June 14, 2004


More kidnapping and murder in Saudi Arabia:

A purported al-Qaida statement yesterday claimed the terror group had kidnapped one American man in the Saudi capital and killed another American. It threatened to treat the captive as U.S. troops treated Iraqi prisoners.

Could be worse. They could treat him as Ba’athists treated Iraqi prisoners.

Security in Saudi seems close to non-existent. Remember this line, from a Khobar insider?

Saudi guards were probably asleep as usual.

Only hours before the latest kidnapping, the UK Telegraph published a piece noting general ineptitude:

The white saloon, its boot wide open, sits on a Riyadh highway in front of an American-owned hotel for two days. The hotel security staff gaze at it but take no action. The occupants of a police car drive by and ignore it.

In a city where nerves are on edge, it is a frightening spectacle - a suspect vehicle that the security forces haven't towed away. It confirms the fear of expatriates that Saudi security remains too lax to cope with the threat from Muslim fanatics determined to drive all infidels out of the kingdom.

"We're told that the penny has dropped, that the security forces are fully ready to protect us," says one British expatriate. "When you see things like this, you know something's going to happen again, soon."

And it did. The London Times (no link available) has almost unbelievable information on the murder of Simon Cumbers:

Simon Cumbers, the BBC cameraman, was chased for almost a mile on foot through the al-Suwaidi suburb of Riyadh before being killed with a shot to his head, according to police. Saudi officers investigating the attack have been told that Cumbers fled clutching his camera after seeing Frank Gardner, his colleague, cut down in a burst of gunfire.

The gunmen, who have yet to be identified, showed no mercy when they caught up with him minutes later.

Where were the cops?

Posted by Tim Blair at June 14, 2004 02:17 AM

Never mind about the cops. Where have you been?

Nursing a sore head perhaps. No symphathy for self inflicted injuries you know.

Posted by: aussieoldfart at June 14, 2004 at 03:14 AM

They were busy herding girls back into their burning school to die, because they never had their heads covered. Don't you know anything about Saudi law Tim?

Posted by: Arty at June 14, 2004 at 03:36 AM

Arty, you're confusing the religious police with the civil police. (And we all know the importance Islam places on separating the two.) The civil police were probably right there. Among the chasers.

Posted by: bob71 at June 14, 2004 at 06:17 AM

What does a crocodile want to eat when its "master", even partially, stops feeding it the food it enjoys? The hand that fed it. Or, in this case, foreign workers who sustain an oil economy and the rulers propped up by its revenues.

The Wahhibist-terrorist crocodile wants a new master to feed its appetite for raw power. While "sleeping" and slack policeman now cater to al Qaeda, the House of Saud is being eaten alive. Will the ruling family, deeply at odds with itself and the beast it has nurtured, survive? Perhaps, but the West may have to send over a prosthetic limb or two.

At any rate, the Saudi policemen are sure making the new Iraqi police recruits look like crackerjacks--

Posted by: Crocodile iMan at June 14, 2004 at 06:50 AM

Where were the cops?" Maybe at Qrispy Qreme.

Even if police forces are becoming al Qaeda corrupted, why didn't any civilians help Cumbers as he ran for nearly a mile through a suburb? How many of the murders and kidnappings happen with bystanders not intervening? Are they afraid to "get involved", or are they exercising a sort of passive jihad by not helping the dhimmis?

Posted by: c at June 14, 2004 at 08:06 AM

90% of saudis approve of osama, so why would they help an infidel? we're all enemies to them...

Posted by: niels at June 14, 2004 at 08:10 AM

When I lived in Riyadh, we had Saudi "guards" on the outside perimeter, and US guards on the inside perimeter. Our plan, if attacked, was to use the M-60s on the inside perimeter to shoot the Saudi guards on the outside perimeter, since we were sure they would either abandon their posts or join in with the attackers. Then we'd use their outer perimeter to put a decent defense against the attack. The outside perimeter had much better (and further) fields of fire, so we wanted to put up the strongest defense there. Our only fear was that the MGs on the outside perimeter would be useless because we never once saw the guards cleaning or maintaining the weapons.
Never did come to that, but that was our plan if it did.
Saudi guards asleep? Not if western women were coming through their gate!

