2004 Khobar massacre
|2004 Khobar Massacre|
The Oasis Compound, 6 days later (bullet holes still visible).
|Location||Khobar, Saudi Arabia|
|Date||29-30 May 2004
6:45 am – 6:30 am (UTC+3)
|Attack type||Hostage crisis, mass murder, Terrorism|
|Deaths||19 foreigners, 3 locals|
|Perpetrators||The Jerusalem Squadron, Al-Qaeda|
In the 29 May 2004 Al-Khobar massacres in Saudi Arabia, seventeen terrorists, members of the The Jerusalem Squadron, attacked third country national personnel of two oil industry installations, the Arab Petroleum Investments Corporation building and the Petroleum Centre, and a foreign workers' housing complex, the Oasis Compound, in the Gulf city of Khobar, Saudi Arabia.
- 1 Casualties and survivors
- 2 Intended targets, motivation and attribution for the attack
- 3 Timeline of the attack
- 4 Aftermath of the attacks
- 5 See also
- 6 References
- 7 External links
Casualties and survivors
After a 25-hour siege, 41 hostages were freed, 25 were injured and 22 were killed, among them 19 foreigners from nine countries. The nationalities of those killed included eight people from India, three from the Philippines, two from Sri Lanka, one each from Sweden, Italy, England, the United States, South Africa and Egypt.
14 attackers were captured or killed, and 3 escaped. Some accounts of the attack suppose that Saudi security forces facilitated the perpetrators' escape, given that it was broad daylight and the Oasis compound was surrounded by hundreds of armed soldiers, police officers, and reporters at the time the terrorists managed to escape.
Intended targets, motivation and attribution for the attack
A previously unheard-of militant group calling itself "The Jerusalem Squadron" -- a local Saudi Arabia-based faction of al-Qaeda -- claimed responsibility and said it was attacking "Zionists and Crusaders" who are in Saudi Arabia to "steal our oil and resources." An audio tape was released in which Abdulaziz al-Muqrin, thought to be one of al-Qaeda's leaders in Saudi Arabia, took responsibility. According to the then Saudi Ambassador in Washington, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the goal of the terrorists was to shake Saudi Arabia's stability and economy.
Timeline of the attack
Sources for attack details
Al-Khobar Petroleum Centre
At 0645 a group of four terrorists, separate from the group that attacked the Oasis compound, arrive in a vehicle and shoot at guards and employees around the front gate of the Al-Khobar Petroleum Centre, which is next to the DHL building on the main Doha to Khobar road. An American and two Filipinos protecting the American were killed. Police arrived and killed the two gunmen while a third was killed running from the building. A fourth escaped over a wall and into the Al Hada compound. He made his way up to the Holiday Inn and fired at it, causing no casualties, before hijacking a car.
Arab Petroleum Investments Corporation Building
At 7:15 terrorists in a vehicle attacked the Apicorp Compound. The compound is a quarter`of a mile away down the Khobar Dammam highway next to Raka compound. They used an RPG on the gatehouse and killed two security guards. A school bus was coming out at the time and was shot at, killing a 10-year old Egyptian boy who was the son of an Apicorp employee.
Michael Hamilton, British, a leading member of the Apicorp Corporation, who had just dropped his wife off, arrived at the gate. His car was shot at and the gunmen dragged him out of the car still alive and tied him to the back of their four-wheel-drive vehicle, driving up the Raka road to the Dammam highway. Hamilton's facial features were unrecognizable when his body and car were later found dumped under a causeway. The terrorist vehicle with Hamilton tied behind made it as far as the intersection lights before a Saudi civilian rammed their car off the road. The terrorist shot the Saudi dead before he could get out of his car. The police shot the terrorists before they could make their escape.
Oasis 3 Compound
At 7:30 six terrorists scaled the walls of Oasis 3 compound. Another five drove up to the main Vehicle Check Point. A civilian car was in front of the attackers and a school bus behind in the queue. The checkpoint had two closed gates. A car drove through one gate, was inspected after the first gate closed, and then the second gate opened to let the car through. On the morning of the attack, the second was continuously open, so when the first gate opened, the terrorists drove straight through the second gate. While doing so, a terrorist opened the sunroof of their vehicle and killed the two armed guards with a machine gun. Turning back, he fired on the school bus, killing two children and wounding four children. 5-year-old and 7-year-old children were critically wounded.
The terrorists then drove into the main compound area. A security guard then got the children off the school bus and conducted them to a safe area in the compound.
They then exited their vehicle and moved on foot into the residential complex. They kicked in the doors and slit the throats of any non-Muslims they could find. Among those murdered were an Italian cook, Antonio Amato (35), and a Swedish maître d'hôtel, Magnus Johansson (50), both of whom had taken jobs in Saudi Arabia for the higher pay. Both were beheaded. The terrorists killed one American—Frank Floyd, an assistant marketing director for Resources Sciences Arabia Ltd. Most of the killings took place inside the compound's Italian restaurant, Casa Mia, where Amato and Johansson worked. According to an account by terrorist Fawaz al-Nashimi, captives were also executed with bullets to the head.
In the morning, the terrorists ate breakfast in the restaurant. They then returned to the first floor with the intention of killing Hindus. Eight Indians were killed. Al-Nashmi lists 3 cohorts, Nimr al-Baqmi, Husayn, and Nadir.
