UAE condemns ‘bloodthirsty’ terror attacks in Saudi Arabia

Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, called King Salman of Saudi Arabia to offer condolences.

Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, crown prince of Saudi Arabia, visits an injured security officer in hospital in Jeddah. SPA / AP
Powered by automated translation

ABU DHABI // The UAE on Tuesday led worldwide condemnation of three suicide bombings in Saudi Arabia that are being widely viewed as an attack on Islam itself.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, called King Salman of Saudi Arabia to offer condolences.

“The UAE affirms its full support of Saudi Arabia in the fight against terror and against those who transgressed the sanctity of the Prophet’s Mosque,” Sheikh Mohammed said.

Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, said the UAE stood “in solidarity with our brothers in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in their fight against the crimes of terrorism”.

He said the terrorists’ goals were to “spread fear and takfir, and to incite strife”.

At least four people were killed in the attacks on Monday. No group has admitted to the attacks but ISIL has carried out similar bombings in the kingdom in the past year.

The bombs near the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina – the second holiest site in Islam – and at a mosque in Qatif exploded as worshippers were breaking the fast on the second-last day of Ramadan, and preparing to celebrate Eid Al Fitr.

Earlier, a suicide bomber blew himself up outside the US consulate compound in Jeddah, injuring two Saudi policemen.

Sheikh Abdullah said the UAE supported any action against those who did not respect the sanctity of Ramadan, the Prophet’s Mosque and other places of worship.

He said Saudi Arabia’s stability was the main pillar of regional security.

“Based on this fact, we believe that these crimes target the UAE, its cities and its people.

“We are fully confident that the Saudi leadership will be able to eliminate the threat posed by terrorism and all its forms and manifestations, and that this deviant group of people will not succeed in achieving their goals, thanks to national solidarity and cohesion, which recognises the futility of their goals, their bloodthirsty crimes and the deviance of their claims.”

Sheikh Abdullah said that the attacks had nothing to do with Islam nor with the traditions and history of the UAE and neighbouring Gulf countries.

The UAE’s Muslim Council of Elders, which aims to build bridges between religions and cultures, also denounced the attacks.

“The perpetrators of these villainous attacks, which shed the blood of innocent people and violated the sanctity of places where Allah is worshipped, have neither ethics nor conscience and are not deterred by religion from killing innocent people and bomb the most sacred places on Earth,” said the council, which is led by Sheikh Ahmed El Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Al Azhar in Cairo.

Sheikh Abdullah, the FNC and the Muslim Council offered condolences to the king, government and people of Saudi Arabia and the families of the victims of the attacks, and wished those injured a speedy recovery.

King Salman said Saudi Arabia would strike with an iron fist against people and groups who targeted the kingdom’s young people.

“The biggest challenge facing the Islamic nation is to preserve real wealth and hope for the future of the young, who face the risk of extremism and malicious calls pushing them to abnormal behaviours and practices,” the king said.

“We will strike with an iron fist those who target the minds and thoughts and attitudes of our dear youth.”

The United Nations said that the bombings in Saudi Arabia were an attack on all Muslims.

“The significance of this attack cannot simply be measured in terms of the four policemen who were killed, and the physical damage. It is an attack on the religion itself,” said UN rights office spokesman Rupert Colville.

Abdullah Al Sheikh, head of the Saudi Shura Council, Saudi Arabia’s main government advisory body, said the attacks were unprecedented.

“This crime, which causes goosebumps, could not have been perpetrated by someone who had an atom of belief in his heart,” he said.

Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, interior minister and head of the special anti-terror security council, visited three of the injured in hospital on Tuesday.

“The security of the homeland is good, it is at its highest levels, and thanks be to God it gets stronger every day,” he said.

Prince Mohammed has been credited with ending a bombing campaign by Al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia between 2003-2006.

“I know that terrorist operations are not a simple thing, and the minor impacts that you feel now will go away, God willing,” he said. “I had been through this in the past and feel what you feel.” Prince Mohammed survived a suicide bombing in his office in 2009.

Saudi security officials said ISIL supporters inside the kingdom mainly acted independently and depended on bases in Iraq and Syria for limited logistical help and advice. This made them harder to detect, but also less capable of mounting attacks on well-protected targets.

The Saudi interior ministry yesterday identified the suicide bomber who struck near the US consulate in Jeddah as Abdullah Qalzar Khan, 34, a Pakistani resident who arrived in the country 12 years ago to work as a driver.

The ministry said he lived in Jeddah with his wife and her parents.

There are about nine million expatriates in Saudi Arabia.

The ministry said the attacker at the Prophet’s Mosque set off the bomb in a car park after security officers raised suspicions about him.

Several cars caught fire and thick plumes of black smoke rose from the site of the explosion as thousands of worshippers crowded the streets around the mosque.

Worshippers expressed shock that such a prominent holy site could be targeted.

“People never imagined that this could happen here,” said Altayeb Osama, 25, a Sudanese visitor to Medina and an Abu Dhabi resident. He heard two large booms about a minute apart as he was heading towards the mosque for sunset prayers.

Saudi media said the attacker intended to strike the mosque when it was crowded with worshippers.

* Additional reporting by Wam, Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters