A statement attributed to al-Qaida
is warning of new attacks against Western interests in Saudi Arabia.
The alleged al-Qaida statement, which appeared on an Islamic website Monday,
warned of new attacks against "all compounds, bases and means of transportation," including
airlines from the United States and other Western countries, which the statement
said would be a direct target of coming operations.
The statement asked Muslims in Saudi Arabia to stay away from Americans and
other Westerners to avoid becoming victims of the promised attacks.
However, a terror expert at the al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic
Studies in Cairo, Hala Mustafa, told VOA that she was not certain the statement
came from al-Qaida. She and other terror experts have said it has not been
the history of al-Qaida to announce attacks before they occur. Instead, they
say, al-Qaida usually carries out attacks and then claims responsibility for
Terror experts in the region agree the purpose of such pronouncements is
to instill fear in the public as part of a broader terror campaign. They say
the goal is to make the public believe such groups are larger, more well organized
and more powerful than they really are.
The threats against Western airlines operating in Saudi Arabia comes at a
time of year when hundreds of thousands of Saudis traditionally leave the kingdom
to escape the summer heat.
Terror expert Hala Mustafa says the latest threats may be an effort to cause
financial damage to Western airlines by attempting to scare away passengers
during the traditionally busy vacation period.
Whether the statement is from al-Qaida or not, it comes at a time when terror
concerns are high in Saudi Arabia. On Sunday in Riyadh, a freelance cameraman
was shot dead and a BBC correspondent was wounded in an attack that occurred
in an area of the capital known as an al-Qaida stronghold.
Last week al-Qaida militants killed 22 people, including 19 foreigners, during
an attack at an oil company compound in the Saudi city of Khobar.
Following that attack the U.S. State Department urged the estimated 35,000
Americans living in the kingdom to leave.