Then they took 54 hostages and put them on the sixth floor of the Soha Towers Hotel in the far east of the compound, attached to the Soha Oasis. Booby-traps were placed at the exits. Al-Nashmi and two cohorts then escaped over the wall and stole a car to make a getaway. This was despite the compound being surrounded by soldiers and reporters with live television. "We were now on a road with trees shadowing the way, and all the security forces thought we were still in the hotel," Nashmi wrote. Nimr al-Baqmi was wounded while firing out of his vehicle, and was captured.
By 21:30 Saudi Special Emergency Forces had surrounded the complex and extracted the school bus children who were hiding in an underground parking garage. A few British nursery workers were rescued from the Oasis compound, and were returned to the Las Dunas compound, where their families and friends had been waiting.
At 2:00 the next morning Saudi Special Emergency Forces attempted to enter the booby-trapped hotel. Several were injured in two explosions, and the group pulled back after receiving threats from the remaining terrorists to kill the hostages. At 0230 two American military officers were injured and subsequently admitted to SAAD Specialist hospital and later flown out to Kuwait.
Two British C130s landed at Dhahran military airbase at 4:00 and according to the British ambassador, members of SO12 provided "logistical" support to the Saudi Forces.
Saudi forces in four National Guard Kawasaki KC113 helicopters arrived at 0630 and were lowered onto the roof of the Soha Hotel to storm the building, while ground attackers fired into the building as a diversion. Following the operation, Saudi authorities announced that all the hostages were free and that they had killed two terrorists and captured another. Apparently, most of the attackers had fled before the Saudi raid.
During the same day, shooting broke out in downtown Khobar, about twenty minutes away from the Oasis 3 compound. A vehicle was reported to be driving around the Khobar area with four armed men on board. They proceeded to kill and injure another 11 security and military personnel located at approximately five other compounds with one being confirmed as the Golden Belt.
Emergency response in schools away from attack sites
The British and American schools around Khobar and Dhahran were put on lock-down during the terror attacks. In Dhahran, British Grammar School and the Dhahran elementary and middle schools as well as high school (all on the same campus next to the American consulate), children were not released from school until over an hour after the usual time.
International Indian School, Dammam (IISD) is a school about 30 minutes away in Dammam. Several of their students lived in the Dhahran/Khobar area. The school was on lockdown until it was time for school to dismiss, with many of the kids not knowing what was happening. "I personally saw several humvees driving to Oasis on the other side of the road as I pulled into Rolaco in my school bus. Apache helicopters were flying in the sky, and I didn't know what was going on until i got home." said Sami Patel.
Aftermath of the attacks
Following the attacks, some foreign workers either fled the country or were evacuated by the companies they worked for, as they felt it was too dangerous to stay. Several thousand other Americans and other Westerners, notably those who worked for Saudi Aramco and lived on Saudi Aramco's Dhahran compound nearby, decided to stay in the area.
World oil prices soared to $42 a barrel after the attack.
Several of the nearby compounds like al Mohawis, Rolaco, TIG, al Bustan, and others had around 3-6 Saudi army soldiers stationed at the gates checking each car thoroughly prior to allowing them in(including residents). Security at Oasis was hyped to the point where there was a lane out of each of the surrounding streets that was taken and dedicated to security lines. Each lane was blocked from the road by barricades, and eyewitnesses describe it as pretty much impenetrable. There were several stages of army protection including thorough checkups. Each army personnel was armed with machine guns.
Several schools shut down a few weeks early including ISG schools like Dhahran Academy and ISG Dammam.
- Worldwide Incidents Tracking System Report 200458288
- "Lessons from al-Qaeda's Attack on the Khobar Compound", by Abdul Hameed Bakier, 11 August 2006, The Jamestown Foundation
- "Westerners, Saudis, Egyptian killed in assaults on Saudi oil facilities". Middle East Online. 29 May 2004. Retrieved 31 December 2012.
- MacFarquhar, Neil (31 May 2004). "Saudi Military Storms Complex To Free Hostages". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 April 2010.
- "Saudis storm besieged compound" on CNN, 30 May 2004
- Khbar: An Insider's Story, 8 June 2004, Tim Blair
- "Leading a horse to water", 1 June 2004, Belmont Club
- "Negotiating hostage crises with the new terrorists", by Adam Dolnik, Keith M. Fitzgerald, Praeger, 2007, ISBN 978-0-275-99748-9
- "Midnight at the Oasis", by Michael Griffin, June 2004, NthPosition
- "Al-Qaida's Next Action HeroAn insider account of the Khobar assault", by Daniel Kimmage, 16 June 2004, Slate (magazine)
- 'They killed two security guards then shot at the school van' Owen Bowcott, The Guardian, 31 May 2004
- Magnus died during escape
- Georgia man confirms his brother was American killed in Saudi terrorist attack
- Nakhoul, Samia (2 June 2004). "Powell confident in Saudi oil production". The Boston Globe.
- Banerjee, Neela (2 June 2004). "Oil Prices Set Another Record, Topping $42". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 April 2010.[dead link]
- "Lessons from al-Qaeda's Attack on the Khobar Compound", by Abdul Hameed Bakier, August 11, 2006, The Jamestown Foundation
- "Saudis storm besieged compound" on CNN, 2004-5-30
- "Al-Qaida's Next Action HeroAn insider account of the Khobar assault", by Daniel Kimmage, June 16, 2004, Slate (magazine)