May 14, 2003
RIYADH BOMBINGS: THE TERRORIST 'HYDRA' LIVES
** The Saudis are
"paying for their mistakes" in fostering extremist Islam, must crack
** U.S. needs to re-think
its policies towards Saudi Arabia and the anti-terror war.
** A united front is needed
to combat an al-Qaida that remains "active and potent."
'Bloody attacks' are the fruit of the Saudis' 'fatal
complacency'-- Editorialists commonly
judged that the bombings in Riyadh were "an ominous reminder" that
al-Qaida is "far from beaten and vanquished" and concluded that the
"authoritarian" monarchy is now being "seriously
challenged." Dailies cited the
Saudi regime's "weakness in confronting religious extremism" and
"duplicity in financing and tolerating" terrorism, thus bringing on
the "threat to the state."
Papers called on Saudi authorities to "take immediate action to
address" the terrorist threat and "do far more to cooperate"
with Western intelligence agencies. A
pro-government Saudi paper called on the country to "face up to the fact
that we have a terrorist problem here." Another observer in the same
journal, however, noted how other Saudi publications in denial maintained the
perpetrators "could not have been Saudis."
Bin Laden's 'real stronghold' is Saudi Arabia itself-- Critics of the war in Iraq claimed the
attacks showed that the U.S. "has been dangerously deflected" from
the real terrorist threat posed by al-Qaida by the "crusade" in Iraq. The "biggest threat against
America" is in Saudi Arabia, a German outlet said, adding that "the
U.S. has no political strategy on how...to defuse this political
bomb." Switzerland's leading Tages-Anzeiger
said President Bush "has not shown the toughness" with the Saudis as
elsewhere in the war against terrorism.
Various writers suggested that with Iraq's oil newly available,
"the strategic importance" of the Kingdom has lessened and the U.S.
can "fall back on the friendly regime it is establishing in
"well-timed" decision to remove U.S. troops from Saudi Arabia
"is just not enough" for al-Qaida, which "wants to wage a world
'Nothing can appease these people'-- Even as some tried to link the attacks to the
Israel-Palestine problem, Arab papers denounced the attacks as "a
crime" and "an atrocity" and said the "international
community must cooperate and work together" to fight terrorism. The elite Jordan Times called the
attacks "a grim reminder of how the effort to stamp out terrorism
worldwide requires cooperation among and condemnation by all
countries." European papers judged
the problem of extremist Islam "will only disappear if Islamic societies
manage to get rid of the problem themselves" and that
"counterterrorism must go hand in hand with openness and democratic
reform." Other outlets emphasized
that the U.S. could best undercut al-Qaida by "reviewing its policies in
the region," whether its perceived over-reliance on the military or its
"pro-Israel bias" and by putting "their democratization project
to the test in Riyadh and Jeddah."
EDITOR: Steven Wangsness
EDITOR'S NOTE: This
analysis is based on 57 reports from 32 countries on May 14, 2003.
BRITAIN: "Death In
The independent Financial Times editorialized (5/14): "It had long been obvious that the
diffuse, Islamo-fascist network inspired by Osama bin Laden would use the
upheaval of the Iraq war to relaunch attacks against Western targets and drum up
support for its jihad. It was only a
matter of time. Even so, some anaylysts
speculated that Mr. bin Laden would be appeased by Washington's postwar
decision to withdraw its troops from Saudi Arabia.... Nothing can appease these people who believe
a 'clash of civilizations' with the West will restore Islam as a world
power. There is no alternative except to
crush them--but to do that successfully they must be separated from their their
widening constituency. Put another way,
while only might can destroy al-Qaida, its expanding support base can be eroded
only by policies Arabs and Muslims see as just.
That would mean the U.S. regaining credibility in the region by dealing
even-handedly with Israelis and Palestinians and by carrying out eventually its
pledge to restore Iraq to Iraqis chosen by Iraqis. To strike effectively at al-Qaida, flanked by
convinced allies, the U.S. needs such legitimacy."
The conservative Times judged (5/14): ""The Saudi authorities are under
no doubt about the enormity of what has happened and the threat to their own
state.... The Saudis know that, given
the sharply critical atmosphere in Washington, there will be many in and around
the Bush administration who will see the bombings as further evidence of
Riyadh's weakness in confronting religious extremism. They know that they must do far more to
cooperate with Western intelligence agencies.... The past record does not give much cause for
optimism. The Saudis have still failed
to clear up the bombing of the al Khobar barracks, which killed 19 Americans in
1996. Al-Qaida's aim is to capitalize on
the anti-American mood sweeping the Arab world and the current sense of shame
that Iraqi forces put up so poor a fight.
It wants to make life in Saudi Arabi intolerable for any Westerner
through a combination of terror and incitement.
And it wants to so shake the authority of the ruling house that all
democratic reform is postponed, draconian new restrictions imposed and a
disgruntled population provoked into open revolt."
"Reminder Of Harsh Reality"
The Nationalist broadsheet Irish News of Belfast held
(5/14): "The devastating bomb
attack in Saudi Arabia has delivered a sharp reminder to President Bush that
toppling Saddam Hussein has not eliminated the global threat to
FRANCE: "Terrorism, Again"
Bruno Frappat opined in Catholic La Croix (5/14): “The tragedy in Riyadh is like a message sent
to Secretary Powell which can be summarized as follows: neither the end of
Afghanistan’s Taliban nor the end of Saddam’s regime in Iraq are enough to give
you the final victory.... We all knew,
at least after Sept.11, that Saudi Arabia was a source of serious concern for
the Americans.... Except for the naïve,
we all knew that the end of Saddam Hussein would not mean the end of terrorism
nor the beginning of security around the world.