Posted by: Diggs at June 14, 2004 at 08:15 AM

c, there have been a few posts about peculiar laws in Saudi Arabia. For example, one law says that first aid can't be given until emergency services arrive on scene.

In contrast, many states in the USA have a "Good Samaritan Law" which relieves passerbys who assist someone in an accident from liability. This is to encourage bystanders to help. It doesn't always work, but the intent is to promote helping your fellow human beings.

Since Saudi Arabia actively forbids their citizens from providing simple first aid, I imagine that any "Good Samaritan" behavior is discouraged. Whether that discouragement be cultural, or enforced by religious/civil police, I don't know. But it is clearly present.

It's also possible that Al Qaeda influence on the general population in Saudi Arabia is more extensive than previously considered, and people were told to stay out of the way. Or this is just another manifestation of racism/religious hatred in Saudi Arabia.

Posted by: The Real JeffS at June 14, 2004 at 08:18 AM

Just think how mean these sons-of-bitches would be if Islam wasn't the religion of peace.

Posted by: arlo at June 14, 2004 at 08:47 AM

I lived in Saudi for over 5 years and found that for every authoritative statement, there was an equal an opposite statement. In regard to The Real Jeffs' comment about first aid I would like to quote an extract from the religious Q & A page of the Arab News of 18 APR 94.

Q. I have often often wondered on what may be appropriate in the case of a road accident in which women and children are injured. Is it permissible for a passer-by to stop and help them? Is such a stranger allowed to get them physically out of a car or into another car? Or would this be inappropriate?
A. I am grateful to this reader for stating he is a non-Muslim. I can understand his concern. I do not think any Muslim would ask such a question, because by nature, a Muslim knows that in such a situation he should not hesitate to give the necessary help.......if they have first aid material, then they [the men] can use these to help her.

Before leaving for Saudi we were briefed not to give assistance in a road accident. I would have followed that advice regardless of the counter advice subsequently given in the Arab News. For every statement......

Posted by: HRT at June 14, 2004 at 09:14 AM

"The London Times..." The paper is called 'The Times'. A better reference is 'The Times (UK)' as it is actually a British newspaper. After all, we wouldn't refer to 'The Sydney Australian'.

Posted by: walter plinge at June 14, 2004 at 10:07 AM

Er, where were the good citizens of that fair Saudi city? The measure of any culture lies in the typical relationship between one person and another. If the average Saudi can't lift a finger to save another person's life, that country is doomed, and deserves to be. Take the oil away and there would be nothing but a few people wandering in the desert within 20 years.

Posted by: chip at June 14, 2004 at 10:23 AM

HRT, thanks for the information. That's is an interesting extract, from someone who has been there.

And I should have prefaced my comment with, "I've never been in Saudi Arabia, but I have a number of friends who have been, and they tell much the same story."

Posted by: The Real JeffS at June 14, 2004 at 11:33 AM

Since al-Qaeda "threatened to treat the captive as U.S. troops treated Iraqi prisoners", does that mean he will be released alive and compensated for his humiliating treatment?

Posted by: c at June 14, 2004 at 11:51 AM

The Saudi guards sound much like the Kuwaitis who guard the oilfields. They are equipped with one battered rifle, with two magazines taped together but lacking any ammunition. The ammo is kept in another building. A cheery wave is normally enough to breach the security and enter the oilfields without a pass.

Posted by: Tim Newman at June 14, 2004 at 06:49 PM

I know it's easy to second-guess, but personally, I would have dropped the camera if I was being chased by gunmen.

the good citizens live under a dictatorship and thus have learned that if you see crazed gunmen, you should not bother them.

"It threatened to treat the captive as U.S. troops treated Iraqi prisoners."

I wish.
(that's a THREAT?)

Posted by: maor at June 14, 2004 at 07:52 PM

Ah yes, a BBC cameraman. Couldn't have happened to a nicer person. I suspect that he was desperately protecting his camera so that his report on the Arab street rising up against Bushitler wouldn't be ruined.

Posted by: Clem Snide at June 14, 2004 at 08:15 PM