Editorial: The Enemy Within

Araba News (Saudi Arabia), May 14, 2003 (Editorial)
14 May 2003

Words are inadequate to express the shock, the revulsion, the outrage at the suicide bombings in Riyadh. Are expatriates working here an army of occupation, to be slaughtered and terrorized into leaving?

This was an undertaking of sheer evil. Life — be it the life of Muslims, of Saudis, of Westerners, of anyone — is sacred, a gift from God. It was targeted as much against Saudi Arabia as against Westerners — not just because Saudis and Westerners alike have been killed and maimed but because the prime aim of those responsible for this despicable crime is to create panic and terror. Those responsible are the new fascists. Merciless, cold and full of hate, with a demented vision of Islam, they declared war on humanity for the thoroughly un-Islamic goal of separating and insulating the Muslim world from the rest of humanity, as part of which they hope to terrorize Westerners into leaving the Kingdom. They have no qualms about killing anyone who gets in their way; they spread hatred and resentment, not peace; yet they have the blasphemous effrontery to claim that they do God’s work. They make a mockery of Islam, an open, inclusive faith.

We have to face up to the fact that we have a terrorist problem here. Last week’s Interior Ministry announcement that 19 Al-Qaeda members, 17 of them Saudis, had planned terrorist attacks in the country and were being hunted was a wake-up call — particularly to those who steadfastly refuse to accept that individual Saudis or Muslims could ever do anything evil, who still cling to the fantasy that Sept. 11 and all the other attacks laid at the doors of terrorists who happen to be Arab or Muslim were in fact the work of the Israelis or the CIA. For too long we have ignored the truth. We did not want to admit that Saudis were involved in Sept. 11. We can no longer ignore that we have a nest of vipers here, hoping that by doing so they will go away. They will not. They are our problem and we all their targets now.

It goes without saying that those responsible, those who poisoned the minds of the bombers, those who are planning to become bombers, must be tracked down and crushed — remorselessly and utterly. But crushing them will not be enough. The environment that produced such terrorism has to change. The suicide bombers have been encouraged by the venom of anti-Westernism that has seeped through the Middle East’s veins, and the Kingdom is no less affected. Those who gloat over Sept. 11, those who happily support suicide bombings in Israel and Russia, those who consider non-Muslims less human than Muslims and therefore somehow disposable, all bear part of the responsibility for the Riyadh bombs.

We cannot say that suicide bombings in Israel and Russia are acceptable but not in Saudi Arabia. The cult of suicide bombings has to stop. So too has the chattering, malicious, vindictive hate propaganda. It has provided a fertile ground for ignorance and hatred to grow.

There is much in US policy to condemn; there are many aspects of Western society that offend — and where necessary, Arab governments condemn. But anti-Americanism and anti-Westernism for their own sake are crude, ignorant and destructive. They create hate. They must end. Otherwise there will be more barbarities.

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