Posted by Michael Hiteshew on June 24th, 2004 (All posts by Michael Hiteshew)
Back on June 1st, the New York Daily News published an article where they claimed that Saudi security forces allowed Al Queda operatives to escape from the Oasis housing complex before they staged a ‘rescue’ for the cameras.
There also were new questions about how the four terrorists, if they were acting alone, could have pulled off the spectacular 25-hour killing spree. The attackers first struck an oil office and killed nine people, then dragged a British oilman’s body through the streets. Somehow, the same four still managed to gather dozens of hostages in the elite Oasis housing complex, where they killed several more before fleeing.
Today, there’s an article in the World Tribune that reiterates that story. More disturbingly, the article cites the Washington-based liberal Saudi opposition group, the Saudi Institute, who claim,
Saudi authorities knew of the whereabouts of the Al Qaida cell that abducted and threatened to kill Lockheed Martin engineer Paul Johnson. But the institute said the Saudi government decided not to move until Johnson, captured on June 12, was executed.
Most disturbing of all was this statement,
A U.S. official said he could not confirm the report by the Saudi opposition group. But the official said U.S. intelligence has concluded that most of the Saudi security forces, including the National Guard, has been infiltrated by Al Qaida. He said members of the FBI and State Department team sent to Riyad to help in the search for Johnson expressed concern that Saudi security forces were avoiding suspected Al Qaida hideouts in Riyad.
What to make of this? I’ve been reading reports for years that there’s something of an ideological war being fought within the Saudi royal family. Some members, like Princess Salman and Abdul-Azziz, support radical Islamists while others, like Prince Abdullah, want Saudi Arabia to evolve into a more modern democratic state. With the notable exception of Abdullah, the entire family appears to be completely corrupt. Their sole aim is to retain control of the oil resources in order to maintain their unbelievably lavish lifestyles. Meanwhile, the income of the average Saudi has dropped to 1/4 of what it was just twenty years ago. How long until Saudi Arabia implodes on itself? Who knows.
There is a fascinating article written by Robert Baer, a former Middle Eastern field officer with the CIA, entitled The Fall Of The House Saud. It appeared in The Atlantic Monthly last year, but is now available online from The Freedom of Information Center. Its description of intrigue and maneuvering among the various royals reads like a cheap gothic novel. It would be laughable it weren’t real and the consequences so potentially immense.
(Hat tip for original NYDN story: Good Intentions Paving Company)