Counter-Terrorism: Al Qaedas Arabian Riddle

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August 13, 2007: In the last week, Saudi Arabia completed another major roundup of suspected Islamic terrorists, taking 135 people into custody. Another such roundup was expected, after an incident last February when four of nine French Moslems were murdered on a road leading into Mecca (which is closed to non-Moslems.) No Islamic radicals ever took credit for the February attack, perhaps because it quickly became known that the people attacked were Moslem (and part of a larger group of 26 French and Belgian expatriate workers on a holiday trip, which had split up when the Moslems in the group decided to make a side trip to Mecca). The Islamic terrorists are getting smarter, and have figured out that killing Moslems only makes them more unpopular among Moslems in general. The Saudi police depend on tips from civilians about who might be an Islamic terrorist. Late last year, that resulted in the arrest of 172 terrorism suspects.

A similar scenario is playing out inside Saudi Arabias southern neighbor, Yemen. There, Spanish tourists were attacked (and nine killed) by Islamic terrorists last month. Normally, Yemen tries to get tribal leaders to take care of Islamic terrorists living in their midst. But several al Qaeda cells in Yemen have been taken over by foreigners, and are now outside of any tribal influence, and increasingly violent. So the Yemeni counter-terror forces were let loose. This resulted in four terrorists being killed, including an al Qaeda leader. The dead men were found to have been involved in the murder of the Spanish tourists. Islamic terrorists then retaliated by attacking police and a power station. But, as to the north in Saudi Arabia, the Yemeni terrorists have been unable to carry out any major attacks, and keep suffering losses.

Many people in Arabia, especially Saudi Arabia, still support terror attacks on infidels (non-Moslems), but have no patience for terrorists who attack Moslems. While a basic tenet of al Qaeda is deposing the Saudi monarchy, trying to do this only turns the Saudi population against the terrorists. Same problem in Yemen. This has caused quite a bit of debate within al Qaeda, but no consensus yet about what to do. So al Qaeda continues to get hammered in the areas where it has the most potential support.

 


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