A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Muhammad Bin Nayef Story: Tomorrow's Saudi Media

Unless something major comes out I'm going to let the Saudi media deal with the Muhammad bin Nayef attack this weekend, but tomorrow's headlines just went up at the Al-Sharq al-Awsat website, and besides the main story, the front page has some related links as well, and the local press is also playing it fairly heavily (Al-Riyadh here; Al-Watan; the Saudi-owned Al-Hayat; for those without Arabic, Arab News' front page has several stories; Saudi Gazette here; Al-Sharq al-Awsat's English pages don't have Saturday's headlines up yet as I write this Friday night.) And that's just the first look at tomorrow morning's papers.

A quick early read would be that the Saudi domestic media and Saudi-owned international media have decided to play this up in order to generate outrage, rather than sweep it under the rug or dismiss it.

I've added a "Muhammad bin Nayef" category to the "categories" labels in the right column, by the way, which will bring up all my posts on the subject on one page.


LJ Marczak said...

One would expect initial reports on a horrific event like this to be partial and perhaps even contradictory.

But there is a puzzle here: how did the Prince escape with minor injuries?

The SG article states that "The explosion of a device hidden on the attacker’s body left bystanders faced with a “horrific scene” as his head, legs and hands were all blown apart, while the Prince suffered only minor injuries to his left hand." SG also says that the bomb was detonated one meter from the Prince.

AlHayat says the "suicide's" body was cut into 65 pieces by the blast. Also that the blast took place during "taftish" - which one would presume would be conducted more than one meter from the Prince.

I'm not familiar with explosives. But it seems to me that an explosion of that force one meter or so from the Prince should have resulted in more than minor damages to his hand.

The explanation is perhaps in the last paragraph of the Hayat article where it seems the bomb may have been inside (dakhil) the terrorist's body?

Michael Collins Dunn said...

I agree the different accounts don't reconcile well. All I can think of is if it was a relatively small charge -- say a grenade -- under his clothing and the clothing prevented shrapnel from spreading far. Either that or the full charge did not explode. Or else there were casualties and they're being kept quiet.

If any readers might have a sense of what sort of inspection the Saudis used in this case it would be helpful: the references to "taftish" make me mentally picture something like an airport checkpoint but it could be something as simple as a single metal detector. Or less.