Western defense contractors insist they will not
leave Saudi Arabia despite warnings from their governments in the wake of Al
attacks that have killed up to 91 people.
But some contractors said they are withdrawing non-essential staff and
evacuating personnel who were caught up in the suicide bombings in Riyad.
They said they would resume normal levels of staffing when the United States
deems the kingdom safe from Al Qaida attacks.
For its part, the State Department said it would evacuate all
non-essential staff in
the embassy in Riyad and consulates in Jedda and other Saudi cities. The
U.S. embassy in Riyad urged all Americans to remain indoors, Middle East Newsline reported.
The Boeing Co. said it was evacuating 11 of its employees from of the
kingdom until further notice. The 11 Boeing employees were instructors who
trained the Royal Saudi Air Force on the operation and maintenance of five
Boeing airborne warning and control systems aircraft procured by Riyad in
Boeing said it would send another team of trainers to Saudi Arabia once
the State Department deems the kingdom as sufficiently safe. Three Boeing
trainers were injured in Tuesday's attack.
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Nine of the Americans killed in the Al Qaida bombings were employees of
the Vinnell Corp. a subsidiary of Northrop Grumman. Vinnell was one of
three compounds attacked by Al Qaida insurgents in Riyad on early Tuesday.
A Northrop Grumman statement said Vinnell would remain in Saudi Arabia.
But an executive said some employees of the company would be allowed to end
their contracts early and return to the United States.
"We continue to work closely with the U.S. government to secure the
safety of all company employees and
their dependents in Saudi Arabia," Donald Winter, corporate vice president
and president of Northrop Grumman Mission Systems, said.
Vinnell Arabia has been under contract to the U.S. Army to provide
training services to the Saudi National Guard. The company employs about
800 people in Riyad, including 300 U.S. citizens as well as Saudi and other
BAe Systems, one of the largest contractors in Saudi Arabia, said it
would not withdraw its staff from the kingdom. BAe has about 5,500 employees
in Saudi Arabia, more than 3,000 of them from Australia, Britain and the
Since the late 1980s, BAe has been the prime contractor of the Al
Yamamah project. Al Yamamah has overseen the British export of $8 billion in
aircraft and naval vessels to the Saudi kingdom.
"We have a contract and we intend to continue with it," BAe Systems
spokesman Mike Sweeney said. "We will follow Foreign Office advice and we're
only allowing essential business travel."
The British Foreign Office warned that Al Qaida would probably attack
again and urged its nationals to leave the kingdom. Many of the casualties
and injured were said to have been Britons.
"There remains a high threat of further large or small scale attacks
against Western interests in Saudi Arabia," the Foreign Office said.
"Terrorist attacks could involve the use of chemical and biological
BAe said none of its staffers was injured in the Al Qaida attacks.
Sweeney said 25 percent of the 2,000 family members of Western staffers have
not returned to Saudi Arabia since January.
But industry sources said staffers from Western defense contractors are
expected to be sent home over the next year. They cited the winding down of
several projects as well as the withdrawal of Western military forces from