Mourning the Firstborn

By Pat Roush

Wednesday, May 21, 2003 1:00 a.m.

I found it interesting to read that the Saudi deputy governor of Riyadh, Sheik Abdullah al-Blehed’s firstborn son, Muhammad, was killed in the bombing of an upscale residential compound in the kingdom last week.

Sheik Blehed has been at the center of most of the deals that I had arranged for the release of my daughters from Saudi Arabia over the almost two decades that they have been gone. He is the right hand-man of the powerful Prince Salmon, governor of the capital city of Riyadh and full brother of the king. He was there in 1986 – when the Saudis were going to return my girls – only to have that deal dashed by the State Department in the 11th hour of the final negotiations for the then 4- and 8-year-old girls to get on a plane for the U.S.

After this first betrayal by the U.S. State Department, the sheik’s associate told me, “You will see your children if and when we decide. Your government won’t help you and your State Department doesn’t want you.”

Yes, and Sheik Blehed was there in 1995-96 when former U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Raymond Mabus went to every major Saudi prince to ask for the girls’ release – only to have the State Department drop the deal after a promise for the girls’ release was secured from the crown prince. I met the sheik personally in June 1995 when I went to Prince Salmon’s palace to ask him for the return of Alia and Aisha. The governor wouldn’t agree to a meeting, but he sent Deputy Gov. Blehed into the majlis where I was waiting with two officers from the U.S. Embassy.

As I sat there with my abaya (black cape) and black headscarf tightly wrapped around my head so that no hair would show (per Islamic rules) between Sheik Blehed and the representatives from the embassy, I looked Blehed in the eyes and asked him for the lives of my daughters. “Please, your excellency, allow my daughters to come home with me to America. I am their mother and I love them and they love me. Please, I beg you.”

“That’s not possible. I know you are their mother. But we cannot allow that. It is a private matter, and we do not get involved in such things.”

My pleas and tears were met with a heart of stone from Sheik Blehed and I was forced to leave my little girls behind when I came back to the States. Sheik Blehed and his boss had no mercy for a mother and her daughters. Now his 29- year-old son, firstborn – which is a special position in an Arab family – has been so badly mangled in the explosion that killed at least seven other Saudis, their attackers and many innocent Westerns, that his father did not even recognize his corpse.

I couldn’t help but think of that Old Testament story in the Book of Exodus where Moses asked pharaoh to let his people go but instead pharaoh gave an order to kill the firstborn of Israel. However, God in his infinite love for the Jewish people saved their children and the firstborn of Egypt died instead.

This new series of bombings in Saudi Arabia opens up a new era for the Saudis. It is the worst thing to hit them since 9-11. Saudis themselves have been killed and injured and the populace knows it is no longer safe in the kingdom – not even in their compounds with security guards and high walls, which proved to be worthless in the end.

Sheik Blehed is angry, and so are his other sons who lived in the same compound where the firstborn son was killed. They described the security lapses at the compound and the need for a crackdown. His son, Fahd expressed his frustration, “The government has to be harder on them, especially the religious people who are even brainwashing young children in mosques.”

This incubator of hatred inside Saudi Arabia was allowed to flourish and grow stronger and stronger because the House of Saud bankrolled the Wahhabist gang of hoodlums that is trying to infiltrate the entire world and destroy everyone who is not one of them.

The very same government that Sheik Blehed works for is responsible for the loss of his firstborn son. It is the head of the viper. The Saudi government has a long history of funding charities that fuel terrorist organizations like Hamas and al-Qaida. Even as recently as October 2002, a prominent Hamas leader was hosted in Saudi Arabia and reassured of continuing aid. The Muslim World League – and their many off-shoot organizations – play a prominent role in the spilling-out of hatred toward Christians, Jews and Westerners all over the world through their mosques and madrassas. Saudi money supports it, and the roots of these organizations go back to the Saudi government.

The Saudi elite and royalty are paying the price for this duplicitous tightrope walk which they have performed for so many years. Now the tables are turned. This vicious serpent has bitten the very hand that feeds it. My condolences to the sheik.