Osama Speaks to Saudi Arabia

(This post will be updated with a link to the full transcript when it is available.)

Osama bin Laden has released a new videotape where he praises the attacks in Jeddah, calls for the overthrow of the Saudi government and exhorts his followers to attack the lifeblood of the Middle East – oil and the infrastructure used to extract, refine and deliver it. The full transcript is not yet available, however the excerpted portions are quite revealing.

On the attack on the U.S. consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Al Qaeda has already claimed credit for this attack, bin Laden merely confirms this. Note that bin Laden refers to the attackers as “our brothers” .

“God bless our brothers who stormed the American Consulate in Jiddah…Those who were killed of our brothers, we ask God to accept them as martyrs.”

On Overthrowing the Saudi Government.

Bin Laden is calling for the overthrow of the House of Saud, as he has done in the past. His scorn for the government has not changed over the years, and the government of Saudi Arabia is considered insufficiently Islamic. This is quite a claim against a government that employees religious police, known as the Authority for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, the same organization responsible for the deaths of 15 schoolgirls in a fire in the Saudi city of Makkah because they could not be viewed in public in strict accordance to religious law.

“The responsibility for the current situation in Saudi Arabia rests with the regime In Saudi Arabia, it is the king and not Allah who commands sovereignty and complete obedience I advised the government two decades ago to remedy the situation… but it has not changed at all When people move to ask for their rights, security forces cannot stop them  The government in Saudi Arabia has been the target of American interference The Saudi government has forged an alliance with the world of infidelity led by Bush.”

Attack the Oil.

As discussed in A New Containment, the Saudi oil industry is a desirable target for al Qaeda. It is difficult to defend and would have an enormous impact on Saudi Arabia’s oil exports and the global economy.

“Take jihad (holy war) to stop (the Americans) getting hold of (the oil). Concentrate your operations on the oil, in particular in Iraq and the Gulf.”

Are al Qaeda and Saudi Arabia really at war?

Dan Darling contends that Saudi Arabia and al Qaeda have struck a deal to halt violence in the Kingdom so as not to upset al Qaeda’s funding from wealthy Saudi sources.

The reason that the Saudi al Qaeda haven’t been a problem until recently (at least for the regime, periodic killings of Westerners are still occurring and the network’s two Saudi e-zines are still being churned out) is not because the Saudis have been successful at rooting them out. The bottom line is simpler, and less flattering: Prince Nayef and his allies in the Saudi royal family were able to broker another deal with al Qaeda over the summer to refrain from attacking Saudi targets, a deal in which the Iranians played a cooperative role. In return for being given a green light to mobilize jihadis for Iraq, and allow the fundraising “Golden Chain” to remain in operation, major Saudi targets would be spared.

Dan also states the Jeddah attack was either executed by al Qaeda renegades or the deal between al Qaeda and the Saudi government has been terminated.

I’m being told that the Jeddah Consulate attack, like the others we’ve seen in Saudi Arabia so far, appears to have been an inside job. This could mean that either the al-Hawali deal is off, that al-Hawali’s deal gives the network a carte blanche to hit Western targets, or that the splinter factions still have access to al Qaeda moles inside the Saudi security apparatuses. Time will tell.

Osama bin Laden’s latest tape has put these questions to rest. If there really was a truce negotiated between al Qaeda and the Saudi government, it has clearly expired. Bin Laden’s support for the operation in Jeddah demonstrate this was an al Qaeda sponsored attack, and not an inside job or the actions of a rogue al Qaeda faction.

What does all of this mean?

There are several possibilities for the resumption of attacks against the Saudi government regime. If there is any truth to the rumor of a truce between Al Qaeda and the Saudis, then perhaps bin Laden is attempting to negotiate a better deal (greater freedom of movement in the Kingdom, less pressure by Saudi security forces on al Qaeda and their sympathizers, and fewer restrains on donations to al Qaeda are possible motivations). Although the possibility of a truce between al Qaeda and Saudi Arabia is not impossible, I view this as unlikely as it would make Saudi Arabia openly antagonistic against the United States, with real world consequences. Also, it makes little sense for bin Laden to approve of attacks against the Saudi royals as a tool of negotiation, and the Saudi princes, even those sympathetic to bin Laden, would be threatened by any attempts to overthrow the government from which they all profit greatly.

More likely the reasons behind bin Laden’s tape and the attack in Jeddah are less favorable to al Qaeda. The Saudi government may be proving effective in closing down support for al Qaeda, particularly in drying up the The Golden Chain (file is in PDF format). Al Qaeda fighters and financiers may be having a difficult time finding support in the nation, and the Saudi security forces appears to be having some success at uprooting al Qaeda in the country. If bin Laden feels his network in Saudi Arabia is threatened by the actions of the Saudi government, then he has little to lose in inciting a full scale rebellion.

Will the Saudi people answer bin Laden’s call? If the answer is yes, it will be a long and bloody fight in Saudi Arabia, and the likely intervention by American forces to secure the world’s oil supply and prevent the establishment of an al Qaeda-friendly government. If the answer is no, then it will be yet another humiliating defeat for al Qaeda, as bin Laden would be unable to rally the faithful in The Land of the Two Mosques.

An Aside:

In a somewhat related bit of news, a Costa Rican taxicab driver has shot a man wearing an Osama bin Laden mask and waving a pellet gun. Note to Osama, strike Costa Rica off of your list of sanctuaries, you would not be safe there.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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