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Office of Research Issue Focus Foreign Media Reaction

April 27, 2004

April 27, 2004





**  The bombings in Riyadh signal the start of a "horrible open war."


**  Saudi papers urge citizens to "stand together with security forces" to fight terror.


**  The perpetrators cannot "hide their terrorist attacks behind the Islamic faith."


**  Non-Saudi critics of the U.S. link the blasts to "anti-American sentiment in the Middle East."




These 'crimes have nothing to do with heroism'--  Arab observers assailed the "cancerous and destructive" bombings in Riyadh.  Saudi Arabia's moderate Al-Watan blasted the "radical and extremist ideologies" of the "misled" terrorists, whom moderate Okaz begged to "wake up from...sick illusions."  The UAE's expatriate-oriented Gulf News acknowledged that the "pernicious and indiscriminate" attacks aimed "to effect a leadership change," but dailies in the kingdom emphasized the weakness of the "deviant group" that committed the bombings.  One moderate Saudi writer declared a "small insect cannot challenge a deep-rooted tree." 


'Every one of us is a security officer'--  Saudi outlets urged unity and "cooperation between citizens and security personnel."  Writers called for a "public uproar and an institutional uprising at every level" in order to "combat this deviant and abnormal faction"; one moderate paper sought an end to "gray areas and vague words."  Conservative Al-Madina held that "extending a helping hand to security forces is a noble act," while the English-language Arab News advised citizens to report "suspicious activity" because "we are all in the security forces now."


'A believer must not kill his fellow believers'--  Several dailies were "stunned" that "any Muslim would undertake such carnage against another Muslim."  Kuwait's independent Al-Seyassah criticized the killing of "innocent Muslims, slaughtering them like animals."  Other papers rejected the bombers for "taking innocent lives" of any religion while hiding under the "umbrella of Islam."  London-based Asharq al-Awsat stated that the bombs "had nothing to do with Islam, and the attacks should be described as terrorism."  Another Saudi editorialist agreed that "he who kills innocents is not a believer."


The Riyadh explosions are a 'reaction to U.S. policies'--  Pakistan's pro-Taliban Islam blamed the blast on the "so-called U.S. war on terror and American support for anti-Muslim" policies; Jakarta's independent Suara Pembaruan said terrorists are not just targeting the U.S. "but also countries considered allies of the U.S."  Several writers saw a "American media campaign against Saudi Arabia," alleging that the "American media minimized the terrorist attack" so as to "maintain a negative image of Saudi Arabia."  The U.S. media mistakenly blamed "Muslim radicals" for the blasts, said Lebanon's pro-Syria Ash-Sharq, but in truth whoever sponsored the attackers "only wants to dismantle the Muslims."   


EDITOR:  Ben Goldberg


EDITOR'S NOTE:  Media Reaction reporting conveys the spectrum of foreign press sentiment.  Posts select commentary to provide a representative picture of local editorial opinion.  This report summarizes and interprets foreign editorial opinion and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government.  This analysis was based on 22 reports from 8 countries over 22 - 26 April 2004.  Editorial excerpts from each country are listed from the most recent date.




SAUDI ARABIA:  "Which Of The Two Ways Are You Taking?"


Jeddah’s moderate Okaz editorialized (4/26):  "To the misled group we say, wake up from your sleep and your sick illusions that control your minds.  Listen to what the Minister of Interior has said.  He asked you to surrender yourselves.  You now have two choices; you either surrender yourselves, or you will be killed. If you chose the first you will be put on trial and judged in accordance to God’s law.  Remember that a small insect cannot challenge a deep-rooted tree." 


"They Chose The Worst Destiny"


Jeddah’s moderate Al-Bilad declared (4/25):  "The dark destiny that the terrorists have chosen is not new to them.  They are well aware of what awaits them.  But they are deceived in thinking that what they are doing is an act of heroism.  Their crimes have nothing to do with heroism.  A believer must not kill his fellow believers.  He who kills innocents is not a believer.  Security forces today have a heavy burden on their shoulders.  They are protecting this country and defending its citizens.  The Cooperation between citizens and law enforcement will ease the pressure on security personnel.  If at least we do not harbor these terrorists and do not provide them with shelter where they can hide, then we would be doing our part.  Property owners should check the identity of tenants before they offer them housing facilities." 