We knew that George W. Bush’s crusade, by forgetting to deal with Saudi
Arabia and Pakistan, was concentrating on the non-essential.”
"The Saudi Monarchy Also A Target"
Claude Lorieux held in right-of-center Le Figaro (5/14): “These bloody attacks are sending a triple
message: to the Americans, to the Saudi family and to the Saudi Crown
Prince.... International public opinion
will remember them as an affront made to the U.S., and non-American victims,
like those of the Nairobi and Dar es Salam attacks, will soon be
forgotten.... The fact that these
attacks came hours before Secretary Powell’s arrival underscores that the
perpetrators’ intention was to make President Bush, along with his Western and
Saudi allies, pay for their invasion of Iraq.
If, as Secretary Powell said, the attack has the mark of al-Qaida, then
Washington’s decision to withdraw its forces from Saudi Arabia is not enough to
calm the ire of Islamic extremists....
These attacks will undoubtedly revive America’s questions about Islamic
‘contamination’ of Saudi society. This
is hardly a good thing for the Saudi regime’s image.”
Has Sunk Its Claw Into Us"
Stefan Kornelius commented in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung
(5/14): "The terror attacks in
Riyadh show us the core of Islamic terror: al-Qaida cannot be defeated from the
outside. Militant Islamists will only
disappear if Islamic societies manage to get rid of the problem themselves.... The terror is coming from Saudi Arabia, with
its Wahhabi state religion, and it needs to be defeated there. The origin of the biggest threat against
America is there, not in Iraq. The U.S.
has no political strategy on how it wants to defuse this political bomb. The Saudi people are waiting to be freed from
authoritarianism--to turn to fundamentalism.
If America and the West want to free themselves from their biggest
threat, they need to put their democratization project to the test in Riyadh
Jacques Schuster contended in right-of-center Die Welt
(5/14): “As with earlier attacks, it is
directed against the West in general and the U.S. in particular.... For the West and also Germany this means that
the fight against terrorism also takes place in remote areas such as the Hindu
Kush and that we have to stop rogue states from cooperating with terrorists to
ensure that WMD don’t get into the wrong hands.
These consequences have not sunk in with the Germans yet; despite the
terror attack in Djerba [Tunisia], most Germans still believe we are living on
the island of the blessed.... It is time
to wake up.”
ITALY: "A Bloody
Franco Venturini wrote in centrist, top-circulation Corriere
della Sera (5/14): “The terrorist
attacks in Riyadh remind the international community--still torn apart by
disagreements over Iraq--that the priorities jointly identified after September
11 did not disappear with Saddam Hussein.
And the attacks restore a less triumphant dimension to the post-war
situation, which still needs to be conquered after winning the war.... The revival of global terrorism should make
us realize that expectations for the post-Saddam benefits must proceed
simultaneously with the re-creation of a common front of all countries--not
just Western nations--that coalesced after September 11. Unresolved disputes and imperial skirmishes
only help the kind of terrorism that aims at a Middle East in flames and an
infinitely wider Atlantic: this is the terrible reminder coming from Riyadh.”
"The Terrorism Factory"
Magdi Allam held in left-leaning, influential La Repubblica
(5/14): “Saudi Arabia confirms itself as
the real stronghold of Osama bin Laden’s militants and as the most dangerous
active volcano of Islamic fundamentalism, capable of destabilizing the entire
Middle East. It is an unbelievable
factory of aspiring suicide terrorists who could spread death throughout the
world. Bin Laden is at home here.... The nine terrorists who sacrificed themselves
as human bombs in Riyadh confirm that the reserve of Saudi ‘martyrs’ is
considerable indeed.... The attacks in
Riyadh hide an alarming new element and reflect a very ambitious goal: Osama
bin Laden...believes that he can topple the Saudi monarchy and put his hands on
the world’s wealth....to resurrect the Umma, the Islamic Nation, to become its
new caliph, and the Vicar of Mohammad....
The Saudi monarchy is paying for the serious mistakes stemming from an
age-long religious and ideological politics characterized by risks and
RUSSIA: "Cause For New
Leonid Gankin commented in reformist business-oriented Kommersant
(5/14): "After the Americans
finally get hold of Iraqi oilfields, they will no longer need the Saudis' oil
very much. Then Washington will be able
to start destroying terrorism right in its lair. There will no longer be need for more proof
that the lair is in Saudi Arabia.
Al-Qaida has provided all the necessary evidence. This is cause enough for a new antiterrorist
"Americans Were Wrong About Al Qaida"
Igor Fedyukin remarked in business-oriented Vedomosti
(5/14): "The terrorist acts took
place shortly before Colin Powell's visit to Saudi Arabia. Earlier the Americans claimed that the war on
terrorism and the overthrow of the Talibs in Afghanistan had rendered al-Qaida
incapable of carrying out major terrorist acts."
AUSTRIA: "The Hydra
Thomas Vieregge wrote in centrist daily Die Presse
(5/14): “Colin Powell certainly hasn’t
been very lucky so far on his tour through the Middle East.... The Saudis have given him a welcome present
that has confirmed all the old fears in Washington: the hydra of terror is
still spreading its tentacles, and the al-Qaeda network has not been
destroyed.... The U.S. has demonstrated
political far-sightedness when it finally decided to remove the U.S. troops
from Saudi Arabia. The stationing of
'infidels on holy ground' had caused widespread resentments--an ideal breeding
ground for fundamentalists of Osama bin Laden’s ilk.... Washington’s turning away from their
long-standing ally Saudi Arabia indicates a change of strategy. The regime in Riyadh is suspected of
promoting and financing terrorism. Since
the terror attacks of 9/11, and especially since the end of the war in Iraq,
the Saudi despots have forfeited much of their former prestige. Now, the kingdom wants to win back some
support with timid steps towards reforms.
