Bombing of al-Muhya compund in Riyadh 
Bombers Lose Minds and Hearts in Muslim World

London November 9 2003-  Adel Darwish


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  "senseless". 

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' strategy.

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 fought.
 
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 ago. 
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 32 people. 

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 support.
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.

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© Copyrights Adel Darwish & World Media UK - Limited 2003. 
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