Seizure of the Grand Mosque!

All sins of the ‘faithful’ are hoarded on outsiders, enemy within is never talked about. Debunking a conspiracy theory from the lessons from history.A post mortem of the alleged Imperialistic-Zionist plot in 1979 .The failure to detect the enemy within is the innate curse of Puritans. Puritans are dictated by the scenario from the apocalyptic books of Dissentions and Signs of Doomsday and not logic.

Recent Benghazi killing was not an anomaly; it is an unfortunate breathing ritual based on exploitation of a venomous message spewed by the hypocritical leadership of political Islam. The seizure of the Grand Mosque in Mecca in 1979 is a decisive occurrence in the expansion of violent behaviour under the tutelage of political Islam. What was an extremely orthodox attempted overthrow by a ‘Would-Be Messiah’ was labelled as an Imperial-Zionist plot by Imam Khomeini who had just removed the Shah in Iran. This is an inquisition of that alleged ‘Imperialistic-Zionist plot.’ The deviancy of the invaders of the Grand Mosque unfortunately rooted from the misinterpretation of various ‘holy traditions’ inscribed in the ‘books’ that are considered as valid sources of truth not from a code book of a Imperialistic-Zionist design. Global chaos is an integral part of Mahdaviat. One needs to understand ultra-orthodoxy within the tenets of Islam, to be able to define some of the undercurrents based on urges of the puritans to ‘retrace the original course of Islam.’

Sunni and Shi’a agree that Mahdi will be a descendant of the Prophet Muhammad from the line of Fatimah, his name will be Muhammad, he will raise a Black Standard,will be accompanied by the appearance of the Dajjal (anti-Christ) in the East andfill the world with justice and fairness at a time when the world will be filled with oppression. Still though the coming of the Mahdi is a disputed notion within Sunnis. The idea is not mentioned directly in the Quran or Sahih al-Bukhari; however, the Mahdi is mentioned in the Sahih Muslim collection of ahadith. It is also reported to be denied by the Ahle Quran. On the other hand it is found in Sunan Abi Dawud, Ibn Majah, and Tirmidhi and some non-Shiite Muslims believe that the Mahdi will come in addition to the Second Coming of Jesus. Among Shi’a Muslims the Mahdi symbol has developed into a powerful and central religious idea.Shi’a Muslims believe that the Mahdi is theTwelfth Imam, Muhammad al-Mahdi, the Twelfth and last Imam, who was born in 868 AD and was hidden by God at the age of five. He is still alive but has been in occultation awaiting the time that God has decreed for his return. Ahmadinejad’s ideology of ‘global chaos’ is corner stone of Iranian state policy. President Ahmadinejad too is a firm believer in Mahdaviat like ultra-orthodox Sunni Juhaiman ibn Muhammad ibn Saif al Otaibi.

The attack was led by Juhaiman ibn Muhammad ibn Saif al Otaibi who wanted to create ‘global chaos.’ He belonged to a dominant family of Najd. He declared his brother-in-law Mohammed Abdullah al-Qahtani to be the Mahdi, or saviour of Islam, whose coming at end of times is foretold in many of the hadiths of Prophet Muhammad. Juhaiman Saif al Otaibi was from “one of the principal families of Nejd. He was a cleric, an ex- student of Sheikh Abdel Aziz al Baaz, who went on to become the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia. Juhaiman had turned in opposition to al Baz, “and began to advocate a return to the unique ways of Islam, among other things; a refutation of the West; an end of schooling of women; elimination of television and eviction of non-Muslims.”

The attack remains predominantly an addendum in the context of contemporary history. It should be case studied to understand the undercurrents that rule Islamic thoughts and reactions that lead to Benghazi kind of situations and hostilities that freshly have tainted the entire world. Regrettably the target of the behavioural reaction of global rank and file of Muslims to any sacrilege or attack on central tenets of Islam has been the Americans and Israelis.

