Saudi Reaction to Terror
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SPENCER MICHELS: Today’s warning of possible terror attacks in Saudi Arabia came just four days after a series of suicide bombs rocked Riyadh, killing 34 people. The State Department said it could not confirm the credibility of the threat against western compounds in Jeddah, but some foreign residents were already packing up and heading to hotels.
Meanwhile, the Saudis continued to defend themselves against U.S. criticism that they hadn’t done enough to provide security. U.S. Ambassador Robert Jordan said Wednesday his request for more security at foreign housing compounds had gone unheeded. Other senior U.S. officials had also warned of possible al-Qaida attacks in Saudi Arabia. In Washington, Adel al-Jubeir, foreign policy adviser to the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, said today his government was working to thwart future attacks.
ABDEL AL-JUBEIR: We in Saudi Arabia are partly angry, partly sad. We are sorry for not having been able to win this battle in the war against terrorism. We are determined that we will prevail in the war against terrorism. We will do whatever we need to do in order to confront and destroy the organization and the people who did this. This will not stand.
Saudi Arabia has been a strong ally in the war against terrorism for a very simple reason: This terrorism is directed at us. We are convinced that the United States and Saudi Arabia are the two countries that are in the crosshairs of this murderous organization called al-Qaida. And if anything, this, the tragic events of Monday, have been a massive jolt to Saudi Arabia, to the United States, to all peace-loving people around the world, that we have to redouble our efforts, and we have to pursue the terrorists vigorously. We have to punish them mercilessly. We owe it to our people and we owe it to our residents.
SPENCER MICHELS: Al-Jubeir was also asked about the warnings from U.S. officials.
ABDEL AL-JUBEIR: To say that Saudi Arabia did not do enough, when people talk about the compounds, the image that people have of these compounds is that they are garrisons; they’re not. They’re gated communities. Did the U.S. give us warnings or did Ambassador Jordan talk about a threat to compounds in Saudi Arabia? Yes, he did, a few days before the attack. But to say that we didn’t act on it when you have hundreds, if not thousands, of these compounds– how can you do this? You have to assess the threat. You have to look at what’s in place now. You have to assign individuals. You have to see how terrorists are going to act and penetrate those facilities. And then you have to put mechanisms in place to protect people. This is not something that can be accomplished in three days.
SPENCER MICHELS: At a news conference in Berlin with the German foreign minister, Secretary of State Colin Powell had no criticism of Saudi Arabia.
COLIN POWELL: I can’t answer whether or not we specifically identified those three compounds. I do know that we had been in touch with the Saudis a week or so earlier, maybe two weeks earlier, about an increased level of threat. The difficulty that the Saudis would have, or that we would have, is that there are so many facilities in Saudi Arabia that could have been a target of an attack. And no matter how much security you put out and how diligent you are– and one should be as diligent as one can be– you always run the risk of a terrorist organization determined to do so, able to pull off an attack that will take innocent life.
SPENCER MICHELS: Saudis and Americans are working together on the investigation. Today, FBI officials praised their Saudi counterparts.