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US airport security leak: extra security for certain Arabs 9, December 2009

Posted by thegulfblog.com in American ME Relations.
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2 comments

The fact that Arab nationals undergo extra checks at US airports is hardly breaking news. Yet, now and for the first time (so far as I know…) the policy itself of which nationalities are deemed necessary for extra checks has leaked out of the US Transport Security Administration. Here’s the relevant bit:

If the individual’s photo ID is a passport issued by the Government of Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Libya, Syria, Sudan, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Somalia, Iraq, Yemen or Algeria, refer the individual for selectee screening unless the individual has been exempted from selectee screening by the FSD or aircraft operator.

Given that the vast majority of the 9/11 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia, that Saudi Arabia is still today a font of – to put it nicely – austere and strict Islamic teachings, the kind of which was indisputably a crucial factor in the 9/11 attacks and countless others besides, and that Saudi Arabia underwent a wave of terrorist bombings only a few years before this document became policy, it is surprising to note that Saudi citizens were not singled out for extra security.

Presumably, there must have been significant diplomatic pressure on US authorities not to add Saudi citizens to such a list. This can surely be the only explanation.

This information leak came to light after a report was released in which the blacking-out had not been done correctly. Not long afterward, someone posted the clean document on Cryptome.org for the world to see. US officials have reacted with relative nonchalance, simply saying that while it is regrettable, procedures are constantly changing and no truly important details were leaked.

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Saudi attempted assassination: the bum bomb 9, September 2009

Posted by thegulfblog.com in Saudi Arabia.
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8 comments

At the end of August Prince Mohammed Bin Nayef, the Saudi head of counter-terrorism, was slightly injured when a suicide bomber made an attempt on his life. Part of Nayef’s role is to make, propagate and extend contacts with the more radical elements in Saudi and receive ‘former’ terrorists who come to him to give themselves up, rather than be hunted down by the Saudi security forces.

Reports of this attack were exceedingly sketchy initially. The bomber apparently got into the Prince’s compound and ever near the Prince himself without impediment. When the bomb was detonated the bomber was, according to various reports, blown into countless pieces. This insinuates that the explosives on him must have been quite powerful. Yet the question remained of how did he get so close to the Prince with so much explosives. Whilst the Saudis were celebrating Ramadan, surely security was not that lax that a prime target of Al Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula would be so poorly guarded.

It transpires – or rather the Saudi Gazette is reporting – that the bomber had secreted the explosives in himself, as in up his rectum. Apparently he had anywhere up to half a kilogram of explosives inside himself. Yet, despite this, the Prince only suffered from a small cut on his face and an injured finger. One can only surmise that the typical stuffed couch and the bombers body proved to be significantly dampening. What an ignominious way to go.

It raises a few interesting questions about security from now on. Did this failed attack sufficiently show that such tactics simply do not work? Or will terrorists see this as but a failed trial and keep on trying? For if this is the case then it could be decidedly more uncomfortable going to visit a Saudi Prince from now on.

See: The Mideasti blog for an excellent round up of the coverage on this topic.