"The Symbols Of Terror Are Falling"


Jeddah’s conservative Al-Madina opined (4/25):  "The cooperation between citizens and security personnel in this critical period is very crucial.  The danger threatens everyone without exception.  Extending a helping hand to security forces is a noble act.  This is the least we could do for those who are risking their lives to protect this country. The symbols of terror are falling and we must not procrastinate in fighting this evil, to uproot its claws from our society." 


"That’s Why They Do Not Name Things By Their True Names"


Abha’s moderate Al-Watan said (4/24):  "Anyone who has monitored the U.S. press during the last two days would conclude that the American media minimized the terrorist attack in Riyadh last Wednesday....  The U.S. press failed to describe the incident as a terrorist attack.  It only mentioned it as a blast that occurred in the Saudi capital in front of a police headquarters building....  The U.S. press wants to maintain a negative image of Saudi Arabia among Americans.  The U.S. press was fully aware that the recent bombing last Wednesday demonstrated that Saudi Arabia is a victim of terrorism, not a supporter of it....  But to name things by their true names would undermine their unfair allegations against our country."       


"Time Is Up...No To Terrorism"


Jeddah’s moderate Al-Bilad declared (4/24):  "It is time for every citizen, resident, and every honorable man to say no to terrorism.  The hands of terrorists have reached our sons and brothers; we cannot remain quiet any longer.  Every one of us is a security officer and a policeman.  The terrorists have not spared anybody.  It is time that we all have watchful eyes and become vigilant to every move of this group of people who have lost every sense of guidance.  We all denounce these ugly crimes in our peaceful country.  We are all committed to fighting these extremists to uproot them from our country."  


"More Than Just A Trend"


Jeddah’s conservative Al-Madina maintained (4/24):  "The terrorist attacks that have hit the kingdom cannot be described as anything less than a horrible open war. This is a war against the government, the people, the citizens, the officials, the moderates, and the radicals.  There is no time to sit back and try to analyze or dissect the reasons that led to this terror.  Now it is time for action.  Now we need a public uproar and an institutional uprising at every level.  We have to stand by security forces in their war against the terrorists.  Our awareness of our surroundings is key at these critical times.  A national organized strategy must be established to fight these criminals and to get rid of those who are sympathetic with them, or those who legitimize their criminal activities."  


"Instant Reaction"


Riyadh’s conservative Al-Jazirah editorialized (4/24):  "Just one day after the Riyadh car bombing, the reply from security forces and citizens was prompt and strong against the terrorists who carried out the bombing under the umbrella of Islam, taking innocent lives and spreading panic in Saudi society. Security could not exist without the help of the public. The public can stand together with security forces to combat this deviant and abnormal faction, to root it out of our society. The police officers, because both of them are defending the country." 


"Atrocious And Evil Crimes"


Conservative Al-Jazira editorialized (4/23):  "The hideousness of this crime [attack in Riyadh] has stressed how important is the support of all society, the security bodies and the citizens, in confronting this bitter reality."


"A New Twist"


Youssef Abdullah Dini wrote in London-based pan-Arab Asharq al-Awsat (4/22):  "Wednesday's explosions in Saudi Arabia represent a new twist in the country's terrorist threat....  Undoubtedly the bombing did not aim to pressure 'Crusaders or infidels'--as Muslim fundamentalists dub Westerners--to leave the country. Instead...the attacks targeted the Saudi security organization itself.  The incident came only days after Saudi authorities raided the hide-outs of Al-Qaeda operatives and found several cars that were packed with explosives....  The attackers should stop trying to hide their terrorist attacks behind the Islamic faith.  The bombs had nothing to do with Islam, and the attacks should be described as 'terrorism....  Saudi clerical schools should instill in the minds of the younger generation a love for their country instead of false religious ideologies....  Political and religious reformists should condemn these acts outright, and make their homeland of Saudi Arabia their No. 1 cause."




London-based pan-Arab Al-Hayat opined (4/22):  "The terrorist attacks in Saudi Arabia predate the Iraqi issue. However, the aim of yesterday's attack and the way it was carried out cannot be isolated from the overall programme to destabilise."


"The Truth About Killers Has Been Exposed"


Jeddah’s moderate Okaz editorialized (4/22):  "The terrorist bombing in Riyadh that targeted the General Administration of Traffic building enraged citizens and residents alike.  This attack also revealed to everybody the truth about this deviant group that has strayed and their cancerous and destructive ideology.  The explosion in Riyadh undermined the belief that terrorist activities in the Kingdom only target Americans.  However, attacking foreigners who live peacefully amongst us is a crime forbidden by our Shariah, Islamic Law."


