Threat Assessment of Al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia is one of the largest nations of the Middle East and the Worlds largest fourteenth state. It encompasses an area of 856,355 sq miles and has a population of about 27million people of whom about 2 are foreigners. The Saudi population is intense on the Western and Eastern Coasts as well as the Oases found within the interior parts of the country. The alignment exhibited is a result of the populations elusion of the large desert and semi-arid land found in most parts of the country. The country has its capital in Riyadh. Quite a number of terrorist groups have been linked with the country the predominant one being Al Qaeda which is blamed for the September 11th attack in U.S among other suicide attacks around the world.

This nation is recognized as one of the most authoritarian nations in the world ranking number seven out of the hundred and sixty seven countries rated. It is ruled under the government of monarchy where hereditary type of leadership is exercised.  Besides its a strong ally of U.S dating back to 1931. The country therefore faces challenge from extreme militant groups especially Al Qaeda which oppose close ties with U.S and its loyalists. Al Qaeda has a strong network extending its operations to multiple countries in Asia. It has been linked with many terrorist attacks in the world including 2004 March 11th bombing in Madrid as well as 1998 attacks on American Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in Africa among other suicidal attacks (Margulies, 2003).

Threat Assessment
The threat that has been posed by the domestic and international terrorism is so enormous that the world populations no longer live in peace and freedom. The ability of many states and their security organs to deal with the menace is of great concern. Moreover, the upsurge of terrorism activities around the globe is perturbing given the outsized number of innocent lives lost in the attacks. Al Qaeda has in the past proven to be a dangerous group especially to the U.S. The group leadership has declared a war against U.S and its allies and therefore its intentions are well known. However, assumption should not be used while assessing the intention of this group since it may be in a stage of identifying new targets. To begin with, Al Qaeda has leaders who are well informed on matters of war (Hayes, Brunner Rowen, 2007). Their leader Osama Bin Laden acquired skills while he was a soldier in the U.S force and therefore is averse with the information on the target. Additionally, the warlord is deputized by an Egyptian surgeon and Bin Ladens top adviser, Dr.  HYPERLINK httpwww.infoplease.comidA0886167 Ayman al-Zawahiri who is linked with many atrocities including the bombing of U.S embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. The surgeon is considered to be the most active radical in the recent past (Margulies, 2003). He therefore enforces this group making it to be more lethal.

The structure of Al Qaeda is so unique in such a way that it operates in many countries in units and these units network but the unit members do not know other members of the group in another unit. Additionally, the group can recruit youths and adults from anywhere in the world and the veterans as well as radicals from Afghanistan provide a suitable option (Hayes, Brunner Rowen, 2007). Due to the fact that the group had declared holy war on America and its allies, the group members as well as the affiliate groups are motivated to carry out attacks on philosophical ground and not necessarily on direct support from Al Qaeda. Moreover, this group is composed of extremists from Muslim background who believe in terrorism as holy war against the west.

Groups capability
Al Qaeda is purported to be financed by various charitable organizations in Saudi Arabia. These organizations were formed in early sixties to spread Islam in the region but later got involved in the funding of terrorist groups. One of the prominent NGO is International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO) which is alleged to have financially supported many terrorist groups outside Saudi Arabia such as militant groups in Bosnia among others (Hayes, Brunner Rowen, 2007). This financial aid extended to Al Qaeda increases the capability of this group to carry out an international terrorism activity hence a threat to the world and more so the U.S.

This terrorist group has displayed a certain degree of effectiveness in its communication link. Though not affirmed, Al Qaeda may have taken advantage of clandestine operations to successfully convey information to its militants who subsequently carry out massive attacks. However, use of local human intelligence to provide tip-off would help the security agents intercept communication links of the terrorist group. Besides, their communication through internet, via mail or letters risks being intercepted too. The group has developed online tactics acquired from jihadin website and has carried out attacks in different places though sketchy. This group has networks in many Asian countries and the more it is networked, the more chances of intercepting its communication. Hence its capability is minimized under improved security surveillance (Hayes, Brunner Rowen, 2007).

Al Qaeda has been in existence for many years since its conception way back in 1989 following Soviets withdrawal from Afghanistan. The group has however, remained relevant in the world as far as terrorism is concerned (Margulies, 2003).

