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Author Topic: Terrorist Attack In Saudi Arabia
DaddySno
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posted 13 May 2003 10:04 AM      Profile for DaddySno     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Yahoo
From: Potissauga | Registered: Apr 2003  |  IP: Logged
skdadl
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posted 13 May 2003 11:25 AM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Gosh, DaddySno, but that is the first expression of pure enthusiasm for Al Qaeda that I have ever encountered on this board.

This is awful, of course, but a logical progression. If anything useful is to arise from it as a by-product of horror, it may at least serve to educate many North Americans on the surprising numbers of Western professionals who live conspicuously privileged lives in KSA, and are thus a running provocation to many Saudis, radical or not. Moving the U.S. military out last month was not enough, not near enough -- as this outrage shows.


From: gone | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
DaddySno
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posted 13 May 2003 11:31 AM      Profile for DaddySno     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
skdadl, what would be enough ?
From: Potissauga | Registered: Apr 2003  |  IP: Logged
Briguy
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posted 13 May 2003 11:40 AM      Profile for Briguy     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
My understanding is that Saudis aren't all that underpriveledged either (of course, my understanding is only anecdotal at the moment, and is far from complete). The poorest segment of the population over there are nationals from south Asia (primarily India) who serve as low-wage workers in the refineries and such. It's all relative, of course, because the low wage earned in KSA is attractive compared to the wages available for unskilled labourers (or skilled but unemployed people) in Bombay and similar places.

Sorry for the thread drift. I watched the CBC morning news earlier, and the reporter on the scene claimed that this wasn't necessarily a western target (he was repeating the view of someone he talked with). I don't really buy that, what with so many foreign nationals housed in the complex, but it is important to remember that some of these terrorist attacks are related to internal politics in KSA, even when westerners are the perceived target. They are not all neccesarily linked to the BushCo - Osama hatefest.


From: No one is arguing that we should run the space program based on Physics 101. | Registered: Nov 2001  |  IP: Logged
skdadl
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posted 13 May 2003 11:43 AM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Oh, Sarcasmo, no. There are definite, and extreme, class differences, regional ones as well, in KSA.
From: gone | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
WingNut
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posted 13 May 2003 11:45 AM      Profile for WingNut   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Saudis are much poorer today then they were in the 70's and 80's.

quote:
In the meantime, increasingly dire economic conditions have curbed prosperity, highlighted fissures within Saudi society, and exposed the royal family to charges of waste and corruption. In the last decade, the standard of living has fallen precipitously. Critics charge that the government has done nothing to diversify an economy that is overwhelmingly dependent on oil revenues. Population growth is robust, but the economy is stagnating, further stressing the social welfare net.

src: http://www.cdi.org/terrorism/saudi.cfm


Nevertheless, while I would agree that some Saudis might resent the flaunted wealth of westerners, I do not believe that would be a prime motivation for either blowing them up or yourself with them. I think there would have to be a deeper ideological justification.


From: Out There | Registered: Aug 2001  |  IP: Logged
Briguy
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posted 13 May 2003 12:00 PM      Profile for Briguy     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Thanks for the link, Wingy. Like I said, my knowledge is/was all anecdotal. I must read more this week.

Report from the hindustan times

Given the mix of nationalities at the compounds, I'm left to wonder if the compounds were owned or operated on behalf of specific oil companies.

Edited to pluralize the word compounds. There were three compounds attacked.

[ 13 May 2003: Message edited by: Sarcasmobri ]


From: No one is arguing that we should run the space program based on Physics 101. | Registered: Nov 2001  |  IP: Logged
PitPat
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posted 13 May 2003 12:52 PM      Profile for PitPat     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
This notion that Western professionals in Saudi Arabia lead priviledged lives, flaunting wealth in the face of destitute Arabs is pure fiction. And it's quite pathetic to try and use it as a reason to understand the motivations behind the latest attacks on the "spoiled brats" (as our dear skdadl so eloquently put it) in the KSA.

Anyhow, my mother lives in Jedawal so I'll just dramatically flounce off here back to the phones to try and get through and let you guys get back to trying to understand those poor underpriviledged suicide bombers.


