|Grand Mosque Seizure|
| Saudi National Guard|
GIGN Special Forces
|~10,000 Saudi NG,|
~3 French GIGN
|Casualties and losses|
|127? Saudi NG killed||250? Dead,|
63 later executed
The Grand Mosque Seizure on November 20, 1979 was an armed attack and takeover by armed Islamic fundamentalist dissidents of the Al-Masjid al-Haram in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, the holiest place in Islam. Events 284 - Diocletian was chosen as Roman Emperor. 762 - Bögü Khan of the Uyghurs, "December 4th" redirects here For the song by Jay-Z, see December 4th (song. Year 1979 ( MCMLXXIX) was a Common year starting on Monday (link displays the 1979 Gregorian calendar) The Saudi Arabian National Guard (SANG also known as the White Army) is one of five branches of the Saudi Arabian The National Gendarmerie Intervention Group, commonly abbreviated GIGN (Groupe d'Intervention de la Gendarmerie Nationale is the French Gendarmerie 's Elite Juhayman ibn Muhammad ibn Sayf al-Otaibi (جهيمان بن محمد بن سيف العتيبي ( 1936 &ndash 9 January, 1980) was a militant who led the Events 284 - Diocletian was chosen as Roman Emperor. 762 - Bögü Khan of the Uyghurs, Year 1979 ( MCMLXXIX) was a Common year starting on Monday (link displays the 1979 Gregorian calendar) Islamism ( Islam + ism; Arabic: al-'islāmiyya) a set of ideologies holding that Islam is not only A dissident, broadly defined is a person who actively challenges an established doctrine policy or institution Al-Masjid al-Ḥarām ( ar المسجد الحرام ʔælmæsʤɪd ælħaram "The Sacred Mosque" is the largest Mosque in the world Mecca ˈmɛkə also spelled Makkah ˈmækə (in full Makkah Al-Mukarramah (Arabic mækːæ(t ælmʊkarˑamæ مكّة المكرمة, literally Honored The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, KSA ( المملكة العربية السعودية, al-Mamlaka al-ʻArabiyya as-Suʻūdiyya) or Suudi For other meanings including people named 'Islam' see Islam (disambiguation. The insurgents declared that the Mahdi, or redeemer of Islam, had arrived in the form of one of the insurgents' leaders, Abdullah Hamid Mohammed Al-Qahtani, and called on Muslims to obey him. In Islamic eschatology the Mahdi ( ar مهدي, also Mehdi; "Guided One" is the prophesied redeemer of Islam who will stay on earth For other individuals named Al Qahtani, or some variant thereof see Al Qahtani (disambiguation.
The seizure shook the Islamic world as hundreds of pilgrims present for the annual hajj were taken hostage, and hundreds of militants, security forces and hostages caught in crossfire were killed in the ensuing battles for control of the site. The Hajj (حج is a pilgrimage to Mecca (Makkah It is the largest annual pilgrimage in the world The siege ended two weeks after the takeover began with militants cleared from the mosque. 
Following the attack the Saudi state implemented stricter enforcement of Islamic code. 
