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Special Analysis: Riyadh Bombings Retrospective

| 31 Comments | 5 TrackBacks
For the last 6 months since the Riyadh bombings, Saudi Arabia has been in something of a state of flux. The latest bombings in Riyadh simply underscore that shift. For the last 14 years, there has been something of a gentleman's agreement between House Saud and al-Qaeda: the latter will not target the former, in exchange for the Saudi government turning a blind eye towards al-Qaeda's activities in the Kingdom. That appears to be changing somewhat. On both sides.
There's Something Happening Here... In the aftermath of the war in Iraq and the destruction of Ansar al-Islam's chemical weapons labs at Sergat and Khurmal, however, al-Qaeda military commander Saif al-Adel decided to temporarily shift his focus away from attacking US troops in Iraq towards overthrowing the Saudi government, and establishing a Wahhabi theocracy in the Kingdom that could then be used as a staging area from which to attack US forces in Iraq. As Robert and I noted over at Alphabet City, al-Qaeda already maintains a Saudi "government in-exile" sorts in London through the Movement for Islamic Reform in Arabia (MIRA). One of things that's often forgotten by many commentators is that the Riyadh bombings were originally intended to be much, much worse. According to the May 8 edition of ABC News's Team Insider (via Rantburg), Saudi authorities arrested 149 al-Qaeda operatives who had planned to poison water supplies and stockpiled C-4 explosives in preparation for attacks. ABC News also reported that these al-Qaeda operatives were backed in their efforts by bazaar merchants from Qassim province, where support for al-Qaeda is said to run high. These arrests came a day after Saudi authorities got involved in a gun fight with 19 al-Qaeda and recovered a huge arms cache and indeed, I suspect that the information recovered from the arms cache was probably what led to the arrest of the 149 other operatives. Now understand, al-Qaeda has been carrying out a low-level car bombing campaign against Westerners in the Kingdom for years and these attacks have all been covered up by the Saudi authorities as the work of alcohol smugglers. So why the sudden Saudi apprehension at al-Qaeda's presence on their soil? The reason is simple: this cell was targeting the royals in addition to US and UK interests. In the aftermath of the Riyadh bombings, US intelligence came to the sobering conclusion that the Saudi police, army, navy, and National Guard have all been infiltrated by Bin Laden's minions. This point was driven home even further by the fact that the explosives used in the Riyadh bombings came from the Saudi National Guard stockpiles. Now, the Saudi National Guard is not at all like its American equivalent; it is the royal guard charged with protecting the 6,000 or so members of the al-Saud family. If al-Qaeda can infiltrate the Guard undetected, they can probably get anywhere in the Kingdom. The Saudi Princes' New Groove? The Saudi authorities redoubled their pledges to crack down on al-Qaeda in the aftermath of the Riyadh bombings, something they'd been promising to do ever since 9/11. Normally this means that a few terrorists get arrested while al-Qaeda's valuable financial, propaganda, and recruiting infrastructures inside the Kingdom remain alive and kicking. However, what happened in Riyadh seems to have been enough of a wake-up call for the Saudi government to fire 200 Wahhabi clerics and to arrest 3 al-Qaeda operatives and 2 clerics in connection with the bombing. The clerics, Ali Khudhair al-Khudair and Ahmed bin Hamid al-Khaldi, are two key ideologues for al-Qaeda. Upon their arrest by Saudi authorities, MIRA leader Saad al-Faqih claimed that they had been killed. Al-Qaeda's reaction to MIRA's claims is certainly interesting. An E-Mail purportedly from anonymous bin Laden lieutenants warned the Saudi government that more attacks were coming if their clerics were dead, prompting Saudi Interior Minister Prince Nayef to tell the Arab News on May 29 that both the two clerics taken into custody, plus a third cleric, were all alive and in good health. Clearly, even after the original Riyadh bombings the Saudi leadership was still terrified of al-Qaeda. Then we get to the long and wonderful saga of Ali Abdul Rahman al-Ghamdi that I chronicled at least in part in one of my first special analyses for Winds of Change. It notes the fact that he has now been arrested by Saudi authorities on at least 3 separate occasions: May 15, May 28, and June 26, and in every case save the last one has been subsequently listed as still at large. These types of anomalies aren't doing the Saudi political establishment any favors to those of us who tend to question just which side the Saudis are on. Signs, Signs, Everywhere A Sign Nevertheless, the Saudis do appear to at least made some effort at a visible crackdown against al-Qaeda, as can be seen here and here. This crackdown, which led to several shoot-outs taking place in Mecca, a chopper going down in Assir province, shoot-outs in Jouf, uncovering an arms cache in Riyadh, yet another shoot-out in al-Qasim, and yet more shooting in Riyadh, all of which seem to be a positive sign that at least someone in Riyadh is taking the issue of al-Qaeda rather seriously. On the other hand, incidents like the al-Hair prison fire that killed most of individuals who were arrested during all of these raids, suggesting at the very least that someone had something to hide regarding these detainees. Apart from Ali Abdul Rahman al-Ghamdi and his numerous psychopathic relatives, the Kingdom also managed to kill Yousef Saleh Fahd al-Ayyeri, the al-Neda webmaster who was carrying a letter from bin Laden when he was killed. Al-Ayyeri's fan club very likely made up of the same people who perpetrated the DoS attack on Hosting Matters several weeks ago with the intention of taking