From: Take it from me, I love you! | Registered: May 2003  |  IP: Logged
Briguy
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posted 13 May 2003 12:53 PM      Profile for Briguy     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Meanwhile, I will *plonk* you for assuming we agree with the actions of murderers.

[ 13 May 2003: Message edited by: Sarcasmobri ]


From: No one is arguing that we should run the space program based on Physics 101. | Registered: Nov 2001  |  IP: Logged
skdadl
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posted 13 May 2003 12:58 PM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
the latest attacks on the "spoiled brats" (as our dear skdadl so eloquently put it)

How interesting, PitPat. I did put it that way, some time ago and on another thread. Quite some time before you registered as PitPat, actually.

My knowledge of Western professionals working in KSA is every bit as close as yours, PitPat. I know just how sadly clueless most of them are. That doesn't mean I believe that anyone deserves the death penalty for being stupid, insensitive, and spoiled. Oh -- and toss greedy in there too, if you like.


From: gone | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
DaddySno
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posted 13 May 2003 01:43 PM      Profile for DaddySno     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
91 is the death toll now. These poor stupid, insensitive, spoiled, greedy people. What did they do to deserve this ?
From: Potissauga | Registered: Apr 2003  |  IP: Logged
Mandos
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posted 13 May 2003 01:45 PM      Profile for Mandos   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Did anyone say they did? Separate, separate! The Latin root of "intelligence" means "to choose between." To separate. Why is it that right-wingoids can never separate things? Are they not intelligent? Rhetorical question.
From: There, there. | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
skdadl
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posted 13 May 2003 02:11 PM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I SAID that NOBODY did ANYTHING to DESERVE this, DS. NO one DESERVES this. Can you not read?
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PitPat
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posted 13 May 2003 02:13 PM      Profile for PitPat     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Well thank goodness there is no death penalty for being stupid and insensitive skdadl, because you'd be first in line for the chair!
From: Take it from me, I love you! | Registered: May 2003  |  IP: Logged
DaddySno
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posted 13 May 2003 02:21 PM      Profile for DaddySno     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
skdadl, I didn't mean it that way.
From: Potissauga | Registered: Apr 2003  |  IP: Logged
skdadl
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posted 13 May 2003 02:27 PM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
sheep, were you bounced? I hadn't noticed that. Nice to have you back. I guess.

Ok, DS -- although I can't see what else you meant.

Have you two met? I'm sure you'll get along.


From: gone | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
DaddySno
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posted 13 May 2003 02:39 PM      Profile for DaddySno     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I meant it in the way as, why did the suicide bombers think that these people deserved to die. I didn't know sheep was bounced and yes, he was a good guy.
From: Potissauga | Registered: Apr 2003  |  IP: Logged
WingNut
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posted 13 May 2003 02:46 PM      Profile for WingNut   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by PitPat:
Well thank goodness there is no death penalty for being stupid and insensitive skdadl, because you'd be first in line for the chair!

Stupid and insensitive? I thought that would define western intervention in the Gulf states.

From: Out There | Registered: Aug 2001  |  IP: Logged
sophrosyne
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posted 13 May 2003 04:15 PM      Profile for sophrosyne     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I don't think I'd rush to characterize this attack as one perpetrated by al-Qaida. After all, the USA is pulling out of Saudi Arabia (which was their main goal, no?), you think instead of setting off bombs they'd be throwing going-away parties.

The Saudi Arabian government has not been known to be very open about terrorist groups operating in their country. Blaming al-Qaida may be convenient, but I don't think it's accurate. Probably some other terrorist group, sad to say.


From: British Columbia | Registered: May 2003  |  IP: Logged
'lance
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posted 13 May 2003 04:50 PM      Profile for 'lance     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
91 is the death toll now.

Apparently there's considerable disagreement about the death toll.

quote:
Powell condemns attacks in Saudi capital; 20 dead

- - - - - - - - - - - -
By Barry Schweid

May 13, 2003 | RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) -- Secretary of State Colin Powell deplored a series of terror bombings that killed at least 10 Americans in this capital city, saying they bore the "earmarks of al-Qaida."