First of all, this has to involve a rigorous clampdown on al-Qaeda
cells, which seem to have been allowed to flourish in Saudi Arabia.”
Baudouin Loos contended in left-of-center Le Soir
(5/14): “These terrorist attacks are a
very bitter illustration for the Saudi ruling family of the dangers of pleading
for a rigorist Islam while at the same time relying on the American ‘infidels’
to guarantee its security and even its survival.... In the United States, those who claimed that
Iraq should be subdued because of their doubts about the Saudis’ reliability
are reinforced by these attacks."
David Shorf wrote in the centre-right daily Lidove noviny
(5/14): "It could be surprising
that Osama's followers attacked only several days after the Americans announced
their intention to leave Saudi Arabia.
From the Arab point of view, however, the taking of Baghdad is much
worse. Many of Osama's prophecies have
materialized.... The timing of the
American forces' departure from Saudi Arabia was well planned and does not give
the impression of retreat. The problem,
however, is that at this point it is just not enough for Al Qaeda. It sees itself as a world organization and it
wants to wage a world war."
DENMARK: "Riyadh Must
Take Immediate Anti-Terror Action"
Center-right Jyllands-Posten commented (5/14): "It is important that the authorities in
Riyadh take immediate action to address the terrorism that threatens to
destabilize the region."
Newspaper of record Aftenposten commented (5/14): “There is little reason to believe that the
U.S. will give up its presence in the Middle East after what happened last night,
or that Washington will perceive the fight against fanatical terrorists as less
important. On the contrary the most
extreme supporters of President Bush will feel even more strongly that this is
a group with which one cannot compromise.
As always, the extremists are strengthened and the moderates are
weakened by terrorist acts.”
POLAND: "They Want To
Dawid Warszawski opined in liberal Gazeta
Wyborcza (5/14): “The attack
happened only a month after Americans announced they would withdraw troops from
Saudi Arabia, something al-Qaida and other fundamentalist organizations
demanded.... Apparently, It is a futile
hope that terrorists will stop killing if their demands are met--quite the
SPAIN: "From Chechnya
To Saudi Arabia"
Conservative ABC declared (5/14): "The international war against terrorism
is still prevailing, but it is going to be hard, it is going to mean suffering,
it is going to represent important challenges, and to require even more solid
determination and unity on the part of democratic countries. In some European ideological environments,
they invest more in explaining terrorism than in fighting it. It is valid to look for a sociological
explanation for a terrorist crime, as for any other. But it is much more reassuring making an
academic study once the criminal has been defeated."
"The Enemy Was Not In Iraq, But In A
Neighboring Friend Country"
Independent El Mundo maintained
(5/14): "The war against Iraq not
only has not served to weaken al-Qaida, but it has produced exactly the
opposite effect: it has strengthened the terrorist organization, which has
gained supporters in the Muslim world after the U.S. offensive against a paper
tiger called Saddam. The attacks of yesterday
show that Baghdad was not the great threat Bush said and that the true enemies
of the U.S. are in other countries, which are much closer to Washington
politically.... Al-Qaida still has a
huge capability to do harm, a hidden threat that Bush should fight by investing
more in intelligence and political cooperation instead of sending his imposing
army looking for propaganda laurels."
SWEDEN: "The Fight
Against Terrorism Is Not Over"
Stockholm's conservative Svenska Dagbladet editorialized
(5/14): "Hopefully the most recent
terrorist attacks will make the Saudi Royal House take serious action against
its internal terrorism, to whose growth it has...contributed. But in Saudi Arabia, just as in other parts
of the Arab world, counterterrorism must go hand-in-hand with openness and
democratic reforms. To press for this is
also part of the fight against terrorism.
The military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq have been surrounded by
tough criticism against the U.S. for exaggerating the threat of global
terrorism. The Riyadh attack is a
reminder that critics of the U.S. still are wrong. But to them the brutal reality does not
matter. To anti-Americans the U.S. is
the problem--not terrorism, which hits blindly."
"A Bombing Attack Against The U.S. Friend"
Social Democratic tabloid Aftonbladet observed (5/14): "The four bloody suicide attacks not
only tore up innocent people, they might also hasten the breakup of the close,
half-century long friendship between the U.S. and the oil monarchy. The ruling, authoritarian class in Saudi
Arabia, rolling in money, is now being seriously threatened.... One might regard the violent attack either as
an act of revenge for the Iraq war or as an attempt to try to tear to pieces
the fragile Mideast peace plan, which Secretary Powell was to present for the
rulers in Riyadh. It must be said that
the largest economic contributions toward international terrorism, without a
doubt, come from Saudi Arabia. This is
the main reason why the U.S. wants to gradually withdraw from the country,
which would then lose protection from the U.S. simultaneously as it would
become increasingly vulnerable to terrorism and militant fundamentalism. This might jeopardize its existence."
SWITZERLAND: "A Fatal
Lack of Toughness"
Washington correspondent Ignaz Staub contended
in leading Tages-Anzeiger (5/14):
"The bombings in Riyadh reflect the fact that, in dealing with
Saudi Arabia, George Bush has not shown the toughness that he has demonstrated
elsewhere in the war against terrorism.
