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Friday, May 16, 2003

Jihad Hits Home

This New York Times story about the Shaken Saudis raises many more questions than it answers. It also raises hope that maybe, just maybe, the Arabs will start to see the terrorists in Israel as the murderous barbarians they are.

"Those people who say they want to make jihad against the United States or Israel, what they did is pointless," said Mr. Blehed, a part owner of Al Hamra, the compound where his son died. "Jihad is not like this."

Many Saudis are reeling from the deadly explosions in the eastern suburbs of this sprawling capital, in part because at least seven of the victims were natives, and the 15 attackers probably were too. In recent years, terror attacks around the world, although carried out in the name of Islam, the faith born here, seemed distant. Jihad was something that happened elsewhere.

"This time it was different: it was an attack against your own people," said Khaled M. Batarfi, the managing editor of Al Madina, a daily newspaper. "It's huge; it's organized. It's like what happened on Sept. 11 in America but on a smaller scale — these things happen to others."

The gory scenes of charred bodies spread across their newspapers and on television are disturbing in a way other recent terrorist attacks were not. "If this was not the Saudis' Sept. 11, it was certainly the Saudis' Pearl Harbor," said the United States ambassador, Robert W. Jordan.
This attack may finally stir the moderate forces in the Arab world to act. As they see and feel, first hand, the damage these Islamist fanatics can do becasue of the hatred they have been taught, maybe they will be stirred to action. This attack has at least brought some change.
The need for a crackdown has been a common theme here this week. The country's newspapers, especially Al Watan, have been waging a campaign pointing out that it is not that great a leap from criticizing women as infidels for opening sports clubs to declaring open season on anyone fitting that description.

The newspaper used to get only hate mail for such sentiments, said its editor, Jamal Khashoggi, but it has now started receiving supportive missives, demanding a crackdown on the radicals.

Before this week, many Saudis, and especially those in government, tended to paint fanaticism as something foreign. This week, the usual statements about events "strange to our society" were absent. The creeping recognition that it is something homegrown has made Saudis more jittery, not least because the Web sites beloved of the radical fringe are predicting more to come.
We don't need prophets to tell us there is more to come, all we need is to listen to what the Islamists tell us. Lets' hope that maybe we'll finally get some Arab help in our efforts to defeat these terrorist Islamic murderers.


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