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Al Qaeda's Attempt to Suck us Deeper into the Quagmire

The militants who were recently apprehended in Saudi Arabia are saying that their plan was to draw US forces into Saudi Arabia.

Riyadh, May 15 (DPA) Suspected militants being held in Saudi Arabia on charges of plotting terror attacks have told prosecutors their main aim had been to draw the US into Saudi territory, Saudi media reports said Tuesday.

The suspects, Abdullah al-Muqren, Khaled al-Kurdy, Ahmed al-Muqren and Mohamed al-Zeinwere, were among the 172 suspected militants arrested in late April and reportedly linked to seven terrorist cells, including Al Qaeda. The reports said they admitted that their plot had been part of a larger terrorist campaign that involved targeting other countries in the Gulf, such as Kuwait and United Arab Emirates.

They also said they had planned to attack Saudi Arabia's Bqeeq oil field under the instruction of Osama bin Laden, the leader of the Al Qaeda terrorist network. They believed that the US would have moved in to protect the oil field if the attack was carried out. If this had happened, according to the militants, the US would have been an easy target for Al Qaeda attacks.

A devastating attack on Saudi oil facilities would surely rock the world's financial markets and send the price of oil soaring above $100 a barrel. The resulting economic panic would likely cause the US to dispatch forces to occupy the Saudi fields in order to safeguard them and ensure that oil production is restored to previous levels.

Al Qaeda has a large base of sympathizers in Saudi Arabia who would undoubtedly be enraged by a large-scale American presence in that country. Their hope is that the sight of the "infidel" occupiers in the Muslim holy lands would lure these people into a life of terrorism and jihad.

It's an intriguing strategy and it flies in the face of conventional wisdom which is that Al Qaeda wants to force the US out of the Middle East. That may be one long-term objective, but the far more important near-term objective is to topple the Saudi monarchy and seize control of that country's vast oil resources. By forcing the House of Saud closer to the Americans, bin Laden hopes to undercut their standing with the Saudi people and weaken their grip on power.

In the meantime, drawing America into another costly occupation of a Muslim country would also have the added benefit to Al Qaeda of bleeding our resources and manpower. Bin Laden still likely believes that the key to destroying the Saudi regime is to first weaken American economically to the extent that it is no longer able to maintain it's large military presence across the Middle East.


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Comments (3)

Being drawn into another skirmish -- pulled into Saudi Arabia -- would give Iran the opportunity to make a move on Israel at a time we're less able to assist in their defense.

cirby:

...but it's another case of tactical thinking screwing up a strategic advantage.

If they had pulled off such an attack, their funding and support from the Saudi families that currently give them a huge amount of their cash would dry up, literally overnight. They'd also have a lot of the internal Saudi security forces on their ass (and the Saudis don't play nice like we do).

Short term, they'd make a huge splash, screw up the summer driving season in the US a bit (no, oil wouldn't go over $100 a barrel, but it might top $90, and we'd see $4 or $4.50 a gallon gas by July), and get a bit more support from the dimmer folks, but they'd lose a huge chunk of support, and make dire enemies of people who currently fund them for fairly selfish reasons.

...and if you think the top-level Saudis are mostly "true believers," and not just cynical manipulators who like keeping things off-balance to keep prices high (while making religious statements they don't really have to back up with actions), you need to reassess.

I commend you on your analysis, of which there is little to criticize. I would only point out that bin Laden's threats against our economy are more the stuff of bluster. We absorbed the $2 trillion loss from 9/11 with minimal damage; we can certainly manage the costs of operations if we have the manpower. He is known to believe in the weakness of the American spirit he sees personified in our withdrawal from Mogadishu and Beirut after taking losses.

The House of Saud has had an unholy alliance with Wahhabism since before they united Arabia. In the modern era, it was one life for the Royals and another for the people subjected to strict Wahhabi culture. The Princes lived in the West, and were known as party animals. Eventually, though, with guys able to have 50-100 wives, there were too many Princes to support in the high life abroad, so more and more of them were left at home and subjected to the same radical education the mere citizens receive. So the Royals are now divided into two camps, one still pro-Western and the other Wahhabi in thought and deed. Only the desire to maintain the Monarchy unites them. The radicals have gained more and more ministry posts over recent years, and now hold nearly half the positions of responsibility.

It's a difficult and deteriorating situation, but one which the Saudis have brought upon themselves almost as if by design. Marie Antoinette was hardly less aware of events in her homeland than the Saudi Royals have been for the last thirty years or so.


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Publisher: Kevin Aylward

Editors: Lee Ward, Larkin, Paul S Hooson, and Steve Crickmore

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