While the president has made it absolutely clear to other countries in
the region that they can only be 'with us or against us,' he clearly has gone
easy on the Saudi monarchy. Like many
U.S. presidents before him, he has not wanted to endanger the good relations
between America and Saudi Arabia that have existed ever since oil was
discovered in the Arabian Peninsula in the 1930s."
TURKEY: "The Roots Of
Fehmi Koru argued in Islamic-intellectual Yeni Safak
(5/14): "Trying to find a reason or
excuse for terrorist acts is not only a dangerous...but also a meaningless
effort. The best way to eliminate
terrorism is to be able to take proper measures. However, the Bush administration's ways and
means of handling Middle East-based terrorism seem to be providing no results
at all. One of the reasons for the
failure to cope with terrorism stems from the U.S. decision makers'
perception.... [They] continue to draw a
direct link between Islam and terrorism.
Those with evil minds find this perception facilitates their execution
of terror acts. They easily find
volunteers to carry out their dark aims.
It is like a vicious circle. The
more a parallel is made between Islam and terror, the more the terrorists find
ways to achieve their goals.... This is
the time to think about finding other ways to handle terrorism on a global
scale. One of them might be the U.S.
determination to end injustices globally."
Saudis Via Foreigners"
Zvi Bar'el wrote in independent, left-leaning Ha'aretz
(5/14): "The [Saudi] government's
plans to implement reforms bringing 'a little more democracy' into the kingdom
has sparked a sharp controversy in Saudi Arabia. This has already forced Crown Prince Abdullah
to extract a promise from a group of intellectuals that they will stop talking
publicly about the need for reform, 'in light of the situation.' The fact that the attacks took place shortly
after Washington and Riyadh announced plans to reduce the U.S. military presence
in the kingdom strengthens the assessment that the terrorists' real target
might have been the Saudi regime. The
attacks in Saudi Arabia once again cast doubt on whether total war against a
state suspected of sheltering terrorists is an effective means of liquidating
terrorist organizations whose aims are not localized."
"Hotbed of Terror"
Guy Bechor maintained in mass-circulation, pluralist Yediot
Aharonot (5/14): "The Saudi
educational system has turned the kingdom into a hotbed of dissemination of
radical Islam throughout the world, so that the threat posed to the U.S. and
the West by the fruits of indoctrination by clerics is proving worse than the
benefit accrued by the U.S. from that country's pro-Western foreign
policy.... The fact that Iraqi oil
production could reach 12 million barrels a day in one year's time allows the
U.S. to fall back on the friendly regime it is establishing in Baghdad and to start
checking what's rotten in the kingdom....
In light of Tuesday's bombings, it is clear that a 'sit tight' policy
vis-a-vis Saudi Arabia could prove disastrous.
One possible solution could be to force the Saudi kingdom to reach a new
socio-political order in which the Court would take responsibility for domains
in which it hasn't been active up till now--chiefly education, the law and the
administration of religious affairs. If
this is not done, Saudi Arabia will continue to be a breeding ground for new al
Qaida-style organizations. Now that the
lessons of Iraq are still fresh and represent a Damocles' sword on the Arab
regimes, the time has come for such action."
EGYPT: "Fatal American
Leading pro-government Al Ahram columnist Hazem Abdel
Rahman observed (5/14): “It is obvious
al-Qaida is still able to strike at any time.... The explosions in Riyadh, although they are
criminal acts, mean American policy is reaping what it sowed. Before the war on terror ended, it [the U.S.]
opened the Iraqi front, and before the situation settles in Iraq, the Riyadh
explosions occurred. Chancellor
Schroeder warned precisely about this when he said war on Iraq might have a
negative impact on the war against terror and on Mideast stability.”
Small-circulation pro-government Al Gomhouriya
Editor-in-chief Samir Ragab speculated (5/14):
“If al-Qaida proves to be behind the Riyadh explosions, does it mean the
organization is still intact? Certainly
yes.... The U.S. should realize its occupation
of Afghanistan...and Iraq...would not prevent terrorists from committing
crimes, which we know are not specific to one religion or border.... There is no other solution but to revive
President Mubarak’s initiative...to hold an international conference to fight
terrorism under the U.N. umbrella....
Only then will the line be tightened around terrorists and they will
The elite, English-language Jordan Times editorialized
(5/14): "The fatal attacks...in
Riyadh are a grim reminder of how the effort to stamp out terrorism worldwide
requires cooperation among and condemnation by all countries who would see this
scourge removed from the globe."
KUWAIT: "Who Is The
Target Of The Explosions In Riyadh?"
Dr. Ayed Al-Manna wrote in independent Al-Watan
(5/14): “If the terrorists of Saudi
Arabia believe that raising slogans against the Americans will gain them
sympathy, then they are hallucinating.… The goals of terrorism in Saudi Arabia
are to impose an extremist ideology instead of adopting the sensible Islamic
teachings, and to force the Saudi leadership to abandon its reform
"Flame On The Hem Of The Saudi Robe"
Editor-in-Chief of independent Al-Seyassah, Ahmad
Al-Jarallah opined (5/14): “Are these
[terrorist attacks] meant to expel Americans from the Arabian Peninsula? We do not believe so, because Americans have
already left [Saudi Arabia]. Indeed,
such acts of terror are meant to topple the ruling power and nothing else.”
Blasting The Holy Slogan!"
Talal Salman opined in moderate, anti-Syrian As-Safir
(5/14): "If we believe...all the
proofs and speculations that the Riyadh blasts are the creation of Al-Qaeda
organization, then Osama Bin-Laden would have added to his original sin,
another hideous sin, confirming that he is suffering from a dangerous political
blindness that stops him from seeing who his real enemy is.... One condition for Al-Jihad is to determine
who your enemy is, and confront him in the eye.... The blasts in Riyadh are a crime.... They are a hideous political mistake which
will give the American administration the opportunity to show that it is only
defending its citizens when it attacks other countries and even occupy
them.... When will Al-Qaeda stop
blasting the slogan of the holy Jihad?"