down Internet Haganah. Another notable victim of the Saudi crackdown was Ali Abdul al-Ghamdi's second-in-command Zubayr al-Rimi, who was killed in a stand-off with Saudi authorities in Jizan. Al-Rimi was one of four men who were the subject of a worldwide terrorist alert in September by US authorities. What's Goin' On In any event, what appears to have been going on in Saudi Arabia over the last several months is a crackdown, abeit a half-hearted one (perhaps due to the fact that man responsible for the crackdown, Interior Minister Prince Nayef, was just this last December musing about how the Jews were really the ones responsible for 9/11), on al-Qaeda's activities in the Kingdom. One might aptly note that this crackdown is in no way directed against either Wahhabism or even militant Wahhabism - Saudi funding reportedly still accounts for 50% of Hamas's budget. More to the point, to date Saudi authorities have only arrested or apprehended individuals who can be definitively linked to planning terrorist attacks in the Kingdom. The financial side of al-Qaeda, best personified in a report submitted to the United Nations Security Council that documents the top seven financiers of al-Qaeda: Khalid bin Mahfouz, Saleh Abdullah Kamel, Abdullah Suleiman al-Rajhi, Adel Abdul Jalil Batterjee, Mohammed Hussein al-Amoudi, Wael Hamza Julaidan, and Yasin al-Qadi, remains largely untouched. All of these men are extremely wealthy Saudi business magnates and all of them have been allowed to operate freely within the Kingdom even after the Riyadh bombings. Nor are these individuals the only major Saudi al-Qaeda financiers, according to al-Qaeda documents recovered from Bosnia, the organization's financiers also at least thirteen additional Saudi magnates, including members of the Bin Laden Group. Then there's the case of Mohammed Jamal Khalifa, Bin Laden's brother-in-law. Khalifa financed and helped to establish the al-Qaeda infrastructure in the Philippines that enabled the organization to plot Oplan Bojinka, the prototype for 9/11. Khalifa was arrested shortly after the 9/11 attacks but subsequently released by Saudi authorities. As of this date, he remains a free man in the Kingdom. Shutting down the al-Qaeda financial infrastructure in Saudi Arabia will go an extremely long way towards the final destruction of the network as well as ending the long-standing conflicts in Algeria, Chechnya, Kashmir, and Mindanao. Shutting down the entire terrorist infrastructure in Saudi Arabia will at the very least severely diminish Hamas's capabilities with respect to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The ultimate test of whether or not the Saudis are prepared to fully sever their ties to al-Qaeda will be whether or not the Kingdom is willing to cut the financial umbilical chord for international terrorism once and for all. Until that occurs in some fashion or another, everything that happens in the Kingdom should be the subject of intense skepticism, particularly claims to the press or even by public figures that the Saudis are no longer turning a blind eye to terrorism. The royal family has known about the activities of these individuals for well over a year at this point, and to date have done absolutely nothing to hinder them. Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting Saturday's events may change that dynamic; I sincerely hope so, anyway. Right now, the death toll at the al-Muhaya residential compound is currently at 17 (though some reports put it as high as 30) with over 100 wounded. Among the wounded are said to be 6 American and Canadian nationals, all of whom came from the same two families. The Saudi government has already blamed al-Qaeda for the attack, noting that the pattern simultaneous bombings fit all the classic hallmarks of the group. I don't have any doubt for a moment that this is al-Qaeda, but while the Saudi claim that this attack was intended as proof of the group's determination to bring down the House of Saud as well as payback for the loss of the network's chief ideological theorist and two mid-level commanders, these recent attacks certainly did bring to mind an article in The Voice of Jihad. The Voice of Jihad is an online al-Qaeda magazine that appears on the server of the month for the dozen or so websites that are controlled by the organization's media committee. The latest edition carried an editorial by Suleiman al-Dosari that was translated by MEMRI and explains that the real enemy right now is the American forces currently residing in Iraq, not the Saudi security forces. Rantburg's analysis on this one is (as usual) right-on, but the events of this Saturday appear to have thrown a major monkey wrench into the organization's plans if Saif al-Adel and the rest of the military committee currently based in Iran planned to have their minions in Saudi Arabia simply lay low until they could patch things up with the royals. Conclusion: Oops, They Did It Again Once again, it appears that al-Qaeda's famed decentralization may in fact be as much of a bane as it is a boon to the terrorist organization. This latest bombing has gotten the network plenty of bad PR and may well be completely disavowed or regarded as an American plot much the same way that the bombing in An Najaf was. One might even expect Abu Mohammed al-Ablaj, Thabet bin Qais, or Abdul Rahman al-Najdi to issue some sort of a media appearance within the next couple of days to place blame for the attack on the US or Israel. Alternatively, if al-Qaeda's military committee decides that enough is enough and chooses to go on the offensive, one could easily foresee similar activities on the rise throughout Saudi Arabia as part of a concerted effort to finally depose the royal family. In my estimation, I would say that it is altogether possible that the very thing that makes al-Qaeda so difficult to detect has come back to bite it in the ass - it's not like such things haven't happened before.

