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Is Security Being Tightened? (19 April)

 
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Paul in Saudi



Joined: 03 Mar 2003
Posts: 391
Location: Doha, Qatar

PostPosted: Mon Apr 19, 2004 4:40 pm    Post subject: Is Security Being Tightened? (19 April) Reply with quote

Humm, extra security at the gate to the Air Force base.

I have noticed the traffic police pulling over vehicles quite a bit more than usual.

They are repositioning the MG positions around my compound and have made some small upgrades to the perimeter wall.

The police checkpoints now feature protective vests and SMGs.

Is this a local thing in Jeddah, or has the Kingdom gone up a notch in security?

(Is is my paranoia medical letting me down?)
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johnslat



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
Posts: 12292
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

PostPosted: Mon Apr 19, 2004 5:46 pm    Post subject: It's not paranoia is they're really out to get you Reply with quote

Dear Paul in Saudi,
It's Kingdom-wide, I'd say. Here's part of an e-mail I received yesterday from a friend in Riyadh:

"Just to let you know that things have been hopping the last few weeks here especially this past week. Lots of police action in certain parts of the city - lots of policeman killed and loads of cars and trucks packed with explosives found; some terrorisits killed while others 'got away'. The government is sure putting on a drive to catch these guys though. As you no doubt heard, the US is asking all their citizens to leave because they have 'credible' info that these guys are going to strike very soon. We've all been waiting for this to happen again - it's coming up to the six month and one year deadline of the last two bombings and people are playing the waiting game, wondering where the next targets will be. The shootouts have taken place only in certain parts of the city where there are a lot of fundamentalists - bedouins actually - plus to the north of Riyadh again a hotbed of fundamentalists and in the Wadi (river area) of Riyadh not too far from the diplomatic quarters (and the royal palaces). "

Regards,
John
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Saudi4Ever



Joined: 25 Mar 2004
Posts: 130

PostPosted: Mon Apr 19, 2004 7:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

John, is your friend aware of the fact that bedouins are hardly considered fundamentalist? They are considered the most ignorant of the religion...at least before they came to the big city.
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johnslat



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
Posts: 12292
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

PostPosted: Mon Apr 19, 2004 7:21 pm    Post subject: Ignorance ain't bliss Reply with quote

Dear Saudi4Ever,
Actually, I'm not aware of what my friend (who's been there for 8 years) is aware of. However, it seems to me that "being ignorant" of one's religion (the true nature of it, I mean) would be a promising start down the road to terrorism.
Regards,
John
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Saudi4Ever



Joined: 25 Mar 2004
Posts: 130

PostPosted: Mon Apr 19, 2004 7:46 pm    Post subject: Re: Ignorance ain't bliss Reply with quote

johnslat wrote:
Dear Saudi4Ever,
However, it seems to me that "being ignorant" of one's religion (the true nature of it, I mean) would be a promising start down the road to terrorism.
Regards,
John


Hey you have a very good point there!
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Stephen Jones



Joined: 21 Feb 2003
Posts: 4124

PostPosted: Mon Apr 19, 2004 8:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Considering that the guy appears to have got the State Department's warning wrong, can't distinguish between a fundamentalisit and a Bedouin, and that he has a peculiar sense of number (as evidenced by the word 'loads') one wonders whether he has spent eight years in the Kingdom or eight years locked away in his compound.
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johnslat



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
Posts: 12292
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

PostPosted: Mon Apr 19, 2004 8:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear Stephen Jones,
Actually, it's not a guy - it's a lady. She doesn't live on a compound, either. But what's with this bedu can't be fundamentalists (and vice versa, I assume)? Many of the ones that I had chance to teach over the years - "city bedu" admittedly, but so are the one she's talking about - were among the most xenophobic, insular, anti-Western, anti-just about everything that was different from them, individuals I've ever encountered. And how did she get the "warning" wrong?

"BBC NEWS / MIDDLE EAST
Thursday, 15 April, 2004, 23:48 GMT 00:48 UK
US citizens urged to leave Saudi
The US government has issued a travel warning advising US citizens to leave Saudi Arabia.
The warning said US officials had received recent and credible information that terrorist attacks were being planned in the country.

All non-essential US diplomats and all diplomats' family members have been ordered to leave, and private citizens are strongly urged to depart.

This is the third such evacuation in the country since last November.

