ABC News details the deadly attack by five terrorists against the U.S. Consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia (Read Part 1).
Three minutes into the attack—11:19 on Dec 6, 2004—the U.S. Marines bolt from their temporary barracks, unarmed, under fire, to access the chancery through the rear hatch. It happens in a flash. Security camera footage shows it unfold at 2:24-6 in the clip below.
ABC’s Brian Ross: It will be one hour and 15 minutes before the Saudi National Guard mounts a counterattack on the terrorists inside the compound. Does this suggest you can’t really count on the Saudi National Guard?
Former Diplomatic Security Agent Tony Deibler: It would definitely lead me, personally, to have real serious reservations. I mean, their one unit ran away. The other unit takes them an hour and 15 minutes to get there.
Ross By 11:17, one minute into the attack, the terrorists have the run of the compound. Employees can be seen running for their lives. At 11:18, the terrorists open fire on several buildings. But by 11:19, all Americans are safely secure, most inside the consulate’s main building… The terrorists can be seen outside, trying without success, to get past security doors. Trying to rig an explosive charge that later fails. At 11:23, the Marines inside release tear gas. But the State Department uses a weaker version than the military, and the gas appears to have little effect on the terrorists.
At 11:47, the terrorists take down the American flag in front of the consulate. Over the next 43 minutes, out of sight of the cameras, they will be unchallenged as they take four US employees and a local guard hostage. All of whom will be killed. Ten others under the protection of the US consulate will be injured.
Deibler: I think we’re very, very lucky. Had it been at lunchtime or early in the morning, when people were going to work, could it have been a different story? Very much so.
Lucky or not, we were steadfast. Al-Qaida’s Fallujah Brigade may have lowered our flag that day, but we ran it right back up again—tattered—when the enemy was neutralized. Unfortunately our ability to do so, to retake our compound, came at a steep cost. Five innocent lives lost in a battle that left ten others seriously wounded.