I’m parsing the script of this 2005 ABC News report this week, analyzing a bad day for diplomacy in Saudi Arabia. Five heavily armed terrorists attacked the U.S. Consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Dissecting security tapes of the attack, Former Diplomatic Security Special Agent has the best lines. So he goes first.
The assault in Jeddah began at 11:16 in the morning, on a day when the US compound was supposed to be at a critical threat level. A US consulate vehicle pulls up to a side gate and waits for two security barriers to be opened. The terrorists, chanting over a cell phone to their accomplices, with almost perfect timing pull up in their four-door sedan, just as the consulate car is cleared. We showed the tape to former State Department security officer Tony Deibler.
So they knew exactly how long it would take for the barrier to go down?
TONY DEIBLER Yes. Yes.
BRIAN ROSS: The terrorists’ car is blocked. But they exit on foot and open fire. Within five seconds, they will be through the security gates, including an expensive vehicle obstacle called a delta barrier.
DEIBLER So did the delta barrier do what it was designed to do, i.e., stop the car? Yes. Did it prevent the bad guys from getting in? No.
ROSS It should have, or something should have?
DEIBLER Something should have.
ROSS As the terrorists run inside, the Saudi National Guard troops assigned to protect the consulate run in the opposite direction away from the fight.
DEIBLER I hate to say it because I have a lot of friends on the Saudi National Guard, but they’re running away. At least that national guardsman took his weapon with him although he’s going the wrong way.
This last exchange works best when watching the tape at 1:21-1:36. Boy, did the Saudi National Guard run!
Take a look at the attack through a different lens. Two Pumps for the Body Man: When it comes to Terrorism, the enemy can’t kill us—if our institutions kill us first.
Near the end of Ben East’s excellent novel, Two Pumps for the Body Man, one character says to another: “…the prevention of terrorism can best be realized following a significant increase in terrorism.” That Orwellian doublespeak captured the feeling of the novel for me… a farcical take on an illogical and downright bizarre bureaucratic structure put in place to fight the war on terror. –Mark Richardson, author Hunt for the Troll