Skip to comments.Greed and torture at the House of Saud (SAUDIS NOT OUR FRIENDS ALERT)
Posted on 11/24/2002 12:51:08 AM PST by MadIvan
The rulers of Saudi Arabia are gorging themselves on the country's oil wealth. But, reports John Sweeney in Riyadh, one British man has tasted the cruelty that is maintaining this precarious regime against a rising tide of extremism
The hoovers came first, sucking up the desert sand that had drifted across the red carpets. Then the flunkeys, wage-slaves from Pakistan, bearing platters of lamb and sheaves of flowers, then the sniffer dog for explosives, then the Royal Guard, scimitars glinting in the sun, their white robes gleaming as if in a Daz ad. And, finally, His Excellency's Bus.
The man who runs the House of Saud moves around Arabia like a Saga holidaymaker. Crown Prince Abdullah - podgy, with a goatee beard and moist eyes - is the boss, because his brother, King Fahd, has had a stroke and thinks it's still 1992. 'Has Schwarzkopf left yet?' is a question the sick, confused king is said to ask. Prince Abdullah, and some of his family's 7,000 princes, had rocked up in an enormous sandpit to celebrate the opening of a new gasworks. Watch the House of Saud eat and the received wisdom about these austere guardians of Wahabism goes out the window. Hands scooped up great swaths of lamb and jaws munched in contentment. It was a party Saudi-style: no women, no alcohol, no balloons.
But more remarkable than the greed and joylessness was the waste. After they had got up, a huge mountain of food still lay piled high on the banqueting tables, enough to feed a Palestinian refugee camp for a week. Time was when the House of Saud could stuff itself stupid, and waste billions, and it would not matter. And the princes have squandered the bonanza, chiefly on themselves.
In 1980, the average income in Saudi Arabia was $20,000. Now it's $7,000, making Saudi a contender to be the world's fastest shrinking economy. True, the ruling princes - all in their seventies - still squat on three-quarters of the world's oil reserves. But today they are under grave and present danger - and their response to the biggest threat to their grip on power reveals them as a gang of old men who don't know what to do.
The threat comes from the stark, alluring nihilism of Osama bin Laden and his supporters, and the House of Saud takes refuge in denial, and cruelty. There is no better evidence of the feebleness of its grip on power than its denial of twenty-first century evidence that the seven Western men it has locked up for planting bombs that killed other Westerners are innocent. His Highness Prince Saud Al Faisal, the Foreign Minister, had never been presented with a courtroom artist's drawing of one of his own government's torturers before. He pulled a face at the pencil sketch of Lt Col Abdul Aziz, a state-licensed sadist who tortures for the House of Saud. The drawing comes with a warning: never torture an accountant. They never forget the small print, and make great witnesses.
Scottish tax accountant Ron Jones was blown up by a bomb in Riyadh in March last year, rushed to hospital suffering blast burns and then taken away by the Saudi secret police still wearing his hospital gown. He was shackled hand and foot, and then the man who called himself Lt Col Aziz began his work. Jones says he was beaten on the soles of the feet - falanga - day and night: 'the pain was absolutely excruciating.' He was hung from a bracket for so long he screamed in agony.
This is an act of war, no less - Ivan
At one time, the torturer 'started to sing and I have this thing in my head that he was singing Ring-A-Ring of Roses'. 'The blows got fiercer and actually knocked my blindfold off slightly, and I could see him out of the corner of my eye and he was smiling. And I remember saying "I'll tell you anything you want. Just don't hit me again".'
The Saudi system of justice is that the moment you are a suspect you are deemed to be guilty, and so you are tortured until you make a confession in front of the khavi, the investigating judge. If you don't, you get tortured some more. It's a closed loop with no way out.
The bomb that injured Jones exploded on 15 March 2001. He drew us a map of the prison where he was tortured. Being an accountant, he remembered well. We found and filmed (with a zoom lens) the Mabaheth Interrogation Centre, heavily guarded behind metal gates, on Abdul Aziz Ibn Fahd Al Mu'ammar street - and fixed its location with a satellite positioning system at North 24 ' 38.698" , East 46' 40.903".
