Reporters on the Job
• Attack in Saudi Arabia: The attack on the US Consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia (page 1), occurred Monday as correspondent Faiza Saleh Ambah was on her way to meet a friend for lunch. "Suddenly the roads were completely blocked off and I saw smoke coming from the direction of the American Consulate. A minute or two later, several Saudi friends called saying the consulate had been attacked."
Faiza immediately tried to get to the scene but couldn't. "I was struck by the magnitude of the security response. The streets were blocked off for three to four miles in every direction. Parents couldn't get to their kids in schools within the zone," she says. Her own children's school went into "lock down" - no one could go in or go out.
Faiza parked her car on a side street and, using back streets, walked until she was close enough to see the consulate. "Outside, there were three fire trucks, at least 30 cop cars, three helicopters circling overhead, and Saudi police in camouflage outfits standing in the main street. That's not something this city has ever seen before. There were 40 to 50 cops on each side of the street near the consulate."
The consulate is not a "soft target," she notes. The street in front is guarded by cinderblock barriers, two tanks, and guards. "My driver dropped me off once, and while he waited in the car, he was detained," she says.
"I have two friends who work at the consulate, and I tried to reach them by phone - both as a journalist to see what had happened, and as a friend to see if they were OK." At first she didn't succeed. But hours later she received a text message from one of them on her cell phone: "We're all OK." "It brought tears of joy to my eyes," says Faiza.
David Clark Scott