5 TrackBacks

Tracked: November 10, 2003 4:10 AM
Riyadh Attacked from Jay Reding.com
Excerpt: A massive bomb struck Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, killing 25 and wounding over 100. Al-Qaeda is believed to...
Tracked: November 10, 2003 5:12 AM
The House of SodSaud from SashaCastel.com
Excerpt: While reading an excellent link-filled analysis of the latest Riyadh bombing, by Dan Darling (via G.R.), I came to realize
Tracked: November 10, 2003 8:52 AM
Saudi hesitance and the Ramadan question from Matthew J. Stinson | weblog
Excerpt: Winds of Change contributor Dan Darling has an interesting summary of terrorism in Saudi Arabia. Darling's post is a mixture of hope, cynicism, and cold hard facts, and I share in most of his views, especially this one: Shutting down...
Tracked: November 10, 2003 8:15 PM
Excerpt: Dan Darling has an absolutely superb run-down of what's going on in Saudi Arabia - bombings, Al Qaeda, the Royal Family - it's all in there with lots of links beside. Highly recommended. Winds of Change.NET: Special Analysis: Riyadh Bombings...
Tracked: November 12, 2003 5:58 AM
Excerpt: An analysis of the Riyadh bombings......

31 Comments

Excellent post! Thanks for your careful work.

I posted in August of the many problems presenting the House of Saud, and presented by them. Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda believe that the people of the kingdom will eventually become so sick and tired of the royals’ oppressions of them, and the royals’ unfaithfulness to true Islam, that they will revolt, bring down the House, and inaugurate a true Islamic society.

Hence, al Qaeda's violent spasms have no real, central organizing strategy. OBL & Co. believe that the kingdom's ummah are thirsting for pure Islamism.