"No More Excuses, The Masks Have Fallen, And It’s Time For Straight And Honest Positions"


Abha’s moderate Al-Watan commented (4/22):  "Every scholar, scientist, thinker, and knowledge seeker needs to take a stand against this extremist ideology and those who stand behind it.  There is no room for gray areas and vague words.  At this critical time in which our country is living we need to be exact and describe things as they are.  We have heard those who referred to the executioners of the attack on Al-Muhaya compound in Riyadh as our sons who strayed and that they need guidance and self-discipline.  We also listened to people saying that these attacks were ‘incidents’ and refrained from describing them as terrorist and/or suicide bombings.  Every writer, thinker, and scholar must be accountable and responsible for every word they say or write.  We need to call things by their names.  We also have to clearly define our position against these radical and extremist ideologies.  Now that our sons’ blood has been shed, we must take a position and stand steadfast to defend our country."


"Long Battle Against Evil"


Pro-government English-language Arab News declared (4/22):  "The car bomb attack on a police buildings in Riyadh yesterday must leave no one in any doubt that we are all confronted by a great evil, and that the struggle against it will not be won in a matter of weeks or months. On the contrary, the war against terrorism will be long and difficult.  The terrorists have another enemy--the ordinary man or woman in the street in whose midst they seek to conceal themselves and their evil activities. It is thus imperative that everyone in the Kingdom remains alert to anything that seems unusual. As Crown Prince Abdullah said again this week, we are all in the security forces now. The police must be informed of any suspicious activity. The terrorists are not supermen. They are not invisible. Preparing car bombs behind closed doors may seem safe enough, but all the elements to make those deadly devices have to be bought from somewhere and then assembled. Alert members of the public may have more opportunities than they imagine to spot a small part of these deadly preparations, either in the busy daytime streets or in the middle of the night. And finally, though it is inevitable that decent people will be worried by what is happening, we must remain calm and utterly resolute."


JORDAN:  "Blind Terrorism"


Jordan's semi-official, influential Arabic-language Al-Rai observed (4/22):  "The bomb explosions in Riyadh have come immediately after the Saudi authorities announced they had succeeded in arresting a car containing explosives, which the authorities had been following since last month, and after [claiming] they had foiled several attacks....  It is not enough to issue statements of condemnation. Instead, serious practical mechanisms and methods should be put in place immediately so that terrorism can be eradicated once and for all....  Silence in the midst of what is happening is unacceptable....  All Arabs are bound to get exterminated in the terror war and they should not shift blame to others, because the fire did not break out in their neighbour's house, but in their own houses. Will they now move?"


KUWAIT:   "Killing Innocents"


Tariq Id al-Ubayd stated in Kuwait's independent Al-Seyassah stated (4/23):  "Those who are messing up with the Saudi security say they wanted to drive away Saudi Arabia's non-Muslim visitors, but today they are killing innocent Muslims, slaughtering them like animals."


LEBANON:  “Why Is Saudi Arabia Being Targeted?”


Aouni AL-Kaaki held in pro-Syria Ash-Sharq (4/22):  “It is not true that what is happening in Saudi Arabia is within the framework of Islamic-Islamic conflict between radical and moderates.  This is only what the U.S. is trying to circulate.  What is truly happening in Saudi Arabia has to do with efforts to shake the stability in this country, which along with Syria and Egypt is the center of Arab decision-making....  American media outlets claimed that Muslim radicals perpetrated this crime in Saudi Arabia, however, this is not true.  These criminals are only terrorists and have nothing to do with Islam and Muslims.  Whoever is behind them only wants to dismantle the Muslims....  In any case, what is the reason behind this American media campaign against Saudi Arabia?....  This crime only serves Israeli interests and American plans in the region.”


