Bombings at Riyadh Compounds

  1. I am waiting & praying to hear from friends of ours at one of the three compounds that were bombed last night. I keep watching the various news stations for more information. My friends have been living in Riyadh for approx 12-13 months. We exchange emails pretty regularly, so I am hoping that I hear something today. I am worried.

    I don't know how to post the stories like some of you do...other than post the web-site address. Sorry.
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  2. 20 Comments

  3. by   SmilingBluEyes
    It's ok---I know the story. and I send my best wishes that those you love and care about are safe and unharmed. Horrific thing, terrorism. I was sorry to read of this event, but not surprised.
  4. by   jnette
    I hope you hear from them real soon, FunnygirlRN. And that all is well with them. I know this must be hard. Agree with Sm.BluEyes..
    Sorry, but not surprised.

    Please keep us posted.
  5. by   pickledpepperRN
    Praying you receive word from them soon. It must be terrible not knowing.
    Here is the article for those who have now seen it:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2003/05/13/in...=all&position=
    May 13, 2003
    Bush Vows to Find 'Killers' of Seven Americans and Many Others
    By STEVEN R. WEISMAN with NEIL MACFARQUHAR



    IYADH, Saudi Arabia, May 13-The death toll rose to at least 90 today in the three suicide attacks against residential compounds and a business in the Saudi capital, according to news reports quoting the State Department.
    Earlier reports, which put the toll at 20, listed seven Americans, seven Saudis, two Jordanians, two Filipinos, one Lebanese and one Swiss. In addition, nine charred bodies believed to be those of the suicide attackers were found, a Saudi official said.
    There was no immediate accounting of the nationalities in the new death count.
    "We have counted more than 90 dead," a State Department official in Washington was quoted as saying by Agence France-Presse.
    "These are very preliminary numbers," he added, as a second official said the death toll stood at 91 and was expected to rise. At least 30 and possibly as many as 44 American citizens were reported wounded.
    Similar accounts of the higher death toll, also attributed to a State Department official, were reported by The Associated Press.
    A Saudi Interior Ministry statement, read out on state television, said 194 people were wounded in the car bomb blasts.
    President Bush reacted with anger and resolve.
    "Today's attacks in Saudi Arabia, the ruthless murder of American citizens and other citizens, remind us that the war on terror continues," he said at an appearance in Indianapolis.
    Mr. Bush called the bombings "despicable acts committed by killers whose only faith is hate." The crowd of 7,000 at the Indiana State Fairgrounds roared its approval when he said, "The United States will find the killers, and they will learn the meaning of American justice."
    This morning, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, on a scheduled visit to Riyadh for talks with Saudi officials, said at least 10 Americans were among the dead.
    Later, in an impromptu visit to one of the bombed compounds, Mr. Powell said his comments about the American death toll had been based on earlier information and that he would leave firmer figures to the American Embassy.
    He also said that American "experts," whom he did not identify, would be leaving the United States for Riyadh immediately to help in the investigation.
    Mr. Powell and the Saudi foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, condemned what they said were terrorist attacks, and they resolved to increase their efforts to crush those who carry out such acts. The secretary said the attacks had the earmarks of the terrorist network Al Qaeda.
    "The attacks have all the fingerprints of Al Qaeda," Mr. Powell said during his visit to the bombed site.
    The explosions occurred at private compounds for some of the thousands of foreign business personnel who work in Saudi Arabia.
    At least three sites were the scenes of the explosions, and officials said some areas were reduced to rubble.
    The Saudi foreign minister called the explosions tragic events of the kind that can happen despite best efforts to stop terrorism. "It should increase our efforts," he said. "It should make us not hesitate to take whatever measures that are needed to oppose these people who only hate, only killing, for no purpose whatsoever."
    Mr. Powell said that terrorism remained "a threat to the entire civilized world, and even in this moment of sadness, we will commit ourselves again to redouble our efforts."
    Al Qaeda has been weakened but not been destroyed, Mr. Powell said, noting that he could not yet confirm completely that Al Qaeda was responsible for the attacks. He said the United States and other nations must increase their efforts to fight terrorism.
    Live pictures from the scene attested to the power of the blasts. The walls and buildings of one apartment building, once apparently four stories high, were completely blown out, and the blackened exterior walls were blasted completely from their foundation. The twisted and burned wreckage of cars littered the streets.
    The compounds are home to American, British, Italian and other Westerners, as well as to Saudis and citizens of other Middle Eastern countries. Some of those attacked were the upscale enclaves that house the high-paid Western executives who run joint ventures and other large businesses in the kingdom.
    Three blasts came almost simultaneously, just before midnight on Monday local time, and a fourth followed shortly afterward, Saudi officials said.
    "The three explosions that occurred in eastern Riyadh were suicide bombings," the Saudi interior minister, Prince Nayef, told Al Riyadh daily, the newspaper's Web site reported.
