June 25, 2004
TERROR IN SAUDI ARABIA: 'AN ABHORRENT ACT OF
** Riyadh "occupies an
ambiguous position" in the war on terror, according to global media.
** Saudi dailies declare
their country is "determined to defeat" al-Qaida.
** Arab outlets bemoan how
these terrorist acts "mar the image of Islam."
** The only
"effective, long-term antidote" to terrorism is real reform.
'Not everyone' in the kingdom opposes al-Qaida-- Asian, Latin and Euro critics termed the
"brutal, corrupt and retrograde" government in Saudi Arabia a
"breeding ground for fundamentalism" and the world's "biggest
exporter of Islamism." Argentina's
left-of-center Pagina 12 concluded that "al-Qaida has the
support...of an important portion of the Saudi Royal House." Kuwaiti and British dailies countered that
"reports of the demise of the House of Saud are premature" and hailed
the kingdom's "great efforts to eradicate terrorism." Other outlets stressed the need to combat the
"real enemy--global Islamic terrorism," which Turkey's
economic-political Dunya said "has returned stronger than
A 'group of ignorant people...have threatened this society'-- Three themes predominated in the Saudi
media. First, writers urged citizens to
"unite our efforts in the war against terrorism"; moderate Okaz
judged that a "coalition between citizens, residents and security forces
is key." Second, they insisted that
only a small number of "deviant criminals" were responsible for
"killing people and spreading terror." Third, they repeated their determination to
fight terrorism; moderate Al-Watan called for "no dialogue, mercy
or leniency" for terrorists, adding that this is "no time for
laziness or hesitation."
The 'tyrannical executioners' validate the U.S.' 'racist political
vision'-- Muslim writers saw
"wide public condemnation throughout the Arab world" of al-Qaida due
to how their attacks are "damaging the image of Islam." Jordan's center-left Al-Dustour said
the attacks are "instigating the largest level of hatred possible against
Muslims." Lebanon's nationalist As-Safir
worried that such acts "almost justify occupation...in Iraq or
Palestine." Other Arab observers
blamed U.S. policies which "did not eliminate terrorism" but
"rather contributed to its prosperity." Tunisia's independent Tunis-Hebdo
assailed U.S. support of "all the current totalitarian regimes" in
the region, where "repression combined with corruption has engendered
The Saudis must 'reinvent and reform themselves'-- Commentators agreed "fundamental
change" is necessary in Saudi Arabia, urging Riyadh to "move
decisively on the political, economic and social reform fronts." Hong Kong's independent South China
Morning Post stated that "ending the terrorist threat cannot be done
without bringing reforms to the heart of the Arab world." France's left-of-center Liberation
added that Saudi society "does aspire to some democracy and the regime
cannot ignore its expectations." An
Australian analyst bluntly warned that the only solution is "for the
regime to reform and to reform fast."
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
49 reports from 21 countries over 19 - 25 June 2004. Editorial excerpts from each country are
listed from the most recent date.
The conservative Times editorialized (6/21): "The effort against al-Qaeda in Saudi
Arabia must now intensify.... The
kingdom cannot afford the damage to its economy or the impact on its image overseas
that the mass withdrawal of such labour would surely bring with it. Complacency is not an option.... Reports of the demise of the House of Saud
are premature and al-Qaeda does not have the mass appeal that it claims to be
able to mobilise. But it will not be
defeated if its true character is not openly acknowledged."
Jean-Michel Helvig wrote in left-of-center Liberation
(6/21): “When war is raging, one accepts
his allies as they are. When Saudi Arabia hits three top men allegedly
responsible for the decapitation of a U.S. hostage, there is a shared feeling that
a point has been scored against the enemy....
But the Saudi regime itself is one of the most brutal, corrupt and
retrograde.... The Saudi society does
aspire to some democracy and the regime cannot ignore its expectations. But
what is at play in this region of the world is the fact that Al-Qaeda is
looking to settle here, because of the difficulties it has been facing outside
Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is a prime target for Al-Qaeda’s network, for
economic, political and religious reasons. If Saudi Arabia has become a prime
target for the terrorists, it is also because of President Bush’s military
tactics: having decided to deprive Al-Qaeda of its Iraqi bases--which never
existed according to a recent report--what the U.S. has managed to do is offer
Saudi Arabia to Al-Qaeda as its new rear base.”
“Riyadh Scores With Washington”
Jean-Louis Turlin noted in right-of-center Le Figaro
(6/21): “The assassination of the Saudi
Al-Qaeda cell was perfectly timed to offer Saudi Arabia's regime an opportunity
to look good in the eyes of Washington, even if the road to better relations
between the two capitals still has a way to go. The decapitation of the U.S.
hostage did not help to soften the feeling in Washington’s political circlers
that the Saudi regime was doing everything it could in the fight against
terrorism.... Washington’s official
reactions to recent events in Saudi Arabia have remained cautious. President
Bush, in commenting on the assassination of Paul Johnson, did not mention the
status of U.S.- Saudi cooperation. The context is not favorable to the
distribution of brownie points to reward the Saudis for their cooperation. U.S.
public opinion is not easily accepting the shock of a third U.S. victim, one
month after Nick Berg and two years after Daniel Pearl.”
GERMANY: "Al Qaida's
Michael Thumann said in center-left weekly Die Zeit of
Hamburg (6/24): "The Al Qaida
section on the Arab peninsula is not so naïve as to directly attack the family
of the Saudi king. Al Qaida does not want
to turn the 'corrupt princes' into martyrs.