Criticality Infrastructure
Al Qaeda is a terrorist group that has a strong international network and operates in many countries including Pakistan which has been cited as a safe haven for the group and its leaders. This group under the leadership of Saudi-born dissident Osama Bin Laden has the potential to disrupt worlds security system, economies of the targeted nations as well as health and safety of the public. The aforementioned infrastructure is under threat from this group (Bevy, 2006).
Al Qaedas foremost goal is to suppress the American influence in the Muslim world in addition to compelling Americans to leave Saudi Arabia and other Muslim nations. Besides, Osamas wish and the ideology of Al Qaeda group are to witness the destruction of Israel as well as tumbling of western autocracy in the Middle East. He has categorically stated in the past that his wish is to unite all followers of the Muslim religion and institute, by force if need be, an Islamic state that adheres to the rule of the first Caliphs (Hayes, L., Brunner, B. and Rowen, B. 2007).
Infrastructures of the western nations are therefore main targets in the Muslim world. However, domestic safety and security of the nations within its operation declines as the terrorist group pursues its mission against the western world. Critical infrastructure include among others oil installations, power plants, embassies of the western countries and their citizens. Being an international organization, Al Qaeda is targeting military bases, transport system, commercial assets, nuclear power plants, public health as well as other key government as well as international facilities (Bevy, 2006). The governments targeted are therefore supposed to increase security surveillance and protection to their citizens.

Saudi Arabian government on the other hand has embarked on measures aimed at improving security within its area of jurisdiction. This was done after the rebellion of Osama Bin Laden who was angered by the decision of Saudi Arabian government to allow U.S troops to use its land to launch attacks against Iraq. The dissident thereafter declared war against the Saudi government and therefore the group poses threat to the country as well (Willis, 2007). Assessment and evaluation of key assets and vulnerable infrastructural spots in the communities is taken into account to update the existing data on security in Saudi Arabia.

Generally, terrorists prefer more attractive targets and the more a government invests more security, the more the chances that the group will substitute its target to a less attractive alternative. To protect these infrastructures, security needs to be beefed up at the targets in addition to improving surveillance as well as erecting physical barriers to stop and search intruders HYPERLINK  (Edwards,  HYPERLINK  Steinhusler, 2007).

Vulnerability Assessment
Security need to be enhanced in aforementioned critical areas. This however depends on the information of vulnerability of these infrastructures to Al Qaeda attacks. This group has shown capability of carrying out international attacks and therefore precautionary measures need to be taken. The U.S government for instance has beefed-up security in the main terrorists targets since September 11th attack in Washington. This has proven to be expensive but worthy. However, Al Qaedas mode of operation is more intricate compared to other known terrorist groups. The group has claimed involvement in numerous attacks worldwide and tracking its movement and next target has proven to be a hard task (Bevy, 2006). Consequently, several nations more so those that are allies of U.S need to protect their critical infrastructure too. This is a wake-up call for the whole world to improve its security system after a series of attacks in several cities including the March 11th 2004 Madrid bombing and June 30th 2007 Glasgow attacks where Al Qaeda has claimed involvement.

General attention has been drawn to the critical areas where security is tremendously tightened. There are possibilities that this group may shift its attention and target more accessible areas that have security lapse compared to the critical infrastructures. Commercial enterprises are not heavily guarded given the fact that security is expensive and investment in it should be justified by the benefits that will accrue thereafter (Hayes, Brunner Rowen, 2007). Furthermore, the security presence within a location should be matched by the existing terrorism threat against that specific location. This assessment therefore helps the security agency to deploy security force to the right locations HYPERLINK  (Edwards and HYPERLINK  Steinhusler, 2007).

Threat management
Threat management can be achieved in a variety of ways among them through risk reduction, risk avoidance and establishment of preventive measures. To begin with, a country threatened like U.S may adopt all the strategies listed. According to  HYPERLINK  Edwards and HYPERLINK  Steinhusler (2007), adoption of preventive strategies is very important in protecting both public as well as the infrastructure under threat. Prevention may therefore include counter-terrorism operations such as interception of communication link, disruption of their plans and plots to carry out attacks. Increasing security surveillance around the country as well as the specific target is a necessity in the protection of infrastructures  HYPERLINK  (Edwards  HYPERLINK  Steinhusler, 2007). It requires additional security guards and personnel but may prove to be beneficial in the long run though costly in the short-term.

Installation of surveillance equipments such as Closed Circuit Television as well as thorough screening of people and stop and search initiative are some of the ways threatened States can apply in the risk reduction strategy. Risk avoidance on other hand involves minimizing loopholes which the group may take advantage of. This has however proven costly in many circumstances. It involves giving in to the demands of terrorist groups and sacrificing daily life activities. Threat management using this strategy is short-lived since people have to continue with their daily life and therefore have to accept risks (Willis, 2007).

The threat assessment provides vital information that would help the security agencies worldwide to prioritize their investment as far as protection of infrastructure and the public safety is concerned. The U.S currently enjoys close ties with Saudi Arabia that dates back to 1931 as earlier stipulated. This relationship was further intensified by the Saudi governments decision to base for the U.S troops during the 1990 invasion of Iraq. The U.S as well as other western world can therefore implement the requirements provided in the assessment report.


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