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Treading on Hallowed GroundCounterinsurgency Operations in Sacred Spaces$
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C. Christine Fair and Sumit Ganguly

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195342048

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195342048.001.0001

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Fighting for the Holy Mosque

Fighting for the Holy Mosque

The 1979 Mecca Insurgency

Chapter:
(p.117) 5 Fighting for the Holy Mosque
Source:
Treading on Hallowed Ground
Author(s):

Pascal Ménoret

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195342048.003.0006

This chapter discusses the 1979 siege of the Grand Mosque in Mecca. The chapter is organized as follows. The first section examines the history of Juhayman's movement, “The Salafi Group that commands virtue and combats sin,” from its creation as a semi-official body in 1965 to the first signs of secession between its political wing, headed by Juhayman, and a pietistic minority. The second section details the open confrontation of Juhayman's followers with the Saudi authorities and the ensuing crackdown in 1976–1978. These efforts to repress the movement appear to have further radicalized it, since its violent millenarianism can be traced from that point. The third section analyzes the group's strategy and exposes why insurgents sought to occupy the Grand Mosque. The fourth section analyzes the counterinsurgency operations, which spanned two weeks from November 20 to December 4, 1979. Finally, the chapter details the ways in which the insurgency revealed the weaknesses of a government whose military and media strategies decisively failed.

Keywords:   counterinsurgency, Grand Mosque, siege, Juhayman, insurgency, Salafi Group

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