QATAR: "We Condemn
This Terrorist Act"
"Killing civilians can not be justified ever, even if it is made in
the name of Islam. The attacks in Riyadh are actually against the teachings of
Islam. The Riyadh attacks prove without a doubt that the international
community must work and cooperate together to fight this terrorism. But we must
differentiate between these terrorist attacks and the resistance against the
occupier. The situation in Palestine is totally different because the
Palestinians are fighting for their rights against the Israeli. Sharon and his
government will use the Riyadh attacks as a justification to accelerate their
aggression against the Palestinians under the umbrella of a war on terrorism.
We should act firmly against terrorist acts against civilians but we have to state
loudly that the Palestinians are resisting an occupying power--not innocent
"These Criminals Are Harming Islam Itself"
Semi-independent English-language Gulf Times opined
(5/14): "The coordinated attacks on
the Westerners' compounds...is despicable and there is no justification for
such hate-driven crimes, which are perpetrated by a misguided minority.... It is hard to know what the perpetrators
thought might have been achieved by such a crime. Whoever was responsible must have been blind
to the fact that no good has ever come out of such attacks on Western
interests. By distorting the image of
Islam and projecting it as a religion of violence, these misguided individuals
play into the hands of those who want to harm the Arab and Muslim people and
whip-up anti-Muslim sentiments in other countries. It may even be their intention to do that in
an effort to bring about a war between civilizations.... The Saudis and the U.S. will no doubt track
down the criminals behind this atrocity and punish them, as they deserve. But, as with the September 11, 2001, attacks,
the broader consequences of what has happened are impossible to calculate,
beyond knowing that good never comes of evil deeds."
SAUDI ARABIA: "The
English-language, pro-government Arab News contended
(5/14): "Words are inadequate to
express the shock, the revulsion, the outrage at the suicide bombings in
Riyadh. Are expatriates working here an
army of occupation, to be slaughtered and terrorized into leaving? This was an undertaking of sheer evil.... It was targeted as much against Saudi Arabia
as against Westerners.... Those
responsible are the new fascists.
Merciless, cold and full of hate, with a demented vision of Islam, they
declared war on humanity for the thoroughly un-Islamic goal of separating and
insulating the Muslim world from the rest of humanity.... We have to face up to the fact that we have a
terrorist problem here.... For too long
we have ignored the truth.... We can no
longer ignore that we have a nest of vipers here, hoping that by doing so they
will go away. They will not. They are our problem and we all their targets
now.... The environment that produced
such terrorism has to change. The
suicide bombers have been encouraged by the venom of anti-Westernism that has
seeped through the Middle East’s veins, and the Kingdom is no less
affected. Those who gloat over Sept. 11,
those who happily support suicide bombings in Israel and Russia, those who
consider non-Muslims less human than Muslims and therefore somehow disposable,
all bear part of the responsibility for the Riyadh bombs. We cannot say that suicide bombings in Israel
and Russia are acceptable but not in Saudi Arabia. The cult of suicide bombings has to
stop. So too has the chattering,
malicious, vindictive hate propaganda.
It has provided a fertile ground for ignorance and hatred to grow. There is much in U.S. policy to condemn;
there are many aspects of Western society that offend--and where necessary,
Arab governments condemn. But
anti-Americanism and anti-Westernism for their own sake are crude, ignorant and
destructive. They create hate. They must end. Otherwise there will be more
"Decisiveness In Confronting Terrorism"
Riyadh’s moderate, Al-Jazira editorialized (5/14): "Things have developed into a phase that
has left no room except to address them with a large degree of decisiveness and
firmness. We need to contain those risks
and to rout out anything that encourages them and those who promote them
because the stability of the society rests on an effective move where every
individual in this society plays a vital role."
"The Real Target"
Jeddah’s moderate, Okaz opined (5/14): "The target is not buildings, foreigners
or residences of foreigners, but the target is Arab and Islamic security. Any other argument is invalid and
"The Target Is The Kingdom"
Mecca’s conservative, Al-Nadwa editorialized (5/14): "Although this incident coincided with
the visit of the U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell--those who want to
undermine the U.S.-Saudi relations would try with all their inherited evils to
take advantage of this incident to realize their well-known objectives and
goals as they have attempted before to take advantage of the 9/11 events to
damage this strong relation between the two countries--the determination of the
U.S. secretary of state to complete his visit was a confirmation that
U.S.-Saudi relations are above any suspicion and that such relations cannot be
affected by terrorist actions."
UAE: "The Explosions
Abu Dhabi-based pan-Arab Akhbar Al Arab held (5/14): "The explosions in Riyadh remind us of
the importance that Washington review its policies in the region, whether it
relies totally on its military power when dealing with the region's issues, or
whether it totally supports Israel's use of force against the
Palestinians. It also reminds the people
of the region that there are individuals among them who have fallen into mazes
of darkness that provide no benefit to any cause and only provide distorted images
to Arabs and Muslims."
EAST ASIA AND PACIFIC
JAPAN: "Saudi Arabia
On The Horns Of Islam And Pro-U.S. Stance"
Top-circulation, moderate Yomiuri Amman correspondent
Hirano noted (5/14): "Behind the
Riyadh suicide bombings are growing popular frustrations over the fact that
although Saudi Arabia is leader of the Islamic world, its leadership continues
to be dependent both militarily and economically on the 'infidel' U.S. It
appears that such inconsistencies have caused a 'hotbed of terrorism.' Such a
possibility can no longer be dismissed that acts of terrorism are directed at
not just the U.S. but the Saudi royal family."