It's a confession factory. Jones told us: 'I would hear the screams of people upstairs being tortured. That was awful because you knew what they were going through. And you knew that it was your turn next.'
Some of those screams may have come from the other Westerners, some from Saudi wretches who had upset the House of Saud. The accountant was eventually released, after pressure from the British. Back in England, a courtroom artist worked with Ron on a sketch of Aziz the torturer - which so upset the Foreign Minister when I presented it to him in Riyadh. The prince gathered his robes and leant towards me with a not entirely friendly expression on his face: 'Well, I could hold a piece of paper in your face.'
Nor did His Highness savour the judgment of experts, in Britain and Denmark, who used ultrasound technology to prove Jones's claim that he was tortured. After Jones was released, he was examined in Britain by Dr Nathaniel Cary, a leading forensic pathologist at Guy's Hospital, London, and radiologist Professor Adrian Dixon of Cambridge University. Cary concluded: 'The findings therefore both independently and objectively corroborate Mr Jones's allegations of having had his palms and soles repeatedly beaten.'
These results were backed up by ultrasound tests carried out by the Parker Institute in Copenhagen - the world leader in the diagnosis and treatment of torture. The technology, which allows a mum-to-be to see her unborn child in the womb, enables the doctors to see massive scarring under the skin of Ron's feet.
The prince scoffed: 'I don't care what the so-called experts say. The experts are not just wrong, they are absolutely wrong.'
The difficulty for the old men of the House of Saud is that, although they have now arrested, found guilty and sentenced seven Westerners (before they met their defence lawyers) for bombing other Westerners, the bombs have kept on exploding.
While seven allegedly guilty men were locked in Saudi's maximum security prison - Al Haier, east of Riyadh - another bomb killed British banker Simon Veness this June and yet another - the eleventh - killed German businessman Maximillian Graf in September. Perhaps the Saudi seven jumped over the wall, planted the bomb, and then jumped back over the wall again. Twice. Or perhaps, someone else is planting the bombs - for example, those loyal to Saudi-born renegade Osama bin Laden. Fifteen of the 19 hijackers of 11 September were from Saudi Arabia; 125 inmates at Camp X-ray, which holds the al-Qaeda suspects at Guantanamo Bay, are from Saudi Arabia.
Putting forward the possibility that Islamic extremists are the real bombers irritated the Foreign Minister and the suggestion was rejected by defence lawyer Dr Ahmed Altuwaijri, who co-represents six of the seven Westerners in jail and who believes bin Laden was framed for 11 September - and that the true culprits are the Israeli secret service, Mossad.
The proof that Jones was tortured blasts a hole in the safety of the convictions of the other seven Westerners. Unless they win an appeal, two of them - Scot Sandy Mitchell and Canadian Bill Sampson - face an appointment with the executioner at a public beheading in Riyadh's infamous Chop-chop Square.
The first of 11 bombs, solely targeted at Westerners, exploded two years ago on 17 November 2000, killing Briton Christopher Rodway. No one was arrested. A second car bomb a few days later injured four nurses, from Britain and Ireland. Belgian paramedic Raf Schyvens was travelling in a second car and gave first aid to his injured friends.
The secret police arrested Schyvens, whose only evidential link with the bomb was that he treated its victims, then his friends Mitchell and Sampson. All three were members of the same drinking club in Saudi - illegal, but not murderous.
Three men were inside, but the bombs continued, and four more men, all British and all illegal drinkers, were arrested for the next batch of bombs. They are James Lee, James Cottle, Les Walker and Pete Brandon.
Then the seven men confessed on Saudi TV - and Interior Minister Prince Naif announced that no Saudis were involved.
Now an eighth Westerner - British businessman Glen Pallard - has been arrested and is being held. There is every possibility that he, too, is being tortured. Pallard's detention is evidence, were in it needed, that the Foreign Office's policy of handling the cases with minimum fuss, lest it cause offence, is not working.
One relative of the Saudi eight said: 'We are being blackmailed by the Foreign Office not to discuss this for fear it would jeopardise the men, but then Whitehall does nothing, so they rot in jail.'
The Al Yamamah arms deal between Britain and Saudi Arabia is worth $500,000 a day to Britain - gold enough, some might say, to stuff the mouth of Her Majesty's Government.
