Publication: Terrorism Focus Volume: 3 Issue: 40


According to the director general of the Saudi Border Guard, Talal Anqawi, the number of infiltrators crossing the Saudi-Iraqi border has declined by 30-40% this year when compared to previous years (Asharq al-Awsat, October 16). Anqawi said that the reasons for the decrease can be attributed to increased regulation of the border area and the use of more modern detection technology, such as heat-detection systems, border observation cameras, night-vision equipment, advanced radar and increased cooperation from the Royal Saudi Air Force (Asharq al-Awsat, October 16). Cross-border infiltrations between Saudi Arabia and Iraq have resulted in Saudi fighters joining the war against U.S. and government forces in Iraq, and it has also contributed to Saudi Arabia’s own domestic insurgency. In the first half of 2005, for instance, Saudi authorities arrested 682 Iraqi infiltrators and smugglers (Asharq al-Awsat, October 16). Riyadh’s costs in protecting its borders jumped from 1.8 billion riyals in 2004 to four billion riyals (more than US$1 billion) by August 2005 (Asharq al-Awsat, October 16). In response to the infiltrations, the Saudi government is planning to construct a 560-mile security fence along the Iraqi border. As stated in an October 10 Terrorism Focus article, “Plans to secure the Iraqi frontier include the construction of fences on either side of a 100-meter ‘no-man’s land’ containing concertina wire obstacles, ultraviolet sensors and night vision cameras with facial recognition technologies, and buried motion detectors.”


In an October 10 broadcast on Pakistani PTV World Television, anchor Salim Safi interviewed Peshawar-based journalist Rahimullah Yusufzai—who interviewed Osama bin Laden in 1998—about the Taliban’s changing media tactics. Taliban fighters have been increasingly videotaping their attacks and have also begun videotaping executions. Just recently, a videotape emerged where a fighter, allegedly Taliban commander Mullah Dadullah, beheaded eight men who were accused of spying for British and U.S. forces (PTV World, October 10; Terrorism Focus, March 21). The films are part of propaganda efforts on behalf of the Taliban to strike fear in government forces and in Afghan civilians. Under the Taliban government, photography and videos were banned, and it is not clear whether this change in tactics has been approved by the Taliban Shura, or whether they are the acts of individual fighters who are learning from the tactics of Iraqi insurgents. While some have claimed that the Afghan Arabs are the ones using these tactics, Yusufzai disagrees since the militants on the films speak Pashto and clearly state their local affiliations.