Powell scrapped only a planned meeting with Saudi civic leaders to get a briefing from the U.S. Embassy on the bombings at three residential compounds, but was otherwise Tuesday with planned talks with Saudi officials.

...

A U.S. official said overall casualties appear to be in the hundreds and that several members of the Saudi national guard perished in the attacks.

He also said British, German, French, Australian and other Arab citizens were among he casualties.


Apparently the fog of terrorism is as thick as the proverbial fog of war.


From: that enchanted place on the top of the Forest | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged
DaddySno
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posted 13 May 2003 05:01 PM      Profile for DaddySno     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
There were conflicting reports about the death toll. Saudi officials said 29 had died, including nine attackers. A State Department official said 91 had died but later said the actual number was closer to the Saudi figure.

It's hard to say


From: Potissauga | Registered: Apr 2003  |  IP: Logged
'lance
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posted 13 May 2003 05:05 PM      Profile for 'lance     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
The Glob says 29; evidently also an AP report

quote:
Riyadh — Attackers shot their way into three housing compounds in synchronized strikes in the Saudi capital and then set off multiple car bombs, killing at least 29 people, including nine bombers.

On Tuesday, an hour after saying that the death toll was 91, a U.S. State Department official said the actual figure was much closer to the Saudi estimate of 29.

Earlier, the Saudi official said 194 people were wounded, most of them slightly.


For what it's worth.


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DrConway
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posted 13 May 2003 05:06 PM      Profile for DrConway     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by WingNut:
Saudis are much poorer today then they were in the 70's and 80's.

That's odd.

Even with the price of oil falling with respect to inflation over the 1990s, the Saudis surely have built up a decent infrastructure of roads, schools, hospitals, and so on, that their investment in this basic wealth would diversify their economy and make Saudi Arabia less dependent on oil revenues, I would think.


From: You shall not side with the great against the powerless. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
DrConway
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posted 13 May 2003 05:08 PM      Profile for DrConway     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by PitPat:
Well thank goodness there is no death penalty for being stupid and insensitive skdadl, because you'd be first in line for the chair!

Paging Audra to the babble moderation phone, stat.


From: You shall not side with the great against the powerless. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
skdadl
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posted 13 May 2003 05:10 PM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I'm sure you're right to warn us off jumping to conclusions, sophrosyne -- but why are you tilting towards another conclusion?

I hate to quote David Frum, but in his diary in the National Review he raises an interesting side issue I hadn't thought of -- the Canadian and the (one or two?) Brit(s) now sentenced to death, I believe, after secret trials found them guilty of a bomb attack two years ago. Frum is convinced that the Saudis framed the foreigners on purpose, to cover up earlier Al Qaeda activity.

Well: it's a thought.

The process against the Canadian, certainly, as I've been able to follow it in the Grope, has been deeply suspect.


From: gone | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
skdadl
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posted 13 May 2003 05:13 PM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
DrC and audra: that's ok: I understand the personal connection behind the outburst. Hatchet buried.
From: gone | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
'lance
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posted 13 May 2003 05:22 PM      Profile for 'lance     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Originally posted by DrConway:

That's odd.

Even with the price of oil falling with respect to inflation over the 1990s, the Saudis surely have built up a decent infrastructure of roads, schools, hospitals, and so on, that their investment in this basic wealth would diversify their economy and make Saudi Arabia less dependent on oil revenues, I would think.


What diversification?

The May Atlantic has a fairly hair-raising piece called "The Fall of the House of Saud," unfortunately not available on-line. Here's an excerpt, however:

quote:
In 1981, when the entire kingdom was in effect being put on the dole, oil was selling at nearly $40 a barrel, and the annual per capita income was $28,600. A decade later, just before Iraq invaded Kuwait, refiners were able to buy oil for about $15 a barrel. The Gulf War sent prices back up to about $36 a barrel before they quickly fell. Today a barrel of oil once again fetches about $40 [I believe this was written during a brief spike, and the price today is closer to $26], but twenty years' worth of inflation, combined with a poulation explosion, has brought per capita income down to below $7000. Because roughly 85 percent of Saudi Arabia's total revenues are oil-based, every dollar increase in the price of a barrel of oil means a gain of about $3 billion to the Saudi treasury. In the early 1980s the kingdom boasted cash reserves on the order of $120 billion; today the figure is estimated to be $21 billion.