And the protection of the oil installations along the Persian Gulf is
too good and does not allow a successful attack. The tactic is as follows: hit the foreigners, and this hits the Saudi
monarchy. This is why there was the
attack on the residential area Chobar at the end of May, that is why a BBC
cameraman was killed at the beginning of June, that is why Paul Johnson was
decapitated. With every foreigner
killed, Al Qaida wants to demonstrate the Saudi Monarchy's dependency on the
West. And the more members of the family
flee voluntarily from the Arab peninsula, the more isolated will be the princes
in their own country.... It is striking
that the U.S. government has now changed the recommendations for the stay of
foreigners in Saudi Arabia. Only a while
ago, the motto was: 'Get out of the
country as quickly as possible.' But in
the meantime, Secretary Powell explains in detail why it is not good when all
U.S. nationals leave the country. The
U.S. government has realized the dilemma in the Gulf: It is a risk to stay, but those who leave
will help Al Qaida achieve a victory."
Markus Ziener argued in business-oriented Handelsblatt of
Duesseldorf (6/23): "Saudi Arabia faces the deepest crisis
in its history. Never has the largest
country on the Arab peninsula been so shaken, as by the recent spate of terror
attacks and hostage-taking. Despite the
fragile state of the Saud kingdom, it is too early to believe in its
decline. It is not easy to topple a
system of privileges that nurtures thousands.... But the crisis could result in a shift within
the house, since there are two camps in the leadership.... Terror is now testing the country. At the end there will be a decision between
the two schools of thought: Reforms in a
western sense of a market economy or the strengthening of the
religious-conservative camp.... The
cause for the rift is not so much the Wahhabite orthodoxy, which also inspired
Osama bin Laden and his kind. Bad government
and an enormous birth rate are splitting the society. The government failed to invest in education,
the social system and infrastructure… The young rich are bored and the poor
feel an increasing hatred towards the glamorous facades of the system. This is a breeding ground for
fundamentalism. It does not help that
Saudis cooperate with Americans. It
means more ammunition for fundamentalists and jihadists, who were once sent
against the Russians to Afghanistan with the blessing of the regime."
Center-right Frankfurter Allgemeine argued (6/21): "It is correct that European politicians
described Paul Johnson's decapitation in Saudi Arabia…as an abhorrent act of
barbarity. The debate here has had an
undertone that made the Americans appear as monsters in the fight against
terrorism, and made President Bush's policy the reason for Al Qaida's
atrocities. Despite all the mistakes
that were made in Iraq, this would be a reversal of the situation in which not
even Germany could have an interest....
But what is worrying is that Saudi authorities again shot alleged
criminals. From terrorist leaders like
al-Mukrin, investigators could get information if they were caught alive. It is not conducive to the establishment of a
democratic culture either if police tends to makes short work of
terrorists. The issues the West should
address in the framework of the "Broader Middle East" includes the
question what is appropriate in operations of security forces."
"Attack At The Third Front"
Heiko Flottau opined in center-left Sueddeutsche Zeitung of
Munich (6/21): "Paul Johnson's
killing and the death of murderer al-Mukrin again make clear that the Middle
East, following the Israeli-Palestinian and Iraqi theater, has a third war
theater: the one in Saudi Arabia.... But
as much as Al Qaida has now been weakened by al-Mukrin's death, Al Qaida's
long-term goals remain unchanged.... All
ruling castes on the Arab peninsula with the exception of the one in Yemen have
joined forces with the U.S. The core of
this alliance is the Saudi monarchy. If
the family rule is weakened, other monarchies will be threatened, too.... The period of calm, the claim to be the sole
legitimate representative for the production of oil, and the life in luxury are
now obviously coming to an end. Osama
bin Laden thinks he has already initiated the ouster of the Saudi
monarchy. But time will tell whether
this analysis corresponds with reality.
The Saud clan will not accept its ousting that easily"
ITALY: "Al-Qaeda Chief
Anna Guaita commented in Rome's center-left Il Messaggero
(6/21): “This is a decisive moment for
the alliance between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia. The Saudis know that well and
they are doing everything in their power to show their determination in their
fight against al-Qaeda. And Washington has shown its appreciation for their
attempt to save the life of Paul Johnson. But behind the words of condolence
and solidarity, in the U.S. there is a growing feeling that the Saudis went
into action too late and that not everyone in the government and institutions
is against Osama bin Laden and his followers.”
"The Terrorists’ Global War"
Vittorio Zucconi declared in left-leaning, influential La
Repubblica (6/19): “The message that
Al-Qaeda wanted to convey once again to the U.S...is the symmetrical and a
mirror answer to the war that was unleashed by the attacks against the Twin
Towers.... The secondary actors like the
Taliban in Afghanistan and Saddam’s former regime were easily swept away, but
America is now facing what has always been its, and our, real enemy--‘global
Islamic terrorism'.... Since we are now
at a loss for words to describe the suffering of the Iraqis and we must look
beyond what is happening to understand that the enemy is following its own
rational plan--and that Bush should admit to this by dropping his rhetoric that
‘without Saddam this is a safer world’--for a ‘change in regime’ in Saudia
Andrey Vetvinskiy concluded in reformist Gazeta
(6/21): "The Saudis are celebrating
a victory. They have delivered a telling
blow to Al-Qaeda's branch in Saudi Arabia by killing three of its leaders and
arresting 12 people on suspicion of terrorist activities. But the celebrations have been darkened by
the fact that before the Saudi security forces carried out their operation, the
terrorists executed U.S. hostage Paul Johnson."