The seizure was led by Juhaiman ibn Muhammad ibn Saif al Utaibi, who belonged to a powerful family of Najd. Juhayman ibn Muhammad ibn Sayf al-Otaibi (جهيمان بن محمد بن سيف العتيبي ( 1936 &ndash 9 January, 1980) was a militant who led the Nejd or Najd (literally "highland" نجد) is the central region of the Arabian Peninsula. He declared his brother-in-law Muhammad bin abd Allah al-Qahtani to be the Mahdi, or redeemer of Islam, whose coming at endtimes is foretold in many ahaadith of Muhammad. In Islamic eschatology the Mahdi ( ar مهدي, also Mehdi; "Guided One" is the prophesied redeemer of Islam who will stay on earth Hadith ( ar الحديث, pl aḥadīth; lit. "narrative" are oral Traditions relating to the words and deeds of the Islamic IMPORTANT PLEASE READ ##### For all questions relating to the addition of (pbuh peace be upon him or other honorifics As predicted in one hadith about the Mahdi, Muhammad bin abd Allah al-Qahtani was a descendant of Muhammad himself. Hadith ( ar الحديث, pl aḥadīth; lit. "narrative" are oral Traditions relating to the words and deeds of the Islamic "His and his father's names were the same as Muhammad's and his father's, and he had come to Mecca from the north. " Furthermore, the date of the attack, November 20, 1979 was the first day of the year 1400 according to the Islamic calendar, which according to another hadith was the day that the Mahdi would reveal himself. Events 284 - Diocletian was chosen as Roman Emperor. 762 - Bögü Khan of the Uyghurs, Year 1979 ( MCMLXXIX) was a Common year starting on Monday (link displays the 1979 Gregorian calendar) Hadith ( ar الحديث, pl aḥadīth; lit. "narrative" are oral Traditions relating to the words and deeds of the Islamic 
Juhaiman Saif al Otaibi was from "one of the foremost families of Najd. Nejd or Najd (literally "highland" نجد) is the central region of the Arabian Peninsula. His grandfather had ridden with Abd al Aziz in the early decades of the century. Abd al-Aziz ibn Saud Abd al-Rahman ibn Saud Muhammad ibn Saud Turki ibn Saud Fahd ibn Saud " He was a preacher, a former corporal in the Saudi National Guard, and former student of revered conservative Sheikh Abdel Aziz al Baaz, who went on to become the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia. Abd al-Aziz ibn Abd Allah ibn Baaz () also known as Bin Baaz, was the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia from 1993 until his death in 1999 Juhaiman had turned against al Baz, "and began advocating a return to the original ways of Islam, among other things; a repudiation of the West; an end of education of women; abolition of television and expulsion of non-Muslims. "  He proclaimed that "the ruling Al Saud dynasty had lost its legitimacy, because it was corrupt, ostentatious and had destroyed Saudi culture by an aggressive policy of Westernization. The House of Saud ( Arabic: آل سعود romanized Āl Suʿūd is the Royal family of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Westernization or occidentalization (from occident, see wiktionary) is a process whereby societies come under or adopt the Western "
Otaibi and Qahtani had met while being imprisoned together for sedition, when Obeidi claimed to have a vision sent by God telling him that Qahtani was the Mahdi. Their declared goal was to institute a theocracy in preparation for the imminent apocalypse. Many of their followers were drawn from theology students at the Islamic University in Medina, which was known as a center of the Muslim Brotherhood. The Muslim Brothers ( Arabic: الإخوان المسلمون al-ikhwān al-muslimūn, full title The Society of the Muslim Brothers, often simply الإخوان Other followers came from Yemen, Kuwait, Egypt, and also included some Muslim African-Americans. Yemen ( Arabic: اليَمَن al-Yaman officially the Republic of Yemen ( Arabic: الجمهورية اليمنية al-Jumhuuriyya The State of Kuwait ( دولة الكويت IPA [dawlatt̪ alkuwajt̪]) is a sovereign Arab Emirate on the coast of the Persian Gulf, enclosed This article is about the country of Egypt For a topic outline on this subject see List of basic Egypt topics. African Americans or Black Americans are citizens or residents of the United States who have origins in any of the black populations of Africa The followers preached their radical message in different mosques in Saudi Arabia without being arrested.  The government was reluctant to confront religious extremists. Members of the ulema cross-examined Otaibi and Qahtani for heresy, but they were subsequently released as being traditionalists harkening back to the Ikhwan, like Oteibi's grandfather, and not a threat. Ulema ( ar علماء,, singular ar عالِم,, "scholar" refers to the educated class of Muslim legal scholars engaged in the several For Al-Ikhwān Al-Muslimūn, see Muslim Brotherhood. For the Kashmiri organization see Ikhwan (Kashmir The Ikhwan 
Due to donations from wealthy followers, the group was well-armed and trained. Some members, like Otaibi, were members of the National Guard.  Some National Guard troops sympathetic to the insurgents infiltrated weapons, ammunition, gas masks, and provisions into the mosque compound over a period of weeks before the new year.  Automatic weapons were stolen from National Guard armories and the supplies secreted in the hundreds of tiny underground rooms under the mosque that were used as hermitages. 
