The murder of two students from the Saudi Arabia who were currently studying in the United States has sent shock waves through the student community here.
Abdullah Abdullatif Alkadi, who was studying at California State University in Northridge, and Muhammad Al-Badi, who was studying at Tennessee Tech University, were killed without any apparent motive in two separate incidents.
With over 80,000 students currently in the U.S., the ripples of concern are obvious.
One such student is Mohammed Al-Fehaid, who’s studying Computer Science at Davis and Elkins College in West Virginia.
Speaking to the Saudi Gazette, Mohammed said, “These murders have really hit a lot of us emotionally. It has made us all really cautious and made us really aware of being careful with what websites we use. I also used Craigslist to sell my jeep, but I made sure I had someone with me and that I was in a public place when I met the person who wanted to by the car.” Mohammed went on to say that his friends in the Saudi student community are talking a lot more often now and making sure they are all watching out for each other.
The spokesperson of the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Washington DC, Nail Al-Jubier, told Saudi Gazette, “One of the things we tell students coming here is to take precautions. Be careful not to let your guard down. Be sure to know who you’re dealing with, and be vigilant.”
For the past month, and since news of these killings has been made public, more Saudi students in the United States have been calling their local Saudi Cultural Missions for help and advice. Calls have also been coming in from concerned parents in the Kingdom.
“What we’re hearing from parents this time is their genuine concern for their children’s safety. But now what we have for the first time ever, is one Saudi student killing another one as we have seen with Muhammad Al Badi’s death. This is a real shocker. We now have two Saudi families who are destroyed by this senseless violence. The victim and the alleged perpetrator,” added Al-Jubier.
The Saudi student suspected of killing Mohammed Al-Badi’s is receiving legal help provided to him by the Kingdom under the rules and guidelines provided to students who study in the United States. His defense has not been made public yet.
These two murders – coming within one month of each other – unfold as the case of two other students from Saudi Arabia has gone unresolved.
UK police have yet to solve the case of a Saudi student studying in England. Nahid Almana, was brutally stabbed to death in North London in June, and engineering student Hamza Al-Sharif who was studying engineering in Canada, has not been seen since December 2012.
Ghadah Alghunaim, co-founder of the popular Saudi student social networking group, “Saudis in the USA,” said that students in the United States are using social media more than ever to stay in touch with one another, share their concerns and to discuss the tragedies with their families too.
Currently taking her PHD at Nova South Eastern University in Florida, she told Saudi Gazette, “We are all in shock, and we’re all grieving. These two incidents are like something out of a movie. It’s making all of us more careful. A lot of students are afraid now. A lot of people are also asking if they should stop texting their friends. I am also Tweeting people to say really be careful of what you share. Like your bank accounts, your ATM card and so on.”
This is an unsettling time for the tens of thousands of students from the Kingdom currently in the United States. Cultural missions across the US are now stepping up their efforts to make sure every city that has students studying there are receiving the help, support and guidance they need so that the community can feel close, and of course feel protected.