"Terrorists Not To Lay Down Their Arms"
Aleksey Bausin asserted in reformist Izvestiya (6/21): "The liquidation of the leadership of
Al-Qaeda's branch in Saudi Arabia does not mean that local Islamists will lay
down their arms. Terrorist acts in the
kingdom are part of a global jihad the radicals have been waging against the
West. Their strategy is simple, as
they are trying to destabilize the situation in Saudi Arabia, pushing up oil
prices and upsetting the world's economy, as a result. The death of Al-Qaeda's chief in Saudi
Arabia, far from being the end of the story, is just an episode."
TURKEY: "Al Qaeda
Haluk Ulman warned in economic-political Dunya (6/22): “The recent Al-Qaeda terrorist attacks in
Saudi Arabia indicate that Al-Qaeda’s job is not yet finished. On the contrary, the terrorist organization
has returned stronger than ever.
Al-Qaeda has as its goal to eliminate the presence of its enemy--that
is, the U.S.--in the Middle East. The
terrorism against foreigners in Saudi Arabia seems to be targeting U.S.
influence over Saudi Arabia. Al-Qaeda
apparently believes that undermining the oil business will bring the Saudi
dynasty to an end. Given the
circumstances, not only the US but also the Saudi regime are considered enemies
Yoav Frummer held in popular, pluralist Maariv (6/20): "The liberation of Iraq is a vital step
in the American plan to redesign the Middle East, but it certainly isn't the
last one. That plan's very core isn't
necessarily the liberation of Iraq.
Actually, it is very likely to be Saudi Arabia's liberation. Thus, Saudi fanatics are watching in awe the
existential peril that could destroy them: democracy--despite efforts by their
partners in terror in Iraq to stop it, or at least to slow it down. Also, the hundreds of terrorist attacks that
have been carried out so far haven't been able to stop, even minimally, the
American-Iraqi snowball that is continuing to roll toward the establishment of
a democratic regime in an Arab state, even if we are talking about a fragile,
weak, and terror-soaked democracy. The
Saudi extremists have apparently grasped the true dimensions of the snowball
that is changing the aspect of Saudi Arabia's neighbor; thus, they have decided
to do all they can in order to prevent him from heading south and coming their
WEST BANK: "Killing Of
An American In Saudi: Something Worth
Tawfiq Abu Bakr opined in independent Al-Ayyam
(6/23): “Beheading an innocent person
who sincerely loved and served our country is unacceptable. I can’t think of a
reason why there has not been wide public condemnation throughout the Arab
world against such cowardly acts that have nothing to do with Islam.... I can say, with some reluctance though, that
print and audiovisual media in our country are responsible to a large extent
[for this lack] and could be paving the way for extremism by their arrogant, extremist
articles and guests who appear sweating on satellite channels as they call for
struggle against the entire world....
It’s true that the American bias toward Israel and the lack of a
solution to the Palestinian cause are factors that add oil to the fire of
extremism; however, these are not the only factors.... Class struggle and corruption in our
countries are also sources of extremism.”
Ahmad Dahbur maintained in official Al-Hayat Al-Jadida
(6/20): "Al-Qa’ida gave the U.S. a
priceless gift last Friday [with the execution of Paul Johnson].... The worst thing is that the Arab house is
made of glass. We carry the heritage of
eastern oppression, presidents and kings, political feudalism and removal of
public justice from our daily life. When
the American president calls for reform, we have everything that needs
reforming, even though any realist can see that the U.S. of corruption does not
wish any reform for us.... It is very
important that we continuously reaffirm that [our] condemnation of the American
hostage’s execution springs not from the harm it will cause our image in the
media, but from our belief that this crime is totally unacceptable.... Al-Qa’ida’s crime will remain a mark of disgrace
to us and will always be a point of embarrassment to [Saudi Arabia], which
America will never forgive even though [Saudi Arabia] appears to be a
victim. In the eyes of the American
administration and its racist political vision, we’re all nothing but
SAUDI ARABIA: "Do Not
Abdullah Al-Fouzan commented in Abha’s moderate Al-Watan
(6/23): "Whenever the U.S.
officials warn against an imminent terrorist attack by Al-Qae’da inside the
U.S.--or at least on many occasions--I am shocked to see a large terrorist
attack inside the Islamic world, but not inside the U.S. Occasionally it takes
place in Indonesia, Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Morocco and Saudi
Arabia, the heart of the Islamic world....
For that reason, whenever I hear a warning from a U.S. official, I get
irritated and put my hand on my heart in anticipation of a new [terrorist]
operation inside the Islamic world."
"Who Is Really Fighting Terrorism We Or They?"
Jeddah’s moderate Okaz declared (6/23): "The statements of some leaders of U.S.
political and media institutions are in contradiction with reality. We wonder what have these leaders and their
government done in the fight against terrorism.
We still find that Bin Laden and his followers are wandering free in
Tora Bora. They are even sending their
videotapes to the U.S., using American technology. The tons of bombs and thousands of smart
missiles have not yet hit members of the Al-Qaeda network. Al-Zarqawi and his snipers are hunting U.S.
soldiers one after the other. But the U.S. force has not been able to do
anything about it. These things make us
suspicious about the intentions of those who claim that they are fighting
"Ignorance Is The Greatest Danger"
Jeddah’s moderate Al-Bilad stated (6/23): "Nobody can deny that there is a group
of ignorant people who have threatened this society with their lack of
knowledge. They made those whom they
trapped into bullets and killing machines that murdered and terrorized people at
random. Those who falsely claim to be
knowledgeable have not mastered the Shariah [Law of Islam], and they do not
possess the spirit that prohibits killing and the shedding of blood. Those who deviated have accepted what is to
become of them. They have witnessed what
awaits them. Perhaps the punishment that
some of them have received would deter others and encourage them to repent
their sins. Those who insist on
terrorizing this country will face painful punishment in their lifetime, and at
the Day of Judgment. Killing people and
spreading terror is the biggest of sins."
