June 09, 2004

Just when you thought it was safe...


The New York Times reported this weekend: The Saudis Fight Terror, but Not Those Who Wage It. (Via LGF)

There has, in fact, been a profound silence in the kingdom in the wake of the attacks in Yanbu and Khobar, in which foreigners were the main targets and Muslims were pointedly spared. Web sites popular with the more religious Saudis brimmed over with condemnation for the April bombing of the traffic police headquarters in Riyadh because all the victims were Saudis, while virtually ignoring the two subsequent attacks.

That leads some Saudi intellectuals to conclude that the religious establishment, or at least its more militant elements, basically support Al Qaeda's goal of driving all foreigners out of the Arabian peninsula and establishing a Taliban-like caliphate.

Meanwhile, in news from the kingdom yesterday, CNN reported: American shot dead in Saudi Arabia (the second fatal attack on Westerners in three days) and Poll of Saudis shows wide support for bin Laden's views. From the latter story:

Almost half of all Saudis said in a poll conducted last year that they have a favorable view of Osama bin Laden's sermons and rhetoric, but fewer than 5 percent thought it was a good idea for bin Laden to rule the Arabian Peninsula. The poll involved interviews with more than 15,000 Saudis and was overseen by Nawaf Obaid, a Saudi national security consultant. It was conducted between August and November 2003, after simultaneous suicide attacks in May 2003 when 36 people were killed in Riyadh.

The Times article did note an exception to this sympathy with the terrorists' goals, a Saudi prince who recently said that the kingdom's religious scholars, or clerics, "have to declare jihad against those deviants [terrorists] and to fully support it, as those who keep silent about the truth are mute devils."

But as John Lewis observed in the June 4 TIA Daily:

The Saudi declaration must not be confused with America's war. The Saudis have declared a war, not against fundamentalist Islam -- of which they are a part -- but against those Muslims who disagree with Saudi Wahhabism. [...] For those who think that Islam is not violent, or that only "some" Muslims have "hijacked a great religion," consider that all sides in these conflicts require the sanction of clerics for their declaration of wars.

UPDATE June 13: CNN reports: Saudi hunt for missing American; Another American murdered.

The man was reported missing shortly after gunmen killed Kenneth Scroggs, an American working for a British-Saudi company, at his home in Riyadh's upscale Malaz neighborhood.

The [Al Falluja Squadron group's] statement identified the man it said it had kidnapped, posting a driver's license, passport, business card and other documents and described him as a system engineering "specialist" for the Apache AH-64 helicopter.

"We have our legal right to treat them [hostages] the same way they treat our people," the statement reads. "We will publish more details about the man kidnapped and explain the mujahedeen's demands."

The group added, "We will continue this determination in the same road toward Jihad and for supporting our brothers in Palestine, Iraq, Cuba and everywhere."

Meanwhile, the same Web site posted a video purporting to show the killing of Robert Jacobs, an American worker Saudi authorities said was gunned down Tuesday at his Riyadh home. CNN has not confirmed the authenticity of the video, and the victim's face is never seen.

Jacobs, a 63-year-old employee of Vinnell Arabia, was gunned down in the eastern Riyadh neighborhood of al-Khaleej, which contains several residential compounds for Westerners, according to Saudi police and Jacobs' company.

The one-minute video starts with Arabic text over a black background that reads "The murder of the Jewish American Robert Jacob, who worked for the Vinnell espionage firm." Below, in English, it reads "Robert Jacob." Arabic music plays over the graphic.

Scroggs, the victim in Saturday's shooting, was shot in the back as he parked his car at his home in central Riyadh, Saudi police said. The U.S. Embassy identified him, but provided no other information.

Posted by Forkum at June 9, 2004 03:05 PM