Combating Terrorism

Combating Terrorism


Dr. Ali S. Awadh Asseri

(Former Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon)


Saudi Strategy against Terrorism:

Domestic Dimensions

I vow to my fellow citizens, and to the friends who reside among us, that the State will be vigilant about their security and well being. Our nation is capable, by the Grace of God Almighty and the unity of its citizens, to confront and destroy the threat posed by a deviant few and those who endorse or support them. With the help of God Almighty, we shall prevail.[1]

That was how King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz (then Crown Prince) had responded to three suicide bombings of housing compounds in Riyadh on 13 May 2003, which claimed thirty-four innocent lives. This was not the first terrorist attack against the Saudi people. In the past few decades, the Kingdom has faced terrorism several times. In each instance, terrorists may have caused irreparable damage to life and property, but the Saudi resolve to combat terrorism has only grown in intensity and scope.

      In 1979, a group of extremists had seized the Grand Holy Mosque at Makkah. However, after intense fighting, the government was able to regain control and the surviving terrorists were brought to justice.[2] In the 1990s, there were several terrorist bombings, including the 1995 terrorist act in Riyadh, and the 1996 terrorist bombing in Khobar. The May 2003 terrorist incident was followed by another terrorist bombing in Almohiya housing compound in Riyadh on 10 November 2003, which claimed seventeen innocent lives.[3]

[1] See the statement in Post-September 11 Scenarios: The Efforts of the Embassy of Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, to Combat Terrorism (Islamabad: Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, 2005), p.21.

[2] For details about the incident, see Yaroslav Trofimov, The Siege of Makkah: The Forgotten Uprising (New York: Penguin, 2007)

[3] Brig.-Gen. Ahmed S Al-Mufarih, The Role of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in Combating Terrorism, USAWC Strategy Research Project (Carlisle Barracks, Penn.: US Army War College, 3 May 2004).