In the early morning of 20 November 1979, the imam of the Grand Mosque, Sheikh Mohammed al-Subayil, was preparing to lead the prayers for the fifty thousand worshippers who had gathered for the final day of the hajj. Events 284 - Diocletian was chosen as Roman Emperor. 762 - Bögü Khan of the Uyghurs, Year 1979 ( MCMLXXIX) was a Common year starting on Monday (link displays the 1979 Gregorian calendar) The Hajj (حج is a pilgrimage to Mecca (Makkah It is the largest annual pilgrimage in the world He was interrupted by insurgents who procured weapons from under their robes, chained the gates shut and killed several policemen.  The number of insurgents has been given as "at least 500" and "four to five hundred", which included several women and children who had joined Otaibi's movement.  Juhayman had not planned for the bloodshed, which was carried out by one of the nervous dissidents. At the time the Grand Mosque was being renovated by the Saudi Binladin Group, in what was the most prestigious construction contract in Islam. The Saudi Binladin (or Binladen) Group (SBG (in Arabic مجموعة بن لادن السعودية) is a multinational Construction An employee of the organization was able to report the seizure to corporate headquarters before the insurgents cut the telephone lines. A representative of the Binladin Group was thus the first to notify King Khalid. Bandar bin Khalid Abdallah bin Khalid Al-Jauhara bint Khalid Nuf bint Khalid Mudhi bint 
The insurgents released most of the hostages, locking the remainder in the sanctuary, and took positions in the upper levels of the mosque, with snipers in the minarets, from which they commanded the grounds. No one outside the mosque knew how many hostages remained, how many militants were in the mosque and what sort of preparations they had made. Soon after the seizure, about a hundred security officers from the Interior Ministry attempted to retake the mosque and were decisively turned back with heavy casualties. The survivors were quickly joined by units of the Saudi Army and National Guard. 
By the evening, the entire city of Mecca had been evacuated. Prince Sultan, then-Minister of Defense, rushed to the city to set up a field command. Khalid Bandar Fahad Turki Sultan appointed his nephew Turki bin Faisal Al Saud, head of the Al Mukhabarat Al A'amah, to take over the forward command post several hundred meters from the mosque, where Turki would remain for the next several weeks. Turki bin Faisal Al Saud (born February 15, 1945) most commonly referenced as Turki al Faisal is the former Director General of Saudi Arabia's The Re'asat Al Istikhabarat Al A'amah (رئاسة الاستخبارات العامة or the General Intelligence Presidency GIP (رئاسة الاستخبارات العامة However, the first order of business was to seek the approval of the ulema, which was led by Abdul Aziz bin Baz. Abd al-Aziz ibn Abd Allah ibn Baaz () also known as Bin Baaz, was the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia from 1993 until his death in 1999 The Qur'an forbids any violence within the Grand Mosque, to the extent that plants cannot be uprooted without explicit religious sanction. The Qur’an ( القرآن, literally "the recitation" also sometimes transliterated as Qur’ān, Koran, Alcoran ibn Baaz found himself in a delicate situation, especially as he had previously taught Otaibi in Medina. Medina mɛˈdiːnə (المدينة المنورة ælmæˈdiːnæl muˈnɑwːɑrɑ or المدينة ælmæˈdiːnæ also transliterated into English as Regardless, the ulema issued a fatwa allowing deadly force to be used in retaking the mosque. A fatwā (فتوى plural fatāwā فتاوى in the Islamic faith is a religious opinion on Islamic law issued by an 
With religious approval granted, Prince Sultan ordered frontal assaults on three of the main gates, preceded by an artillery barrage. The assaulting force never got close to breaking through the insurgents' defenses, while snipers continued to pick off members of the security forces whenever they showed themselves. The mosque's public address system was used to broadcast the insurgents' message throughout the streets of Mecca. Confusion reigned at the field command, where several senior princes, the heads of the armed forces and military attaches from the United States and Pakistan gave contradictory advice. The United States of America —commonly referred to as the Pakistan () officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, is a country located in South Asia, Southwest Asia, Middle East and In the middle of the day, Sultan ordered helicopters to lower troops on ropes directly into the courtyard in the center of the mosque, which turned out to be a suicide mission. At this point, King Khalid appointed Turki head of the operation. 
