The two pronged attacks on Saudi Arabia

The Saudi government is subjected to two kinds of attacks: visible and invisible. The world is forced to look at just one of these. The visible picture depicts the November 8 atrocity in Riyadh carried out with wanton disregard. A glimpse of the invisible, but more sinister attack is the article that appeared two days later in the Wall Street Journal.

Both the visible and invisible attacks will continue to prove two kinds of "evil" forces in operation. The objective behind visible, indiscriminate attack on civilians is to prove the opposition to the Saudi government as evil. The invisible attacks are directed to prove the Saudi government itself as an evil.

This evilisation would eventually justify another crusade and another hand picked government on the pattern of Afghanistan and Iraq because it would prove that neither the rulers nor the opposition is capable to form a tolerant “democratic” government in Saudi Arabia.

The Invisible Attacks

The Wall Street Journal’s November 10 articles by Khalid Abou El Fadl, is a good summary of the invisible attacks on Saudi government. Invisible are these attacks in the sense that they do not take lives immediately. In the short run, they help form a public opinion that later on tolerates UN sponsored genocide for 12 years and ensures a total silence at illegal wars, accepts killings of thousands of civilians and indefinite occupations.

The same invisible attacks are used to make public opinion about who carried out the visible attacks without any concrete evidence. The first line of the Wall Street Journal’s November 10 article puts the blame for November 8 bombing on shoulders of “The religious extremists who form al Qaeda and similar terrorist groups are a threat not only to the U.S., but also other parts of the world — including Saudi Arabia.” We will come to this point in the second part of the article.

It is interesting here to note that perpetrators of the invisible attacks are quick to label “religious extremists” running Al Qaeda and religious extremists ruling Saudi Arabia,” but conveniently ignore religious extremists who are responsible for carnage and in charge occupation in Iraq. They very tactfully hide religious extremists sitting in the White House. They never ask: If Al Qaeda and the Saudi government are sharing the same “intolerant ideology,” and Saudis are funding terrorists, why do the “terrorists” come back to haunt their sponsors?

Perpetrators of the invisible attacks on Saudi Arabia question compatibility of “the Saudi brand of Islam” with Bush’s “war on terrorism.” Regardless of the “brand” of Islam the ruling family in Saudi Arabia may be following, why is there a need to look for its compatibility with a “war on terror” that is questionable even in the eyes of many non-Muslims, including American intellectuals? They consider Bush’s war “invalid” and “bogus.”

Why should such a questionable “war on terror” be declared a standard for judging validity of one or another kind of falsely classified Islam? We must realize that anything that negates and anyone who is not ready to buy Bush’s hypocrisy and lies are not necessarily evil.

According to Abou El Fadl, “during the Afghan war against the Soviets, madrassas emerged in Pakistan that were concerned less with scholarship than with war on infidels.” Those were not madrassas. They were semi-military training camps, run by Pakistan army and ISI, and the literature provided by the US. It is wrong to equate those with the traditional madrassas.

According to Joe Stephens and David B. Ottaway (“The ABC’s of Jihad in Afghanistan”, The Washington Post, March 23, 2002), International patrons supplied arms and religious literature that flooded Pakistani madrassas. Special textbooks were published in Dari and Pashtu, designed by the Centre for Afghanistan Studies at the University of Nebraska-Omaha under a USAID grant in the early 1980s. Written by American Afghanistan experts and anti-Soviet Afghan educators, they aimed at promoting values of Mujahideen and military training among Afghans.

The same lessons are equally applicable to the all the invaders and occupiers. USAID paid the University of Nebraska U.S. $51 million from 1984 to 1994 to develop and design these textbooks, which were mostly printed in Pakistan. Over 13 million were distributed at Afghan refugee camps and Pakistani madrassas “where students learnt basic math by counting dead Russians and Kalashnikov rifles”.[1] What else can the US expect from the kith and kin of the people they trained and “indoctrinated.” Why blame madrassas? Whatever was true yesterday is true today as well. There can be no double standards of application for truth and justice.

Abou El Fadal argues that madrassas “provided ideological training for those who went to fight in Kashmir, Chechnya, and Afghanistan — and many still do.” The core and crux of that ideological training was to oppose occupation of non-Muslim forces. The ideology that was good for defeating communists is now considered an evil. Other than different color flags and uniform, to the people under occupation there is little difference between the Soviet Union’s promotion of godless communism and the Western Alliance’s crusade for imposing godless secularism.[2]

The Soviets could conveniently found many Muslims who would proudly call themselves “comrades,” willing to sacrifice their lives for a red revolution. Where are they now? Did not most of them turned into “moderates” now for promoting another godless ideology

Rejection of the way the Saudi government rules in people does not mean to falsely propagate that “the Saudi government may be propagating an Islam that promotes violence against non-Muslims and disfavored Muslims.” Making sweeping statement like these for publication in the Wall Street Journal is one thing and bringing evidence of this alleged promotion of violence against non-Muslims is quite another. Similarly, intellectual disagreement with the Saudi “brand of Islam” is totally different than becoming a mouth piece of US administration.

