Bin Laden vs. the Saudis


"Concentrate your operations on the oil, in particular in Iraq and the Gulf," says someone identifying himself as bin Laden in a new tape. According to a Bloomberg account:

The responsibility for the current situation lies with the regime,: the speaker said, referring to the Saudi monarchy. Addressed "to Muslims in Saudi Arabia specifically," the audio message was found on an Islamist Web site, al-Jazeera said.

"We pray to Allah to welcome the souls of the mujahedeen who attacked the American consulate in Jeddah," the speaker said about the siege of the U.S. mission that left at least eight people dead….

The speaker also criticized the Saudi royals for squandering money, compromising the ideals of Islam, and working too closely with the American "infidels."

Whole thing here.

NEXT: British Detentions

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  1. Posted by Nick Gillespie at December 15, 2004 10:24 AM

    The first time I noticed this thread was just now, on the 16th. What gives?

  2. That’s the nice thing about reading Hit and Run via its RSS feed. It tells me whenever there’s a new post, even if that post is backdated.

  3. Where the backdating came from, I do not know, but here it is on the proper day and time.

  4. The more al-Qaeda actively makes an enemy out of the Saudi government, the more things get…interesting. Contemplating all the possible directions this could lead in makes my head spin.

  5. How is attacking non-US targets in Saudi Arabia going to benefit the terrorists’ cause?

    Cripes didn’t they learn from Vietnam? You can’t defeat the Americans militarily, but you can easily defeat their will to fight. Just a body a day will do ya.

  6. I heard a CIA guy on the radio – Bob Baer maybe? Another guy I think. He said that the oil infrastructure in Saudi Arabia is very vulnerable to sabotage. It wouldn’t really be that hard to knock out the pipelines and take the oil of the market for a year or two, which would bring about a global depression, probably, as oil went up to $100 a barrel.

    So the interesting thing is, why hasn’t this happened? Either the Saudis are still paying off Al Qaida, or Al Qaida is figuring they want that infrastructure intact when they take over.

  7. There’s a school of thought that says Al-Qaeda isn’t really opposed to the US as much as it is opposed to the House of Saud. The “War on Terror” is just the global extension of an Arabian civil war. Attacks on the US are just intended to remove American support from Saudi Arabia, making the regime easier to topple. I think there is a nugget of truth there.

  8. I think Osama should get a Medal of Freedom for his tireless efforts in the War on Terror.

    This makes total sense. The American political and military establishment has always had plans to protect the Saudi oil infrastructure if it were threatened (remember Gulf War 1?).

    So now would be a ripe time to open another front in the war, from al Qaida’s perspective, because the American military would be hard pressed to respond.

    Too bad al Qaida is a weak and generally ineffective bogey-man.

    Ooops, I forgot, scratch that. They are fanatical Islamofascists that threaten freedom, humanity, civilization.

  9. Brian,
    I read one of Rober Baers books. ‘See No Evil’. It was an awesome book. I have his other book ‘Sleeping With the Devil’, but I haven’t gotten around to reading it yet. It is in the latter book that he talks about how vulnerable Saudi Arabia is.

    He is convinced that there will be a Saudi civil war soon enough. Though most of the people I talk to say that the invevitable civil war in Saudi Arabia will not come as soon as Baer would have us think.

    I don’t know if Al Qaida, or Osama in particular wants the oil infrastructure intact. But my guess is that all sides involved in a Saudi civil war do indeed want the oil fields intact.

    I think that if Osama and his henchment were to go after the oil fields, a lot of his friends would wind up getting tortured to death. None of the Saudis of any side have any of the ethical limitations that the US does. They probably also don’t have the inability to infiltrate Al Qaida that the CIA seems to have.

  10. I think there is a nugget of truth there.

    There might be as many nuggets as there are terrorists, or at least terrorist cells. This is a semi-coordinated movement at best. That actors within it might not all act toward the same end would hardly be shocking.

  11. Unnecessarily…,

    “There’s a school of thought that says Al-Qaeda isn’t really opposed to the US as much as it is opposed to the House of Saud”

    Except that the fact that they killed a few thousand U.S. citizens on 9/11 tends to indicate otherwise. If they didn’t want to oppose the U.S., that probably wasn’t such a great idea.