The Wahhabist clerics would no doubt love to do what bin Laden wants, establish a Taliban-style society there, cleansed of Western influences and Western presence. But it's pretty doubtful that the Saudi Arabian people would tolerate swapping one oppressive regime for another.

In the meantime, it is less al Qaeda's violent capability that should concern the royals, but their own corruption and instability.

The Riyadh bombings got me thinking about another connection. I am not sure of this, since it's admittedly based on no more than my own read of the situation thus far. I would appreciate all considered feedback, if anyone would care to comment.

My thoughts go like this. Homeland Security in the States appears to be a typical bureaucracy, with the usual examples of infighting, cya, mistakes etc. Nothing unexpected there, really.

What catches my attention however is that the bureaucracy in this case has a near-perfect track record: Not a single major attack on the US since 911.

Moreover, the taskis an impossible one. The US cannot be defended to perfection against an enemy as pervasive, organized, fnanced and determined as they are. I speak not just of Al Qaeda but of all Islamist groups, as well as any number of governments.

In a nutshell, the success of Homeland Security is literally too good to be true.

My best theory for all this is that someone had to call off the dogs. But who?

I discount the wild-eyed theories that 911 was a secret plan by Jews or Haliburton or whatever. Survival is a strong motivator, and it's important to stay lucid.

So who? My own best guess is the more repressive govts of the Middle East.

I recognize of course that these governments have no love for each other, and that their ruling families are often divided as well, but am reminded of a quote that Bruce Chatwin, in his book The Songlines, attributed to the Arabs:

I against my brother
Both of us against our cousins
Our tribe against other tribes
All of us against the Outsider

Motive, method and opportunity ... with American troops camped on their doorstep, what would be their most logical course of action, presuming that they are indeed merely maintaining Islamist activity as their form of politics by other means?

Well, logically they would want to attack the US in Iraq and, in essence, play defense on their regional turf. But attack the US on its own soil at this time? No way? Look what happened last time with 911. Two countries in their region have already had their govts toppled and it's far from over.

I note that, in support of the above ideas, cooperation from countries such as Syria seems to have been much easier to come by regarding attacks in N. America, even as these same countries support the terrosrists in Iraq. It's pretty clear by now that the current fighting in Iraq has no popular base and is being driven either by the remaining Baathists, other countries, or both.

How long would I expect this defense-only approach to continue? Till at least ome of these govts acquires a nuke. My best bet is the Saudis. They have the cash and need a bomb. Kim Jong Il has the bomb and needs cash. Both of them are pressed for time.

So, okay folks, those are my thoughts for the day. Any comments?

I suspect some heads are going to roll... literally.

I also think it would be appropriate if those financiers suffered some fatal accidents and medical events. Perhaps Delta force or the CIA have a few spare operatives to use for that purpose.

Alternatively a B-2 can drop a GPS guided "meteor" on them!

Keep in mind that Posner's new book "While America Slept" heavily implies that 3 Saudi princes and the Pakistani air marshal got whacked by ... well, somebody, for working with al-Qaeda after they were named by Abu Zubaydah as contacts with the terror network.

There is also the problem of infiltration of the various Saudi services whose job it is to hunt down these folks. Look at the al-Ghamdi saga for God's sake, these guys are worse than the Keystone cops. Their boss, Prince Nayef, doesn't appear to be much better either if he believes that Israel was the one that perpetrated the 9/11 attacks.

Let the house of saud fall to the murdering culture they have built and exported. They deserve it. If al Qaida tries to step in and take over arabia, fine let them try. They can be killed in arabia just as easily as they have been killed in afgoneistan and Iraq.

Regarding another attack after 9/11, there appear to have been at least a couple of incidents that in of themselves can be considered either thwarted attacks or potential attacks, both of which would be the same from al-Qaeda's perspective as far as the planning and execution goes:

- Richard Reid's exploding shoes.
- Imran Mahdi and Shueyb Mossa Jokhan's plans to bomb the Israeli Consulate in Miami.
- Jose Padilla's nascent dirty bomb plot.
- The July 4 LAX gunman who may have been a member of al-Zawahiri's Egyptian Islamic Jihad.
- The Buffalo 6's nascent plan to do something nasty (that "big meal" being referenced in an E-Mail from their controllers in the Gulf).
- The DC sniper may have been a member of al-Fuqra.
- The Sudanese pilot Mekki Hamid Mekki's was deported over his alleged plan to ram a private plane loaded with explosives into the White House.
- Iyman Faris's plot to bring down the Brooklyn Bridge.
- Adnan El Shukrijumah and his controller Jdey allegedly came over here to carry out the next big attack but have thus far been thwarted by law enforcement. OTOH, we haven't caught them either which implies that they have somewhere to hide.