"U.S.-Saudi Relations May Cool Off"
Moderate Tokyo Shimbun Washington
correspondent Sawaki observed (5/14):
"The strategic importance of Saudi Arabia, once a strong point for
U.S. policy toward the Middle East, has lessened since the Iraq war came to a
virtual end. Against such a backdrop, the Riyadh suicide bombings were so
serious that they could damage U.S.-Saudi relations, given the fact that Osama
bin-Laden, the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, is a Saudi native, and that
Secretary of State Powell was visiting Riyadh to ask the Saudi government to
intensify crackdowns on al-Qaida terrorists."
INDONESIA: “Danger Of
Terrorism Again Visible In The Attacks In Riyadh”
Leading independent Kompas commented
(5/14): “It is quite reasonable for
certain parties to try to link the Riyadh bombings with the Palestinian-Israel
conflict. Though still a hypothesis, the
series of bombing in Riyadh might serve not only as a protest against the
presence of U.S. forces but also as a criticism against the West's pro-Israel
bias.... But quite a few parties also
suspect Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda.
Moreover, a person who claimed to be Osama bin Laden recently threatened
to attack U.S. interests all over the world....
But the allegation that Al Qaeda was behind the bombings has yet to be
proven, a not very easy process of verification. No matter who the perpetrators, however, the
Riyadh incidents have brought about deep fears and panic.”
“Bomb in Riyadh”
Independent Koran Tempo declared
(5/14): “The U.S. made a mistake by
ignoring the world warning. The military attacks on Iraq have proven to not
bring peace. The ‘War on Terrorism’ in
Afghanistan only triggered other terror, at least if we believe in the official
version that the Bali bombing was perpetrated with the help of Al Qaeda
soldiers that escaped from Afghanistan.
The occupation of Iraq has become more explosive. There is a wide
perception that the U.S. military adventure in Iraq was not merely motivated by
oil, but also in the interest of protecting Israel. Such perceptions were reinforced by Pentagon
officials, such as Paul Wolwofitz or advisors such as Richard Perle, both are
pro-Israel and intend to ‘democratize’ and ‘change' the Middle East
map.... Without any basic changes in
policy, the road map toward independence in Palestine that Colin Powell is
selling will lead the Middle East nowhere.
The cycle of terrorism in that region will neatly bury it.”
That Refuses To Go Away"
The editorial of the independent Manila Times read
(5/14): "The war against terrorism
is going to be long and arduous. We are
constantly being reminded of this even after a victorious U.S.-led military
campaign in Iraq and the arrest of several top lieutenants of terror.... The triple suicide bombings, which targeted
buildings housing mostly western expatriates, killed at least 20 people,
including two Filipinos and 10 Americans....
Saudi Arabia has long been a target of Bin Laden and his terror
network.... He has made it known that he
is fighting the Saudi rulers for allowing U.S. troops to set up a base in what
he considers Muslim holy land.... There
is no excuse for terrorism; the world cannot compromise with terrorists. But Bin Laden's cause...has found a degree of
support in the Islamic world. He has
made himself out to be the champion of downtrodden Muslims.... Even as we once again mourn victims of
terrorism, we are reminded of the complicated nature of this scourge that
threatens the world."
SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA
INDIA: "Waiting On Terror"
The influential, right-of-center Indian Express
editorialized (5/14): "The Monday
night bomb blasts in residential compounds housing westerners in Riyadh were
certainly not unexpected. But for
America, as it goes about its unfolding 'war on terror' and its attempt to
reconfigure its strategic presence in West Asia, they are definitely
alarming. The wreckage in Riyadh shows
that Osama bin Laden's crew remain active and potent. The suicide attacks came hours before U.S.
Secretary of State Colin Powell commenced his high-security visit to
Riyadh. America's Most Wanted have
sought to convey that they can follow up the chatter in intelligence intercepts
with chillingly timed action. Clearly,
even the first phase of the 'war on terror'--that is the hunt for Al-Qaeda--is
not yet accomplished. Ever since 9/11, the U.S. has become increasingly
suspicious of Saudi Arabia. Washington
has begun to tire of perceived Saudi duplicity in financing and tolerating
Wahabi extremism, most notably of the Al-Qaeda and Taliban variety. The U.S. may be moving its central command
from the Prince Sultan air base near Riyadh to Doha, but would the entire
enterprise be any better served if it were to desert Saudi Arabia altogether? Monday's blasts have added urgency to that
The nationalist Hindustan Times observed (5/14): "For the U.S., the grim reminder that
al-Qaeda hasn't lost its sting may be all the more worrisome in the context of,
first, its failure to nab Saddam Hussein and, secondly, its inability to
restore any semblance of order in Baghdad.