"It Is Time To Eliminate Militants, And For
The Silent People To Speak"
Abha’s moderate Al-Watan maintained
(6/22): "Now after the Saudi
Security Forces recorded a triumph, which is still the talk of the whole world,
everyone has to do his role to the best of his ability to protect this
country. Some of us have stagnated and
others preferred to remain silent. But
the time has come for the procrastinators to rise, and for the silent people to
speak. There is no time for laziness or
hesitation. We must unite our efforts in
the war against terrorism."
"The Fight Against Terrorism Is Everybody’s
Jeddah’s moderate Al-Bilad declared
(6/21): "The decisive war against
terrorism is the fight of every citizen.
While this country is fighting a war to combat terrorism, we face
another battle on another front. We have
to deal with the militant thoughts and destructive ideas that have infiltrated
the minds of our youths. Increasing a national awareness of the destructive
nature of these ideas is necessary to protect our youth, and prevent them from
sliding into the abyss of vice. Every
citizen is responsible for the safety and security of this country. Our society is responsible for providing
awareness and educational programs for its people."
"International Endeavors Against Terrorism"
Riyadh's moderate Al-Jazira editorialized (6/21): "Terrorism caused dreadful loses in
taking innocent life, damaging property, in addition to its political and
economic consequences. These incidents will not go unpunished. They have taught
us how to take preventive measures to avert repetition of similar terrible acts
in the future. Society must protect youths from deviant ideas and extremist
thoughts. This requires adopting programs to enlighten youth about the
misguided interpretation of religion, in order to immunize them from extremist
thoughts, and to implant the spirit of tolerance, which is an essential part of
"Fair And Wise"
Former editor Qenan al-Ghamdi held in Abha's moderate Al-Watan
(6/21): "For the first time since
Saudi Arabia began its war on terrorism, U.S. Secretary of State Collin Powell
made a fair and wise statement. Powell
said that the departure of westerners, including Americans, would be considered
as a victory for the terrorists. He was
honest this time.... But I would like to
point out that Saudis understand that there is a similar terrorism, perhaps
worse than in this country, and that is what’s going on in Iraq...and the
Saudis have not heard that the American administration has warned its citizens
in Iraq or urged them to leave. Although
the Saudis are well aware of this fact, I don’t remember that anybody
criticized the U.S. administration on its warnings or its requests for its
citizens to leave [Saudi Arabia]...
Since the U.S. has acknowledged its mistake today, there is no need for
anyone here to thank her for its late acknowledgement."
"An Achievement And Heroism"
Riyadh’s conservative Al-Riyadh editorialized (6/20): "It was a great achievement for Saudi
security to kill and capture leaders of Al-Qaedah, especially after the slaying
of the American hostage Paul Johnson.
We have said that terrorism cannot defeat countries or prevail, because
wide-open eyes and continued efforts can beat terrorists.... Those who underestimated the capability of
the Saudi security forces in reaching terrorists’ nests realize now that
killing the most vicious member of Al-Qaeda [Al-Moqren] is a great
achievement.... What has been
accomplished is not only an important security achievement, it is actually an
achievement for Saudi Arabia's political reputation.... Anyway, we are happy with this victory, as we
were shocked by the killing of the American hostage."
"The Fall Of Terrorism’s Symbols"
Jeddah’s conservative Al-Madina observed (6/20): "The Kingdom’s refusal to negotiate with
the terrorists after the abduction of an innocent civilian is proof that Saudi
Arabia is determined to eradicate this group of criminals and to save this land
and the whole world from their evil.
This position is also proof that the terrorists are fighting a lost
battle. They [the terrorists] are a
group of deviant criminals who allowed themselves to fall into the trap of
ignorance and follow their evil tendencies."
Jeddah’s moderate Okaz commented (6/20): "The torn remnants of the terrorist
network will not achieve their objectives in any desperate reaction. We are living through a state of high
awareness and an unsurpassed cooperation among citizens, residents, and the
various security agencies. If there were
anything else that we need to address here, it is the fact that the war on
terrorism requires a steadfast position and united efforts. The coalition between citizens, residents,
and security forces is key in closing all the gaps and getting rid of the ill
minds that terrorized our peace."
"This Country Is Getting Stronger"
Abha’s moderate Al-Watan stated (6/20): "The people, government, and security
forces are getting stronger after each battle with the terrorists. These criminals, if they were Muslims as they
claim, had better change their minds.
Even criminals sometimes feel some sort of remorse for their crimes
against innocents. But this group of
murderers does not have any sort of mercy in their hearts, because they have
taken killing as a way of life to satisfy their bloodthirsty souls. That is why every citizen and resident in this
country is required to complement security men in their efforts to eradicate
criminals. There will be no dialogue,
mercy or leniency with those who have removed compassion from their
ALGERIA: "Bush And The
Influential French-language El Watan remarked (6/20): "In its determination to strike America,
and failing to target America on its own territories, like on September 11,
Al-Qaida network attacks its strategic allies.
