Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Our Saudi Allies

Patrick Notestine in "Paramedic to the Prince" on Saudi support for terrorism, pp 294-295:

A metaweh wrote on a popular Islamic web-site, "I'd like to say that the overwhelming majority of my fellow Saudis totally condemn terrorism. Sadly that is just not true. The majority applaud any action that discomforts the royal family whom we perceive to be unreliable in religious terms, and to be too friendly with the US. So we support any action against them, regardless of who dies. And I see this support for terrorists all around me, in overt celebrations, the smiling jokes among friends and the victory fist punched in the air."

Notestine describes his introduction to the true nature of Islam, pp 1-3:

I was working in Jedda, Saudi Arabia, in my office at the King Faisal Hospital, where I managed the ambulance service. It was late afternoon, on a Tuesday, in September 2001. I got a call from a South African guy who works in the military
hospital there. He told me one of the World Trade Center towers caved in, and they blew up the Pentagon.
"Huh, ri-ight."
"No," he said, "I swear to God."

I put down the phone, and ran into the office of the Assistant Director of the hospital, right across the corridor.
"What's going on?
What's the matter?" Short fellow, dyed black hair, a real slimeball. I correctly
suspect that his job is way beyond him.
I told him, "Something bad's happenning."
I ran to his TV.
"You got CNN. Turn on CNN."
We sit close and watch it. I'm from California and he's from Little Rock, Arkansas.
Guys start filtering in behind us through the open door. All the Saudi management, a few in western suits, but mostly in the long white thobe and red checkered ghutra. On the screen there's the New York skyline, sparkling white and blue and sunny, with a vast dark cloud rising from Lower Manhattan. They're leaning against the filing cabinets, and hunched over the backs of chairs, riveted, silent.

I look up at them, the Head of Personnel, several men from the finance department, and the rest of them, and the second plane is coming in. Live. You have never seen such broad smiles. They were joyous. It was wow, man, HIT IT. Nobody said anything.

Well, the aftershock lasted a couple hours, with everyone shaking their heads and bemoaning the carnage, and then nearly all of them left. I have a habit of saying what's on my mind.

"Salman," I said to my friend, his name's Salman Al Dubair, "do you realize, when that second plane hit the tower, how you and Ali Bougesh were standing there grinning? It means you're happy."

"Oh no," he said.
"We're always smiling. It's a terrible thing."

Not long afterwards Prince Naif, the Minister of the Interior and Information, explained publicly that this dreadful event had been a Jewish-American conspiracy. To single out the Saudi passengers on those planes at such short notice, as the FBI had done, was ludicrous; every one of them had been a harmless student or tourist. In the Jewish section of New York on that day, on the other hand, the Jewish community had been dancing in the streets. Not a single Jew had been killed in the World Trade Center, because they all had been warned to stay away. Four hundred Muslims had died in this conspiracy to incite hatred of Islam.

George Bush talking about a crusade really pissed them off. After that most Saudis believed that the CIA, or the FBI, or George Bush personally in collusion with Israel, was responsble for 9/11. It is the conventional wisdom among Saudis to this day, even highly educated ones.

I was talking to a smart, rich Saudi I know, who was complaining that religious education in Saudi Arabia puts a brake on scientific development. You couldn't get the students to think, he said, because they'd been taught to view the world from a religious perspective and never to ask awkward questions. The people in charge didn't want people to think they wanted a continuance of the status quo. Then 9/11 came up, as it always did for a few weeks afterwards, and he went on to tell me how exultant he'd felt. He and his friends had watched the whole thing and cheered.

"Because we hate Americans," he said complacently.
"But not the people, of course," I said. "It's like us in the Gulf, we were against the
regime, we didn't hate the people."
"No, the people, too," he said. "We hate all Americans."
He looked right into my wide blue eyes as he said it.

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