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On the missile launched at Makkah and al-Jawhara plot

These cells show the extent of the challenge Gulf countries face as extremist organizations renew their methods and look for security gaps to carry out attacks

Turki Aldakhil

Published: Updated:

As children jumped in joy and people cheered out of sheer passion for football, there were those who lurked in the darkness. Two days before the World Cup qualifier match between Saudi Arabia and the UAE, a Syrian, a Sudanese and two Pakistanis, worked together to place a bomb inside a car. They parked the car in al-Jawhara car park and plotted to blow it up in the midst of more than 60,000 attending the match.

This is what the interior ministry said on Sunday. The ministry also announced the arrest of a terror cell made of four Saudis – Ahmed al-Moaayli, Abdullah al-Otaibi, Abdulaziz al-Otaibi and Mujahed al-Rashid – in the province of Shaqra. The cell was led by Abdulaziz who has been communicating with ISIS in Syria to target different security zones in Riyadh, Tabuk and the eastern province.

Security forces also revealed the names of nine terrorists, eight Saudis and one Bahraini, in a cell in Qatif. These cells show the extent of the challenge Gulf countries face as extremist organizations renew their methods and look for security gaps to carry out attacks that are worse than blowing up of mosques and assassinating security men.

The more important point and the worse tragedy for the Saudis and Emiratis is the terror plot against al-Jawhara stadium. Saudi Arabia and the UAE are allies and their people have strong and brotherly ties. The aim behind targeting the stadium was clearly to harm this relation.

Terrorism has one common goal and that is systematic murder. From the territories of Nouri al-Maliki to the turf of Ayman al-Zawahiri it means the same and does not end with Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi or Abdulmalik al-Houthi. All of them are directing their assaults against Saudi Arabia. Not even Madinah or the tomb of the prophet, or the holy city of Makkah have been spared. So what are the objectives behind these cells, which sources say, range from Shiites to Houthis or even Sunnis?

Houthi terrorists aim to completely transform Yemen and turn it into a strategic and geographic expansion of Iran and bury Yemen’s historical identity

Turki Aldakhil

Shiite militias are trying to mobilize to avenge Saudi Arabia for supporting the moderate opposition in Syria. They are reportedly doing so on the encouragement of the Syrian regime, Nouri al-Maliki and the Iranian regime. They are continuously recruiting and targeting civilians in cafe in Tarout, Qatif, or mosques and Shiite places of worship. They aim to ignite Sunni-Shiite strife and spark unrest and protests.

There is a desire to ignite conflict between Sunnis and Shiites in the Gulf, particularly in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. These people want to punish Saudi Arabia which supports moderate Muslims in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen. Saudi Arabia is at the forefront of the Iranian project and is relentlessly fighting it in Yemen.

The Management of Savagery

Terrorism attributed to Sunnis has a clear strategy that is based on The Management of Savagery, the manifesto written by Abu Bakr Naji. It is probable that its author is the coordinator of political and intelligence affairs in al-Qaeda and that his real identity is Mohammed Khalil al-Hakaymah. It is also claimed that it is written by Abu Musab al-Souri. In other words, the book stipulates that no targets are prohibited.

The book’s dangerous influence seems to have developed and reached ISIS. Its ideas were developed to achieve more brutal results and carry out worse terrorist attacks. It’s taught in American military academies to understand the terrorist mind. The major aim of its tactics is to harm the society itself and not just security men or “polytheists in the Arabian Peninsula.”

It is on this basis that they targeted a theatre in Paris where they also tried to blow up a stadium. They also target malls and more recently tried to target al-Jawhara stadium, which is one of the biggest stadiums in the region. The Houthi terrorists, on the other hand, aim to completely transform Yemen and turn it into a strategic and geographic expansion of Iran and bury Yemen’s historical identity. It has been contained though through the Operation Decisive Storm.

What it has in common with ISIS is savagery and management of fear. The Saudi interior ministry did not rule out collusion between the Houthis and ISIS over al-Jawhara terror plot. Such collusion is not ruled out at all. Haven’t the Houthis launched a missile to blow up Makkah and target the Ka’aba in the recent past?

The names of terrorism, references of terrorist cells and basis of doctrines have differed. However, murder, savagery, targeting of sanctities and killing of civilians are what terrorists of different identities have in common. The victims here are the Gulf countries, the success stories which are shining in this era of bloodshed and destruction and which are hated by some in the East and the West.

This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on Nov. 01, 2016.
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Turki Aldakhil is the General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. He began his career as a print journalist, covering politics and culture for the Saudi newspapers Okaz, Al-Riyadh and Al-Watan. He then moved to pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat and pan-Arab news magazine Al-Majalla. Turki later became a radio correspondent for the French-owned pan-Arab Radio Monte Carlo and MBC FM. He proceeded to Elaph, an online news magazine and Alarabiya.net, the news channel’s online platform. Over a ten-year period, Dakhil’s weekly Al Arabiya talk show “Edaat” (Spotlights) provided an opportunity for proponents of Arab and Islamic social reform to make their case to a mass audience. Turki also owns Al Mesbar Studies and Research Centre and Madarek Publishing House in Dubai. He has received several awards and honors, including the America Abroad Media annual award for his role in supporting civil society, human rights and advancing women’s roles in Gulf societies. He tweets @TurkiAldakhil.

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