Saudi Arabia is one of the privileged targets of the terrorist
organization that aims, by multiplying its attacks in the Wahabite kingdom, to
establish a climate of insecurity that would have negative impacts on economic
and political levels. Could this upsurge
of Al-Qaida in Saudi Arabia lead to a U.S. direct involvement in the
region? Will the war on terrorism
declared by George Bush following the attacks of September 11 include the Saudi
kingdom? Maybe this is what Al-Qaida is
Yaqoub Jaber opined in center-left, influential Arabic-language Al-Dustour
(6/22): “As if it was not enough for
Al-Qaeda to defame the image of the tolerant Islam with its attacks against the
U.S. and a number of Asian and European cities.
They have created a new disgusting way of dealing with their victims,
namely beheading them, thus instigating the largest level of hatred possible
against Muslims.... The painful result
of this provocation is the infliction of more offense against Islam and Muslim,
and it is a result that the Zionists will surely use to justify their crimes in
Palestine.... We in the Muslim world,
who are riddled with the likes of these terrorists, must differentiate between
the regular citizen of a western country, which supports Israel and occupies Iraq,
and that citizen’s government. There are
millions of Americans who do not approve of their policies of their government
and are sympathetic with the Palestinian cause and who oppose the occupation of
Iraq. An important part of our battle
with our enemies is dependent on winning public opinion in western countries,
and that definitely cannot be achieved by beheading innocent citizens who find
themselves in our countries.”
"Time To Take A Stand”
The elite English-language Jordan Times stated (6/21): "His Majesty King Abdullah spoke on
behalf of all true Muslims when he expressed shock and revolt at the savage
beheading of American hostage Paul Johnson by Al-Qaeda terrorists in Riyadh.... Such tragic episodes do not only mar the
image of Islam; more importantly, they raise questions as to the direction
radical, fanatical Muslims lead the Muslim nation on.... If Al-Qaeda believes that it can continue to
take the life of innocent people in the name of God and Islam with impunity,
then the struggle against it must intensify.
King Abdullah showed in the clearest possible terms where we stand on
this issue. What remains to be done is
the expression of a similar position by the rest of the Arab and Muslim
leaders. This is no time to waiver; it
is time to make a principled stand against terrorism falsely carried out in the
name of religion.”
"Prospering Terrorism In Bush’s Era"
Fahd Fanek contended in semi-official, influential Arabic-language
Al-Rai (6/21): “After the attacks
of 9/11, U.S. President Bush declared a war against terrorism and sent his
troops to Afghanistan and then to Iraq.
So did Bush’s war succeed? Did it
achieve its declared objectives?
Probably the opposite is correct.
Local and international terrorism prospered in the Bush era and the
world has become a less safe place, because Al-Qaeda is now bigger and stronger
that ever before. Afghanistan has become
a stage for warlords, the production and export of drugs and oppression of
women.... Iraq, after the American
occupation, has become a stage for terrorists of all sorts and the Iraqi people
lost their security without gaining any democracy.... The terrorist activity in Saudi Arabia,
which, before the Bush wars, used to express itself once every couple of years
is now expressing itself on daily basis....
Pakistan, which was a stable and secure state, is now, thanks to the
U.S. policy, a stage for local terrorism....
Europe did not go unscathed by these terrorist operations.... America’s policies and measures did not
eliminate terrorism. They rather
contributed to its prosperity by, for instance: describing the war on terrorism
as a crusade; bypassing international law and legitimacy; killing civilians in
numbers that are much higher than the number of victims of the 9/11 attacks;
overlooking Israel’s terrorism against the Palestinian people; the principle of
the pre-emptive war; arrogance in dealing even with the allies; the
maltreatment of prisoners; the abrupt intervention in other countries’ internal
affairs; and the imperial ambition of trying to dominate the world.”
"Madness Faced With Madness!"
Yaser Za’atreh contended in center-left, influential
Arabic-language Al-Dustour (6/21):
“I start by saying that I am providing an explanation and not a
justification. Our stand vis-à-vis
violence that harms the security of Arab and Muslim countries is very
clear.... This phenomenon however
requires an explanation.... This is a
prelude for the story of the beheading of the first American hostage in Iraq
and the second one in Saudi Arabia.
These are two events that were marked by extended media coverage and
large-scale condemnation in the Arab world....
It is madness without a doubt.
Yet, let us wonder which is more ugly: the killing and dismemberment of
tens of innocent people at a wedding in a city in Iraq or the beheading of two
hostages? What is the difference between
the killing of two hostages by beheading and the killing of the residents of a
building in Gaza for the purpose of assassinating the martyr Salah
Shihadeh? Which is more ugly: the
beheading of two hostages or the killing of more than twenty people in the city
of Fallujah on the pretext of pursuing terrorists? Which is more ugly: the beheading of two
hostages or the releasing of viscous dogs against prisoners in Abu Ghraib
prison? It is ugliness that provokes the
same ugliness.... It is madness that
provokes madness. What the U.S. is doing
with Muslims in Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine is the humiliation beyond which
lies more, particularly when it comes to a nation founded on dignity and
pride.... We said that we are explaining
and not justifying, because those who are doing this are not looking for
justifications. They have already gone
past that and are now implementing.
Unfortunately, they did not retaliate well, because there is a huge
difference between retaliations that serve the enemy’s objectives and those
that hit it where it hurts.”
Rashed Al-Rada'an concluded in independent Al-Watan
(6/21): "We want from the American
press, which has been vilifying the Saudis for years as a society that keeps
hatching terrorists, to carefully observe events in the Kingdom. The Saudis are making a great effort to
eradicate terrorism. Since terrorism
occurs in every country, it is incorrect to describe one half of a society,
such as the Saudis, as exporters of terrorism.