So I'd say that there was definitely bad guys up to no good, just that the feds have done a pretty good job to date of keeping them under wraps. The arrest of Ali Saleh al-Marri, who was said to be al-Qaeda's point man in the US, also likely did a lot to cripple the organization's retaliation infrastructure here in the States.

Islam is not the same thing as the Wahhabis. This blog does not flinch from discussing the problems within Islam, but to say "Islam Sucks" is simply ignorant. It's not going to get you taken seriously here - quite the reverse.

Has anyone done an analysis of what the economic results would be if the West in general, but the United States in particular, weaned ourselves off Saudi oil? OK, it might be painful but just how painful. Nothing, IMHO, would shake the repressive, corrupt Saudis out of their mediaeval mindset quicker that a real threat to their wealth. Further, how much are oil sales from a reconstructed Iraq going to hurt the Saudis? Isn't it perhaps in the economic interests of the Saudis to earnestly hope that the Coalition fail in Iraq and support any armed insurgency? Or am I just giving paranoia a bad name?

Oil sales from Iraq will hurt the Saudis a LOT.

The problem is that Saudi Arabia is a total no-work welfare state for Saudi citizens, and GDP has fallen steadily over the last decade, and they have a huge debt despite all that oil. Imagine Iraq goes into full production mode and starts busting OPEC quotas, and the price of oil declines (but servicing the debt is just as expensive). Now it's borrow more to finance the welfare of make cuts, and watch the House of Saud's unrest problem grow significantly.

Joe Katzman: "...This blog does not flinch from discussing the problems within Islam, but to say "Islam Sucks" is simply ignorant. It's not going to get you taken seriously here - quite the reverse."

Saying that Islam sucks is not ignorant at all. Although 'sucks' is a colloquialism, it is a fairly accurate assessment.

But please, don't be shy and explain why you think Islam does NOT suck. I think that I speak for a lot of people when I say the we are keen to hear from you on the subject.

Good luck.

Very informative analysis. Thanks and keep up the good work -- this is an illustration of why the blogosphere is indispensible.

Fine post -- what about the US letting the Wahhabis undercut and replace, kill, the US allied House of Saud -- and THEN send in US tanks against Islamic fundamentalists? Setting up Mecca and Medina as Muslim cities, but controlling the oil (as the Left always says they fear) but to pay back the debts and duplicate democracy building?

Kinda radical, but an interesting fantasy.

Oil in a medium time frame is fungible; you can substitute one source for another, although that may require refinery work (sometimes very significant).

And the last time I checked we (the US) get much of our oil and refined products (can't build a new refinery in the US any more...) locally (i.e. south of the border, or from areas closer than the Persian Gulf).

John Elliot commented: "what the economic results would be if the West in general, but the United States in particular, weaned ourselves off Saudi oil?" So:

The real trick is the world oil price; changes in supply move the price. I think it's an objective of ours to have Iraq put a lot of oil on the market as soon as possible to lower the price.

As mentioned, this will hammer Saudia Arbia, a desired goal. It will also reduce if not essentially eliminate the "the oil weapon" (embargos, especially given how fractured OPEC is, and how much less it now represents the world's oil production), make fantastic economic improvements throughout the world (e.g. improving the US economy all the way down to helping the desperate in the Third World), pay for Iraq's reconstruction directly, and pay back our grants to them indirectly by improving our economy.

It also bears mentioning that lowering the price of oil will hammer Texas and the other oil states; remember that, for those who talk about a White House "oil cabal", since their indirect and supposed direct interests aren't going to be helped in the least.

