you. 

On the positive side, the Saudis were hot on the trail of a group of 19 terrorists who appeared to be al Qaeda. It's not known if these 19 were the ones who carried out the three attacks. It turns out that one of the attacks involved nine men. Two were driving the truck, and seven shot it out with the gate guards and then entered the compound on foot behind the bomb truck, apparently to shoot survivors of the bombing. But the truck mistakenly turned into a dead end, and while backing out the bomb went off prematurely, killing the seven terrorists on foot as well. 

Senior Saudi government officials had been declaring al Qaeda defeated. So in the future we can expect the Saudis to go after al Qaeda with more vigor, especially since many of the dead and wounded in the attack were Moslems (Saudis and immigrant workers at the compounds attacked.) Interestingly, the compounds attacked were among the smaller ones (less than a mile across.) The security in the larger compounds for Westerners are more heavily guarded. As is was, the al Qaeda teams have to shoot their way in past a determined security force. Al Qaeda may still be in business, but it's reduced to going after soft targets in its own backyard. 


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