    "They were set off by cars stuffed with explosives that were driven into the targeted compounds," he said.
    The United States Embassy said that at two of the compounds the booby-trapped vehicles came to the rear gate and detonated there, prompting a gunfire with security guards, but in some cases the explosives-laden vehicles breached the walls and exploded within the compounds. At the third compound, vehicles crashed through the gates, killing the armed guards on duty.
    "The bombs seem to have been very big and there is some kind of structural damage to houses and apartments," said John Burgess, the counselor for public affairs at the American Embassy in Riyadh. "There are still quite a number of people unaccounted for."
    The Saudi ruling family has warned repeatedly that the failure to promote peace in the region would inflame extremist sentiment and that the occupation of Iraq would only serve to fuel such attacks.
    The attackers struck after the State Department issued an extraordinarily specific warning on May 1 that terrorists "may be in the final phases of planning attacks" on American targets in Saudi Arabia.
    "We didn't have anything particular in mind, except there were clearly plans for something to happen or that someone was planning to do something," Mr. Burgess said. "There was no specificity in the warnings that the U.S. got about attacks in Saudi Arabia."
    The attacks followed a botched attempt by the Saudi security services to seize a cell that the Interior Ministry accused of being linked to Al Qaeda.
    A senior Saudi official said that 19 suspected militants, 17 of whom are Saudis, sought in the raid had escaped. The suspects, the official said, had served in Afghanistan or Chechnya and had links to radical clerics.
    A huge arms cache including 800 pounds of advanced explosives along with hand grenades, assault rifles, ammunition, disguises and tens of thousands of dollars in cash were seized, a Saudi official said.
    United States officials said the nearly simultaneous explosions were reminiscent of Al Qaeda attacks on American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998.
    A senior government official who spoke on the condition that neither his identity nor his nationality be disclosed said on Monday night, "There's been a lot of chatter in the last six weeks involving possible attacks by Al Qaeda, and it looks like this time they succeeded."
    According to Saudi officials, the main attack was at the Hamra compound, whose residents comprise roughly equal numbers of Westerners and Arabs.
    Diplomats said the wounded foreigners were reportedly from the Hamra compound. The Saudi-owned Al Arabiya satellite news channel reported that a number of charred victims were transferred to an area hospital.
    Smoke lingered over the Hamra compound as police cars and ambulances rushed in.
    Hundreds of antiriot policemen and members of the National Guard converged on the scene, evacuating compound residents and sealing off the area. Another attack was at a compound known as Granada, whose residents included employees of a British aerospace company and, possibly, a British school, the Saudi official said.
    The third attack, the Saudi official said, was at the premises of the Vinnell Corporation, an American consulting group for the Saudi National Guard.
    Officials at the Vinnell Corporation, which is based in Fairfax, Va., did not respond to a request for comment late Monday. Frank Moore, a spokesman for the corporation's parent company, Northrop Grumman, declined to comment.
    News agency reports from Riyadh quoted witnesses as saying the explosions caused extensive property damage, leveling entire houses. The witnesses said the force of the blasts shook buildings and rattled windows.
    American officials with access to early reports suggested there was an element of precision in the attacks. In each case, they said, the attackers appeared to have shot their way into and out of the compound, and possibly used car bombs to set off large explosions.
    According to The A.P., the fourth blast went off early this morning at the headquarters of the Saudi Maintenance Company, also known as Siyanco. The company is a joint-owned venture between Frank E. Basil Inc. of Washington, and local Saudi partners, The A.P. said.
    The attacks appear to be the third major strike in the country by suspected militant Islamists since the Persian Gulf war in 1991.
    In 1995 a car bomb exploded at an American-run military training facility in Riyadh run by Vinnell. Seven people died, including five American advisers to the Saudi National Guard. In 1996 a truck bombing killed 19 Americans at the Khobar Towers barracks in Dhahran. Iran was initially blamed for that attack, but it is increasingly believed to have been the work of Al Qaeda.
    Most foreigners in Saudi Arabia live in walled, gated communities that allow them to escape the strict legal codes of the Wahhabi sect of Islam prevalent in the kingdom.
    Liquor is readily available and men and women can mix freely at the swimming pools on most compounds, liberties unthinkable elsewhere in Saudi Arabia. There are some 40,000 American residents in Saudi Arabia, according to the American Embassy, with 12,000 of them in Riyadh.
    The kingdom is dependent on Western technical expertise for its oil industry and has long imported foreign specialists for its hospitals and other services. But the presence of such enclaves grates on the fundamentalists, especially the presence of American military forces.
    One of the stated goals of Osama bin Laden, the Saudi-born leader of Al Qaeda, was to drive Western military forces out of the kingdom, the birthplace Islam and home to its two holiest cites, Mecca and Medina.
    Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld announced last week that most of the 5,000 American troops who have been stationed in Saudi Arabia since the gulf war would leave by the end of the summer, and they have already begun withdrawing.

    Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company | Home | Privacy Policy | Search | Corrections | Help | Back to Top
  6. by   SmilingBluEyes
    Al-queda and Bin Laden will not be satisfied w/the withdrawal of troops from their Sacred Lands; they will not be satisfied til "infidels" are DEAD. We cannot drop our guard when it comes to terrorism, ever.
  7. by   funnygirl_rn
    SmilingBlueyes, Jnette, & Spacenurse.....thank you so much for thinking of my friends & their safety. They are such a nice couple. I met them overseas with other expats about 5 years ago & we still continue to email & vacation together. There were a group of us living overseas that did everything together...well..you know how it is when you meet people whom you just click with right away. Anyways, we experienced a couple bombings & heightened security while living in Turkey...but...the bombings were few & not targeted in our area...maybe 15 kms away. But, we felt pretty safe where we lived....at least until 9/11 occurred.

    I have been checking my email all day. I am hoping it is the power & that is why they cannot email. I am thinking positive thoughts and praying.

    Spacenurse, thanks so much for attaching the story too. Do appreciate it.

    When I find out something I will let you all know. Again, thanks!
  8. by   funnygirl_rn
    Originally posted by SmilingBluEyes
    Al-queda and Bin Laden will not be satisfied w/the withdrawal of troops from their Sacred Lands; they will not be satisfied til "infidels" are DEAD. We cannot drop our guard when it comes to terrorism, ever.
    Deb...you are truly correct. These so called human beings despise Americans, Westerners and anyone that doesn't hold their beliefs. They are sick individuals & cowards!
    Last edit by funnygirl_rn on May 13, '03
  9. by   Mkue
    I agree with your statement funnygirl_rn and I also believe that Terrorists are cowards. Instead of confronting the hatred they have towards the Westerners with words, they blow themselves up to kill and injure others, in the name of their Allah or whoever they worship. I think Terrorists are the ultimate Evil in this world.

    I pray that they will stop being Evil, but somehow I think it will take more than prayers, it is sad.

    I hope you hear from your friends soon.
  10. by   funnygirl_rn
    Thank you mkue. You are so right about them being cowards! It really ticks me off that some of these people have spouses & children as well...but, yet can plant a bomb & blow up innocent people. If they want to make a statement...why don't they go out in the middle of the desert & blow their ownselves up! Just my two cents.
  11. by   funnygirl_rn
    Well..still no word yet, but they are 7 hours ahead of us, most likely hear something late tonight or tomorrow morning, providing they have access to a computer. However, I did hear on the evening news that the Americans who were killed were all employed by Vinnell. That is so errie, my hubby used to work for Vinnel, Brown & Root. My friends work for a fuel company, so I am thinking they should be okay.

    The State Dept has issued a warning for all non-essential employees to leave Saudi....and I guess if they are essential, they have the opportunity to leave if they want.

    Will let you all know when I hear something.
  12. by   SmilingBluEyes
    Keep your hopes up!!!! Let us know!
  13. by   funnygirl_rn
    http://msnbc.com/news/912865.asp

    Good article about the area in general.
  14. by   funnygirl_rn
    Good news! Received an email, my friends are okay. My friend's husband however was hit hard by flying debris. He is in the hospital with various injuries (fractured leg & arm & flesh wounds).She received minor cuts & bruises. So, they are both very fortunate. As soon as he is able they will be returning to the states...not sure when.

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