Riyadh compound bombings

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Riyadh compound bombings
Location Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Date 12 May 2003
Target Three compounds frequented by Westerners
Attack type
suicide attack
Deaths 39
Non-fatal injuries

The Riyadh compound bombings took place on 12 May 2003, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. 39 people were killed, and over 160 wounded. A smaller campaign of insurgency in Saudi Arabia had started in November 2000 when car bombings were carried out targeting and killing individual expatriates in Riyadh and other cities.

As early as February 2003, the US State Department issued travel warnings that Westerners could be targeted by terrorists. The warnings followed an explosion at a private residence where weapons, explosives, cash, and false documents were subsequently discovered. In early May 2003, the US State Department warned that terrorists were in the final stages of planning terrorist attacks in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi government also warned of this, and issued an alert for 19 men believed to be members of Al-Qaeda planning attacks.[1]

The attack[edit]

Late on 12 May, several vehicles containing heavily armed assault teams arrived at three Riyadh compounds: The Dorrat Al Jadawel, a compound owned by the London-based MBI International and Partners subsidiary Jadawel International, the Al Hamra Oasis Village, and the Vinnell Corporation Compound, a compound occupied by a Virginia-based defense contractor that was training the Saudi National Guard.[2] All contained large numbers of Americans, Westerners, and non-Saudi Arabs.

Around 11:15 pm, several gunmen infiltrated the Al Hamra Oasis Village, a compound inhabited mainly by Westerners. They killed the guards at the gate and then opened fire at residents, killing both Westerners and Saudis and then detonated a car bomb.[3] The next compound attacked was the Jadawel compound, though the assailants did not manage to get in the compound. They detonated a truck bomb outside the compound and killed themselves.[3]

The final target was the Vinnell compound. The terrorists shot the Saudi soldiers guarding the compound and then detonated a truck bomb in front of a residential high-rise. Gunmen also fired at residents inside the compound.[3]


The then US President George W. Bush was informed of the attacks while on a national trip, and called them "ruthless murder".[4] Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah condemned the attacks as the work of "monsters" and vowed to destroy the terrorist group that ordered them. After the attacks, Saudi Arabia began a harsh crackdown on the insurgency, arresting more than 600 terrorist suspects and seizing bomb-making materials, bomb belts, and thousands of weapons.[5]

On 7 June 2003, an official Saudi statement[6] identified twelve men as the perpetrators of this attack. According to that statement, the identification was based on DNA found at the scene. The names were Al-Qaeda member Khaled Muhammad bin Muslim Al-Arawi Al-Juhani, Muhammed Othman Abdullah Al-Walidi Al-Shehri, Hani Saeed Ahmad Al Abdul-Karim Al-Ghamdi, Jubran Ali Ahmad Hakami Khabrani, Khaled bin Ibrahim Mahmoud, Mehmas bin Muhammed Mehmas Al-Hawashleh Al-Dosari, Muhammed bin Shadhaf Ali Al-Mahzoum Al-Shehri, Hazem Muhammed Saeed Kashmiri, Majed Abdullah Sa'ad bin Okail, Bandar bin Abdul-Rahman Menawer Al-Rahimi Al-Mutairi, Abdul-Karim Muhammed Jubran Yazji, and Abdullah Farres bin Jufain Al-Rahimi Al-Mutairi.

Abdul Rahman Jabarah was killed in a gunfight with Saudi security forces, believed to have been involved in the attack, as was Zubayr Al-Rimi.

There was one more large-scale attack in Saudi Arabia in 2003. On 8 November, on the day the US State Department warned of further attacks in that country, a suicide truck bomb detonated outside the Al-Mohaya housing compound in Laban Valley, West of Riyadh, killing at least 17 people and wounding 122. Those killed in the attack were all Arabs, many of them workers from countries such as Egypt and Lebanon. Among the injured were people from India, Bangladesh, Philippines, and Eritrea.[7]

Saif al-Adel and Saad Bin Laden are believed to have ordered the attacks.[8] However, according to Saad's family and an interrogation of al-Qaeda spokesman Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, Saad and al-Adel were in Iranian custody at the time of the bombing.[9][10][11] Saad was killed in a drone strike in Pakistan in 2009.[12]


Altogether at least 27 people died from several different countries:[13][14]

In addition, twelve suicide bombers died, bringing the entire toll from the attacks to 39. More than 160 other people were injured, including more than two dozen Americans.

In October 2003, as-Sahab released the videotaped wills of the bombers Abu Umar al-Ta'ifi (also known as Hazem al-Kashmiri), Muhammad bin Shazzaf al-Shahri (also known as Abu Tareq al-Asswad) and Muhammad bin Ad al-Wahhab al-Maqit, recorded two weeks before the attacks.[15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Al Qaeda Plot Foiled By Saudi Security Force". Susris.com. Retrieved 2014-03-11. 
  2. ^ "One bombed compound owned by pro-Western Saudi". Articles.cnn.com. Retrieved 2014-03-11. 
  3. ^ a b c "What Really Happened When Al Qaeda attacked". Strategypage.com. 2003-09-03. Retrieved 2014-03-11. 
  4. ^ "President Bush condemns Riyadh bombing as 'ruthless murder'". KUNA. 13 May 2003. Retrieved 31 December 2012. 
  5. ^ "600 Suspects Nabbed in Crackdown, Says Turki". Arabnews.com. Retrieved 2014-03-11. 
  6. ^ "Riyadh names 12 perpetrators". Saudinf.com. 2003-06-07. Retrieved 2014-03-11. 
  7. ^ "Saudis expect another attack any time". Edition.cnn.com. Retrieved 2014-03-11. 
  8. ^ Thomas JoscelynMay 18, 2011 (2011-05-18). "Analysis: Al Qaeda's interim emir and Iran". The Long War Journal. Retrieved 2014-03-11. 
  9. ^ http://www.aawsat.net/2010/03/article55251341
  10. ^ http://www.aawsat.net/2009/12/article55252427
  11. ^ http://kronosadvisory.com/Kronos_US_v_Sulaiman_Abu_Ghayth_Statement.1.pdf
  12. ^ "Bin Laden son 'probably killed'". BBC News. 2009-07-23. Retrieved 2014-03-11. 
  13. ^ "Hunt for Riyadh bomb masterminds". Articles.cnn.com. Retrieved 2014-03-11. 
  14. ^ "Riyadh bombings claim 9th American". Articles.cnn.com. Retrieved 2014-03-11. 
  15. ^ Weimann, Gabriel. "Terror on the Internet", 2006. p. 45 & 62

External links[edit]