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First-hand account of the Al-Hamra Bombing

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
The damage was phenomenal. There are no windows or doors on most of Al Hama's villas and apartments. Glass was the biggest injury problem, on the street the bomb blast occurred, there were no survivors. While there is no exact total, I saw ten bodies, and that was only on the periphery, they haven't really begun to dig into the rubble.

Imad, Sue and the girls had gone to the Starbucks on exit ten for Frapucino, they returned to Al Hamra, and as they cleared the security gates a car sped up behind them and began shooting at the guards. The security station has pockmarks from bullets all over it. Clearing the gates, the terrorists began shooting at Imad's car. Sue said later, pointing at her head covering, "If they shoot at me and my girls, they would shoot at anyone." This car held four terrorists, their job was coverage for the bomb car which followed.

The shooters' car went to the left of the recreation center (the turtle) and sped down the street. There was a pool party just breaking up on the corner with about twenty people in attendance. Two Saudi's one of them a son of the compound owner ran after the car and were shot dead. The car turned left heading for the British School and the bomb car followed. Within about ten yards of clearing the corner, the bomb exploded. All of the terrorists were killed in the blast. Four shooters and two bombers.

I had just gone to sleep. My bedroom was on the second floor facing the exterior compound wall. I didn't wake to the gun shots, but the blast was the loudest noise I have ever heard. It rocked the villa and I found myself on the floor. The big casement windows on both floors front and back were blown out with glass shards everywhere. The casements themselves had been sunk into the concrete, but they were all blown off. My kitchen door, about 150 lbs. was blown off and traveled twenty feet into the kitchen. Along the way, it went through the steel staricase railing.

I got into sneakers and a robe and stepped through the glass. Going downstairs I had to twist the railing back out of the way to get down. There are big stress fractures in the walls. I went next door to check on Crossley and barely noticed that the ground seemed uneven with big rocks everywhere. John was in his front doorframe a towel on his head. His T shirt was soaked in blood down to his shorts. He was barefooted and obviously in shock. I got him into my golf shoes (the only thing I could find) and checked his wounds. Face and scalp lacerations from the glass. John had heard the gunshots and gone to the window to look out just when the blast went off.

By this time people were beginning to accumulate in the street. We could hear small arms fire in the background, some of it automatic. We milled around for about 10 minutes. I wanted a gun. One man was trying to find someone, but his hearing was gone from the concussion.

The British School is adjacent to the compound. Ironically, thiry-two British School teachers were moved into Al Hamra two weeks ago because of its superior security. The preliminary assessment for the school says the structural damage is too great for it to reopen.

A full fifteen minutes after the blast I saw the first emergency vehicle on the compound, it was a red crescent ambulance. By thirty minutes later, the compound was filled with police, bomb dogs, bomb squad, military personnel and ambulances. Imad came by in his car and said the Lucent people were gathering at his house. The upper stories were as bad as everyone else's, but he has a big basement. George Kechab (a Lucent neighbor) and I got Crossley to an ambulance headed for the German-Saudi Hospital and we left for Imad's. The road was littered with shell casings.

We were busy until about 2 AM making lists and checking lists, and calling people to check their condition. Only four Lucent people were hospitalized. Crossley was discharged after a night in the hospital. The other three will recover completely. An ex-Lucent employee, Oday El-Sadek, was killed, he is survived by his pregnant wife and daughter.
post #2 of 19
Chilling. Absolutely chilling.
post #3 of 19
How can these people possibly think that their actions will send them to heaven, that brutal murder of anyone in their way will please a Merciful God? I don't think these people have even read the qur'an and the more I read the less I think they care about or even believe in heaven or hell or Islam in general. The truth is that any society has its share of people who care little for their own lives and even less for the lives of others, for whatever reason, somehow there are people who have found those lost souls and recruited them. Thank you HB, for sharing this information. I'll be doing a lot of praying tonight, and I'll be sure to keep those families in my prayers. I said a Fatiha for Oday last night, may God's mercy be with him and God's protection with those who survived him.
post #4 of 19
Thread Starter 
I'll be doing a lot of praying tonight, and I'll be sure to keep those families in my prayers. I said a Fatiha for Oday last night, may God's mercy be with him and God's protection with those who survived him.
Thank you for that.
post #5 of 19
I'm glad you're OK.
post #6 of 19
Thread Starter 
I have been told that all of the people from my former company that were injured will recover. The dependents of all Westerners will be sent home. Some of the "experts" will be sent to Abu Dhabi, which is presumably safer. Our Riyadh office will remain open, staffed by a skeleton crew. It looks like the worst is over, unless there is a second wave of attacks.
post #7 of 19
That was a very haunting tale, thanks for posting it HB. I am glad your colleges will recover.
post #8 of 19
I don't have words to describe how I feel. My heart is so heavy to think of families homes being attacked like this.

My love and thoughts go out to all who were touched by this.
post #9 of 19

We heard some devastating news from Riyadh today....

Letter from our Dutch friend.....

"Hi everybody,

I suppose you all heard about the terrorist attacks on compounds in Riyadh. Some relatives
were injured some where killed. Most Lucent employees were staying at Al Hamra compound
the one which was hit. The devastation is enormous and can hardly be understood. You can
find a slight show on my web site

Fortunately our compound was not involved and is now guarded and sealed by the army personnel.
I hope that will do for those who stays. Our company decided to evacuate all western employees,
permanent or temporary. Dependents aren't allowed to come back, never. What will happen
after that we don't know.

Another tragic story reached me today about Imad Hoballah our ex VP. He and his family actually
escaped the terrorist attack when they just entered the Al Hamra compound by car. The terrorist came
right behind him and started shooting. He and his family managed to escape, later the explosion came
but they were not injured. Yesterday he and his family were celebrating his son's graduation. On the way
back they were caught in a terrible car accident which killed his daughter Zaynab (11 y). The other family
members are still in Hospital. They were planning to leave Saudi Arabia the next day !"
post #10 of 19
Yes, this family used to live across the street from us on our first compound. The little girl who died was in Basil's class all of his years at AISR. Mari knew one of the other girls well. She used to come to my house and peel potatoes with my kids.

We are so upset and shocked by so much bad news. I can't believe they were going to leave the next day!!

BTW, Sue was an aquaintance of mine. SHe was an American woman who had married a Lebonese man. She is a converted muslim and has been happily living in Saudi for many years. She had 1 older boy and 4 younger girls. They are a beautiful family. We are not sure of how badly injured the surviving members are...

post #11 of 19
marg you have been really quiet about this and I have been trying to imagine the devestation you must feel. I about hit the ceiling when I heard compounds there had been attacked, and all I know of it is knowing you two.

I am sorry. You have no idea, I am so sorry.
post #12 of 19
Oh Hillary, I am deeply sorry. Thank you for sharing this story. My heart and prayers are with you and those affected by this act of violence.

post #13 of 19
So sorry to hear ...

post #14 of 19
Yes, Mamapie, I guess I have been quiet. I just don't know what to say about it all. I have been deeply humbled as of late. I have been given a reminder of how lucky I am and how silly my "problems" now seem......

Thanks to all of you who keep coming to the threads about this. It has been good therapy for Jon and I.

post #15 of 19
your silence spoke louder than words about how it must have affected you on such a deep level. Marg I am just so glad all of you are safe.
post #16 of 19
I am so sorry for your sadness and loss

post #17 of 19
Thank you for your words. You all know how much your mean to me!!
post #18 of 19
sighs and silence . . . peace
post #19 of 19
Thank you for your words. You all know how much your mean to me!!
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