US citizens who remain in the country despite the warning are being asked to register at the embassy in Riyadh or at the Jeddah or Dhahran consulates.

They are asked to remain vigilant, especially in public places associated with Westerners.

More than 50 people were killed last year in two separate attacks against compounds housing foreigners.

Gun battle


On Wednesday, at least one member of the Saudi security forces was killed and another wounded when gunmen attacked their patrol north of Riyadh.

A day earlier, suspected Muslim militants killed four Saudi policemen in separate incidents north of the capital.

Officers were shot at a checkpoint on the road to Qassim province after ordering a car to stop. The attackers fled in two stolen police cars.

Police said the men had probably been involved in a gun battle in Riyadh on Monday in which one suspected militant and one police officer died.

Police also defused two car bombs and seized a third car full of arms.

"The terrorists had packed a huge quantity of explosives in the cars and they would have caused major damage," a security source told Reuters.

Non-essential diplomats were told to leave Saudi Arabia in December after the US government said it received "indications of terrorist threats aimed at American and Western interests".

The threats were said to included the targeting of civil aviation and other transport.

In November, the Riyadh embassy shut just hours before a suicide bomb blast - blamed on al-Qaeda - killed 18 people and injured more than 100 in the city."

Regards,
John
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andrew



Joined: 19 Feb 2003
Posts: 38

PostPosted: Mon Apr 19, 2004 11:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What exactly is meant by "remain vigilant in public places"? Where else would one remain vigilant?
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johnslat



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
Posts: 12292
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

PostPosted: Tue Apr 20, 2004 1:37 am    Post subject: Embassy-speak Reply with quote

Dear andrew,
Oh well - that's the usual embassy-speak, like "keep a low profile", vary your routes to and from work", etc.
But would you consider compounds to be "public places"? Or, to use the exact quote:

Quote:
They are asked to remain vigilant, especially in public places associated with Westerners.


Probably not - but that's where most of the terrorism has taken place so far. Perhaps the warning should have read: "remain vigilant, especially at home, if you live on a compound."

Regards,
John
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Pilot in Command



Joined: 19 Apr 2003
Posts: 50

PostPosted: Tue Apr 20, 2004 5:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The wording of the latest (#9) warden message is interesting. Instead of Americans being urged to consider departing, they are now strongly urged to depart. Also, instead of authorizing the departure of embassy support personnel and family members, apparently they have been ordered to depart.

TRAVEL WARNING FOR SAUDI ARABIA:

April 15, 2004

This Travel Warning is being updated to inform U.S. citizens that, due to security concerns, the Department of State has ordered the departure of family members and non-emergency employees of the U.S. Embassy and Consulates in Saudi Arabia. The Department of State warns U.S. citizens to defer travel to Saudi Arabia. Private American citizens currently in Saudi Arabia are strongly urged to depart. This Travel Warning supersedes that of February 20, 2004
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Saudi4Ever



Joined: 25 Mar 2004
Posts: 130

PostPosted: Tue Apr 20, 2004 6:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well I always assumed when people use the term 'fundamentalist', that they are refering to Muslims who actually believe in and practice Islam as it was delivered over 1400 years ago. Same for 'puritnical' and to some extent 'extremist'. "Terrorist' is now a word they[falsely] attribute to such Muslims.

However, John, it is my observance that thses types are not always the anti-everything one's you mention, at least not in that sense. They usually spend their time in worship and and spreading islam. I always found it strange how the media twist words and expressions and give them whole new meanings. Like for instance, the pics you see of the terrorist are of mostly cleanly shaven men, but a true islamic fundamentalist wold never shave his beard or be in a bar (as one of the 911 suspects was allegedly the night before 911).
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Stephen Jones



Joined: 21 Feb 2003
Posts: 4124

PostPosted: Wed Apr 21, 2004 11:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Depends on the interpretation one puts on "asking to leave". As Pilot in Command has said, the wording has changed so you could say 'asking to leave'.

With regard to confusing bedu and fundamentalist, it's a little like confusing People from the Mid-West and Mad Militiamen. or Texans and believers in the Rapture. There are a hell of a lot of both types of nutters in those States but you wouldn't make the confusion.

The number of car and truck bombs found is going up; it was five last I heard - still not 'loads' but on the way there.

Where we are the only insecurity anybody worries about is whether they will have to move out of the flat while it is being refurbished, and what the time table will be next September. We were all much more worred a year or a year and a half ago.
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