The 21st Century Phenomenon


June 2004 was a crucial month in the war on terror in Saudi Arabia. The month began with a series of attacks on Westerners and on the Jeddah US Consulate and ended with the killing or capture of many of Al Qaeda’s leadership in Saudi Arabia.


* On Sunday 06/06/2004 two journalists, the BBC Security correspondent Frank Gardner, 42, and freelance cameraman Simon Cumbers, 36, from Ireland, were shot and badly wounded when they worked on a reportage about Al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia and took pictures from the house of Ibrahim al-Rayyes in Al-Suwaidi neighborhood of the capital Riyadh, where Ibrahim al-Rayyes was killed, on 12/08/2003. Simon Cumbers died from his wounds soon after the attack.   

* Two days later, on Tuesday 06/08/2004, an American citizen and employee of Vinnell Arabia corp., which trained the Saudi National Guard, 63 years old Robert Jacobs, was shot dead in Al-Khalij neighborhood of Riyadh, in the East of the city – reportedly at the victim’s home. Seven Vinnell employees were among the 35 people killed in 05/2003 in the Riyadh Suicide Attacks. A video published on an Islamist website showed, few days later, the murder of Robert Jacobs.

* On Saturday 06/12/2004, another American citizen, Kenneth Scroggs, was shot dead in his car in Malaz neighborhood, two blocks away from the USA Embassy in Riyadh. A car bomb was also defused in front of the main gate to Riyadh University. 

* On the same day, 06/12/2004, another American citizen Paul Marshall Johnson was stopped at a fake police checkpoint near Riyadh and then abducted. Paul M.  Johnson worked for Lockheed Martin on upgrading Saudi AH-64A Apache attack helicopters.

A group calling itself the Falluja Squadron (see – Falluja Battle) posted a statement signed by the Al Qaeda group of the Arab Peninsula (Al Haramain Brigades), headed by Abdul Aziz Muqrin, on the website Voice of Jihad, on 06/15/2004. The statement claimed to have taken an American hostage and threatened to kill him unless all Al Qaeda prisoners were released from Saudi jails within 72 hours. The group posted driver license, Saudi and American identification papers, and other documents on the site to prove Paul M.  Johnson was taken hostage.

On 06/18/2004 Al Arabiya and CNN TV channels reported, based on three photographs of the murder posted on the web, that Johnson had been beheaded. Soon after a short video footage filming Paul M.  Johnson beheading was posted in the web. The footage resembled the cases of Daniel Pearl and Nick Breg.  Paul M.  Johnson’s body was found on 06/19/2004. On 07/21/2004, Saudi security officials found Johnson’s head in a refrigerator in a villa in Riyadh.

In the evening of 06/18/2004, the Saudi Security service managed to track down Abdul Aziz Muqrin. He was killed in a shootout, after a car pursuit, in Malaz neighborhood at about 21:00 along with his associates Turki Al Muteiry, Faisal al-Dakheel and Ibrahim al-Dreihim, who was involved in the Al-Muhaya Bombings, on Sunday 11/09/2003. Two Saudi security personnel were killed too. 

Faisal al-Dakheel appeared on videotape in which Robert Jacobs, who worked for the Vinnell Corporation, was gunned down, on 06/08/2004 in his Riyadh garage. His brother Bandar al-Dakheel was on the scene of the shooting but managed to escape.

Following the shootout the Saudies managed to arrest, later at night, 12 more senior operatives of Al Qaeda in Riyadh, Medina and other places, including close associates of Rakan al-Saikhan. Three more Saudi officers were killed during the arrests and during sporadic exchange of fire.  

Security forces found three cars, including one used in the attack on 06/06/2004, on the British Broadcasting Corporation television crew in Riyadh – Frank Gardner and Simon Cumbers. They also found guns, three rocket propelled grenades, 16 pipe bombs, 10 hand grenades and currency worth around 37,000 US dollars.

The interrogation of the 12 detained suspects led to the killing, on 08/16/2004, of Abdul Rahman al-Harbi, to the arrest of many others and marked the beginning of the end for the Al Qaeda branch in Saudi Arabia.


* Two more foreigners were shot dead in Saudi Arabia during 2004.  

 * Anthony Christopher Higgins, a 63 years old civil engineer and an Irish citizen was shot dead in the Saudi capital Riyadh, on Tuesday 08/03/2004 afternoon, when a gunman entered an office of a Saudi-owned company afternoon and opened fire.   

* A Briton was shot dead, on 09/15/2004 at about 17:00, in the parking lot of Max discount shopping center in the Eastern part of the Saudi capital Riyadh. He was identified as Edward Smith, 50, an employee of the communications company Marconi. 


* Related topics – 
08/2003 -RIYADH  ARRESTS  



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