May 12, 2003: Multiple suicide bombings in Saudi Arabia

On May 12, 2003 39 people were killed and more than 160 wounded when AQ set off bombs in three compounds in Riyadh.

RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA – As you sow so shall you reap: the same goes for terrorism ideology.

There is an old saying in English: “What goes around comes around”. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary it means “if someone treats other people badly he or she will eventually be treated badly by someone else.” In other words your bad behaviour will come back to haunt you.

Here, I’d like to use this phrase in a different sense. As this is a blog on terrorism it will have a national security/public safety angle. I want to suggest that if a state supports or tolerates terrorism or terrorist groups it will eventually suffer violence at the hands of those same individuals or groups.

Take Saudi Arabia

Crown Prince or Terrorist in Chief? (Photo: By, CC BY 4.0, Wikimedia Commons)

The ‘Kingdom‘ as it is called has long been the home of a very conservative, fundamentalist form of Islam known as Salafism. And, thanks to oil revenue beginning after the oil shock of the 1970s, it has taken it upon itself to export this brand of the faith to the farthest reaches of the Muslim world. Out of this interpretation of Islam grew Salafi jihadism, still by far the greatest terrorist movement on the planet.

Maybe the Saudis felt that their support would guarantee its safety from these actors. If so, they were wrong.

On this day in 2003

39 people were killed and more than 160 wounded when bombs went off at three compounds in Riyadh, the capital of Saudi Arabia. The attack was attributed to Al Qaida (AQ) and as a warning to the Kingdom to stop the ‘westernisation‘ of the country.

30 seconds to a minute to get from the gate to the housing block. They had to know where the switches were to operate the gates after attacking the guards. They then drove at breakneck speed with a bomb weighing nearly 200 kilograms to the most intensely populated location in the complex and blew it up.

US military official

This bombing was the first of many on Saudi soil by AQ and other Islamist terrorists. Given that the late Usama bin Laden was Saudi born all this should have been a wake-up call for the regime.

It was not.

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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.

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