If the Saudi produced “intolerant literature” is so widely available, why don’t one come up with the alleged 10 percent objectionable portion of it and prove it as such. Before anyone goes to investigate for it, let it be clear that what they come up would be the most misunderstood concept of Jihad. Instead of throwing it out of the Islamic literature (like General Musharraf’s throwing Jihad-related Qur’anic verses out of the school curriculum), which is amounting to abandoning a basic component of the Qur’anic teaching, we need to understand the philosophy of Jihad and Qital in Islam and also the roots of Western fear of these terms.

Most importantly we need to ask, would removal of the 10 percent “objectionable portions” make the US embargos, invasions and occupations acceptable to the occupied? Would someone who physically and mentally suffered due to brutality of the occupiers give up his resistance to occupation? Never.

A battle front in the invisible attacks on the Saudi government is the Commission on International Religious Freedom, a bipartisan, independent federal agency, which has recommended that Congress fund a study to determine “whether and how the Saudi government is propagating a religious ideology that explicitly promotes hate and violence toward members of other religious groups.”

This attempt is at best laughable. Why does it not conduct a study in finding out how the US policies of domination, its double standards of justice, human right and freedom, and an open war against international norms create hatred and promote violence towards everything Western among the oppressed populations?

Abou El Fadal’s suggestion that the findings of the Commission “should be reported to Congress” is funny even more. Which Congress is he talking about? A congress that believed in blatant lies; a Congress that approved illegal wars and approvals of billions upon billions to consolidate occupation; or a Congress that is totally silent at the repression at the hands of US and US sponsored occupation forces around the world? Bush and Blair are not the only individuals who have lost credibility. With them go the system and institutions that fully backed them or failed for committing the most inhuman acts of modern history.

The planned study would split hairs to find something that may warrant direct occupation of Saudi Arabia but it would not look at the so obvious causes for which the US is not only directly responsible but which also unleashed the strongest waves of anti-Western feelings along with the inevitable anti-Americanism.

The visible attacks

A clear evidence of the visible war on Saudi Arabia is the latest bombing in Riyadh. The strange target for the attack was a compound housing foreign workers and their families–”virtually all of them Muslims from Lebanon and other Arab and south Asian countries. The blame for the attack was immediately put on the shoulder of “Islamist” opposition to the Saudi government.

“It is quite clear to me that Al Qaeda wants to take down the royal family and the government of Saudi Arabia,” declared Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, who arrived in the kingdom the day after the attack. US officials have claimed that the attack in Riyadh represents a new tactic by Al Qaeda. They suggest that the motivation for the action is rooted in a radical interpretation of Islam, in which less observant Lebanese and other foreign Muslims are regarded as “infidels.”

A number of academic and intelligence experts on the Middle East and Al Qaeda, however, have rightly expressed skepticism about this official interpretation of the visible attacks on the kingdom.

“[Al Qaeda’s] target has been since the mid to late 1990s the United States, and not their own government,” Nathaniel Brown, a professor of international affairs at George Washington University in Washington told Radio Free Europe. “And the most recent attack targets not the Saudi government but Saudi citizens and others who are in Saudi Arabia from Muslim countries. And if this is an Al Qaeda attack, it’s not simply a departure, but a shocking departure.”

The choice of the target in last Saturday’s bombing is so gratuitous and reactionary as to defy logic. In his talks to the Los Angeles Times, Roger Cressey, a former senior counter-terrorism official in the Clinton and Bush administrations, described the attack as a “disconnect” from Al Qaeda’s previous modus operandi, which exhibited sensitivity to how its actions would be perceived in the rest of the Muslim world.

An attack of this nature clearly points to the involvement of actors whose motives are hidden. The question is what motive would a hidden force have for carrying out a terrorist bombing in Riyadh?

The Saud family sits upon more oil resources than Saddam Hussein. If both the Saud family and its opposition are proved intolerant Islamists, promoting hate, intolerance and violence, proposal for installing yet another hand picked government, such as the Iraqi Council or the government of Karzai’s and fellow war lords, would become more presentable to Western public and respective “representative” assemblies.

Regardless of any chances of success, the visible and invisible attacks on Saudi government will continue and intensify with the passage of time.


[1]. Joe Stephens and David B. Ottaway, “The ABC’s of Jihad in Afghanistan”, the Washington Post, March 23, 2002. Also see the objectives behind attacking the concept of Madrassa.

[2]. "Kabul today bears a strong resemblance to the Kabul of 1981. This time the men setting the model are American rather than Russian, but the project for secular modernisation which Washington has embarked on is eerily reminiscent of what the Soviet Union tried to do. Schools, hospitals, electrification, rights for women, an expansion of education – it’s the same mix as the Russians were encouraging." Jonathan Steele, "Red Kabul Revisited," Thursday November 13, 2003, The Guardian