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.