Ordinary Saudis and other Gulf Arabs expressed incredulity, dismay and sympathy yesterday over the attacks in the US, but urged Americans to explore why their country's foreign policy made them a target.
"I felt sorry for the death of Americans but I also feel sorry for the death of Palestinians every day," said Adel, a Saudi. "I call on America, the superpower, to open its windows after its plight is over and look at what is happening in Palestine."
He was echoing a widespread feeling among Arabs that the US is biased in favor of Israel.
At least 574 Palestinians and 166 Israelis have been killed since last September in a Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation.
US Secretary of State Colin Powell has named Saudi-born Osama bin Laden as the prime suspect in the hijack-suicide attacks on New York's World Trade Center and the Pentagon near the US capitol that killed thousands of people.
The FBI on Friday disclosed the names of 19 suspected hijackers. All are Arab Muslim names.
People in Saudi Arabia, where Islam originated 14 centuries ago, and other Gulf states said no true Muslim could have carried out the attacks as terrorism was against their religion.
Some added that even if Arabs were found to have carried out the attacks, they must have been traitors working for Israel.
"It is too well-planned for any Arab or Muslim group, not to mention that Arabs and Muslims would never do such a thing," said Farah, a national of the United Arab Emirates.
Abdullah, an unemployed 32-year-old Saudi, voiced a theory that often finds favor with Arabs in times of turmoil.
"It must be the doing of Israel," he said. "They are using Arabs as agents to hit the Palestinian cause."
Ahmad, a US-educated Saudi civil servant, argued a less controversial view: "If Arabs had such capabilities they would have carried them [attacks] out against Israelis who have been subjecting them to many forms of terror and humiliation."
There have been no public displays of gloating such as those in the early hours after the attack in Palestinian territories under Israeli occupation.
But some Gulf Arabs said the US should consider a change of foreign policy to avoid attack.
Sheikh Abdul-Aziz al-Saleh, a Saudi cleric, rejected the possibility the attacks could be an act of holy war.
"This operation is by no means an act of Jihad [holy war] and is not endorsed by Islam," he said. "This is not the Islam we know ? this is terrorism ? aimed at defaming Islam."
Many said they expected Washington to retaliate against Afghanistan's Taliban rulers if it found solid evidence that bin Laden, who lives in Afghanistan, was behind the attacks.
"If the US is sure [who is behind the attacks], then we are with any decision it will make," said Mohammad al-Shehab, a Kuwaiti.