Writing in Asia Times, Syed Saleem Shahzad has a provocative thesis about the Riyadh bombings: “The suicide bomb attack at the Muhaya residential compound in the Saudi Arabian capital of Riyadh on November 9 in which at least 17 people were killed – most of them foreign Arabs – was neither an episode of global jihadi terrorism nor part of a conspiracy to destabilize the House of Saud.”
What was it, then? “A Pakistani undercover intelligence operator who recently returned from Riyadh told Asia Times Online that the attack was in fact the result of a deep divide within Saudi society between strict religious conservatives with little exposure to the outside world, and a more ‘liberal’ element with the money and power to indulge in restricted activities.
“The compound attacked on November 9 was inhabited mainly by Lebanese, Palestinians and Egyptians, and it had earned notoriety as a ‘pleasure ground’ for Saudi ‘playboys’ in a country in which prostitution is outlawed. Apparently, some of the female residents of the compound were well known for their ‘exotic erotica’, for which they were showered with money and gifts.
“According to an Associated Press report, ‘Muhaya had a coffee shop where residents of both sexes chatted over water pipes and watched foreign movies and other entertainment on a big screen television. It was located next to a pool where women swam in bikinis.’
“The goings-on in the compound were seemingly known to the authorities, including agents of the Saudi religious police – the Committee for the Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice – but nothing had been done about it, much to the anger of conservatives who wanted to ‘eliminate the evil in their society’ and what they called the ‘Arab brothel of Riyadh’.”
So it was “conservatives,” says Shahzad, who bombed this “brothel.” He concludes that “the motives behind the Riyadh bomb blast were local and social, not political and global,” although “it shows possible problems ahead.”
This assertion actually coincides with the fact that the Riyadh bombing was intended to target non-Muslims “” a claim made by radical Muslims (such as Britain’s Al-Muhajiroun group, which declares that “unlike the media hype, which would have you believe that the targets are Muslims, the operations this Ramadan (and before) were clearly targeted at non-Muslims in Muslim countries and, in particular, those representing or connected with regimes at war with Islam and Muslims”) and non-Muslims alike. Radical Muslims generally regard non-Muslims as being completely morally bankrupt, and the places where they live as hotbeds of vice “” whether they are in reality or not.
So this Pakistani intelligence officer’s information could be accurate even though his assessment that these attacks were not examples of jihad terrorism probably isn’t. (Thanks to nicolei.)