Friday, June 23, 2017

Terror plot targeting Saudi Arabia's Grand Mosque foiled.

Wreckage from the blast after the bomber blew himself up. Reuters. 

Saudi Arabian security forces disrupted a terror attack targeting the Grand Mosque in Mecca. Reuters. The security forces cornered a member of the plot and engaged him in a shootout. The standoff ended when the suspect blew himself up, injuring 11 people as the building collapsed. The incident was part of a larger effort to break up terror cells in Saudi Arabia. Security forces also shot a man in Mecca and also broke up another terror cell, but did not give details. Five militants in total were arrested besides the two killed. The raids come near the Eid al Fitr holiday this Sunday that marks the end of Ramadan. It is unclear who was responsible for the terror plots, but ISIS is a very likely suspect. 

My Comment:
Another major terror plot broken up. Ramadan this year has been bad, but not as bad as it could have been. There have been several major terror plots broken up and it looks like this is one of the largest ones. 

It was broken up in a dramatic way and it is a minor miracle that nobody was killed besides the bomber. 11 people got injured, including six civilians. It seems like the Saudis failed to sneak up on this guy, but given the circumstances, they may not have had enough time to catch him unaware. 

The suspect was cornered and had no way to escape. He probably understood that his plot had failed and there was no real chance of survival. With no way out and no other options he decided to do the only thing that would take a few of his enemies with him. But he failed at that as well and only managed to wound a few people. 

The security forces probably saved quite a few lives. A suicide bombing at the Grand Mosque in Mecca would have probably killed dozens, maybe even hundreds. Why? Because the Grand Mosque is one of the most crowded places in the world and have had several incidents of people panicking and trampling people to death. That would add to the already severe casualties that would be inflicted by detonating a bomb powerful enough to destroy an apartment building in the middle of a crowd of thousands...

So who was responsible? ISIS is the obvious suspect. They have targeted Saudi Arabia in the past and will probably do so in the future. They have had several major successful and unsuccessful terror plots during this Ramadan and it would make sense for them to attack Saudi Arabia as well. ISIS also has a minor but significant presence in Saudi Arabia so they would have the opportunity as well. 

I also don't think any of the other suspects are very likely. Al-Qaeda certainly employs suicide bombers, but they usually don't target religious sites like the Grand Mosque. Same for any Shiite terrorist groups. Though tensions are high between Sunni and Shia, they are also unlikely to target Islam's holiest site. 

Which brings up another question. Why would radical Muslims attack their own most holy site? Well ISIS has long been iconoclasts. They hate art and they hate tombs. The Grand Mosque contains both. And though I am no expert on Islamic theology, I do believe that the destruction of the Kaaba is one of the major signs of the end of the world. Given that ISIS's main goal is to bring about the Apocalypse, destroying the Kaaba would be a major symbolic victory. 

Thankfully this attack failed. But we still have a couple days of Ramadan remaining. I have no doubt that there are more plots coming down the pipeline. Many of them, like this plot targeting the holiest site in Islam, will be broken up. Others of them will be attempted but will fail, like the ones in Flint and Paris. But I am willing to bet that there will be a major attack somewhere between now and Eid al Fitr...       

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