Saturday, September 18, 2004

Another weekend and another shooting

British father-of-six shot dead

A British man shot dead in the Saudi capital Riyadh leaves behind a wife and six children, it has emerged.

Edmund Muirhead-Smith, 55, was killed in a shopping centre car park in an eastern suburb.

Witnesses said two gunmen in a Toyota car shot the victim four times as he walked towards his car on Wednesday.

A statement from the family said: "At this time we are struggling to come to terms with the news. He will be greatly missed by us... our love is with him."

Britain's ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Sherard Cowper-Coles, condemned the killing.
"His murder will only make the British Government more determined to stand with the Saudi government and people in the struggle against senseless terror of this kind," he said.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the family, friends and colleagues."
Mr Muirhead-Smith, from Torquay in Devon, was an employee of communications firm Marconi.

A company spokesman said: "We take security in the region very seriously. It seems that Edmund was a victim of a chance shooting.

"There is no evidence to suggest that he was targeted other than for being a Westerner."
Security sources told Reuters news agency that the shooting was linked to a wave of anti-Western attacks in Saudi Arabia by supporters of al-Qaeda.

Militants linked to al-Qaeda have killed at least 90 police and civilians in a 15-month campaign to destabilise the US-allied Saudi monarchy.

The attacks in the conservative Muslim kingdom, much of whose economy depends on foreign workers, are aimed at driving Westerners out of the country and damaging its oil industry.


I was out going to the Mall that afternoon. The bus was bringing us women to a Mall which I have never been before.

A roadblock was set up on the highway and several white cars were stopped by the policemen. And there was a sharp shooter out pointing his gun, ready for action.

Our bus wasn't stopped and we continued on to the Mall.

2 hours later, a lady who understood Arabic told us that something has happened. They heard that a Westerner has been shot.

We were all uneasy.

I quickly rushed home and checked the net. There it was on the Reuters website, the news of the Western man shot in the Al-Naseem area. He has been shopping at a discount giant super store.

I met some of my friends for dinner that night. Told them about the news I read.

"Do you feel safe in this country?" E asked.

"Well fairly safe I suppose, except for the shootings I almost feel that Ryadh is safer than London."

"At what point would you decide what it is time for you to leave?"

"We don't know really. I guess as soon as we feel that we are threatened directly. After all we are here because we have mortgages to pay and if we choose to move on, we would need to find a new contract first and we don't know how easy that will be."

What is the value of our life? Is it worth this risk?

We thought by coming to Riyadh perhaps we would be closer to Makkah and Madinah. But it is at a cost apparently.

A friend of ours who was in the Al-Hambra bombing last year is still traumatized, although they are still in the country. I guess if they can persevere, so can we.

But is it worth it?

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