The Siege of Mecca

The Siege of Mecca

The Forgotten Uprising in Islam's Holiest Shrine and the Birth of Al Qaeda

Book - 2007
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Random House, Inc.

On November 20, 1979, worldwide attention was focused on Tehran, where the Iranian hostage crisis was entering its third week. The same morning—the first of a new Muslim century—hundreds of gunmen stunned the world by seizing Islam’s holiest shrine, the Grand Mosque in Mecca. Armed with rifles that they had smuggled inside coffins, these men came from more than a dozen countries, launching the first operation of global jihad in modern times. Led by a Saudi preacher named Juhayman al Uteybi, they believed that the Saudi royal family had become a craven servant of American infidels, and sought a return to the glory of uncompromising Islam. With nearly 100,000 worshippers trapped inside the holy compound, Mecca’s bloody siege lasted two weeks, inflaming Muslim rage against the United States and causing hundreds of deaths.

Despite U.S. assistance, the Saudi royal family proved haplessly incapable of dislodging the occupier, whose ranks included American converts to Islam. In Iran, Ayatollah Khomeini blamed the Great Satan—the United States —for defiling the shrine, prompting mobs to storm and torch American embassies in Pakistan and Libya. The desperate Saudis finally enlisted the help of French commandos led by tough-as-nails Captain Paul Barril, who prepared the final assault and supplied poison gas that knocked out the insurgents. Though most captured gunmen were quickly beheaded, the Saudi royal family responded to this unprecedented challenge by compromising with the rebels’ supporters among the kingdom’s most senior clerics, helping them nurture and export Juhayman’s violent brand of Islam around the world.

This dramatic and immensely consequential story was barely covered in the press in the pre-CNN, pre–Al Jazeera days, as Saudi Arabia imposed an information blackout and kept foreign correspondents away. Yaroslav Trofimov now penetrates this veil of silence, interviewing for the first time scores of direct participants in the siege, including former terrorists, and drawing on hundreds of documents that had been declassified on his request. Written with the pacing, detail, and suspense of a real-life thriller, The Siege of Mecca reveals how Saudi reaction to the uprising in Mecca set free the forces that produced the attacks of 9/11, and the harrowing circumstances that surround us today.



Baker & Taylor
On November 20, 1979, the first morning of a new Muslim century, hundreds of gunmen stunned the world by seizing Islam's holiest shrine, the Grand Mosque in Mecca. These men came from more than a dozen countries, launching the first operation of global jihad in modern times. They believed that the Saudi royal family had become a craven servant of American infidels, and sought a return to the glory of uncompromising Islam. With nearly 100,000 worshippers trapped inside the holy compound, the bloody siege lasted two weeks, inflaming Muslim rage against the U.S. and causing hundreds of deaths. The desperate Saudis finally enlisted the help of French commandos, who prepared the final assault. The Saudi royal family ultimately compromised with the rebels' supporters, helping to set free the forces that produced the attacks of 9/11 and the harrowing circumstances that surround us today.--From publisher description.

Book News
Having interviewed many of the participants, Trofimov (a staff foreign correspondent of the Wall Street Journal) reconstructs the events of the November 1979 seizure of the Grand Mosque in Mecca (the Masjid al-Haram), led by a Saudi preacher named Juhayman al Uteybi. The Saudi National Guard failed to break the siege, with some members actually joining the forces of Uteybi, and the Mosque was finally retaken after two weeks by Pakistani and French security forces in a bloody assault, but not before angry mobs had attacked the American Embassies in the capitals of Pakistan and Libya, spurred by Iranian Ayatollah Khomeini's accusations that the United States was behind the siege. In addition to recounting these events, Trofimov looks at their aftermath, which included the public beheading of the conspirators and, in Trofimov's view, the eventual creation of Al Qaeda. Annotation ©2007 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Blackwell North Amer
On November 20, 1979, worldwide attention was focused on Tehran, where the Iranian hostage crisis was entering its third week. The same morning - the first of a new Muslim century - hundreds of gunmen stunned the world by seizing Islam's holiest shrine, the Grand Mosque in Mecca. Armed with rifles that they had smuggled inside coffins, these men came from more than a dozen countries, launching the first operation of global jihad in modern times. Led by a Saudi preacher named Juhayman al Uteybi, they believed that the Saudi royal family had become a craven servant of American infidels, and sought a return to the glory of uncompromising Islam. With nearly 100,000 worshippers trapped inside the holy compound, Mecca's bloody siege lasted two weeks, inflaming Muslim rage against the United States and causing hundreds of deaths.
Despite U.S. assistance, the Saudi royal family proved haplessly incapable of dislodging the occupiers, whose ranks included American converts to Islam. In Iran Ayatollah Khomeini blamed the Great Satan - the United States - for defiling the shrine, prompting mobs to storm and torch American embassies in Pakistan and Libya. The desperate Saudis finally enlisted the help of French commandos led by tough-as-nails Captain Paul Barril, who prepared the final assault and supplied poison gas that knocked out the insurgents. Though most captured gunmen where quickly beheaded, the Saudi royal family responded to this unprecedented challenge by compromising with the rebels' supporters among the kingdom's most senior clerics, helping them nurture and export Juhayman's violent brand of Islam around the world.
This story was barely covered in the press in the pre-CNN, pre-Al Jazeera days, as Saudi Arabia imposed an information blackout and kept foreign correspondents away. Yaroslav Trofimov now penetrates this veil of silence, interviewing for the first time scores of direct participants in the siege, including former terrorists, and drawing on hundreds of documents that had been declassified on his request. The Siege of Mecca reveals how Saudi reaction to the uprising in Mecca set free the forces that produced the attacks of 9/11 and the harrowing circumstances that surround us today.

Baker
& Taylor

Describes the bloody 1979 takeover of Islam's holiest shrine, the Grand Mosque in Mecca, by hundreds of armed gunmen; the assault that knocked out the insurgents; and the repercussions of the event in terms of the rise of extremist Islam around the world.
Describes the bloody 1979 takeover of Islam's holiest shrine, the Grand Mosque in Mecca, by hundreds of armed gunmen led by Saudi preacher Juhayman al Uteybi, who believed the Saudi royal family had become a servant of American infidels; the assault that knocked out the insurgents; and the repercussions of the event in terms of the rise of violent, extremist Islam around the world. 75,000 first printing.

Publisher: New York : Doubleday, c2007
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780385519250
0385519257
Characteristics: xii, 301 p., [16] p. of plates : ill., map ; 25 cm

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SEBoiko
Aug 05, 2014

We have eliminated the individuals who committed the Juhayman crime, but we have over looked the ideology that was behind the crime. We've let it spread in the country, ignoring it as if it did not exist.

s
SEBoiko
Aug 04, 2014

Fighting in Mecca was not permitted for anyone before me, nor will it be permitted for anyone after me, the Prophet had declared ....

s
SEBoiko
Aug 04, 2014

... the precariousness of the Saudi regime he insisted, should not be underestimated by Paris.

s
SEBoiko
Aug 04, 2014

The fear was if the Jordanians come to Mecca, they will never leave!

s
SEBoiko
Aug 04, 2014

..., the Ulema essentially asked al Saud to adopt Juhayman's agenda in exchange for their help in getting rid of Juhayman himself.

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SEBoiko
Aug 04, 2014

November 20 1979.
The seizure of the Grand Mosque -- the first large - scale operation by an international jihad movement in modern times --.

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