For Saudis, the year ended much as it began: with gunfire, smoke, and screams. A Dec. 6 al-Qaeda raid on the American consulate in Jeddah left five employees dead, though American staffers were led to safety by Marines stationed on the grounds.
The daylight raid resurrected bitter memories from earlier in the year, when a series of attacks threatened to undermine the kingdom's oil industry and scare off the international community that keeps the oil flowing.
In July, police discovered the severed head of a kidnapped American helicopter engineer during a raid on a suspected terrorist safe house. Hundreds of foreigners fled in June after a series of coordinated attacks in the eastern city of Khobar killed some two dozen people, many of them Westerners. And in April, a car bomb exploded outside a police station in Riyadh, killing four and injuring dozens more.