Saudi village of Al-Musawara now almost free of terrorists and criminals

Saudi Special Forces troops stand guard in the village of Awamiya in Qatif governorate on August 9, 2017 following a security campaign against criminals and terrorists. (REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser)
Updated 14 August 2017

Saudi village of Al-Musawara now almost free of terrorists and criminals

AL-AWAMIYAH, Eastern Province: Saudi Special Security Forces (SSSF) have almost completely rid Al-Musawara of terrorists and criminal elements that have laid siege to the Shiite-majority village for months.
In intense battles over the last four days, a number of wanted terrorists surrendered, were arrested or were killed in the small village, restoring residents’ hope that life can return back to normal in a place where Shiite and Sunni Muslims lived side by side for centuries.
In May, Qatif governorate began bulldozing Al-Musawara, a 400-year-old part of Al-Awamiyah that had been taken over by armed militants who terrorized residents for the past six years.
Demolition of the farming community of 6,000 residents began in order to develop the area into a shopping and recreational complex that can serve the needs of the communities there.
But when bulldozers moved in to level the dilapidated village, they were met with heavy fire, including rocket-propelled grenades.
“This village has existed for years, and there was never really a problem here,” said one SSSF member who cannot be identified for his safety and because he is not authorized to speak to the media.
“Six years ago this was a normal yet aging village. When the development project began and residents moved out, wanted persons took shelter there and began targeting police patrols. Several officers were killed.”
Falah Al-Khalidi, acting governor of Qatif, told Arab News that residents who wanted to leave the besieged village were relocated to furnished apartments at the government’s expense, and were later given fair compensation for their property.
“There are 488 buildings in Al-Musawara,” Al-Khalidi said. “Compensation has been paid in the amount of SR900 million ($240 million), far more than the properties are worth.”
As residents accepted the compensation and left Al-Musawara, many buildings were abandoned and the village became a ghost town, with drug dealers, arms merchants, terrorists and other criminals moving in.
“Wanted terrorists and other criminals from outside Qatif province began coming to Al-Musawara and staying because they knew police couldn’t get them there,” Al-Khalidi said.
An Interior Ministry source said construction workers, civilians and security patrols were targeted and killed, including a 2-year-old Saudi and a Pakistani man.
The gunmen had tried to stop redevelopment work and fired at security personnel and passers-by.
In addition to the death of the Saudi child and Pakistani national, 10 others, including six Saudis, were seriously injured in a single incident.
As Arab News was escorted in an armored personnel carrier on Tuesday, it saw destroyed buildings riddled with bullet holes, burned-out businesses, and wrecked and abandoned cars.
It looked like a war zone due to the fierce fight against security forces that had mobilized to protect residents.
Even with 95 percent of Al-Musawara under control, according to the Interior Ministry, there were shots fired near the armored cars carrying Arab News and ministry officials. This resulted in a quick escape.
“There are still eight or nine people we’re looking for, and we’ll find them,” the ministry source said.
“We expect that in a couple of days, the area will be completely under the control of security services so demolition can be completed and the development begun.”
Arab News saw Pakistani construction workers and bulldozer operators wearing bulletproof jackets and helmets for their protection.
The development project will take two years, and will include a mall and entertainment venues, among other things.


Diplomatic Quarter: Envoys extend Eid greetings to Saudis

Updated 28 May 2020

Diplomatic Quarter: Envoys extend Eid greetings to Saudis

RIYADH: Foreign ambassadors to Saudi Arabia have been passing on their Eid Al-Fitr greetings to the government and people of the Kingdom.

The US Mission in the Kingdom, tweeted: “The US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia John Abizaid on behalf of all Americans living and working in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia greeted saying, I would like to take this opportunity to wish Eid Mubarak to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and all our Saudi friends and colleagues as you celebrate this special holiday.

“May your Eid be joyous, even in this challenging time as we work together to fight (the) coronavirus (disease) COVID-19.”

In a tweet, the Australian ambassador in Riyadh, Ridwaan Jadwat, said: “Wishing everyone celebrating the end of Ramadan a joyous Eid Al-Fitr on behalf of my family and our embassy team: #EidMubarak!”

Posting a video message to the Saudi people, he added: “May I say on behalf of my family and the team here at the Australian Embassy in Riyadh, I hope that you have a safe, happy and blessed Eid Al-Fitr.”

Indian Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Dr. Ausaf Sayeed, said: “May you all be blessed with #Peace, #Joy and #Love on #EidUlFitr and always! #EidMubarak to you and your families.”

Eid Al-Fitr celebrations this year have been curtailed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The holy month of Ramadan and the festival of Eid in 2020 will be remembered as a time when traditions had to be broken to stop the spread of the deadly virus.

In a message addressing Saudis, the Pakistani community in the Kingdom, and Muslims around the world, Pakistan’s consul general in Jeddah, Khalid Majid, said: “This year, we are celebrating Eid in a very simple and somber manner. Undoubtedly, the world is passing through one of the most difficult times due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, which has badly affected our socio-economic life.”

He added that many people had already lost their lives to the disease while large numbers were still battling with it.

“Besides, the death of around 100 of our Pakistani brethren in a recent PIA (Pakistan International Airlines) plane crash at Karachi has also left us sad and gloomy. My sincere prayers are with all those who lost their lives and also with their bereaved families. At the same time, I also sincerely pray for the good health and speedy recovery of all the COVID-19 patients.

“My deep appreciation and prayers for continued success also goes to all our frontline soldiers including doctors, paramedics, law enforcement agencies and all other involved departments, who are fighting against this deadly virus, at the risk of their own lives.

“I take this opportunity to convey my deepest gratitude to King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for taking very effective measures against the COVID-19 pandemic. Provision of best health facilities and efficient other services across the Kingdom are instrumental in effectively tackling the situation. It is evident from these steps that the recovery rate in the Kingdom is one of the highest in the world,” Majid said.

“I advise all Pakistanis living in Saudi Arabia to continue abiding by all local health and safety instructions, including those relating to social distancing, so that we can all be safe and play our part in strengthening the efforts of the Saudi government in defeating this pandemic.”