(emphasis added)

Saudi Arabia is a classic example of why reliance on resource extraction is an economic strategy with no future. All the fine talk of "diversification" tends to get brushed aside until it's too late -- and this article makes it plain that for the House of Saud it may be too late.

As for that "population explosion," Saudi Arabia has one of the highest birth rates in the world -- nearly three times that of the United States. Rate of growth is particularly high among the House of Saud -- because a prince might have as many as forty or more children in a lifetime. The family is growing far faster than the revenues which sustain the monthly stipends of its members -- who resort to all sorts of crooked and snarly practices to support themselves in the manner to which they wish to become accustomed.

The author, Robert Baer, also remarks on the kingdom's workforce thus:

quote:
About a quarter of Saudi Arabia's population, and more than a third of all residents aged fifteen to sixty-four, are foreign nationals, allowed into the kingdom to do the dirty work and to provide domestic help, but also to program the computers and manage the refineries. Seventy percent of all jobs in Saudi Arabia -- and close to 90 percent of all private-sector jobs -- are filled by foreigners....

Today two out of evry three Ph.D.s earned in Saudi Arabia are in Islamic studies. Doctorates are only very rarely granted in computer sciences, engineering, and other worldly vocations. Younger Saudis are being educated to take part in a world that will exist only if the Wahhabi jihadists succeed in turning back the clock not just a few decades but a few centuries.


As for infrastructure, here's one particularly alarming fact: it's a desert, but water is free. Incentive to conserve: zero.


From: that enchanted place on the top of the Forest | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged
clockwork
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posted 13 May 2003 05:28 PM      Profile for clockwork     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
The Atlantic... is that one of those worldly right wing publications?
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'lance
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posted 13 May 2003 05:30 PM      Profile for 'lance     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post

From: that enchanted place on the top of the Forest | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged
sophrosyne
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posted 13 May 2003 08:37 PM      Profile for sophrosyne     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Hi skdadl, as I wrote, one of A-Q's main goals was the removal of American forces from Saudi Arabia. The Americans recently announced that they will be pulling all their forces from SA (anyone have any idea when?). So, I'm sitting here thinking, why would A-Q stage a terrorist attack as one of its demands were being filled?

But, that's not to say it can't be A-Q, and that's operating on the supposition that terrorists are at least somewhat reasonable logical people (which obviously they are not). So, who really knows.

Just throwing it out as a possibility.


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WingNut
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posted 13 May 2003 08:48 PM      Profile for WingNut   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Well, who is to understand the minds of those whoese intent it is to wage violence? I don't. And I can't pretend to understand the motives and actions of terrorists anymore than I can of their counterparts in Washington.

But I do know this: The objection was not to the presence of armed Americans in Saudi Arabia, the nation, so much as it was the presence in Saudi Arabia, home to Islam's holiest shrine. Now, in Iraq, armed Americans occupy Iraq, home to the next two holiest shrines.

I don't expect things to get better soon.


From: Out There | Registered: Aug 2001  |  IP: Logged
SamL
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posted 13 May 2003 10:20 PM      Profile for SamL     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
Well, the first two holiest shrines, in Makkah and Madinah, are in Saudi Arabia, and the third, al-Haram al-Sharif, is in Jerusalem.

For "Shias", I suppose the case could be made that Karbala, for example, are the holiest shrines (after the top 3, Makkah, Madinah, and Jerusalem).

But there are a few things to remember:

1) Shias compose about 10% of the global Muslim population. The Wahabbi sect (Taliban and al-Qaeda), which seems to be the common sect in Saudi Arabia , is a Sunni sect, and I don't know how much significance they would give to Shia shrines in Iraq (unless of course they could politicize it sufficiently).