The bigger picture is no less bleak. Why are the Americans so keen to control Iraq, which sits on the world's second biggest oil field? Because, it seems, they fear they will lose the biggest.
It must happen, and soon.
I have read numerous articles regarding Saudi military strength.
They have a huge inventory of armaments of all descriptions, including short and medium range missles, as well as suspected portable platforms to deliver them.
I recall one story indicated that they may have nukes. Could it be that we know precisely what they have and we are defending their asses to keep them from having to use them?
This is a similar situation to Israel. Every thesis and study that I have seen regarding the potential of a major nuclear exchange mentions the beginning of it as the middle east region.
I believe that our new doctrine of pre-emption and the support that we seem to be getting now, is a result of countries being educated as to the real threats that exist. Not just the BS on the surface.
We should be bigger than this - Saudi Arabia is the cradle for much of the terrorism we see in the world today. Our focus should be on reducing them to penury.
Bush and Blair have a difficult task. I believe that they do not want the royal house to fall just yet.
Recent sudden deaths of some family menber indicate internal fighting among the princes. If the Saudi ruling family were to fall apart, the resouces needed to keep the middle east from going up in smoke would completely throw the train off the tracks. We would be reacting to situations and no longer attempting to fix the problem.
The result would be a world wide panic and deflationary spiral that I can't even grasp, as to it's effects. I am sure that someone has.
I doubt the true bombers identities will ever be known but it is a good guess Al Qaeda is at the center of the activity. The House of Sa'ud will do nothing until it is attacked. Meanwhile they go after those who cannot protect themselves, namely guests of Saudi Arabia who under that nation's oldest traditions should be safe.
The Arabs are indeed sliding on a slippery slope.
I predict that the toppling of Saddam Hussein will cause the House of Sa'ud to collapse like a house of cards. It is only a matter of when.
We have a media blitz going on here on Evening TV.
"Saudi Arabia-America's ally in the War on Terror".
The ad concudes with a US flag flying next to a Saudi flag.
So they are shovelling money at the network denial factory.
Islam is near the root of it, but then, after all that's occurred in recent years, I'm hardly telling FReepers anything they don't already know.
Freedom, Wealth, and Peace,
Francis W. Porretto
Visit the Palace Of Reason: http://palaceofreason.com
The Saudi population, that is Saudi Citizens, has probably tripled in the last 20 years. In the glory days, when they were just encouraging people to settle down , any Saudi who wanted transportation dropped by a government office and was given the ubiquitous white king cab Toyota pickup. Wrecked it? No biggie, get another.
Bad stomch pains? No problem, fly you to Vienna. Need food, need a loan, need some land? Hey, no problem. This oil-fed idyll lasted about 5 years. But Saudis began marrying at a dizzying rate. Two, Three, Four Wives. Ditch one, pick up one or two more. (some Saudis have only one wife) At any rate it is not unusual for a man of 40 to have 40 children ... or more!
What was a cool deal for 5 Million Saudis could not be extended to 20 Million. And, these people do not really have a work-culture. Everything from garbage pick-up to rocket science is handled by foreign workers. Sure, as time goes by, more and more Saudis are somewhat gainfully employed. Someday, it might even reach 50%! Meantime, the economy has to support them, and still pay a couple of million foreign workers to keep the place going.
No one is more painfully aware of the situation than the 3,000 Princes of the blood and the 5,000 other unblooded princes, all of whom are on the national payroll for dizzying sums. However, their deal is getting tougher, too. They have to pay utility bills now, and actually pay for airline tickets! Maybe. Frankly, these princes and their families are terrified and many are as pathologically stupid as only the inbred can be. They will try anything to stay in power: Payoff to bin Laden, work for the government, run away to Switzerland, become brain surgeons, join the secret police ... anything!
The problem is that if you took every princely dime and spread it around, it would only be a temporary fix. There are millions of unemployed and probably unemployable young Saudis out there without an allahdam thing to do, except make trouble.
I want them dead.
You're 100% correct, Ivan. They certainly should be in the Axis of Evil. How I despise seeing our government kowtow to a "prince" who employs torturers.