The Grand Mosque Seizure on 20 November 1979, was an armed attack and occupation by a deviant rebellious clan of the Al-Masjid al-Haram in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, the holiest place in Islam. The rebels stated that the Mahdi, or saviour of Islam, had arrived in the shape of one of the insurrectionary leaders, Mohammed Abdullah al-Qahtani, and called on Muslims all over the world to demonstrate their allegiance to him. The Saudi Arabian authorities issued statements saying the Mecca incident was the work of Muslim fundamentalists and no Westerners were involved. Yet in Iran, Ayatollah Khomeini went on to tell his radio listeners, “It is not beyond guessing that this is the work of criminal American imperialism and international Zionism.” Muslim anti-American global demonstrations followed in the Philippines, Turkey, Bangladesh, eastern Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Pakistan.

Resentment enthused by these rumour on November 21, 1979, the day following the takeover, a mob in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, burned the US Embassy to the ground. The demonstration grew violent as protesters pulled down part of the outer wall and broke into the compound itself. The five-hour siege began as an organised student protest outside the locked gates of the embassy compound. Gunfire broke out, and the marine, who was standing on the roof of the building, was shot. A week later, this resentment swept to the streets of Tripoli, Libya, where a mob attacked and burned the U.S. embassy there on 2 December 1979. The attacks were believed to have been triggered by a radio report from the Iranian leader, Ayatollah Khomeini, saying Americans were behind the occupation of Islam’s holiest site, the Great Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, The US State Department has described the broadcast as “irresponsible, outright, knowing lies”.

How wrong the Imam was? This is the post mortem of the allegation of Imperialistic-Zionist plot, it was all about a global war and global chaos with the key issue being the expediting of the ‘Doomsday’ he was looking for ‘The Rapture.’ Nasser Al-Huzeimi is a thinker who was witnessed the rise of Juhaiman Al-Otaibi. He watched closely the establishment stages of the Salafist movement, and knew everything that went on in their secret meetings, in addition to how Juhaiman became the leader of the group. Hence, what Al-Huzeimi reveals about the initiation of the group, its establishment and the idea of salvation, may not be known to many. The Majalla in 2009 has held an interview with Nasser Al Huzeimi, the man who refused to pledge allegiance to Al Mahdi and refrained from storming the Holy Mosque. Nasser Al-Huzeimi in ‘My story with the so-called Mahdi’ highlights the details of the minds behind the seizure. A conspiracy rooted in the code and practices of puritan Islam and its prediction of emergence of Mahdi.

Majalla : Let’s move on to the main idea that was adopted by Juhaiman for his movement, and that is the seizure of the Holy Mosque in Mecca. Who was the source of this idea at the beginning? And how did the idea of seizing the Holy Mosque occur to the Salafist group?

Nasser Al-Huzeimi: The case of entering the Holy Mosque in Mecca is originally linked to the expected Mahdi issue. They entered the Mosque because they had a scenario for the course of the group, after swearing allegiance to Mohammed Abdullah Al-Mahdi (Muhammad Abdullah Al Qahtani). They adopted the scenario from the apocalyptic books of Dissentions and Signs of Doomsday. This scenario states that “The man swears allegiance at the corner of the Mosque, and this man performs a sit-in there and then an army comes from Tabuk only to be destroyed. Then this man comes out of the Holy Mosque, travels to Medina and fights the Antichrist.” Later on, he leaves Medina and travels to Palestine and fights the Jews there and kills them. Jesus Christ then comes back to break the cross and kill the swine. Afterwards, they will go to Syria and pray at the Umayyad Mosque and then Doomsday will occur.

This was the scenario of the group according to the books of Dissentions and Signs of Doomsday. But three days later, it became clear that Al-Mahdi was killed in the Holy Mosque. Juhaiman also refused to believe that Mahdi was killed, and refused to declare that Mahdi was killed. He forced the group to deny his killing, boycotted them and poured his wrath on those who said Mahdi was killed.He also said that Mahdi could not be killed, but he was only surrounded at the Holy Mosque and would eventually come out. Of course this was an illogical vision, and almost occurred to them because of their obsession with the idea of salvation through the Mahdi.