2) The Shia branch isn't a monolith. If you look at the "Sunnis and Shias" thread in "Body and Soul," I've posted a bit of a lengthy list of various Shia sub-sects. Some, like mine (the Nizari Imami Ismailis), attach little or no importance to the physical shrines in places like Karbala.

Given that in some places, such as Pakistan, there are still episodes of Sunni-Shia violence, and given that some of these episodes have been linked to al-Qaeda, I'm not sure if they would want to attach any significance to the Iraqi Shia shrines.


From: Cambridge, MA | Registered: Feb 2002  |  IP: Logged
WingNut
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posted 13 May 2003 11:16 PM      Profile for WingNut   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
I must apologize as maybe I watch too much cable news. But I did think Karbala and Najaf were the next two holiest cities after Medina.
From: Out There | Registered: Aug 2001  |  IP: Logged
Briguy
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posted 13 May 2003 11:22 PM      Profile for Briguy     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:
Given the mix of nationalities at the compounds, I'm left to wonder if the compounds were owned or operated on behalf of specific oil companies.

In response to my own musings, the compounds attacked primarily housed defence contractors. This is another indirect attack on the US military (like the attack on the Pentagon). The US may be hesitant to pull troops from KSA if their contractors are at risk. They may even decide to commit troops to the protection of other defence contractors in other countries in the Middle East that are now considered safe.

Compounds housed defence contractors.

Edited to add: I guess only one of the compounds housed defence contractors (the Vinnell compound). I haven't seen any information regarding the employers of the other two compounds yet. I realize that some people may confuse my curiousity as an attempt to blame the victim here. This is not my intention. The attacks on these compounds were brutal, illegal, and inexcusable. I just want to know why these targets were chosen. These sorts of attacks are rarely as random as authorities would lead us to believe.

[ 14 May 2003: Message edited by: Sarcasmobri ]


From: No one is arguing that we should run the space program based on Physics 101. | Registered: Nov 2001  |  IP: Logged
Tommy M
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posted 14 May 2003 12:12 PM      Profile for Tommy M     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
quote:

But intelligence experts believe the third location that the terrorists chose on Monday night in this northeastern suburb of the capital was their main target. Known locally as the Vinnell compound, it is home to scores of former US servicemen who train the Saudi Arabian National Guard. It was the first to be attacked just before 11.20pm, when gunmen ambushed sentries.

(...)

About 70 American military specialists employed by the Virginia-based firm of Vinnell live here, some with their families. The company has worked in the kingdom for more than 25 years on contracts worth $800 million (£500 million). A car bomb in December 1995 destroyed a US Army building where Vinnell staff were working.


Terrorists had sights set on US experts

And in another article.

quote:

AS BEFITS a company that has been accused of being a CIA front, of recruiting “executive mercenaries” and attempting to overthrow the Prime Minister of a Commonwealth state, the Vinnell Corporation kept a low profile in Riyadh.

Firm was 'cover for CIA'


From: Here | Registered: Feb 2002  |  IP: Logged
clockwork
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posted 14 May 2003 01:59 PM      Profile for clockwork     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post
SamL, Wahabbism isn't only the common sect in Saudi Arabia, it's the state religion. From my limited understanding, granddaddy al Saud was just another tribal warlord long ago. Granddaddy al Saud made an arrangement with some crank named al Wahhabb in which they used each other to gain more influence. Al Wahhabb got a bandit army to spread the religion, granddaddy al Saud got a religion to legitimize his power. (the Ottomans squashed Grandaddy al Sauds fiefdom, until grandson al Saud made a run of it…. grandson got help since Wahhabbism was firmly rooted within the peninsula and, after WWI, had asked the British if they didn't mind him taking Medina and Mecca. The British, apparently, didn't say yes but they didn't say no, either (geee, does that sound familiar anyone?). I don't think they put much stock in Shitte shrines… or at least the al Wahhabbi never did… apparently the Ottomans had had enough when al Wahhabbi trashed everything in the area. The grandson had an army of fanatics which, in the end, he had to defeat after they did all the dirty work.

I could be wrong, though.


From: Pokaroo! | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged

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