On November 25, the Arab Socialist Action Party - Arabian Peninsula issued a statement from Beirut alleging to clarify the demands of the insurgents. Events 1034 - Máel Coluim mac Cináeda, King of Scots dies Donnchad, the The Arab Socialist Action Party – Arabian Peninsula (حزب العمل الاشتراكي العربي ـ الجزيرة العربية was an underground oppositional Political Beirut (بيروت Bayrūt) is the Capital and Largest city of Lebanon with a population of over 2 The party, however, denied any involvement of its own in the seizure. 
Lawrence Wright reports that only three Frenchmen were called in, members of the highly trained GIGN counter-terrorism unit. Lawrence Wright, born August 2 1947 is a Pulitzer Prize -winning American author screenwriter staff writer for The New Yorker magazine and fellow at Legal residents and citizens To be French according to the first article of the Constitution is to be a citizen of France regardless of one's origin race or religion ( The National Gendarmerie Intervention Group, commonly abbreviated GIGN (Groupe d'Intervention de la Gendarmerie Nationale is the French Gendarmerie 's Elite Because non-Muslims are not allowed in the holy city, they converted to Islam in a brief formal ceremony by Saudi religious leaders. For other meanings including people named 'Islam' see Islam (disambiguation.  Saudi officials deny the French actually entered Mecca. According to Wright, who interviewed Saudi officials, flooding and electrocuting were dismissed as impractical and lethal to the hostages, but an attempt to subdue the resistance with non-lethal gas failed also. Grenades were dropped into the chambers through holes that were drilled in the mosque courtyard and more than two weeks after the revolt began "the surviving rebels finally surrendered. " 
The battle officially left "255 pilgrims, troops and fanatics" killed "another 560 injured . . . although diplomats suggested the toll was higher. " Military casualties were 127 dead and 451 injured. 
The Bin Laden family and business resources were allegedly involved in this conflict. Osama bin Laden, with some spelling variations is the name used in English to refer to (أسامة بن محمد بن عوض بن لادن born 10 March Dr Daly, an adjunct scholar at Washington's Middle East Institute, and author for Jane's Intelligence Review says, "It has been reported that one of Osama's half brothers was arrested as a sympathizer of the takeover but was later exonerated. The Middle East Institute (MEI is a 501(c(3 non-profit organization founded in 1946 by Middle East scholar George Camp Keiser and former Secretary of State Jane's Information Group (often referred to as Jane's) is a Publishing company specialising in transportation and military topics which was founded by Fred T "
According to Cooperative Research:
In the 1960s Osama bin Laden's half-brother Mahrous bin Laden joined a rebel group opposed to the Saudi government. With his assistance, in 1979 the rebels smuggled weapons into Mecca, Saudi Arabia, using trucks belonging to the bin Laden family company. 500 rebels then seized the Grand Mosque in Mecca (sic), Islam's holiest mosque in its holiest city. They try, but fail, to overthrow the Saudi royal family. All the men who took part are later beheaded except Mahrous. Eventually he is released from prison because of the close ties between the bin Ladens and the Saudi royal family. Mahrous apparently abandons the rebel cause and joins the family business. He is eventually made a head of the Medina branch and a member of the board. He will still hold these positions on 9/11. But a newspaper reports that "his past [is] not forgiven and most important decisions in the [bin Laden family business] are made without Mahrous' input. " 
But Lawrence Wright reports that the bin Laden family actually provided important assistance in taking back the mosque by providing maps and technical information about the mosque critical in the assault. Lawrence Wright, born August 2 1947 is a Pulitzer Prize -winning American author screenwriter staff writer for The New Yorker magazine and fellow at 
Another explanation for Mahrous's involvement might be that he is a double agent.
