Leaders pray for Fahd at funeral

Riyadh, Aug 2 | Updated: Aug 3 2005, 05:30am hrs
Saudi Arabias King Fahd was buried in a simple unmarked grave on Tuesday after a brief funeral to mourn the monarch who ruled the oil superpower for more than two turbulent decades. In keeping with the kingdoms austere Islamic tradition Fahd, who in life enjoyed enormous wealth and privilege, was laid to rest in a sprawling Riyadh cemetery alongside hundreds of other unidentified dirt graves. Fahd died on Monday after 23 years ruling the strategic Gulf state which is both the worlds biggest oil exporter and the cradle of Islam drawing more than a billion faithful to turn five times a day toward Mecca in prayer. In the Imam Turki bin Abdullah mosque in the capital, Muslim leaders from across the world joined ordinary Saudis to offer condolences to Fahds successor and half-brother Abdullah, and performed Muslim prayers for the dead. Reuters

The brief afternoon ceremony was devoid of pomp. Fahds body, wrapped in a brown shroud and laid on a bier, was carried out of the mosque and driven to his final resting place in an ambulance. Hundreds of security forces mixed with mourners in the mosque and snipers were posted around the cemetery. A wave of attacks by supporters of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden had clouded Fahds final, ailing years after his stroke in 1995.

An official said security forces were taking the same precautions that any other government would take to secure a huge event like this with very high-profile guests. Fahds reign was marked by several regional wars, wild fluctuations in oil prices and a crisis in relations with Saudi Arabias key ally, the United States, after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks carried out by mainly Saudi suicide hijackers. Abdullah has run day-to-day affairs since Fahds stroke and is expected to maintain Saudi Arabias commitment to stable oil markets and its close alliance with the West.