The Corner

Our Saudi Friends

Here, via the Sunday Telegraph is a little reminder of the true nature of the Saudi regime. It comes from the account of a Scotsman arrested and charged in a bomb plot. I’ll spare you some of the details (they can be found in the report), but this is worth repeating here:

“Mr Mitchell’s torturers wanted him to sign a confession which implicated Simon MacDonald, an official in the British embassy (he is now the British ambassador in Israel). “They had his picture,” Mr Mitchell remembers. “They wanted me to say he had ordered the bombing and that I was working for MI6. It was all absolutely crazy. I invented some names of people I said had ordered me to do the bombing. They discovered the names were invented the next day and beat me extra hard as a result.” Mr Mitchell signed a preposterous confession in which he claimed to have detonated the bomb that killed Christopher Rodway while he was driving his car. “That was easily disprovable. I had receipts which proved that my car was being repaired when I was supposed to have detonated the bomb. The Saudis knew we were innocent from the start,” he insists. “I had friends in the police force who told me that they knew the bomb had been planted by Islamic extremists, probably al-Qaeda.”

And so is this:

“He was then placed in alone in a tiny cell with no windows. He would remain there for 15 months. “I wanted to die. I thought I was going to die anyway: I was convinced that the only way I would get out of that prison was in a coffin.” Earlier, he had been taken out for a trial in a building on “Chop-Chop Square”, the notorious location of Riyadh’s public beheadings. The trial lasted 10 minutes. The chief prosecutor was Ibrahim, the man who had been his chief torturer. The judges asked Mr Mitchell if he had confessed to the bombing. He tried to explain that he had been tortured – they dismissed that, and announced his punishment: crucifixion, then partial beheading, after which his body would be left out to rot in public.”

I understand realpolitik as much as the next person – and I also understand that its necessities can mean that democratic states can have to keep some ugly company, but reading accounts like this underlines the fact that when George Bush goes that extra mile to kow-tow to Riyadh, even holding hands with the tyrants responsible for horrors such as this, he disgraces himself – and embarrasses America.

Or at least he ought to.

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