April 21, 2004: Suicide bomber hits police building in Saudi Arabia

On this day in 2004, a suspected Al Qaeda suicide bomber detonated his vehicle at the gates of a government building in Riyadh killing five and wounding 148.

RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA – With all the attention paid to attacks against Western targets, we are often less informed about the numerous attacks carried out on a daily basis in non-Western countries.

Lately there has been a lot of hand-wringing and fearmongering about the threat of Right Wing Extremism (RWE), especially in what is known as the Western World (Europe and North America mostly).

I will not revisit all my arguments as to why I think this level of panic is somewhat unwarranted. But if you’re interested, you can find my thoughts on this here, here and here.

Suffice it to say that despite calls to divert finite counter-terrorism resources to stopping RWE attacks which do not seem to have materialised (yet? ever?), I strongly believe the greatest threat remains Islamist Extremism. This is especially true for the areas of the world that see the most terrorism: Africa and the Middle East.

One of the countries in the Arabian Peninsula less talked about as a victim of terrorism, at least compared to its neighbours, is Saudi Arabia. When it comes to terrorism, Saudi is often seen as more of a supporter of certain terrorist movements due to its leadership in the Wahhabi movement (a particularly intolerant form of Islam that has inspired such groups as Al Shabaab and Al Qaeda).

But this does not mean that the kingdom has not itself been the victim of terrorist attacks.

On this day in 2004

A suicide bomber detonated his vehicle at the gates of a government building in Riyadh that served as the headquarters for both traffic police and emergency services. Five people were killed in the blast and another 148 were injured. The attack went unclaimed but authorities suspected it was carried out by either Al Qaeda terrorists or individuals inspired by them.

Ironically, or perhaps purposefully, the attack occurred on the second of a four-day international conference on terrorism calling for peace and tolerance. Talk about disheartening.

Muslims meeting here were shocked to the core to see terrorist activities coinciding with the conference on terror.

Dr. Abdallah Al-Hamoud, chairman of the information center of the conference

If you were to announce to the countries that struggle most with terrorism, which does include Saudi Arabia, that RWE is the real threat, I doubt very much you would be met with much more than a confused stare or even incredulous anger.

These countries which suffer almost daily attacks have no time for your handwringing. They are burdened enough as it is, and their burden is Islamist in nature.

Read More Today in Terrorism

By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

2 replies on “April 21, 2004: Suicide bomber hits police building in Saudi Arabia”

Okay Phil, we get it. RWE, although real, has yet to demonstrate a violent threat to our national existence. I agree, thus far they’re merely noisy. Yup, Islamic based terrorists form the dominant strain. Once again, I agree. Now I realize that this is your area of expertise, mine was municipal policing. So let me put this question to you. Just how dangerous have Islamic terrorists been, let’s say, to the residents of the GTA? Perhaps that’s because of the proficiency of you national security types! Yes, I admit the threat exists, but are there not bigger fish to fry in most urban areas? For instance, I suggest the activities of urban gangs is a far more violent threat. Jus’ askin’ is all!

Thanks for commenting Doug! And I agree with you 1000% that gangs trump terrorism any day. That is actually my point. Terrorism in Canada is not even a blip on the radar 99.9% of the time. We are very fortunate to live here. It’s just that WITHIN terrorism jihadis trump RWE wankers. Again, thanks for your engagement. You may be interested in my new book by the way – here is a link


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