D. Scud Incidents in the Riyadh Area

1. Summary

Investigators counted 18 Scuds fired against the area of Riyadh during Iraq’s missile attacks. Table 4 and the details on selected incidents that follow address these attacks.

Table 4. Scud attacks against Riyadh area

Event #


Time (Local)

# Scuds (Best est.)

Impact Area



Jan 21

12:42 AM


(alt rpts 6-17)


Scud attack on Riyadh coordinated with one against Dhahran (see Event 2 in Table 3). Patriot units in area fired 26 missiles and claimed all Scuds killed. See Details on Selected Incidents below.


Jan 22

3:41 AM


(alt rpts 2-9)


Patriots engaged and possibly intercepted all three (30 Patriots fired). Debris noted south of town. TV coverage showed three ground explosions in area. Nearly intact Scud body (minus warhead and tail section) landed on a street. No casualties or damage.[89]


Jan 23

10:54 PM

2 (alt rpts 3-5)


Iraq fired five Scuds in a very short time – one at Israel and two each at Dhahran and Riyadh. In Riyadh, Patriots reportedly destroyed one or both. During this period, Patriots at KKMC fired at one false target and Patriots with VII Corps fired at two false targets.[90]


Jan 25

10:23 PM


(alt rpts 3-5)


Patriots intercepted with two missiles against each Scud. However, one Scud warhead demolished a six-story Saudi Department of Interior building killing one and injuring 30. See Details on Selected Incidents below.


Jan 26

10:46 PM

1 (alt rpts 2)


Patriots engaged Scud. Warhead exploded in empty field � mile from United States Central Command Headquarters.[91]


Jan 28

8:55 PM


(alt rpts 3)


Patriots fired four missiles – one intercepted the Scud and the others engaged debris. Debris struck farm in suburbs with no significant damage.[92]


Feb 3

12:41 AM


(alt rpts 2)


Patriots fired two missiles, but Scud warhead detonated near apartment damaging several buildings and slightly injuring 29 people. See Details on Selected Incidents below.


Feb 8

1:54 AM


(alt rpts 2)


One of two Patriots fired reportedly intercepted this Scud north of city. However, warhead hit parking lot and detonated. No casualties or major damage. Patriots considered this a "mission kill"[93] (see glossary in Tab A).


Feb 11

10:20 PM


(alt rpts 2)


One of two Patriots intercepted, but warhead hit near swimming pool and building at Islamic University. It exploded causing significant damage. It broke many windows and slightly injured two people by flying glass. Considered Patriot "mission kill."[94]


Feb 24

4:32 AM



Two patriots fired and warhead kill claimed (it landed without exploding), but minor damage caused to Saudi school (no injuries).[95]


Feb 24

9:23 PM


(alt rpts 2)


Patriots fired two with one malfunction and command destruct. Other Patriot engaged Scud with "mission kill" reported. Scud broke up before or as result of intercept. No explosion from debris.[96]

2.  Details on Selected Incidents

a.  January 21st Attack on Riyadh (Event 12 in Table 4)

Shortly after midnight and within a few minutes of an attack against Dhahran (Event 2 in Table 3), Iraq launched four Scuds in the first attack on the Saudi capital of Riyadh. Patriot batteries in the area launched 26 missiles (eight at the first Scud and six at each that followed) recording kills against all targets.[97] One report noted the Patriots claimed 14 kills at Riyadh and Dhahran combined "…because [Patriot] missiles went after [Patriot] missiles."[98] A log entry suggested that some Patriots fired on fragments from missile intercepts.[99] News media videotapes reportedly captured three ground explosions. One of the ground explosions near an office building blew out the back wall of one structure and produced a 10-foot crater. Twelve people had minor injuries.[100]

As in other Scud events, some logs reported a larger number of separate Scuds fired than we could confirm in our analysis of all available evidence.[101]

b.  January 25th Attack on Riyadh (Event 15 in Table 4)

Late in the evening of January 25th, Iraq fired two Scud missiles toward Riyadh. Patriot batteries fired four missiles, reportedly intercepting both Scuds.[102] However, one of the Scud warheads completely demolished a six-story Saudi Department of Interior building in downtown Riyadh killing one Saudi and injuring 30 (most slightly). The warhead struck only a little over a mile south of the Ministry of Defense and Aviation building housing United States Central Command Headquarters.[103] At this building, communications technicians reported hearing a "loud boom" from above. They investigated the roof and found debris from the Scud. Nuclear-biological-chemical specialists who were called to the scene to test for chemical agents did not find any contamination and gave an "all clear."[104]

Although other sources reported three or five Scuds heading toward Riyadh,[105] available evidence points to only two Scuds.

c.  February 3rd Attack on Riyadh (Event 18 in Table 4)

After almost five days of no strikes on the KTO, Iraq resumed Scud attacks with a single launch against Riyadh very early on February 3rd.[106] A Patriot battery fired two missiles[107] but apparently failed to disable the Scud warhead, which detonated damaging several buildings and slightly injuring 29 people.[108]

One report suggested Iraq launched a second Scud shortly after the first; however, the available evidence does not support this account.[109]

Two other sources recorded a successful intercept of the Scud. They stated that the engagement resulted in a mission kill (meaning a Patriot missile deflected the Scud from defended territory or the Scud warhead had significantly reduced effectiveness) and that the warhead hit in the desert east of Riyadh air base.[110] However, the damage and casualties in a populated area noted above attests that at least the warhead struck within the city. We found no evidence concerning chemical warfare agent testing for this event.

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