Saudi bombing targeted U.S. ‘executive mercenaries’
YOU HAD probably never heard of the Vinnell Corp. before the brutal bombing that killed at least nine of its employees in Saudi Arabia, but you should have.
This is the second time Vinnell’s Saudi operations have been targeted. The first attack, in November 1995, hit the headquarters of the Saudi Arabian National Guard, or SANG, and a nearby office complex that housed Vinnell employees. Though both attacks were decried by U.S. officials as senseless violence, they actually had a chillingly clear, brutal logic.
Vinnell’s job in Saudi Arabia is to train the national guard, which Jane’s Defence Weekly has described as “a kind of Praetorian Guard for the House of Saud, the royal family’s defence of last resort against internal opposition.” That is why company employees were targeted in 1995 and again this month.
The story of how an obscure American firm ended up becoming an integral part of the Saudi monary’s handpicked internal security force is a case study in how unaccountable private companies have become a central tool of U.S. foreign policy.