Besides, the unsettled conditions in Iraq will be a reminder to the
terrorists that the war may be over, but the conflict isn't. Taken together with Israel's reluctance to
accept the 'road-map' to peace in Palestine, Islamists may not find too much
difficulty in recruiting members for their terror brigades. Clearly, the world continues to remain a
"A Backlash In The Desert"
The centrist Hindu editorial read (5/14): "The car-bomb attacks...will send shock
waves around the world. These reflect
the first response to the month-long American occupation of Iraq and represent
an ominous reminder both to the U.S. and the Saudi monarchy that their nemesis
is far from beaten and vanquished. That
neither the warnings nor the high alert of the security apparatus could prevent
the massive bomb attacks in the capital speaks of the degree of local support
that Osama and his network have built up in Saudi Arabia.... Aftershocks as a consequence of the American
invasion of Iraq were not unanticipated and Washington had begun to plan
repositioning of its forces for a post-Saddam Hussein Middle East. It was taken for granted that the first casualty
of such reshuffling would be the unnatural relationship between the U.S. and
Saudi Arabia, built up solely as an oil-for-security program. The planned
American withdrawal, announced after the Iraqi action so that Osama and his
Al-Qaeda do not claim credit for it, is a challenge that the Saudi regime must
meet by reforming society so that bomb explosions do not convert into volcanic
eruptions. In a society ruled on feudal
lines by an absolute monarch, democracy must be rarer than rain. But failure to plant its seeds can have
disastrous consequences for the entire region."
PAKISTAN: "Riyadh Bomb
The center-right national Nation stated (5/14): "While there is no justification under
any circumstances for such horrendous acts which involve the killing of
innocent people, Washington can no longer afford to allow its usual blind
reaction to fog the real issues of foreign policy that energize such groups
against the U.S. in most of the Muslim world.... The other factor is Washington's carte blanche
to Tel Aviv to trample over the lives, rights and territory of Palestinians. If
suppressing terrorism through military might could work, Israel with its brute
military strength would surely not be experiencing regular suicide bombings, as
it is now. Washington's continued indulgence towards Israel in the process of
the peace settlement in the region, its revived talk about a road map, which
Israeli's hawkish Prime Minister is treating with the indifference of a spoilt
child, does not inspire confidence in U.S. policies. It is time Washington came to grips with
"Bomb Blasts In Riyadh"
Second-largest Urdu-language Nawa-e-Waqt opined
(5/14): "Four different bomb
explosions in a residential area in Riyadh killed at least 12 people, including
10 Americans.... America and its allies
have launched an atrocious campaign to deprive and subjugate Muslims on the
pretext of terrorism. As a result of
this policy, the youth of the Muslim Ummah have acted like a cat surrounded by
dogs. The surrounded cat has attacked
the dog. These sacrificial attacks are
in fact a response to the oppression and are aimed at inflicting loses on
America and those powers who have unleashed the hell of violence and
suppression in Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Chechnya and Kashmir.... The bomb blasts in Riyadh and the loss of
life and property are regrettable....
America should know that deprivation and subjugation are creating
terrorists.... Such incidents are food
for thought for America. The only super
power should fulfill its responsibility and raise its voice against excesses in
Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Chechnya and Kashmir. By doing so its dream to uproot terrorism
CANADA: "The Saudi
Serge Truffaut noted in liberal Le Devoir (5/14): "According to Saudi political analysts,
the departure of American troops is seen by a large segment of the population
as a huge victory for al-Qaida.... With
the military on the way out, Al Qaeda believes it can move on to the next stage
and force the departure of the 30,000 Westerners living in the area.... Once the holy land is free of Christians and
others, Al Qaeda and the mullahs would like to overthrow the Saudi regime. It is true that the regime is a cocktail of
great corruption, of madness, of arbitrary decisions, slavery and yes,
poverty. This country where princes live
in the most extravagant opulence is now faced with the misery of
unemployment. It is logical for the
unemployed to follow the guidelines of the mullahs opposed to the regime or the
camp of Bin Laden supporters. Saudi Arabia is entering a time of profound
Julie Lemieux held in centrist Le Soleil (5/14): "These new attacks show once again that
the causes of terrorism are many and complex and that these acts of violence
will not stop with the arrival of a democratic government in Iraq or the
introduction of a cutting edge technological spying system. The countries of the world must work hand in
hand to fight without mercy against terrorism by sharing information and by
continuing to finance this unusual war [against terrorism]. But they must also do everything in their
power to create the necessary conditions for creating a lasting peace in the
Middle East, to healing the wounds of injuries that fed the anger of too many
young extremists. For if it is impossible to stop all the terrorists of the
world, we should at least try to change the mentalities and appease the
madness, despite the size of the challenge."
"Saudis Must Shun Fatal Complacency"
The liberal Toronto Star contended (5/14)
(Internet version): "Terror cannot
be placated, managed or contained, even by those who know it intimately. It must be forcefully suppressed. Crown Prince Abdullah, Saudi Arabia's de
facto feudal ruler, claims to understand that in the wake of terror bombings
Monday in Riyadh.... Abdullah assured
his people that the attacks on Americans and other foreign nationals won't
'shake the security and stability of our country.' Maybe not.
But they should rouse Saudis from a fatal complacency. Just weeks ago, Interior Minister Prince Naif
declared Al Qaeda, the presumed author of the bombings, a spent force. Yesterday, he looked a fool.... U.S. President George Bush, meanwhile, has
been dangerously deflected from the anti-terror campaign by his unnecessary war
to oust Saddam Hussein, and by the need to rebuild Iraq. As the Americans settle in for an
interminable occupation, the chief authors of 3,000 murders on Sept. 11, 2001,
walk free. With tragic results. Osama
bin Laden and most of the 9/11 crew are Saudi-born, and this week's attacks
reconfirm that the oil-rich desert kingdom of 23 million remains a breeding ground
for terror.... Pressed by the Americans
after 9/11, the Saudis have begun tracking down terror suspects, and squeezing
their funds. But it's been a
half-hearted effort, with this week's predictable result. The ferocity of these latest bombings should
spur Prince Abdullah to confront terror-friendly royals, to rally moderate
Saudis and to suppress the extremists.