Because, if that were the case, then most of the terrorists are
Europeans, as modern and ancient history can attest, beginning with Hitler, and
ending with Castro and others who have committed genocide against their
"Terrorism Serves Zionism"
Faisal Abdel Aziz Al-Zamel declared in independent Al-Anba
(6/20): "To justify the beheading
of the American hostage in Saudi as a message intended to target foreigners is
totally rejected. Despite our strong
condemnation of such crimes, that does not mean we cannot denounce American
support toward Zionism.... To combine
these two issues only serves the enemies of our nation, and validates the
West's unlimited support toward Israel.
The criminal elements committing such atrocities in Iraq and Saudi are
linked. They are guided by an evil plan
carried out by criminals, and executed by naïve persons who have caused damage
to their religion and lives."
Mohammed Musaed Al-Saleh wrote in independent Al-Qabas
(6/20): "There is popular Arab
opposition toward the policies of the American administration in Palestine,
opposition toward the occupation of Iraq and opposition toward establishing
American military bases in Arab countries.
This opposition is legitimate, because every citizen has a right to
express himself as part of the democratic process. However, such opposition must not turn into
murder. Killing innocent civilians, such
as the American hostage Paul Johnson, who has been living in Saudi for the past
ten years, is illegal and will not solve any problems. The terrorists who
committed his murder must ask themselves if this would change the U.S.' policy. The killers should have called for justice,
freedom and democracy, instead of killing innocent people and damaging the way
the world looks at us."
"Killing Is The Answer"
Khaled Al-Adwa maintained in independent Al-Watan
(6/19): "The way Al-Zarqawi's group
exclaimed the name of God while at the same time beheading the American captive
was horrifying. Where was this group
when the tyrant Saddam annihilated thousands of Kurds with chemical
weapons? Yet another American hostage
humiliatingly blindfolded and threatened with death within seventy-two
hours. Can there be anything more
distorting to Islam and to the culture of Muslims?"
LEBANON: “From Iraq To
Saudi Arabia And Palestine: Acquitting Occupation Of Nations By Unilateral
Talal Salman held in Arab nationalist As-Safir (6/21): “Where was Abou-Masaab and Al-Makran and Bin
Laden when Saddam was ruling Iraq? What
have they done regarding the Israeli occupation of Palestine, which is eating
its meat and its fields of olive trees and is isolating each village from the
other? Arenas for Jihad are open for all
who really want to go to Jihad! However,
those like Bin Laden are giving the Israeli occupation a priceless service. The Israeli crimes which include killing a
whole nation and confiscating its lands are being obliterated by the butchering
of one unarmed civilian who was detained by coincidence...and butchered
intentionally before cameras.... People
like those (Bin Laden and the others) distort the image of Arab(ism) and Islam
excessively. Their crimes almost justify
occupation or at least provide it with extenuating circumstances whether in
Iraq or Palestine.”
"Rapid Reforms Make The Best Anti-terrorism Strategy"
The moderate, English-language Daily Star
declared (6/21): "The spate of
recent terror attacks in Saudi Arabia has resulted in the deaths of Saudi
citizens, other Arabs, Americans and British, and third-country nationals. The
attacks have also evolved--from Saudi military targets, to housing compounds,
oil-related installations and individual Westerners--and they may continue to
do so if they persist. The Saudi Arabian government, with considerable American
and other international technical assistance, has launched counterterrorism
operations, with some significant successes.
This is clearly a turning point in some aspects of the Saudi
government's attitude to its internal--and homegrown--security challenges. No
longer is the state dismissing terror attacks as the isolated manifestation of
external hands. The frequency, gravity and barbarity of some of the attacks
indicate that Saudi Arabia has a major problem, one that has developed over
decades of inattention to key social, political, economic and foreign policy
issues.... The factors that spawned the
current generation of terrorists remain widespread in the entire Arab world,
not just in Saudi Arabia or its greater peninsula, and if they persist these
factors will give birth to new cohorts of killers as surely as the sun will
rise tomorrow. The only effective,
long-term antidote to such terror is political, social and economic reform that
wipes away the false allure of killing as a tool and civilizational warfare as
a goal.... The inescapable conclusion is
that Saudi Arabia and the Arab states must move as decisively on the political,
economic and social reform fronts as they are now moving on the security
OMAN: "Terrorism Indivisible"
Semi-independent Al Watan asserted (6/21): "We, meaning Arabs and Muslims, believe
that the actions of terrorists are against every human being throughout the
world. There is every reason to condemn
terrorism for what it has done to Arab identity since September 11, 2001. But the situation is very different for the
American and European governments and their peoples who do not condemn violence
universally and practice a double standard.
They do not pay attention when Arabs, Muslims, and other peoples are
Must Resist This Method"
Semi-independent Arabic-language Al Watan
contended (6/20): "The Sultanate
has on many occasions expressed its position calling for peace, dialogue and
respect for human rights. It has also
condemned all that defiles life in both general and specific ways. Accordingly, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
released a statement condemning the brutal killing of the American hostage in
Saudi Arabia. The ministry said that
such acts are inexcusable according to Islam.
We believe the act damages the image of Islam and Muslims. We must support the security of foreign
workers in the Gulf region who are important for our economy and livelihood.”
