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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

May 21, 2003

My kindgom for a car

Two fine tidbits via James Taranto (WSJ)
Al Qaeda's 'Intellectual Base'
In an Associated Press dispatch from Riyadh, Prince Bandar, the Saudi ambassador to Washington, has some interesting things to say about internal al Qaeda politics:

Prince Bandar, who is known for handling some of his country's most delicate diplomatic tasks, told reporters after returning to Saudi Arabia from Washington that Saudi authorities had obtained information during recent months that al-Qaida had been wracked by internal divisions.

Saudi officials believed that al-Qaida leaders were so split that they didn't want to risk carrying out any attacks in Saudi Arabia, which is bin Laden's birthplace, in order to maintain their intellectual base within the Gulf kingdom.

"(But) they have mended their differences and decided to come out," said Prince Bandar, who is known for his close relations with the U.S. administration.

Since Sept. 11 many observers have called on moderate Muslims to denounce their terror-supporting coreligionists. An editorial in today's Arab News, citing the suicide bombings in Riyadh and Casablanca (but not those in Israel) does just that:

The biggest victim of all is Islam. The actions of the fanatics feed Islamophobia. They send the warped message that Islam is a religion drenched in blood. They must stop. But it is not enough to say that this is the work of a minuscule minority, that the overwhelming majority of Muslims are sickened by these attacks. It is not enough to condemn. It is not even enough to hunt them down and punish them. The world has to see that the cancer threatening the Muslim world is being cut out--vigorously so. Unless something is done, it will create a backlash of its own--against Muslims, against Islam.

Such candor isn't limited to the English-language Saudi press. The Arab News also reprints an article from Okaz, an Arabic-language paper in Jeddah, whose author, Saiful Islam ibn Saud, observes:

Did last week's bombings in Riyadh come as a surprise? Those who know what our children are being taught about Islam, their teachers and the kind of ideas they are constantly fed were not surprised. Those who listen to cassette recordings--which in reality have no basis in Islam--and believe what is said in the recordings were not surprised. Those who listen to what is often said at Friday sermons were not surprised. Those who know how people who follow different schools of thought are ridiculed and treated with contempt were not surprised.

"Any person who digs into the root causes of last week's explosions and the resulting death and destruction will not be shocked at what actually happened," the article continues. It's a refreshing contrast to the all-too-common denial not only in the Arab world but among the left and the far right in the West as well.

The World's Smallest Violin
In an article from the Saudi paper al-Madinah, translated by the Arab News, Hamoud Al-Ghathami describes a horrible American injustice:

My granddaughter, Mashael, a student at King Fahd Academy in Washington, recently won a prize in a local competition. The prize was a luxury car, but her happiness was short-lived. When she went to collect the prize, the organizers refused to give it to her because, according to them, prizes were only intended for those who hold American nationality. The news was devastating. Mashael was not prepared for such a shock. Imagine an excited girl, eagerly awaiting a prize she won fairly in an open competition being told she could not win because of her nationality!

Of course, if Mashael lived in Saudi Arabia, she wouldn't even be allowed to drive because of her sex