Thursday, July 8, 2010

the slow move east: 48 Hours in Jeddah

Location of JeddahImage via Wikipedia
hannah of FS blog, the slow move east remembers the second anniversary of the attack on the US Consulate General in Istanbul today. She reflected on "those who give their lives so that we can safely carry out American business overseas" and reposted something she wrote after touring the grounds of the Consulate General in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and seeing the memorials to the staff who died there in the 2004 al Qaeda attack. Excerpt below, but read the whole thing here.
So many news stories, including the coverage of the attack in Yemen last month, simply note that no Americans died while ignoring the fact that Americans make up a tiny percentage of any embassy community. Some of my closest friends and colleagues at the embassy are Somali, Sudanese, Lebanese, Sri Lankan, Syrian, and Jordanian - and that's just in my section.
I had an hour or so to kill while my friend Joe finished up his work for the week, so he introduced me to Ty, one of our security officers there, who gave me a tour of the compound. It's the old embassy from the 1950s, so it's somewhat rundown and located on an enormous lot - we had to tour on fourwheelers, because it would have taken an hour or more to walk it all. We ended our tour at the memorials to the five people killed in the 2004 attack, between the front gate and the main consulate building. The granite blocks are placed haphazardly on the lawn, where the victims fell. Ty told me that the attackers chased one of the embassy cars, carrying an American woman, towards the gates. One of the guards grabbed the American, tossed her into the safe haven right at the entrance, and ran the other way to distract the attackers. He was killed almost instantly. The other four victims, who just happened to be outside at the time, knew where she was hiding, and they were executed over a ninety-minute period because they refused to give up her location and her life. The Saudi government gave their families permanent legal status in the Kingdom for their sacrifices. The US government gave them plaques of commemoration.

Holy mother of goat and her crazy nephews!  Plaques!

Addendum: Speaking of plaques -- a blog friend who was mandatorily retired sometime back added that he/she inquired about extending a few months at post so a dependent could complete some local obligations and was told to pack out as scheduled and not bother asking for an extension.  Then later he/she got something  that says his/her years of service and experience were greatly valued. It had a nice signature, too!  What was it?  He/she got one of them plaques, of course! A great send off gesture ...

1 comment:

hannah said...

Oy. What a nightmare. Thanks for the reshare, DS.