Syrian, Saudi Rulers Blame Terror Woes on “the Zionists”

The teaming up of al Qaeda terrorists with Iraqi guerrillas on a Middle East rampage against American, British, Jordanian, Saudi, Syrian and Israeli targets last month exposes three dangerous developments:
A. Iraq has turned into a hub that radiates terrorist violence far beyond its borders as demonstrated by the April 20 battle in the Hashemi district of Amman, the April 21 bomb blast at Saudi General Intelligence Headquarters in Riyadh and the Saudi security forces’ shootout with armed bands in Jeddah port on April 22. In all these cases, local security forces were confronted with infiltrating Iraqi combatants.
B. Al Qaeda has provided itself with a large reservoir of crack troops from Saddam Hussein’s Special Republican Guards who are willing to fight and lay down their lives for the sake of terrorist action on behalf of al Qaeda. These men are highly trained in urban guerrilla tactics and chemical and biological warfare. Their participation enabled the Islamic fundamentalist organization to attempt a chemical attack in Jordan in the second half of April.
C. The ruling Arab dynasties of Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Syria find themselves in the grip of unprecedented hazards.
Saudi Arabia: Up until April 21, the Saudi monarchy treated Osama bin Laden’s terrorist threat as a thorny domestic problem that was nonetheless manageable. The bombing of its intelligence and counter-terror warfare nerve center in Riyadh was the Saudi-born terrorist’s first assault on a vital organ of the Saudi royal house. The fact that Iraqi combatants executed the attack means that al Qaeda commands both domestic and foreign arms for striking Saudi power centers.
The most recent terrorist attack within the US-Saudi petrochemical industry in the Red Sea port of Yanbu on Saturday, May 1, and murder of five foreign employees – 2 Americans, 2 Britons and an Australian – was just as damaging – if not more so. An exodus of the foreign workers vital to the economy is in spate.
Not everything is known about that attack. Vehicles carrying al Qaeda suicide killers of unknown origin fought Saudi security forces from 06:00 am until about 13:00, almost seven hours. Despite Saudi official denials, debkafile‘s counter-terror sources confirm that one or possibly two of the Western victims’ bodies was dragged through the streets of Yanbu tied to the back of a careening vehicle while the terrorists fired guns out of the windows and yelled Jihad, Jihad! The remains were finally dumped outside the Saudi-British bank.
Whereas the Riyadh blast exposed a large vulnerable hole in the kingdom’s security, the Yanbu attack struck at its bedrock, the Western-Saudi economic partnership.
Jordan: If King Abdullah reckoned that the presence of the American army on his eastern doorstep made his realm safe, al Qaeda’s attempts to pull off mega-terror attacks in April disabused him roughly. The discovery of Iraqi guerrillas planted in the center of his capital all set to unleash poison gas told him that the Iraqi insurgency had slid over into his kingdom far enough to pose a threat to his throne.
Syria: The unforeseen terror attack on the diplomatic quarter of Damascus last Tuesday, April 27, was likewise a spin-off from the Iraqi guerrilla campaign, albeit an ironical one. As first revealed in the last DEBKA-Net-Weekly on April 30, the attack was the work of Syrian fighters returned home from a year in Iraq. Last year they volunteered to help Saddam Hussein’s forces fight off the coalition invasion, then they stayed on to fight the Americans alongside Iraqi insurgents in Fallujah and took part in terrorist action in Baghdad.
Two captured terrorists revealed under questioning that they had been instructed to capture the Canadian embassy and hold its inmates hostage against the release of all Iraqi prisoners in Iraqi jails including Saddam Hussein and all the Islamic extremists in custody in Canada. If their demands were not met, they would have killed the hostages and blown up the building, then killed themselves in order to massacre the Syrian security units surrounding the embassy compound.
This plan was foiled. Casualties were few, the damage slight and the surviving terrorists captured. Nonetheless, this episode underlined a danger even greater than the Riyadh and Amman conspiracies. While Iraqi guerilla-suicides carried out the latter two, for the Damascus assault al Qaeda imported Syrian cells from Iraq for the first time. With al Qaeda’s ranks in Fallujah and Mosul regions packed with Palestinians, Egyptians, Saudis, Sudanese, Pakistanis, Lebanese, Yemenis, Kuwaitis and others, this pattern of planting terrorist cells in their home lands may well be repeated in other countries.
The Syria president Bashar Assad’s predicament is extreme. On the one hand, he is threatened with American economic and diplomatic sanctions for continuing to pump forces into Iraq, including al Qaeda; on the other, his own nationals are creeping home as born-again as terrorists and boomeranging against the very stability of his regime. What can he tell his people? How on earth can he explain how his policy of supporting al Qaeda brought terror into the heart of his capital?
The Syrian propaganda machine offered him a way out of his dilemma: impose a dense blackout on the embarrassing facets of the inquiry, keep al Qaeda out of the public eye, and create a diversion with the help of a well-tried device.
Last week, the government- controlled Syrian media ran with a tale that was eagerly picked up by the Tehran Times alleging “from reliable sources” that Israel’s Mossad had commissioned five Yemeni Jews to assassinate Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal. Disguised as Muslims, they entered the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus to attend a ceremony commemorating the slain Hamas leader Abdel Aziz Rantissi. Mashaal’s bodyguards captured them and handed the five over to Syrian security forces. No names were released.
The Saudi de facto ruler, Crown Prince Abdullah, was even cruder. In his first reaction to the shock of the Yanbu attack, he pointed an angry finger at “Zionist enemies.”
Saudi foreign minister Saudi al Faisal, asked to comment on this remark Tuesday, May 4, was still more extreme: “It is no secret that extremist Zionist elements which are spread throughout the world are deeply involved in a vicious campaign against the Kingdom,” he said. “What the awful terrorist group is doing in a desperate attempt to destabilize security and national unity feeds into the interests of these extremist Zionist elements.”

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