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The Siege of Mecca: The Forgotten Uprising in Islam's Holiest Shrine and the Birth of al-Qaeda Hardcover – Bargain Price, September 18, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Trofimov, a Wall Street Journal writer and observer of the Muslim world (Faith at War), tackles an incident unreported in the West: the violent takeover of Islam's holiest shrine by Muslim fundamentalists in 1979. Carrying out his investigations in one of the world's most closed societies, Trofimov has crafted a compelling historical narrative, blending messianic theology with righteous violence, and the Saudi state's sclerotic corruption with the complicity of the official religious institutions. Trofimov aptly points out endemic regional problems with enduring repercussions for fighting terror, but is hampered by his sensationalist style (The world was twelve months away from the tumultuous events that would cover the mosque's marble courtyard with blood, spilled guts and severed limbs). In 1979, the Saudi intelligence services apparently had no accurate blueprints of the Grand Mosque, and knew nothing of the underground labyrinth where many of the militants took shelter; they eventually received plans to the site from Osama bin Laden's older brother. Ringleader Juhayman and his followers have inspired al-Qaeda and countless other Islamic revivalist movements to ever greater acts of violence, even though they were mesmerized by their limited understanding of an obscurantist theology and were convinced that that one of their unassuming members was the Messiah. Casual readers will be well served by this introduction to Muslim fundamentalist terrorism. (Sept. 18)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Advance Praise for The Siege of Mecca
“Yaroslav Trofimov has written a spellbinding thriller. Packed with vivid, previously undisclosed details, it illuminates a little-known hostage crisis in the closed-off heart of the Muslim world that helped give rise to Al Qaeda. Once I started reading, I couldn't put the book down.”
—Rajiv Chandrasekaran, author of Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq's Green Zone
“As Yaroslav Trofimov amply and skillfully demonstrates, the most radioactive particle in the world today is not North Korea, Iran, or, for that matter, the United States. It is, rather, the terrifying bundle of contradictions otherwise known as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The most formative event in the modern history of this secretive and at times morally disgusting petrocracy is vivisected by Trofimov to unsettling effect, and he reminds us of why anything that has happened or will happen there is a matter of great concern to the world.”
—Tom Bissell, author of God Lives in St. Petersburg and The Father of All Things
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From inaccurate speculations to unreliable anecdotes the November 1979 siege of the Masjid-Al-Haram has been sorrounded by stories, which after reading this book, I could just mockingly call all that are ascribed to the event a sidewalk tales. The most common of them all was the story that the miscreant radicals who laid siege to the Kaaba were Shiites that were trying to claim Masjid Al Haram for themsleves. However, this book claims otherwise, as the rebels were not in any way affiliated with the Shiites, or any sect on that matter, but in fact they were deviated Sunnis who have went to the extremes.
This book will amaze its readers with the complexity of the event where we can make a realization that it was multifaceted and it was not shaded simply in black and white. As aformentioned, it was not sectarian battle let alone a religious conflict. As we go along further in reading the book, we will be surprise to learn that there was even an intervention from the allies of the kingdom which makes their position very complicated because they were non-Muslims and Mecca, for some reason, is off-limits to them. But in such a preacarious situation that needs an immideate and drastic solution, desperation prompts individuals to look for ways even if it seems impossible.
While reading this book everytime I stumbled upon an Islamic matters like history, rulings and an Arab customs, (and I am not claiming to be well-versed on these aspects but I could easily distinguish if just for instance an anecdote being attributed to the Arabs are fake or genuine) I could tell that the author really done some research and this book is really accurate which illustrates his knowledge on the subject that proves his resoluteness in incorporating the authentic details in his book. However, there was one thing that I noticed from the way the author described some circumstances that though it is quite accurate but it was somewhat an indirect mockery of Arab or Islamic customs and rulings alluding to their backwardness and ineptitude. But be that as it may, setting all the egos aside here, the rest are amazingly accurate as far as my limited knowledge of it is concerned.
Though the boook titled itself as “The Siege of Mecca” but I think the most accurate title would be “The siege of Masjid Al Haram.’ Only a very small portion of the entire city was held hostage by the radicals, in fact the sorrounding hotels and other establishment adjacent to the Masjid was still occupied while the rest of the city was running business as usual. And most of the intense fighting happened and contained inside Masjid Al Haram. However it is quite comprehensible that “Mecca” was used due to its popularity. The majority of the people of the globe have not the slightest idea or familiarity of Masjid Al Haram.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to understand and want to have a broad knowledge on what really happened in November 1979 in Masjid Al Haram. To those who want to learn of its minutest details and to learn of the root cause of the harrowing event and what prompted Johaiman Al Otiebi and his cohorts to do the most sacreligious, repulsive and abhorrent act ever committed on the ground of Kaaba.
This book is so well written and is an easy page turner despite the scope and subject. I learned so much even though it felt like I was just reading a good action story! Now that's a great way to learn without feeling like you're doing homework!!! The amount of research and investigation for this project had to be astounding yet the author clearly did a thorough job and then was able to concisely convey the results with an absolutely gripping and compelling narrative. That's obvious talent, and it was a real eye opener for me too!
Many of the other reviewers here explain the book in detail so I won't rehash it myself. I will however highly, highly recommend The Siege of Mecca! Go ahead, entertain AND educate yourself with this one!!!