Thrilling and Readable Account of Terrorist Atrocity,
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This review is from: The Siege of Mecca: The Forgotten Uprising in Islam's Holiest Shrine (Paperback)
Trofimov delivers a very readable and interesting account of when Islamic militants took over the holy shrine of Mecca in the winter of 1979.
With serious grievances against the ruling Saudi royals and their lapsing from the One True Faith, the militant known as Juhayman led an attack of many nationalities on the Grand Mosque in Mecca with the hope of uniting Wahhabi Muslims in a Jihad against the world. Not only were the Saudi authorities totally unprepared for the attack, they had no idea how to respond to the terrorists. The flimsy and badly organised security forces were lost and suffered many bloody casualties before expertise arrived in the form of the French GIGN. The Muslim world blamed the United States... and Israel, of course. This led to much anti-Western violence in the following days.
Despite a swift end to the insurrection following French assistance, the House of Saud almost fell and during the weeks after the attack withdrew many liberal measures from Saudi society after the national clerics demanded it as a concession for supporting their corrupt regime.
Just as startling was how the United States failed to recognise the nature of the terrorism involved. Failing to distinguish between Sunni and Shia and believing Iran was behind it all (they were not!), the United States were clueless as to how to proceed in the face of growing anti-American sentiment throughout the Muslim world. A problem they face today just as potent.
A brilliant read and one that should be read by all.