    “So the interesting thing is, why hasn’t this happened? Either the Saudis are still paying off Al Qaida, or Al Qaida is figuring they want that infrastructure intact when they take over.”

    Or Al Qaida doesn’t have the capability to effectively attack the Saudi oil infrastructure. Or the CIA guy’s assessment of its vulnerability is wrong.


    “Too bad al Qaida is a weak and generally ineffective bogey-man”

    It’s certainly weak and ineffective in comparison with the U.S. But it only takes a small number of dedicated individuals to pull off a major terrorist strike. And no matter how weak, ineffective, disorganized and lacking in strategy Al Qaida may appear, if it gets hold of a nuclear weapon and manages to trigger it, its relative weakness will be little comfort to the thousands who die. Let’s not write off Al Qaida as a serious threat just yet.

  12. I think that if Osama and his henchment were to go after the oil fields, a lot of his friends would wind up getting tortured to death. None of the Saudis of any side have any of the ethical limitations that the US does. They probably also don’t have the inability to infiltrate Al Qaida that the CIA seems to have.

    Exactly right. The Saudis have been willing to play pattycake with AQ because doing so was less inconvenient than dealing with the backlash from going after them hard. The instant they threaten the lifeblood of the regime (by say, attacking the oil fields), that motivation goes away and survival mode kicks in. And let’s face it, AQ chops off heads like Vince Carter dunks, but the House of Saud is the M dot Jordan of head off chopping. and even the people not particularly happy with the regime know which side their bread is buttered on, and who butters it.

  13. You know, with enough “Enemy of my enemy” thinking, it’s possible to conclude that OBL is our ally.

    David, trying to get an outside power to stop supporting your enemy in a civil war is pretty common.

  14. Junyo,

    But why would AQ go after the Saudi regime at all if they’re scared to after ’em all the way? Sheer sport?

  15. Damn, Junyo, you’ve got the metaphor blender on “puree” today, don’t you? 🙂

  16. Joe,

    “David, trying to get an outside power to stop supporting your enemy in a civil war is pretty common.”

    True. But if that is the goal, then launching a major attack on that power and bringing them into the war is irrational. If it ever was just a civil war, and I don’t believe the evidence supports that view, then the dynamic was changed by their actions.

  17. Fydor,
    They can go after the regeme, and the Americans to an extent. Bearing in mind when you say that they are going after the regime, they are going after a faction of the regime. They are counting on the support (or at least the moral support, and a lack of opposition of said) of another faction of the regime.

    But if they go after the bread basket. They piss off more than just the head guys who are barely maintaining power.

    The Saudi government has cut off many more heads of Al Qaida, than all the heads that terrorists have cut off, combined.

  18. David,

    It’s not irrational if you consider our actions in Lebanon and Somalia. It could have been a rational position to think that the American response to a major attack and loss of life would be to turn tail and run again, leaving the Middle East for good. With the benefit of hindsight that looks silly, but I think Bin Laden (remembering victory over the Soviets in Afghanistan) could have believed this.

  19. David, I wouldn’t write of any terrorist but I am pretty tired of all the overblown rhetoric by those who think the war on terror should be some sort of central organizing principle for our government and society.

    Bin Laden obviously believed he was going to drag the USA in to a long and bloody war in Afghanistan and recreate the glorious jihad against the Soviets. That is why he killed the charismatic leader of the Norther Alliance just days before 9/11. A long, costly guerilla war would weaken the USA economically and militarily and make Bin Laden look like a heroic David taking on Goliath. Boy was HE ever wrong!

  20. Bin Laden’s own comments make it clear that he thought 9/11 would scare the US out of the mid-east, because of our prior lukewarm response to terrorist attacks. So, at least in part, it was intended to rid the Saudi regime of US support, making them an easier target for AQ.

    Oh, BTW, it didn’t work.

  21. kwais,

    What “faction” of the Saudi regime are they going after? And then which faction(s) are they not going after? To what end are they going after this faction for? Ie, what are they trying to accomplish if not regime change? If that’s what they’re trying to accomplish, how could they piss off the regime any more than with that goal? Unless they have allies within the regime…?

  22. fyodor,
    I’m sure there’s some sort of disgruntled Saudi prince that is secretly in cahoots with these dirtbags that would step in. If there is, he is probably distancing himself from them now, wisely, to step in some sort of power vacuum.