"It Is First And Foremost A Political Conflict"
Tahar Selmi observed in independent
French-language weekly Tunis-Hebdo (6/21): “Some obtuse minds compare Islam to a
‘Terrorist Religion’.... The U.S. bears
the greatest responsibility because it is this government that pushed the
humiliation of the Muslim and Arab people to such an extent. Successive U.S.
administrations have backed the Muslim world's despotic and corrupt regimes,
which have muzzled all kind of freedom of thought. They (the Americans) have themselves
generated this violent extremism that currently fights against them and against
their ‘strategic allies'.... Was it not
the Americans that supported and prepared the field for Afghan extremism in its
war against the Soviet Union by providing--in particular--money and logistic
military to Bin Laden? Some pretend
that the conflict is due to a violent clash of civilizations, which is not
true, at least from the Muslim point of view. The conflict is first of all
political and not religious or cultural.
It comes from the American policy that supported all the current
totalitarian regimes in the third world countries, where repression combined
with corruption has engendered terror.”
AUSTRALIA: "For All
Our Sakes, Saudi Arabia Needs Regime Change"
Amin Saikal noted in the liberal Sydney
Morning Herald (6/22): “The
beheading of the American engineer Paul Johnson and the killing of the local
al-Qaeda leader, Abdul Aziz al-Muqrin, at the weekend have refocused world
attention on Saudi Arabia. The Saudi regime is indeed in the grip of a serious
legitimacy crisis. The main cause is not al-Qaeda and its associated violent
activities. It is rather a stubborn reluctance by the ruling Ibn Saud
family...to create a viable, institutionalized system of governance.... Its intensified campaign against terrorism
will yield little unless it is accompanied by structural reforms to enable many
Saudis not to feel alienated and threatened with a loss of their Islamic
identity through the association of their rulers with the U.S.... A combination of potential domestic
instability and exogenous pressure has left the Ibn Saud rule in a state of
limbo and in a weaker position than at any time in the post-World War II
period.... The only way that the
situation can be remedied is for the regime to reform and to reform fast.”
"Fine Equations In Saudi Arabia"
An editorial in the national conservative Australian
read (6/21): "Of all the world's
nations, Saudi Arabia occupies the most ambiguous position in the war on
terror. It is at once a key part of the solution, and a big part of the
problem. That delicate equation tipped slightly towards the positive on the
weekend, with the gunning down by Saudi security forces of four of the
terrorists responsible for the murder of US hostage Paul Johnson.... The killing of Muqrin and his henchmen
suggests the Saudi leadership may finally be ready to deal with extremism. This
is important, not only because Saudi Arabia is the world's biggest exporter of
oil, but the biggest exporter of Islamism....
Crown Prince Abdullah, Saudi Arabia's de facto ruler, recognizes the
need for reform.... The question nobody
can answer is whether, if the stopper is pulled out of the bottle in Saudi
Arabia, the genie released will be liberalism, or an even more repressive
fundamentalism. One of the ways to tip the balance towards the former is to do
everything in our power to help establish a functioning Islamic democracy in
CHINA (HONG KONG SAR):
"Arab World Needs Reforms To Tackle The Terrorists"
The independent English-language South China Morning Post
said (6/21): "The al-Qaeda
network's intensifying campaign to bring down the House of Saud demonstrates
how the terrorist threat stemming from militant Islam cannot be defeated unless
there is also a fundamental change in how this and other Middle Eastern states
operate. While it is not clear how much
direct control Osama bin Laden has over the various movements that claim to be
inspired by him since the September 11 attacks, what is clear is that the
targets include the governments of Arab countries, which the groups invariably
view as corrupt, undemocratic and weak in the face of western influence.... Saudi Arabia should be encouraged to adopt
zero-tolerance policies towards violent extremists and their organizations,
while at the same time moving ahead on reforms, such as returning half of
municipal council seats by election, a plan that some fear could be stalled
indefinitely as militants step up their attacks. The recently concluded U.S. probe on
September 11 offers a striking lesson as well.
In the years leading up to the attack, it was money raised in the Middle
East that sustained al-Qaeda, not bin Laden's personal wealth. Cutting off the source of recruits, as well
as funding, for such groups and ending the terrorist threat cannot be done
without bringing reforms to the heart of the Arab world."
INDONESIA: “Killing Of
American Indicates Threats Of Al Qaeda Do Not Abate”
Leading independent Kompas contended
(6/21): “The hostage taking and killing
of American citizen Paul Johnson in Saudi Arabia over the weekend once again
strengthened the belief that the threats by Al Qaeda networks have not
subsided. In fact, the killing was seen
as only a minor explosion on the surface, which did not represent the whole dangerous threats from Al
Qaeda.... No less impressive is how hard
the Saudi government is trying to unravel the Al Qaeda movement. Only hours after the report that Johnson had
been beheaded, Saudi’s security forces killed Al Qaeda leader Abdulazis Al
Muqrin and three of his assistants....
The deaths of Muqrin and others will expectedly become a strong slap on
the terrorist organization. Saudi
authorities believe that their deaths will substantially weaken Al
Qaeda.... Given the brutality of Al
Qaeda, many have worried that the Saudi monarchy might collapse without support
from the U.S. and the West. But it was
such an exaggerated kind of worry because Saudi security forces were able to
demonstrate their seriousness in dealing with Al Qaeda’s threats.”
"Saudi Arabia Feeling The Heat"
The pro-government Business Times opined
(6/23): "Governments and oil
consumers will be on tenterhooks in the coming weeks and months as Saudi Arabia
rises on the list of security worries....
Despite elaborate counter-terrorism measures and crackdowns, it has been
powerless to check militant attacks which have intensified in the past two
months.... The fact that the militants
have spared oil infrastructure, unlike in neighboring Iraq, is hardly evidence
that its oil network is not threatened....
