In Saudi Arabia, the war on terror continues. A three day siege of a house in eastern Saudi Arabia ended on September 6th, with the death of three terrorists and two policemen. While the Islamic terrorists have a lot of supporters in the kingdom, there are an even larger number of Saudis opposed to terrorism in their neighborhoods (Islamic terrorism elsewhere, like in Iraq, is more likely to be tolerated). Thus the police have a regular supply of tips. However, many of the suspected terrorists turn out to be common criminals. Increasingly, however, some of the gangsters are, indeed, terrorists as well. Under increased police pressure, and deprived of monetary support from wealthy and pious (but now terrified) Saudis, the Islamic radicals have turned to crime to finance their operations. Smuggling, money laundering and drugs are the major sources.
Its not easy being a criminal in Saudi Arabia, especially if it involves drugs. Such crimes often result in death by beheading, which is usually preceded by vigorous interrogation (torture). With those prospects, Saudi gangsters tend to be a tough and fatalistic lot. The roughest of them come from the south, along the Yemeni border. This is an area where the kings law was never strong, and the Shia tribes across the border in Yemen, long abused by Saudi Sunni religious radicals, did as they pleased. Or at least tried to. Between 2000 and 2004, Saudi police intercepted many smuggler shipments, which included 14.8 million rounds of ammunition, 16,300 firearms, 2,800 pounds of explosives, and other bomb making material.
The Saudi al Qaeda members, despite being fanatic Sunni religious bigots, work with the Yemeni Shia gangsters to get drugs and weapons into the kingdom. Some of the terrorists have been found to be using drugs (opium, hashish, heroin, and morphine being the most popular, but more varieties, like Ecstasy and meth, are showing up.) The religious radicals in the kingdom preach against drugs, but the young believers want a taste of paradise, and their leaders often just look the other way, or take a hit themselves.
The kingdom is down on drugs, as well as terrorism, and its become more difficult to get the drugs in via the northeastern ports. So the Yemeni route has become more important. The Yemeni smugglers are heavily armed, and apt to open fire if intercepted. The situation along the Yemeni border is similar to Iraq along the Syrian border. In both places, you have tribesmen who live on both sides of the border (most maps show the Saudi-Yemeni borders as a dotted line, to represent the disagreements between both nations as to exactly where the border is). You have tribesmen who see smuggling as an honorable and ancient profession, and who believe a man without a gun is no man at all. The enemy of my enemy is my friend, and the Saudi Islamic terrorists are accepted as allies. Its business.