One of the world’s foremost authorities on jihad terrorism, Walid Phares, explains why terrorists targeted Lebanese Christians in last Saturday’s attack in Riyadh. He exposes the hollowness of analyses that purport to explain the attack as Muslim against Muslim:
JIHAD AGAINST THE LEBANESE CHRISTIANS
by Walid Phares
A few hours after the blasts in Riyadh, a chain of commentaries mushroomed around the world. The story ran much faster than the broadcasting of the names of the victims. By the morning the official “version” of the attack was about to become Governmental both in Washington and across the Oceans. In a nutshell, it was reported as an Muslim on Muslim attack, blaming the Islamist al-Qaida for mass murdering Muslims in their spiritual motherland Arabia, and during their holiest month of the year, Ramadan.
A US State Department official said “this was is not against America and the West only, it is also against Islam” concluding that it was a “war against civilization.” This version of the Saturday November 10th terror attack is convenient to the US, its allies, and the general campaign against Terrorism. It could be turned into an immense rallying banner around the world. If al-Qaida starts massacring fellow Muslims, then it would generate an internal Islamic war, and lift the mantra of Crusade from Washington’s efforts. Sadly, diplomatic analysts on both sides of the Atlantic hoped this would be a pragmatic shift in the war on Terror, or so they believed it is. In fact it wasn’t. And here is why.
The characterization of the Riyadh’s attacks took off without accurate data, hence ruining this wishful theory. Both BBC and CNN, and their media associates ignored the victims, their names, their socio-economic realities and the history of the Jihadists in this regard.
First the statistics: According to Diaspora-based Lebanese sources, among the injured from the attacks about 90 victims were Lebanese. Five Lebanese nationals were burned to death, including two children, Jad and Raya Mezher. Another newly married woman Nina Joubran was also massacred. A pregnant woman, Houry Haytaya and her husband Dany Ibrahim, were also killed. Another family, the Haidar, were murdered as well. The list of casualties is growing by the days, many persons were not found yet. But one fact is certified: The massacre of the Muhayya compound was directed at the Lebanese Christian community living in Saudi Arabia.
Media commentators and news rooms were too fast in describing the horror as Islamist terrorists murdering Muslims. Not that al-Qaida and its alike do not kill Muslims. They have terminated more than 48,000 Muslim civilians in Algeria and many moderate Muslims in Egypt. But the Muyahha attack targeted the Lebanese Christians for very specific reasons. There are about 100,000 Lebanese people working in the Kingdom since the mid sixties. Many from the first generations have become a pillar of Saudi economy. The contribution Lebanese from all communities, particularly the Christians to Saudi prosperity is widely known in the Business world. The most recent waves of Lebanese are made of liberal sectors and management planners. They are found in all spheres of the work force and as advisers to Government. It is to note that more than 80% of these migrants are Christians, and many among them are Maronites.
Al-Qaida aimed at this vibrant community as a way to cripple one the pillars of Saudi economy. With one stone -this time a police car bomb- the Jihadists wanted to kill as many of these Lebanese “infidels” as possible. These Lebanese migrant birds were both “kafirs”and economic assets. Back in October, Usama’s audio-call through al-Jazeera called on the cleansing of Arabia from all people of the Book. There are no Jews left in the Peninsula. Most of the Americans are either gone or well protected. The next on the Jihad list are the Lebanese Christians. Last week end massacre was the first step in their elimination. The other steps will come in the form of an alleged “help” extended to them. In fact, few days after the tragedy, the Syrian-controlled Government of Lebanon declared it would reduce the price of the tickets for a one way flight from the Wahabi country to Lebanon, or to any other country of their choice. The ethnic cleansing of the Lebanese from Arabia seems to become more sophisticated than the Balkan’s predecessor.
But why this Jihadi determination to obliterate Lebanese Christians? Are they not Arabs? To be academically correct, they aren’t. The Christians of Lebanon, particularly the Maronites speaks Arabic very well, but they have their own ethnicity: Aramaic. They are the descendants of the Phoenicians. In their religious services, the Syriac language is still used as it was spoken by Jesus, some 2033 years ago. But al-Qaida has more recent political reasons to aim at them. It is known, in the circles sympathetic to the Jihadists that Lebanese Christians have pro-Western affinities, work in American companies in the Peninsula, and constitute an obstruction to the radical clerics designs on the Kingdom’s infrastructure. Worse by Jihadi standards, the Lebanese Christians worldwide have been at the forefront of the campaign against Terrorism. Both in the US and elsewhere, they have produced top translators, diplomatic analysts, staffed official media agencies, and were recruited by the military. On Al-Jazeera and on the LBCI, many Islamic Fundamentalists went to the length of calling General John Abuzaid as a traitor to this “roots.”
But Jihad against the Lebanese Christians has a very long history. To name a few, decades before 9/11, al-Qaida’s predecessors have slaughtered Monks in Deir Ashashe in 1975, massacred thousands of Christians in Damour in 1976, and raped, maimed and razed villages in East Sidon in the mid 1980s. Even after the so-called end of the War in Lebanon, the men of Bin Laden were still rampaging in Christian areas of Lebanon into the new Millennium In January 2000, al-Qaida Terrorists murdered a number of civilians in Kfar Habou in Northern Lebanon, slicing the body of a pregnant woman, torturing a nun till death in a Beirut suburb. Lebanese Christian blood was spilled by the organization responsible for September 11 throughout the 1990s. Symbolism wasn’t absent from al-Qaida guidelines. Many McDonald, Pizza Hut and other American inspired food places, located in the Christian sectors of Lebanon were bombed in the past 12 years.
The Jihadist paragdim is systematic. From Beirut, to Riyadh, passing by Haifa, the region is to be made Lebanese-Christian free. The method is very telling. Al-Qaida wants to sign and enjoy its horrors. According to Pierre Atallah, the Lebanese journalist in exile in Paris, who lost his nephew and niece, “the Terrorists were machine gunning the victims for more than twenty minutes. Killing has proceeded before the blasts.” In Riyadh, it wasn’t a bomb by Jihadists against other Muslims, it was a slaughter of Christians. But by way of consequences, it is a Muslim image that al-Qaida was maiming. And many humanist Muslims made it clear in their statements.
Few hours after I have finished writing this piece, an al-Qaida commander out of Iraq admitted that the compound was “under surveillance for many months.” Al-Hijazi added: “that a large group of Lebanese Christians were living there.” He openly declared that “after consultation, we decided it was appropriate to attack this place and destroy it, including the people who lived there, because it housed Americans and a large majority of Christians holding Lebanese citizenship.”
This statement simply rested the case.
Walid Phares, Professor of Middle East Studies and Terrorism Analyst