The frequent attacks have alarmed some Western countries, which have
issued travel advisories to its citizens, but an exodus risks strengthening the
militants' hand.... Few expect the Saudi
government, not new to such challenges, to totter.... But Saudi Arabia functions like a central
bank of oil, with the largest reserves and a surplus output capacity to tide
over market shortfalls. While it's tough to fathom the goings-on in that closed
society, the kingdom unambiguously faces a long and bloody fight against
Al-Qaeda. A successful outcome will depend on how the authorities carry the
fight without creating deep divisions among the princes and the religious
establishment. Foreign governments must nudge the Saudis to reinvent and reform
themselves so that the current troubles do not snowball into a revolution or,
worse, a war over oil resources involving its neighbors and the U.S."
"Peril In Arabia"
The pro-government Straits Times
editorialized (6/22): "Terror
attacks in Saudi Arabia aimed at foreigners are making the country the hottest
crucible, after Iraq, of militant Islam's self-declared cause of
righteousness.... Anybody can see that
efforts to secure order in Iraq to give indigenous civilian governance a chance
are not going well. Saudi Arabia faces an obverse problem: the ruling House of
Saud, which has long relied on discreet religiosity and unconditional American
support for its entrenchment, is looking at risk in the face of militant
assaults. The more successful the strikes, the less secure the regime's
legitimacy becomes. This is the danger.
Secretary of State Colin Powell conceded last week the stability of the
leadership was being made a target by terrorists.... This was a damning confession. Mr Powell said
the U.S. would help the Saudis defeat terrorism. This was pro forma. The tough
question to face is how much more U.S. security and intelligence support would
it take to prevent Saudi Arabia from slipping into the unimaginable.... Such pessimism can be self-fulfilling. If the
militants succeed in opening up Saudi Arabia as a second front after Iraq in
the region's deadly religious struggle, the world's ideological map could come
in for profound change."
"The Terror Slick"
The centrist Indian Express declared
(6/25): "The strike at Al Khobar
last month and the beheading of an American hostage this month are just the
most alarming manifestation of a simmering threat to both the desert kingdom's
oil installations as well as the thousands of foreigners who work in key
sectors of its economy. This has finally stirred the Saudi authorities to crack
down on Al-Qaeda and its kindred organizations.... The speed with which Saudi security forces
were able to hit the top Al-Qaeda leader in the country within hours of an American
hostage being killed clearly indicates that Saudi intelligence (on)...Al-Qaeda
members was obviously good. The important point is that the kingdom is finally
taking action. Obviously it must do more, much more, if for no other reason
than that the country had supported the rise of the Taliban who nurtured
Al-Qaeda and gave refuge to hijackers and terrorists. It is good that the Saudi government has
followed up its last week's successes against Al-Qaeda with an offer of amnesty
which is obviously directed at lower level operators and sympathizers to
surrender voluntarily within one month or face the oil kingdom's 'unflinching
power and unshakable determination' to eradicate terrorist groups from Saudi
soil. A stick and carrot approach would be useful. At the same time, Saudi
focus should not be narrowed down to Al-Qaeda only, but rather should address
the use of terror in the name of Islam. In any case, the very viability of its
oil infrastructure depends on the efficacy with which it faces the terrorist
An editorial in the centrist Asian Age
read (6/22): "The shocking
beheading of the American engineer working in Saudi Arabia by Al Qaeda
militants is undoubtedly the most despicable act of terrorism which must be
condemned in the strongest words. Paul M. Johnson Jr was sympathetic to Islam.
His cold-blooded murder has understandably sent shock waves through the U.S.
and the West. But what is more significant is the revulsion it has created in
the Islamic world. From Iran to Indonesia, every Muslim country has deplored
Johnson's assassination. Perhaps for the first time there were scenes of
jubilation in the streets when the Saudi police killed the most important Qaeda
leader in the kingdom, Abdulaziz al-Mugrin who was the alleged mastermind
behind Johnson's murder. In a bid to justify their unjustifiable act, the
terrorists claimed that Johnson was killed to avenge the deaths of thousands of
innocent Palestinians, Afghans and Iraqis by the Americans and Israelis. But no
amount of rhetoric and pontification or chest-beating can justify their brutal
and barbaric act. What is essentially a religion of peace is being projected by
its detractors as a religion which sanctions hatred and bloodshed. Al Qaeda has
earned the opprobrium of the whole world by senselessly killing a hapless
person in their captivity. Had they imbibed the true spirit of Islam which
strongly advocates forgiveness and mercy, they would have set him free."
"Terror Lies Ahead"
Claudio Uriarte said in left-of-center Pagina
12 (6/19): "Is the Islamic
fundamentalist terrorism winning the war it is waging in Saudi Arabia and the
Gulf region against the US, the Seven Oil Sisters, fractions of Royal Houses
and prevailing dictatorships, military bases and five-star super hotels? It is hard to avoid the suspicion that
something like this is happening....
What really matters is that Al Qaeda has the support of--or perhaps it
is itself--an important portion of the Saudi Royal House itself, and this
sector has not stopped launching attacks against foreign targets since over a
year ago.... This is more than a trend.
It is an escalation of violence. And it is not a rebellion of the poor against
the wealthy or a war of guerrillas: Osama bin Laden and his supporters, on the
one hand, are not poor, and, on the other hand, it is hard to imagine that
Saudi Arabia, one of the most ferocious regimes, would be so much on the
defensive if its whole armed, security and intelligence forces were the strong
bloc they would like to seem vis-à-vis a gang of ragged saboteurs.... Rather, this seems the beginning of a civil
war. And this sole similarity manages the terrorists' victory: that foreigners