I'm not so sure about the execution of their goals (which are very ambitious, but are surely preferable to genocide), but Bush and company have a lot of good ones that they are clearly willing to pay the required prices for....

Kudos to Harold for taking on such an ignorant post, but my question is why bother? Anybody who thinks that any source of oil can somehow be treated like "conflict diamonds", and removed from the market is ignorant beyond redemption, I think. It is like rotating your tires to fix a flat, or something like it anyway.

Alphasheep, I have posts every Saturday that discuss this very topic. It's a regular series. And if you're going to say that sort of thing on the basis of a historical record... you're going to have to include a lot of players in the "sucks" category.

To say "Islam Sucks" is to attack an entire religion, including all of its members and extending right down to its core of belief. That's not acceptable. if you hated Sharon's policies, you would not be entitled to say "Judaism Sucks" without attracting a clue-by-four from yours truly. If you think the caste system is worthy of contempt (and you're entitled), saying "Hinduism Sucks" is still ignorant. Problems with religious authorities behaving badly? If you think the Catholic priest sex scandals are a travesty, I'm right there with you - but "Catholicism Sucks" is bigotry and people like Peggy Noonan (for instance) don't deserve that.

The practice of Islam today certainly has serious problems, not least of which is the widespread cultivation of hatred and supremacism wihin the faith and its tolerance by large sections of the ummah. These dynamics mock the "religion of peace" label every day they persist, and they need to be addressed or the outside world will address them. Moving to center stage in the world has its drawbacks, and Islam cannot sustain or afford the present state of affairs.

Having said that, Islam is a monotheist religion whose core is a relationship with G-d. Many people live that relationship, and are better people because of it. They do not deserve to have a real and sincere faith denigrated wholesale in this way, and your presumption in doing so is extreme.

With regard to oil prices and stabilisation,
I have long wondered if the petrochemical
industries and its allies have not taken the work
of Prof Thomas Gold seriously, namely, that the
Earth is a seething ball of hydrocarbons, with
oil's being found by chance at those places
where the regolith is 'thinnest', yet it CAN
be found almost anywhere - as Gold proved in
Sweden.
If so, it might be wiser all round not to
blab such an idea, with wild deflation as a
result. So, there is no panic about Saudi oil,
as such, yet monies float and fund terrorist
activities. The idea that this is a war over
oil is made doubly ridiculous.
We come back to the Nietzschean idea that man
is a religious animal, and it is a twisted
religiosity that we fight.

Joe,

You seem to be a very good person, fair-minded to a fault, and your blog is quite informative.

I would sincerely like to believe that Islam doesn't "suck" (and I have been treated kindly by adherents of Islam in Morocco, many years past), but I am having a terrible time finding any evidence in the daily pronouncements and activities of the faithful in recent months and years.

Why is it that a reprehensible speech by a bigoted jerk like Mahathir Mohamed recieves a standing ovation from the leaders of umpteen Islamic nations, and virtually no disapproval from the Islamic world? Why is it that virtually every terrorist atrocity (apart from those committed by minor leaguers like the IRA and FARC) is directly connected to this "religion"?

It's wonderful to hold out hope for this "religion," but I am afraid such hope is misplaced. There seems to me to be much more evidence to back up an assertion that Islam has become (if it was not always) a kind of genocidal cult, whose central and unifying "idea" is hatred of Jews in particular and the Western world in general.

Jamie

Sorry, should of course be "receives"...

"i before , except after c..." ;-)

Jamie

Jamie, if we concede that view, then genocide is indeed our only option. Not ours, theirs.

I can in fact conceive of circumstances under which one could legitimately pronounce anathema on an entire religion, but things haven't reached that point for me with Islam. It would also behoove the one doing such pronouncing to do some in-depth study of the religion they are pronouncing upon, and if you do, you may find that there's "more there there" than you had thought.

Other religions based on ethical monotheism have lost their way and come back to a better place. Much of Islam has indeed lost its way, and Mahathir's speech is as good an example as any to prove it - but there are people and sects within Islam who have not. We can have hope, and still be clear-eyed about the problem.