UAE:  "Bombs Will Only Strengthen Resolve"


The expatriate-oriented English-language Gulf News remarked (4/23):  "The devastating bomb blast in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia shocked all Muslims, not only Saudis, for the audacity in carrying of the attack in the birthplace of Islam. A group calling itself Al Haramain Brigades claimed responsibility; the group is allegedly connected to Al Qaida, which has cast its evil-doings worldwide for any misguided cause they aver to have an interest in. What stunned Muslims, and they find difficult to accept, is that any Muslim would undertake such carnage against another Muslim.  The non-acceptance of this is not confined to Saudi Arabia but arises where violence and killings occur. This is especially so in Iraq where Iraqi security forces are reluctant to act against their fellow citizens.  Yet gradually governments in the region are forced to the sad conclusion that extremists in their midst are intent on causing havoc and, through revolution and murder, to effect a leadership change. While there may be those who want change in the processes of governance, the majority recognise the way to win the support of the people is through discussion and compromise.  The usage of bombs to enforce an argument is particularly pernicious and indiscriminate. As has been seen in recent years in other countries, bombs in public areas will kill a greater number of innocent people than any intended target, assuming there is one and the intention is not to murder haphazardly.  In Saudi Arabia, it is clear terrorists were intent on causing mayhem and undermining the security efforts there. The attack can be viewed as a warped form of vengeance against all the measures Saudi Arabia has been taking and will continue to take, against terrorists. What those who perpetrate such acts will come to realise, though, is they do not deter the government in any way, but only reinforce their resolve."




INDONESIA:  “Terrorism Haunts Saudi Arabia”


Independent Suara Pembaruan commented (4/23):  “While after the Gulf War I (1991) bomb attacks were targeted at U.S. forces in an air base in Dahran, after September 11, 2001, bombings have also targeted Saudi citizens. This means terrorists do not only target the U.S. and its interests but also countries considered allies of the U.S...  In the broader sense, the terrorist attacks in Madrid before the elections in early March coincided with the early warnings about attacks by Al Qaeda against supporters of the U.S. and its coalition in Iraq. For example, they will target elections in Italy, Britain, Poland, Ukraine, the Netherlands and Denmark from May through July 2004.  The FBI has even warned that Al Qaeda might attack China, and Asian countries, including Indonesia.”


“Suicide Bombing”


Islamic-oriented Pelita observed (4/24):  "It is indeed difficult not to link suicide bombings with the anti-American sentiment in the Middle East.  In addition to the resistance against U.S. occupation in Iraq, the sentiment has recently been triggered by President Bush’s sidedness with Israel on the settlement of its conflict with Palestine.  Bush’s endorsement of Ariel Sharon’s plan has apparently prompted resistance against the U.S. and countries considered supporting the U.S.  The bomb attacks apparently have been aimed at warning the U.S.”


INDIA:  "Two Explosions In A Single Day"


Independent Urdu-language Inquilab editorialized (4/22):  "There are separate reasons for each of the two destructive explosions at Basra and Riyadh, but the two episodes at these places are enough to cause dismay to the Islamic world.   Incidents of this kind are becoming a permanent cause of anguish to Muslims all over the world....  The present explosion is the third of its kind and constitutes a challenge to the Saudi rulers.   The security of the land of Arabia is the responsibility of those in power there on two counts.   For one thing, it is their responsibility as rulers.   For another, Muslims inhabiting every nook and corner of the world have not only an emotional and mental, but also a spiritual relationship with this part of earth.   If this land comes within the range of terrorists' activities, Muslims, to whichever part of the world they may belong, cannot live in peace.  In tracking down the forces at the back of any subversive activity, no external power should be allowed to exert its influence.   But it has been often observed that as soon as an incident takes place, the needle of suspicion and then the trend of investigation are steered toward a particular direction.   Earlier, soon after the bomb blasts occurred in Riyadh, it was stated that Al-Qai'da was behind them.   It is purely a U.S. way of looking at things....  It is possible that Al-Qai'da might not be involved....  What we are driving at is that unless investigations are conducted on right lines, it will be difficult to trace the real culprit.   After last year's bomb explosions, the Saudi security arrested some people who had been reportedly linked with Al-Qai'da.  But thereafter, there was no news about where the investigations had led to."


PAKISTAN:  "A Reaction To Washington"


The Peshawar-based business-oriented Express held (4/22):  "Ten people have been killed and 130 injured in a bomb blast outside Saudi Arabia's security headquarters. We believe that this is a reaction to US policies and the usage of the term crusade war by President Bush, as a result of which even a peaceful country like Saudi Arabia cannot now remain safe from terrorist activities."


"The U.S. Is To Blame"


Pro-Taliban Urdu-language Islam thundered (4/22):  "We think the main reason for the explosion in Saudi Arabia is the so-called US war on terror and American support for anti-Muslim drives across the world, including in Palestine."



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