In The Siege of Mecca, acclaimed journalist Yaroslav Trofimov pulls back the curtain on a thrilling, pivotal, and overlooked episode of modern history. The terrorist siege of the Grand Mosque at. Mecca in Saudi Arabia between November. 20 and December 4, has been relegated to a footnote in the. PDF | It is recommended that all victims and those affected through the I was very anxious to read Yaroslav Trofimov's THE SIEGE OF MECCA, published by.
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In The Siege of Mecca, acclaimed journalist Yaroslav Trofimov pulls back the curtain on a thrilling, pivotal, and overlooked episode of modern history, examining. The siege of the Grand Mosque at Mecca by Juhayman al-Utaybi is one of the most mecca/pdf/_29Novpdf (accessed September 1, ). The Siege of Mecca: The Forgotten Uprising in Islam's Holiest Shrine and Full text views reflects the number of PDF downloads, PDFs sent to.
At the time, Saudi Arabia imposed a near-total news blackout on the Mecca events. No independent observers were allowed in the city during the siege, and even visiting Jeddah or Riyadh was nearly impossible for foreign reporters.
And, obviously, no one could tell the story of what happened among the insurgents because every suspected gunman found in the mosque was arrested. Most were promptly beheaded, and only a few have survived long prison sentences to tell their stories.
In following years, the uprising in Mecca became a taboo subject in Saudi Arabia. Even a book of official statements on the issue, published shortly after the siege, was outlawed and withdrawn from libraries. It is only now that people in Saudi Arabia are somewhat less terrified of speaking about the crisis—a change that allowed me to interview former terrorists and military officials involved in the siege.
Also, the passage of time made it easier to get the U. There were American citizens on both sides of the barricades. The gunmen occupying the Mosque included a number of African-American converts to Islam. Retired American military personnel were employed flying Saudi helicopters above the Mosque in support of the mission in Mecca.
And the CIA provided tear gas and advice on the ground. At the end, however, it was the role of the French commandos that proved decisive in the final assault on the shrine.
What does it teach us about our current conflict with Al Qaeda? In part because of this zeal, they managed to stave off the entire Saudi military for two weeks. This zeal also managed to unite people of disparate nationalities. How hard was it for you to get into Saudi Arabia to research this book, and how difficult was it to report within Saudi Arabia? I received my first visa for researching this book by sheer coincidence—somehow I was invited to attend an economic conference in Jeddah.
The visa was valid for seven days, and I managed to skip my minders on the first day, and spent all this time reporting to gain an extra day, I chose a flight that arrived shortly after midnight on the first day, and left on a flight just before midnight on the seventh.
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Later in the year, I returned to Saudi Arabia for a follow-up on the invitation of a research think tank—without the knowledge of information ministry minders who deal with visiting journalists.
Most of the historical accounts of Saudi Arabia narrated by Commins in this book add little for readers familiar with the subject. However, Commons contributes a noteworthy point on the relationship between Wahhabism in Saudi Arabia and the Muslim Brotherhood figures who came to the Kingdom as refugees from Egypt and Syria.
The role of the Brotherhood in developing the Islamic curricula and shaping the educational system of the Kingdom pp. These sections serve as a good introduction — for Western readers— of the post-Afghan war and the rise of Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda. Commins addresses how both movements Wahhabism and Muslim Brotherhood cooperated to shape contemporary political Sunni Islam in the post- Soviet-Afghan War, when the mujahideen known as the Arab-Afghans returned back from Afghanistan to their home nations after defeating the Soviet army in February For the most part, however, Islam in Saudi Arabia echoes David Commins' previous book, The Wahhabi Mission and Saudi Arabia , which raises the question of the need for another book on Islam in Saudi Arabia by this author, instead of an update of his earlier book.
There are also similarities between Chapter Five and Chapter Seven Much less well known, though pro bably more important, it also brought the siege of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, an d launched modern jihad. Mixing with the locals inside the mosque were , Muslims from all over the world. Hidden among them were hundreds of rebels, mostly Saudis of Bedouin stock.
