Al-Qa'eda appeared yesterday to have unwittingly alienated
a vast spectrum of Arab opinion and helped America's war on terrorism by
attacking Muslims it considers traitors to the faith, intelligence
sources in Riyadh said.
The explosion destroyed buildings at the housing compound in Riyadh
after yesterday's explosion Seventeen people, mostly muslim of Middle Eastern
descent, including four children, died in the suicide attack against a
housing compound in Riyadh on Saturday night.
The victims included four Egyptians, four Lebanese, and a Sudanese.
The attack has engendered unprecedented condemnation throughout the Middle
East and will have damaged al-Qa'eda's appeal as anti-western and pro-Islamic.
The killings will have also alienated conservative Muslims in largely
tribal Saudi Arabia and boosted efforts to identify and weed out terrorist
"sleeper" cells by winning over many more people willing to act as informants,
Saudi officials believe.
Sherard Cowper-Coles, the British ambassador to Saudi Arabia as
Regional experts familiar with the terrorist tactics of al-Qeda, argued
that it was far from senseless but it fitted with the rational of
al-Qa'eda leaders' twisted logic. Experts say it is part of long term terrorists'
Prince Turkey Bin Faisal the Saudi Ambassador in London, told this journal
that al-Qa'eda was more than just a terror organisation, it is `
an evil cult.' Its members, he said blindly follow the cult leader's
( fatwas in contrast to Islam's principles ,` like killing
innocent civilians and committing suicide,' in tactics designed to
achieve calculated effects.
Dividing the world into Mo'amineen - true believers - and
kafers - infidels, Al-Qa'eda's long term aim is controlling Muslims
worldwide by re-introducing the 7th century concept of Islamic Umma.
Control of Islamic holist shrines , in Mecca and Medina, is essential
to legitimise their call, while controlling Saudi Arabia's vast oil
reserves would give them economic clout and resources to finance
their long term goal.
Part of the tactics is removing the Saudi legitimate government, which
just started a long awaited programme of reform. A significant move in
a conservative religious society where a powerful religious establishment
- whose backing is needed to assure majority of Muslims against fundamentalists'
extremisms- resist man-made laws replacing those made by god.
Thus, from al-Qaeda's view points, liberal Muslims, democrats and those
willing to apply Igtihad - ie one's own logic and analysis of the holy
text instead of swallowing the fundamentalists' own interpretation- were
are Muslims of `lesser' or `bad' faith, or even apostates who should be
The largely discredited tactic of targeting fellow Muslims, known as
al-takfeer walhigrah (atonement and withdrawal), was first used by
Ayman al Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden's chief lieutenant, in Egypt a decade
After the deaths of up to 1,000 people in a wave of terrorism that
culminated in the 1997 Luxor massacre, which killed 67 people many
tourists, Egypt's security forces were able to turn the tables on the terrorists.
Exploiting public aversion to the atrocities, police were able largely
to ignore civil rights in a relentless pursuit of extremists. Al-Qa'eda
also used the tactic in suicide bombings in Morocco in May, which killed
While liberal Muslims, London and Washington battle to win the hearts
and minds in the muslim world through building better cultural bridges,
Al-Qa'eda's elected to scare the hearts and terrorise the minds of Muslims
into submission. Thus targeting Muslims in Riyadh not ` senseless' but
a link in a long chain .
Compounds like al-Muhya global way of life is an anathema to fundamentalists.
Women drive inside and multi-faith friendships struck in picnics around
swimming pools as Muslims share western ` infidels' food. By
attacking the al-Muhya al-Qa'eda sent a complex message: Muslims
of "lesser faith", while terrorisng guest workers to avoid Saudi Arabia
where economy relies heavily on guest workers. It also wanted to make the
Saudi government appear unable to protect Muslims in the last two
weeks of Ramadan, when tens of thousands of faithful pour into Mecca in
Umra to visit its holy sites.
killing Muslim Murtadeen ` apostates and traitors'
WAS the atonement for their killers the ` cult' of puritans
who- withdrew from the corrupt secular world to the caves of Afghanistan
and remote mountains of Arabia.
The targeting of the Muslim compound in Riyadh, like the killing of
anyone dealing with tourists, is legitimised for extremists because of
association with "infidels".
A way of life in which women drive within the walls of the compound
and Muslims share western food at picnics around swimming pools is anathema
to the fundamentalists. In attacking the Muhaya compound, al-Qa'eda was
sending the message that Muslims of "lesser faith" will be punished and
guest workers from other Muslim nations would be advised to avoid Saudi
Arabia. The Saudi economy relies heavily on guest workers. Al-Qa'eda also
wanted to embarrass the Saudi government by making it appear unable to
protect Muslims in the last two weeks of Ramadan, when tens of thousands
of faithful pour into Mecca to visit its holy sites.
The tactic will not only backfire on al-Qa'eda, say security officials,
but will help the intelligence services gain support in a conservative
society where tribal taboos prevents people from informing on other clan
members. In slaughtering women and children, while their menfolk were praying
at the mosque, the terrorists broke the code that binds tribal Muslims,
handing police a unique opportunity to infiltrate the dozens of terrorist
cells in Saudi Arabia, where al-Qa'eda gains much financial and ideological
Information from Saudi citizens - including many tribal and religious
leaders - on terrorist activities soared following last May's attacks on
western compounds in Riyadh, enabling police to smash a huge number of
cells and arrest more than 600 suspects in the past six months.
As it shut down terrorist operations and tightened the net around terrorist
activities in the kingdom, Saudi security gained enough intelligence to
warn, almost to the day, that al-Qa'eda was planning a big attack.
The choice for Saturday's attack was considered a relatively "soft"target
in comparison to compounds housing westerners where security has been raised
to the point where they are believed vulnerable only to rockets and missiles.
Intelligence officials believe that as Saudi security forces closed in
on home-grown terrorist cells, they caused a degree of panic.
Ironically this success - which included shared information with Americans
and British agencies - lead to panic among terrorists to deploy their cells
and arsenals before they lose.
The terrorists feared that their weapons and explosives dumps might
be discovered and "it became a case of use it or lose it," one western
security official said yesterday.
Unable to hit well guarded targets, terrorists, sadly, chose a soft
target, backfiring on them and aiding America's global war against terrorism.
President George Bush, who a week earlier called for democracy
and reform in the region was quick to remind the world with the need
fight this battle against terrorism from the same trench as the Saudis.
Supported nationally and internationally, the Saudis are expected to
cut al-Qa'eda's remaining financial support through unofficial (it) zakat
alms-giving. As well as thwarting the terrorists strategy by continuing
the programme of reform and modernisation, both Crown Prince Abdullah and
Interiors Minister Prince Nayyef have vowed to show the terrorists no mercy
in weeding out the remaining sleeping cells in the kingdom.