Before they commit even worse crimes."
"Al-Qaeda: They're Back"
Barry Rubin commented in the leading Globe and Mail
(Internet version) (5/14): "For
years, Saudi millionaires, with government compliance, have been financing
al-Qaeda.... The goal was to turn
al-Qaeda's violent energies away from Saudi Arabia. This latest attack shows
that such tactics have not worked and should give the Saudi authorities an
incentive to crack down on the group and really stop the flow of money from its
own wealthy citizens to terrorists. It
is worth noting that this week's attack came shortly after the announcement
that U.S. military forces would be withdrawn from Saudi Arabia.... In this
case, the terrorists could falsely--but credibly for much of their Arab
audience--claim the withdrawal as a victory for themselves.... An escalation in terrorism is also al-Qaeda's
answer to the U.S. victory in Iraq."
In The Security System Designed By Bush"
Oscar Raul Cardoso opined in leading Clarin (5/14): "The ghost of a blowback in US global
affairs seems to be strongly reestablished through the multiple criminal
assault in Riyadh.... Those who
criticize the most recent US military incursions in Afghanistan and Iraq are
based on the premise that George W. Bush created an objective situation of
larger insecurity by choosing two Islamic countries that are notoriously weak
and imposing a devastating punishment on them. Even the Royal House in Saudi
Arabia has warned the US that its inability to promote a balanced peace plan in
the Middle East favors the growing of the most radicalized factions...
Meanwhile, Washington is irremediably in love with punishment as a
response.... But terrorism is frequently
the perverse expression of conflicts in which its participants have legitimate
offenses.... The resolution of these conflicts==for
instance, the Palestinian-Israeli issue--is what deactivates terrorism; by only
responding through military force is acting only of the surface of
"The Saudi Royal Family, Between The Sword And A Hard
Hector M. Guyot commented in daily-of-record La Nacion
(5/14): "The criminal assaults that
killed tens of people in Riyadh happened when the contradiction involving Saudi
Arabia's recent history has taken the country to a crossroads that seems far
from a solution.... Why has Washington
needed Saudi Arabia? In addition to its oil trade interests, there is a
strategic reason: the US has had a military presence in Saudi territory for
over fifty years, and its alliance with the ruling Sunnite dynasty.... has served to deter the expansion of radical
Islamism in the region. But this convenience marriage has brought undesired
consequences for the Saudi family dynasty....
The US presence in Saudi Arabia has always been unpopular.... Most of its inhabitants do not agree with the
king's pro-US policy, and many find it humiliating that their country be so
dependent on the US.... The royal
family's refusal to host US troops in the last war on Iraq and the recent
announcement that the US will withdraw its military from Saudi Arabia seem
signs that the Saudi government wants to appease the Islamic complaints. But perhaps
this will not be enough. The criminal assaults occurred the day before
yesterday were also a hard retreat for the family dynasty, which notices how
its absolute power is fissured while the anti-US feeling increases and, even
worse, terrorism can also blow in the heart of its land."
"To Put Out the Fire"
Right-of-center O Globo editorialized (5/14): "In view of yesterday's multiple
suicidal attacks in Saudi Arabia, it may seem inopportune to ask when the
Middle East will stop being a burning fuse.
But the question is less inopportune than it seems. Despite the Riaydh slaughter...it's possible,
even likely, that the explosive region will become stabilized in the near
future. It all depends on Bush's
political skill, or his hegemonic project for the U.S. that still hasn't been
"Hunted By The U.S., Al Qaeda Remains A Threat"
Liberal Folha de S. Paulo international writer Otavio Dias
observed (5/14): "The attacks in
Riyadh have frustrated the optimistic assessments of the war on terrorism that
were beginning to come from U.S. intelligence officials, especially with regard
to Al Qaeda's ability to organize another well-coordinated attack.... Al Qaeda, which already maintains relations
with radical Islamic organizations in several nations, is now undergoing an
even more intense process of decentralization and will try to work more closely
with terrorist groups around the world."
"Terror Chooses Riyadh To 'Revive'"
Center-right O Estado de S. Paulo Paris correspondent Giles
Lapouge asserted (5/14): "Saudi
Arabia has been cynically playing a game of double standards for 50
years.... Riyadh has used its fabulous
oil profits to finance Islamic governments, Islamic revolts, anti-Zionist
movements. But on the other hand, the
Saudi oil engenders so much interest in the Western industrial complex that the
U.S. has remained impassive in the face of such Saudi Islamic activism.... The removal of U.S. troops from Saudi Arabia
reflects the wishes of both nations: the U.S. can no longer support a nation
that finances Islamic movements worldwide, and Prince Abdullah can no longer
justify his alliance with the U.S. to a people who are extremely hostile to
In Riyadh And Bush's Re-election "
Old-guard nationalist El Universal
maintained (5/14): "Terrorism is
back in the spotlight after the terrorist attacks in Riyadh. The first conclusion is that there is no
possible defense against a suicide terrorist attack.... Second, the only way to prevent terrorism--in
a place like the Middle East--is to solve the root of the problem through
dialogue and negotiation on the basis of justice and international law.... Another not so exaggerated thought is that
the terrorist attacks were carried out to maintain alive the post-9/11 fear
that is so essential for the USG would carry out other military adventures
under the pre-emptive war concept against faceless terrorism. Let's not forget that Saudi Arabia has the
world's largest oil reserves, and that there are big consortia interested in
this wealth--as in the case of Iraq....
President Bush has said that his administration will find those
responsible and will bring them to justice.
What does he mean? That the Saudi government will face the same fate of
Afghanistan and Iraq?"