The Siege of Mecca
They smuggled in arms inside caskets supposedly carrying dead relatives brough t for blessing. Ragged-looking rebels chained shut and guarded all 51 gates as soon as the regul ar prayers ended.
Machine-gun nests were set up atop the shrine s 7 minarets.
Th e Saudis imposed a communications blackout and its soldiers were reluctant to ac t for fear of condemnation for fighting fellow Muslims in a holy place.
Obtainin g that essential religious support required that the Saudi rulers commit to stri cter Islamic observation - no more women on TV, billions to be spent spreading r igid Wahhabi Islam around the world, etc. The Saudi Army then blasted the snipers out of the minarets using U.
The Hajj: An Expression of Saudi Power
Army TOW missiles , and then brought in armored personnel carriers to clear out the rebe ls in the above-ground portion of the mosque. Unfortunately, the mosque had a se emingly impenetrable underground labyrinth of rooms and tunnels that still house d rebels, and the Saudis were unable to dislodge them.
Jordan volunteered help, but was declined because of the site s history - origin ally taken from Jordan. The CIA was not used - presumably because this would hav e required Carter s authorization.
Thus, the Saudis went to the French, and were given three commandos as advisers. Their strategy involved wider use of a stron ger gas than the Saudis had used, and successfully led to retaking the shrine. The two week takeover brought an estimated 1, casualties, per independent exp erts vs.
Saudi intelligence brought no warning of t he siege - it had been focused on Communists, nationalists, and pro-Iranian revo lutionaries. After the takeover the Wahhabis decided to support the Saudi Arabia n government as a defense against Communism in Afghanistan and the Shiite heresy from Iran.
Unfortunately, the militant strains of Islam greatly benefited from the new support, and al Qaeda eventually was born. Jones III Albuquerque, NM, USA I was prepared to dislike this book, suspecting an "action pack thriller", full of loopy historical inaccuracies, if not outright fantasy - all because of the j arring black and red cover. Instead I found a lean, scholarly, and almost certai nly dispassionately accurate account of one of the more important and not very w ell understood events in the last quarter of the 20th Century.
It is written in a fast-paced action style, flipping back and forth among the major actors in thi s drama, but that enhances and does not hinder his story. Ramifications of this siege are affecting us today.
Trofimov knows his subject well, amazingly well. He deftly describes the num erous disparate historical antecedents to the taking of the mosque by Islamic fa natics, and the reactions of the major actors. America was tired of "foreign adventures," Vietnam being the prime reason, and therefore the CIA was severely constrained, with the coups it direct ed in Chile and Iran very much in mind. There was the Kingdom itself, being over whelmed by the "future shock" of oil revenues, and the attendant rapid "moderniz ation," with its own ills, inevitably leaving some people behind As with many events of this magnitude, ironies abound; they are described but no t overplayed.
The Royal Family must obtain a ruling from the Ulema, the chief re ligious body, that force can be used to remove the rebels, yet philosophically, the Ulema is in large measure in agreement with the complaints of the rebels.In previous centuries, the Hajj was sometimes spread out over several days between Sunni and Shi'ite pilgrims , with some pilgrims passing through 'Arafat while others were at Mina.
Fadi l's Printing Press, , 5. The question of the future of this holy land will be settled through consultations among the Muslims.
In Trofimov s summing up, he correctly identifies Juhayman s deed as only one of the currents which lead to the formation of Al Qaeda. First of all, this was the first time that the two components of al-Qaida today - the Wahabi zealots from Saudi Arabia and the jihadi extremists, the outgrowth of the Islam Brotherhood in Egypt - have come together. These sections serve as a good introduction — for Western readers— of the post-Afghan war and the rise of Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda.
Saud feared that these soldiers, given the opportunity, might join with Sharif Ghalib and drive the Saudi army out of Mecca.
And there were hundreds, maybe more than a thousand casualties.
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