    This is pure speculation and conspiracy mongering, but international politics generally is.

  23. Fydor,
    I haven’t read the book that Baer wrote. And when I was in Saudi Arabia, me trying to understand what was going on there gave me a headache.

    Also most the the word I got was from 3rd hand sources, I wasn’t in with the cool guys that were high up in the information flow. I wasn’t in with the big movers and shakers. (But I did almost give one of them a beat down after his girlfriend hit on me, and that would have been a big mistake on my part)(I was secretly dating a girl, that if discovered, she would have had her head cut off, and I would have been deported, and my career over).

    Anyhow, here is what I understand the situation to be:

    The King that is dead had 80 or so offspring, and each of his offspring have about 20 offspring each. All those offspring are above the law unless they do something open and big against the King. Some of them are pro US, some of them are anti US, and to the point of being pro Osama.

    Some of them have more power than others, and some of them want more powers than others. And some of them are idiots and are worthless.

    One of the guys who we want to be the next one in charge is super smart, well educated, understands a free market, and is pro US. But he doesn’t care for power, he only cares for horses and women. (His are the parties that I wanted to be invited to, but never got the hook up). Another dude that is bucking for power, hates us, but he has to earn some respect. The guy we want seems perfect, except that he doesn’t care for the job.

    Of the sons of the dead King, the guy who is reffered to as the current King, is rumored to not really be in Charge (because of his health).

    The guy who is in charge is pro US, but he doesn’t hold a lot of water, so to speak. So when the guy who is reffered to as king dies (or proof of his death leaks), there will be those who challenge his sovereignty.

    There are different branches of the Armed services in Saudi Arabia, and they are recruted from different tribes, and they are ruled by different people, so a battle between branches of the armed services is likely at some point.

    Different leaders do not consider themselves subject to the King, but they will not openly defy him while he plays his cards right and holds more power than they do.

    Some of the leaders that support Osama have had to back off a little with the recent bombings, and the King had a lot of heads chopped off, mostly of the wahabi Imams that. But the King (or the guy who is really in charge) has to walk a fine line.

    I don’t think that any of the players will take kindly to their bread basked being taken away.

    I could be wrong about much of this, and my information may be dated. And it may not even be read, because it is on a relatively old post).

  24. kwais,

    Thanks for the headache! 🙂

    I guess it comes down to what AQ actually think they can get out of their attacks. If it’s bringing down the whole regime, then everyone in the regime is threatened equally and should be every bit as mad as they would be if AQ attacked the oil. But if it’s more to favor one member or faction over another, then it does make some sense, sure, only I don’t see how their attacks would accomplish that. But then, maybe that’s why I’m a bookkeeper and they’re terrorists!!

  25. The way I see it. Al Qaida has to accomplish one of two possible goals. Either they show that the Saudi regime is weak, and another hungry group or royal person will take power (and those people, or that Prince will likely be more in bed with the Wahabis). Or they prove that the Saudi regeme is too much in bed with US, and too un-Islamic, and they think the population will not stand for it and the regime will lose their legitimacy. And another group will take power.

    However, taking out the oil fields is not as easy as it may seem. And, if they can take down the regime without going after the oil, then whatever regime replaces them, will most likely be in bed with the wahabi’s, and more likely to be more friendly to AQ. If they go after the oil fields, I don’t think there will be anyone that they don’t anger.

    That is just my take though.

  26. By the way,
    The real headache is trying to remember the names, and who they are and what they mean to US (and this is somewhat important, especially if you are in the country.

    Also the relations, because all the offspring of one royal dude come from many women. In Islam you can marry up to four women at a time. The royals tend to marry four, then divorce when they lose interest in the wives or gain interest in someone else. There are many times when the grandson is older than the son from a different wife.

    A divorced wife of royalty may not remarry. And I don’t know if she remains “open for buisness” to the ex husband.

    Virginity is a bid deal over there. A woman doesn’t marry anyone she would want to, if she is not a virgin. There are a few women that like to fool around that have butt sex with their pre-husband lovers. There is also a big underground re-verginization surgery market.

  27. I just saw on the news that Al Qaida has indeed called for bombing Saudi oil fields. So we will see if indeed they can pull it off. And if they do reach some measure of success, we will see what the reaction from the Saudis is.

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