NYT reports that the predictable is in fact happening:

The bombing of a housing compound whose residents were almost entirely Arab and Muslim late on Saturday has appalled Saudis far more than other terrorist attacks, evaporating expressions of support for Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda network that were vaguely whispered or occasionally even shouted over the last two years.

“They lost their support on the street,” said Ehab al-Khiary, 27, a computer security specialist, standing on a broad avenue packed with cars during the typical 10 P.M. to midnight rush hour of Ramadan. “They are killing people with no cause.”

“The street was divided before,” he added, talking about similar attacks against three compounds in May that killed 34 people, including 8 Americans, 2 Britons and 9 attackers. “At that time it was seen as justifiable because there was an invasion of a foreign country, there was frustration.”

In the immediate aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, there were reports of a certain celebratory air in some Saudi neighborhoods, of congratulatory messages sent back and forth on mobile phones. In that and subsequent violence, the attackers seemed to be succeeding in reaching a constituency that among other things wants to remove a ruling family it sees as American stooges.

But that mood, fueled by the sense that behind it all was some sort of religious endorsement, is diminished, replaced by confusion and the uneasy feeling that the bombings this year are just the opening salvos in a very long fight.

“They can no longer say they are more or less raising the banner of jihad,” said Saad A. Sowayan, a professor specializing in Bedouin poetry at King Saud University, sipping orange juice in a hotel coffee shop. “Jihad is not against your own people.”

The fact that the targets were fellow Muslims lent the sense that the attackers might just be pursuing pure chaos. “If they were really seeking change they would resort to actions that would win them the support of the people,” the professor said. “Before, people could find excuses. It is getting so irrational that you cannot explain it, you cannot defend it, you cannot understand it.”

Hopefully, we can use this to get the Saudi government to finally cooperate against this common enemy.

FILED UNDER: Terrorism, , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Gabe Posey says:

    The thing I’ve seen few people comment on around the bloggosphere is that this situation, not the exact situation mind you, occured when Wahhabism first decided to ‘take back’ the Islamic holy land. This pattern has been revisited over and over and over. And it will continue as no one over there seems to see it within the context of Islam.

    10 Revolution
    20 Replacement
    30 Corruption
    GOTO 10

  2. Meezer says:

    “Before, people could find excuses. It is getting so irrational that you cannot explain it, you cannot defend it, you cannot understand it.”

    Yes, it’s so easy to understand flying jets into office buildings. I am reminded of the theme of a Dick Francis novel set in the pre-Olympic Soviet Union. Terrorists (not Islamic) are threatening the Games and the protagonist remarks on what happens when you (Russia) sow the wind. Eventually you reap the whirlwind.