Jeddah:"Three at the front!", "GAS,GAS,GAS- now!"
An e-mail has been flying around the State Dept. system with an account by one of the good folks posted in Jeddah. Parts of it (edited for clarity and continuity only) are included in this post, all names and references to specific areas of the Consulate have been removed, and open source
published remarks by the Ambassador and Consul General have been interspersed. For me the e-mail really drives home the fact that there are bad people out there that want us dead.
I hold an attack on an Embassy or Consulate to be the ultimate indication of the loss of all civilization these monsters have experienced. From time immemorial even the bitterest of enemies have granted safe passage to Diplomatic emissaries. Our islamofascist foes remind us once again what we are up against.
Here is the story, the first person account is in italics, with comments from the Ambassador and CG in plain text:
Staff was just getting up from a meeting when suddenly a heavy metallic crash was heard outside. This was followed by a loud explosion and rapid automatic fire coming from the direction of [the] gate. The American consulate was under attack and terrorists were advancing on the chancery at a lightning speed! We had to reach the safehaven... folks would be depending on me to let them in! Within seconds, I made it into the XXX hallway just as duck and cover alarms went off. I could hear more machine gun fire near the chancery. My heart was pounding as I saw our Security officers running for their weapons.
During these first few seconds, Post One alerted the Marines and they grabbed their radios and gear but were unarmed. Post One advised them to stand fast because the terrorists were at the door the Marines were supposed to enter, firing their machine guns at the door. All of a sudden the terrorists ran toward the XXX building. When the area was clear again Post One said "GO GO GO", directing the unarmed Marines to make a break for the back door of the chancery. As the Marines entered the back door, terrorists ran back spraying the door with machine gun bullets.
Consul General Abercrombie –Winstanley: I heard gunfire outside my office. Our regional security officers did what they were supposed to do: went on alert. All American staff, myself included, were lead to what we consider a safe area within the Consulate, within the Chancery building. At that time we were in touch with our Embassy in Riyadh and others, as we helped make arrangements for getting control, and for getting the terrorists off the compound... It is not good to hear gunfire outside your office. But I did have complete faith in the security of the building. The defenses that we have in place are very impressive indeed and did exactly what they were supposed to do. I was certainly worried – it’s not a good thing – but I did not ever doubt that it would be resolved in a manner that would guarantee the safety of most of the people in the Consulate.
When I ran into the [safehaven], I turned up our radio and heard the Marines barking out orders to lock down the Chancery and take up their positions. The events were unfolding very quickly and yet, I felt as if the seconds were going by like hours! I jimmied open our secondary door to allow staff to enter as they ran in. Security was all around the perimeter of the door. Gun fire was heard outside of the Consulate and our security was returning fire. Post One came over their handheld radios to let the Marines know what was going on outside and where the terrorists were positioned.
Ambassador Oberwetter: ...the marines were performing heroically just as you would expect them to do. There are many other stories of heroism about the events of yesterday. Heroism by our locally employed staff. Heroism by the marines, and by other American citizens, and heroism by the Saudis who were guarding our gates and took casualties in doing so.
Another loud explosion occurred and over the radio in the Safehaven, we heard Post One say, "Three at the front!" The terrorists let out a spray of bullets against the glass doors, yet unable to get in, they tried to attach an explosive. Post One came back on the radio "terrorist are attaching device to the front door permission to GAS!" The RSO yelled, "GAS, GAS, GAS NOW!" over the radio. Post One activated the gas and the C/S fell right on top of the terrorists who then ran from the front doors. They ran around the chancery shooting into our office windows making it appear they were INSIDE and moving down the hall towards us! At that point, I was ordered to secure the vault door.
The Priority one order from the Principle Officer came next to start destroying classified material. The room began to grow very warm since the terrorists had taken out our four air-conditioning chillers. Head counts were taken over and over to determine who was accounted for and who was missing. This information was passed onto Riyadh. At this time, security became extremely annoyed with the blaring alarm system so we knocked out the speakers with our emergency ax.Ambassador Oberwetter: it’s clear that some of these people have gone to school. By that I mean that they’re doing some work at looking at our procedures in terms of how cars enter that compound. There is a bit of news here that I think that people do not understand. They attempted to take a car into the compound. Our barrier gates worked. They exited the vehicle and were able to breach a gate that was closing behind the car that had preceded it...
One car was pulling into the gate. Another car, a single car, in a far lane, slowly followed and quickly turned left to follow the car that had just entered the compound secure area. The terrorist car did not enter the compound. It was stopped by the barrier gate that had risen behind the vehicle that preceded it.
The terrorists exited the car and began to engage the local Saudi staff at the gate. They returned fire, and a great firefight broke out at the gate. Regrettably, the terrorists were not taken down there and were able to access the compound. Saudis took casualties there. In the firefight. And the terrorists proceeded into the compound. In the end, the terrorists, we believe, those that were killed, probably by our local guard staff, at least one, but it is unknown and subject to further investigation and the other two unknown, perhaps the Saudi forces were able to engage them and take them out.We heard over the radio that the Marines had rounded up staff that had been separated within the chancery... the RSO confirmed with the Marines [all was] clear... the RSO told me to man the door. The Marines and staff came running down the hallway. Security continued to get reports via Post one about what was going on.. Sadly, word had come over the radio that the terrorists had turned their interest to easy targets around the Consulate grounds, shooting multiple FSNs.
Ambassador Oberwetter:...our condolences to the families of the five locally employed staff of the Consulate and one local guard employed by the United States, who all died in the line of duty. Our deepest sympathies to their families and to the ten injured locally employed staff. To the Saudis who also experienced injuries during the firefight at the gate and on the premises, our best wishes of full and speedy recovery.
Local military and police were now on the scene to bring matters under control. The four hour-long siege was drawing to an end.Ambassador Oberwetter: I think that the Saudi government is doing all that it can. At a time like this when there are terrorists on the loose, you are always looking for additional security from any direction you can get it; whether it is from our security teams or Diplomatic Security teams, or from the local host country. But when we have asked for help we have received it. In my view the Saudis are doing a good job at protecting us in spite of the occurrence at the Consulate yesterday...
...the relationship between the United Sates and the Kingdom is secure. We will be working together in our fight against terrorism. The war continues. We intend to remain here and continue to do our work with the government. We have many Americans who are in this country doing important work for this Kingdom in a variety of fields, whether it be the oil and gas ventures that are ongoing, or whether it be taking care of the airplanes that are flying the public. There are many ways and many Americans that are helping to keep this relationship very strong. It is worth noting that there are those who want to divide us from one another. They want to divide our two countries, and they’re working very hard to accomplish that, but we will not let them succeed...
...As President Bush said ... “The war on terrorism goes on. It will take time but the efforts are succeeding. It will take time.”
(NOTE: to view pictures of the site of the attack click on the "open source" link at the top of this post)