Maybe this will help. Let me offer an example:

Bernard Lewis is probably the greatest living scholar on Islam today in the West, and possibly beyond. His analysis of what's going on and track record over the past decade can't be beat, and his depth of knowledge is simply astounding.

Despite the clarity of his analysis, he would never say "Islam Sucks," ever. He writes with respect and even at times with affection, and always with truth as a cardinal value.

His stuff is well worth reading. His ideal is well worth imitating.

Great post, and interesting thread.

Just some idle musing...if you were trying to drive a wedge between Saudi supporters of Al Qaeda and the Saudi royal family, how would you go about it?

Jamie,

I've lived and traveled abroad a fair amount. Not as much as some, but a lot more than most. I've chatted about netsuke with elderly Japanese ladies over breakfast, asked East Germans about the Berlin Wall, shot pistols with Frenchmen who volunteered to go to Vietnam, and debated theology with North African Muslims. I loved every minute of it and I wish that I didn't have to grow up and start making mortgage payments.

You know what the worst part of all my experiences has been? When some dumb-ass foreign jerk-off starts telling me what a horrible country the US of A is, because that's what he read in Le Monde. The depth of ignorance, even (especially!) amoung the educated classes of Europe, is stunning. It amazes me. Most of the people I have met abroad have NO IDEA what American life and culture are really like. NONE. And this in nations whose television and movies are 90% American, and who pay more attention to our elections than many of my fellow citizens. So I've been sensitized to the power of partial knowledge, selective reporting, and confirmation biases to shape perspective in bizarre and destructive ways.

Guess what Jamie? Your picture of Islam is LESS complete than the average foreigner's picture of the US. Unless you are a serious scholar--which perhaps you are--you know next to nothing about the complete picture of Islam. I say that without meaning to denigrate--I know next to nothing about Islam myself. But I do know that what I see on the news, read on the blogs, is filtered, warped, and shaded, both by conscious and unconsious forces, such that I can't form a truly educated opinion.

I think that there's a problem in Islam, which I like to compare to the problem the US once had with slavery: far too many people warping its ideals to suit their short-term ends. But that opinion is tenative and humble; a billion people is an awful lot to shove into one box. I wish I could find the Muslims I knew a few years ago and listen to them--they were peaceful people of good faith, without political ambition or ulterior motives, and most dreamed of someday coming to my country. What would they say?

I don't know. But they listened to me when I talked about my people and my culture, so I would, at what I think is a critical time for Islam and the U.S., dearly love to return the favor.

Thanks for the kind responses to my post, especially to Joe.

I will, of course, continue to try to keep an open mind about Islam.

Hope springs eternal... ;-)

(Some Greek said (transliterated):

"Elpis en anthropois moune theos esthle enestin..."

"Hope is man's one good deity...")

Jamie Irons

Ok,let me see if I understand this. Al Quida starts attacking the House of Saud and the foreigners in country at ever increasing levels. Foreign workwers leave. Oil fields start dropping or cease production. Money supply drops. People will be mad at House of Saoud, Alquida, intercine conflict ensues at even greater levels. Saudi Royals with money stashed cut and run. Tribalism for protection increases and nationalism goes down the tubes. You have an Arabia consisting of about six or seven tribal areas as it used to be?

And, if Al Qaeda does succeed in taking over Saudi Arabia, who's going to be wanting to buy oil from SA? Do they really think they can get the economy going on again without $$$ from the west?

Joe,
Agreed that Iraqi oil will hurt the Saudis, but how much hurt. My question really asks if there is enough oil to be drawn from non-Saudi sources for a boycott of Saudi oil to be effective. Possible scenario: The Coalition boycott Saudi oil until Saudis liberalise, rein in avaricious royals, stop funding radicals overseas etc etc. Saudis drop oil price and production is snapped up by France and Germany?!! Does the Coalition boycott then collapse before it even gets off the ground? Surely, some economists have done these figures.

Apropos the comments on "Islam sucks"; aren't we really talking about "Fundamentalism". IMHO it is fundametalism that sucks, be it Muslim, Christian, Jewish or any other variety. It is my understanding that early Islam treated minority groups in Palestine in a far more benevolent manner that the invading Christian Crusaders.

