Internecine Wahhabi violence in Saudi Arabia

By any objective standard, the wave of deadly gunplay in Saudi Arabia in recent days is an internecine dispute between rival Wahhabi fundamentalist factions—although that is not how it is being portrayed in the media. Today’s claims by Saudi authorities that two al-Qaeda bigwigs are among the 15 killed in three days of fierce gun-battles in Riyadh and al-Qassim will doubtless grab big headlines in tommorrow’s papers—although al-Qaeda commander for Saudi Arabia, Saleh al-Oufi, is said to remain at large. (Pakistan Daily Times, April 8) Less likely to grab headlines is the sentencing by a Jiddah court of over 100 men arrested at a private party to prison terms (of up to two years) and flogging (up to 200 lashes) for the vague crime of "behaving like women" (presumably code for homosexuality). (Human Rights Watch, April 7) But then, this is probably lenient treatment compared to what the al-Qaeda types would dish out if they acheived power—in Taliban Afghanistan, suspected sodomites were punished by having a wall toppled over them by a tank (usually resulting in death). (See WW4 REPORT #17)