Steve Coll's Ghost Wars states the weapons were transported in to the mosque prior to the takeover. Steve Coll (born October 8, 1958 in Washington DC) is a Pulitzer Prize -winning American Journalist and writer Ghost Wars The Secret History of the CIA Afghanistan and Bin Laden from the Soviet Invasion to September 10 2001, written by Steve Coll, published by Penguin  Bin Laden company trucks were a common sight in the mosque as the company won a contract to renovate and modernize the Mosque in 1973. The bin Ladens did help the regime during the takeover, by giving Saudi security forces the architectural plans for the site.
The insurgents were anti-Western, and included in their demands broadcast from the mosque loudspeakers the cutoff of oil exports to the United States and expulsion of all foreign civilian and military experts from the Arabian peninsula. The United States of America —commonly referred to as the  Nonetheless, in Iran Ayatollah Khomeini told radio listeners that, "It is not beyond guessing that this is the work of criminal American imperialism and international Zionism. For a topic outline on this subject see List of basic Iran topics. Seyyed Ruhollah Musavi Khomeini ( Persian:, pronounced muːsæviː-je xomejniː}}( September 24, 1902 – June 3 1989 "  
Muslim anti-American demonstrations followed in the Philippines, Turkey, Bangladesh, India,eastern Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Pakistan. The Philippines ( Filipino: Pilipinas, officially known as the Republic of the Philippines (fil ''Republika ng Pilipinas'' RP Turkey (Türkiye known officially as the Republic of Turkey ( is a Eurasian Country that stretches ( Bengali: বাংলাদেশ inc-Latn Bangladesh) officially India, officially the Republic of India (भारत गणराज्य inc-Latn Bhārat Gaṇarājya; see also other Indian languages) is a country Pakistan () officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, is a country located in South Asia, Southwest Asia, Middle East and  Anger fueled by these rumors peaked within hours in Islamabad, Pakistan, and on November 21, 1979, the day following the takeover, the U. |name = Islamabad|native_name = |nickname = |settlement_type = Capital City |total_type Events 164 BC - Judas Maccabaeus, son of Mattathias of the Hasmonean family restores the Temple in Jerusalem. Year 1979 ( MCMLXXIX) was a Common year starting on Monday (link displays the 1979 Gregorian calendar) S. embassy in that city was overrun by a mob, which then burned the embassy to the ground. A week later this anger swept to the streets of Tripoli, Libya where a mob attacked and burned the U. Tripolis ( Arabic: طرابلس Ṭarābulus - also طرابلس الغرب Ṭarā-bu-lus al-Gharb Libyan vernacular: S. embassy there on December 2, 1979. Events 1409 - The University of Leipzig opens 1755 - The second Eddystone Lighthouse is destroyed by fire Year 1979 ( MCMLXXIX) was a Common year starting on Monday (link displays the 1979 Gregorian calendar) 
Perhaps the most disturbing development to come out of the 1979 takeover of the Grand Mosque was the eventual revelation of prime organizer al-Utaibi's connection to the Saudi Arabian National Guard.
The rebels' leader, Juhayman, was captured and he and 67 his fellow rebels - "all the surviving males" - were tried secretly, convicted and publicly beheaded in the squares of four Saudi cities. 
But the Saudi regime responded to the takeover not only with the "stick" but with the "carrot," trying to please those likely to have sympathized with the takeover. It granted greater powers to the religious establishment. Crackdowns followed on everything from shopkeepers who did not close for salah and newspapers that showed photos of women, to the selling of dolls, teddy bears (images of animate objects being haraam), and dog food (dogs considered unclean). Ṣalāt ( Arabic: صلاة, pl ṣalawāt, Qur'anic Arabic: صلوة ṣalawah) (also munz in Pashto and Haraam (حرام is an Arabic term meaning "forbidden"