Regards to all,

Lola: "...who's going to be wanting to buy oil from SA?"
The French, of course.

Dear All,

I read the post regarding whether Islam or indeed any other religion sucks.
My point is that only philosophies with a choice element will succeed. Where any philosophy whether it is Islamist extremists, Hindu Extremists, Christian Extremists seeks to shackle their societies, the end result is failure.
You can only stay in the cave for so long before you see the light.

The West and the East I believe has been successful because the inherent underlying philosophies, give one an element of choice. The non wahabist practices of Islam are closer to that ideal of choice. Where Extremists are destroying old relics of another philosophy that is deplorable. I heard that Osama and company were blowing up Buddha statues in Afghanistan in their ethnic cleansing programs.

The real funny part is that Jews, Christians and Moslems all believe partly in the same holy books!
It ultimately comes down to bad history and power.
cf. Huntingdon .

The part I don''t like is calling eastern philosophies idol worshipping. This shows a blatant ignorance about spirituality.

Jag


The part I don''t like is calling eastern philosophies idol worshipping. This shows a blatant ignorance about spirituality.

Dear Jag,

What else would you call them? I guess the generalization is wrong, but all that I can see is people worshipping lifeless statues. Correct me if I am wrong.

Regards,

Usman Sayed

66 Days of Torture in Saudi Arabia
Slush funds Lies and Deals

Tortured for 66 days and nights sacrificed to global politics and oil interests, James Cottle a British citizen tortured abused and left to rot in a Saudi Arabian jail for 2 years 2 months.
they cannot cover this up either the allegations that BAE Systems, the UK's global arms group, paid millions of pounds in bribes to secure the huge Al Yamamah defence contracts with Saudi Arabia in the 1990s, has resurfaced in a BBC2 documentary.

Living in UK James Cottle was tricked to go to Bahrain then kidnapped on the orders of the Saudi Ministry of Interior, this in itself was illegal and showing him on world TV confessing under duress to crimes he did not commit was also illegal, crimes that we know was the work of extremists.
As horrific details of the torture come to light the evidence that could have set them free was covered up by the Americans and the UK foreign office, a UN report condemned the human rights abuses committed through their arrest and detention, yet the British Government remained largely silent about their plight and urged the families to do the same this was done with lies of course.
The men withdrew their original confessions, but UK officials tried to persuade them to sign new ones in the hope the Saudis might release them. All but one refused.
I saw John Pilger in 'Stealing a Nation' documentary it shows how the Foreign office uses secrets and lies, John Pilger spoke to Bill Rammel who is no stranger to covering up and avoiding issues for his band of incompetents in the FCO, no surprise there then as to what went on with the British detainees in Saudi Arabia our UK Government knew they were the victims of hideous torture being brutally beaten, sleep deprivation, teeth smashed out and loss of a mans dignity, James Cottle certainly wanted to die but they didn't want him to as 66 days and nights of brutal torture is worse, if they wanted to demoralise and disable a man for life it worked.
Dealings have been done there is proof, on May 14, 2003, the Pentagon quietly announced the release of five Saudi men from the camp for U.S. prisoners of war at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. It was two days after suicide bombers had attacked a housing compound for foreigners in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia, killing 35 people, including eight Americans. In a brief e-mailed press release, the Pentagon stated that the "senior leadership of the Department of Defense" (that is, Secretary Donald Rumsfeld), "in consultation with other senior U.S. government officials" (that is, the White House), had decided the five Saudi men "no longer posed a threat to U.S. security."
The Foreign office replied to this question of the exchange in a letter saying this..
The issue of press reports that the men detained in Saudi Arabia were freed as part of a 'secret exchange deal for five prominant Saudi terrorists held at Guantanamo bay'
The British Government was relieved that the men detained in Saudi Arabia were returned to the UK. We worked very hard diplomaticlly with the Saudi's to resolve this difficult situation.
The release of the Saudi detainees from Guantanamo was a matter between the US and Saudi

[Sorry, a tedious drive-by Islam-Sucks message doesn't make the grade . --NM]

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