Hasty Ruminations

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Tuesday, December 07, 2004

My Son John in the Middle East

John is a Navy Lieutenant on the staff of Commander U.S. Fifth Fleet. John called yesterday from Bahrain, to say that his Navy meeting in Jiddah was cancelled, and he was not there during the attack as he would otherwise have been.

Attack Shows al-Qaida Still a Force in Saudi Arabia
Nine Killed in Bold Assault on U.S. Consulate in Jiddah

JIDDAH, Saudi Arabia (Dec. 7) - The deadly assault on the U.S. consulate in western Saudi Arabia - the first high-profile attack here in seven months - showed that even highly guarded American targets in the kingdom are vulnerable, and analysts warned terrorists will likely be encouraged to attack again.

Nine people were killed in Monday's assault, in which militants used explosives and firearms to breach the external perimeter of the consulate before they were caught in a gunbattle by Saudi Special Forces, who stormed the compound.

Three of the five attackers were killed in the gunfight, and a fourth later died of his injuries. The fifth was wounded and arrested.

The five victims were consulate staff: one Yemeni, a Sudanese, a Filipino, a Pakistani and a Sri Lankan, according to a Saudi security official speaking to Saudi television. He said 13 people were injured, including five Saudi security men.

The significance of the attack, analysts say, is the target, timing and element of surprise, three factors that may force a closer look at the Saudi government's efforts in fighting terror.

"Here is an American consulate that was targeted. It was penetrated. They managed to go through the security, which should have been as tough and as solid as a shield. It shows that American targets in Saudi Arabia, no matter how well protected, are vulnerable to these kind of attacks,'' said Abdul Khaleq Abdulla, an Emirates-based political analyst.


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