The Grand Mosque in Mecca is a huge, 7-acre complex that can house some 1.6 million worshipers at any one time, particularly during the yearly hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca centered on spinning the sacred Kaaba in the heart of the Grand Mosque. Juhaiman ibn Muhammad ibn Saif al Otaibi, proclaimed that the ruling Al Saud dynasty had gone astray because it was dishonest, pretentious and had destroyed Saudi culture by a friendly policy of Westernization. His grandfather had ridden with Abd al Aziz in the early decades of the century, and other family members were among the leaders of the Ikhwan. Juhaiman said that his validation was that the Al Saud had lost its legitimacy through corruption, ostentation, and mindless imitation of the West; almost an reverberation of his grandfather’s charge in 1921 against Abd al Aziz. Interestingly Juhaiman accusations against the Saudi monarchy strongly resembled Ayatollah Khomeini’s diatribes against the Shah.

Otaibi and Qahtani met while being locked up together for incitement to rebellion, when Otaibi narrated a dream to Qahtani that he has been sent by God as the Mahdi. Their declared goal was the establishment of a theocracy and preparing homework for the ominous ‘Judgment Day’ or ‘The Rapture.’ Most of their followers were drawn from the Islamic University in Medina. Other followers came from Yemen, Kuwait, and Egypt and also included some black African Muslims. The followers preached their fundamental message in different mosques in Saudi Arabia without being arrested. The government was disinclined to meet head-on with the religious extremists. Members of the ulema cross-examine Otaibi and Qahtani for profanation, but they were consequently freed as being traditionalists like Otaibi’s grandfather, and not a danger.

Automatic weapons were stolen from National Guard armories, and the supplies were hidden in the hundreds of tiny underground rooms under the mosque that were used as hermitage. Juhaiman party included women as well as men, other peninsular Arabs, and a few Egyptians. They had provisions for the siege they expected as well as extensive supplies of arms. Sheikh Mohammed al-Subayil, imam of the Grand Mosque, was preparing to address 50,000 worshipers through a microphone inside the mosque. Among the worshipers, what looked like mourners bearing coffins on their shoulders and wearing headbands made their way through the crowd. It wasn’t an unusual sight. Mourners often brought their dead for a blessing at the mosque. Sheikh Mohammed al-Subayil was shoved aside by men who took machine guns from beneath their robes, fired them in the air and at a few policemen nearby, and yelled to the crowd that “The Mahdi has appeared!” Mahdi the Arabic word for messiah. The “mourners” set their coffins down, opened them up, and produced an arsenal of weaponry that they then brandished and fired at the crowd. The militants, who numbered close to 500, were well armed, their weapons, in addition to their coffin arsenal, having been stashed gradually in the days and weeks before the assault in small chambers beneath the Mosque. They were prepared to lay siege to the mosque for a long time.

The Saudi leadership was shocked and largely paralyzed by the occupation. The Grand Mosque surrounds the Kaaba, sign of the ‘oneness of God’ and believed by Muslims to have been built by the Prophet Abraham. The courtyard is one of the sites where the hajj, the fifth pillar of Islam, is enacted. Because of the holiness of the place, no non-Muslims may enter the city of Mecca. Furthermore, all holy places come under a special injunction in Islam. It is prohibited to shed blood there or to mutilate or to contaminate them in any way. Despite cautious planning on Juhaiman part, a guard was shot dead by one of the restless dissident. Such a defilement is a major infringement under Islamic law and merits crucifixion for the convicted offender.

As the casualties climbed, a team of three French commandos from the Groupe d’Intervention de la Gendarmerie Nationale (GIGN) arrived in Mecca. Because of the prohibition against non-Muslims entering the holy city, they converted to Islam in a brief, formal ceremony. Saudi Arabia also used an elite unit of the SSG, the commando unit of the Pakistan Army. Saudi forces drilled holes into the courtyard and dropped grenades into the rooms below, indiscriminately killing many hostages but driving the remaining rebels into more open areas where they could be picked off by sharpshooters. By November 27, most of the mosque was retaken by the Saudi National Guard and the Army though they suffered heavy casualties in the assault. However, in the catacombs under the mosque, numerous militants continued to defy and gas was used to force them out. More than two weeks after the assault began, the surviving rebels finally surrendered.

At dawn on Jan. 9, 1980, in the public squares of eight Saudi cities, including Mecca, 63 Grand Mosque militants were beheaded by sword on orders of the king. Among the condemned, 41 are Saudi, 10 from Egypt, 7 from Yemen (6 of them from what was then South Yemen), 3 from Kuwait, 1 from Iraq and 1 from the Sudan.

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