Khawarij: Has the destructive ideology reincarnated? [2 of 3]

Islam forbids any violence within the Grand Mosque, to the extent that even plants cannot be uprooted without explicit religious sanction. Hence to use force within the premises of the Grand Mosque, a verdict by the Ulema was mandatory.
This was sought and granted even though head of the Islamic Advisory Council Ibn Baaz had previously taught Otaibi in Medina (Juhayman al-Otaibi was the head of the group that had occupied the Kaaba  in the final months of 1979). The bloody siege lasted 3 weeks, Otaibi and his followers were eventually defeated and later executed along with 67 of his followers.
This was the first major attempt by militant Islamists to take power. Juhayman’s legacy was not easily quashed. His message would continue to inspire future militants, including Osama bin Laden).

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THE SEIZURE OF THE GRAND MOSQUE AND THEREAFTER

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by Nayyar Hashmey

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In June 2009 issue of this e-zine, we put up an article by Aftab Ahmad Khan wherein the author emphasized the thesis that the Talban of Pakistan are a replication of the Khwarijites that emerged in the early periods of Islam. These Khwarijites though were a renegade group of fanatics but carried such an extremity in their views that they even went beyond the teachings of the holy prophet [pbuH]. So much so their radicalism reached an extent where one of the Khwarijites [Ibn-e-Muljam] resorted to callous murder of the fourth caliph of Islam Hazrat Ali (R.A.] by throwing a poisonous arrow at him.

 So that was a brief from the Islamic history.

Coming back now to our topic of today, both of our writers are of the opinion that the present Taliban are nothing but an extension of these renegades of yesteryears.

 Soon after I published the first part of this article by Ahmed Raza, one of our readers expressed an interest to know about another aspect i.e. what happened after the seizure of the Grand mosque and how was it got vacated from the insurgents.

 In response to this query, another reader sent us some further material, quite pertinent indeed. The reader [Wasi] also sent some relevant links to the tragic saga of the seizure of the holy mosque. But the question posed by reader Khalid though was partially answered by Wasi, yet a complete picture that would clarify the question still did not emerge.

 So to answer this particular aspect of the 1979 tragedy in Mecca, here is what wikipedia has to offer on the subject:

Soon after the seizure, about a hundred security officers of the Interior Ministry attempted to retake the mosque. They were decisively turned back with heavy casualties. The survivors were quickly joined by units of the Saudi Arabian Army and Saudi Arabian National Guard.

 By 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. Sultan appointed his nephew Turki bin Faisal Al Saud, head of the Al Mukhabarat Al A’amah (Saudi Intelligence), to take over the forward command post several hundred meters from the mosque, where Turki would remain for the next several weeks. However, the first order of business was to seek the approval of the ulema, who were led by Abdul Aziz bin Baz.

 Islam forbids any violence within the Grand Mosque, to the extent that even plants cannot be uprooted without explicit religious sanction. Ibn Baaz found himself in a delicate situation also, because he had previously taught Otaibi in Medina. Regardless, the ulema issued a fatwa allowing deadly force to be used in retaking the mosque.

 With religious approval granted, Saudi forces launched frontal assaults on three of the main gates. The assaulting force was repulsed, and never even got close to breaking through the insurgents’ defenses. Snipers continued to pick off soldiers who 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 attachés from Pakistan gave advice.

Pakistan Army infantry and armoured units deployed in Saudi Arabia were mobilized immediately. Pakistani SSG commandos were rushed to Mecca from Pakistan at the Saudi Government’s request. Lawrence Wright reports that three Frenchmen were called in, these were the members of the highly trained GIGN counter-terrorism unit. They assisted the operation yet were not allowed physically to enter the holy city of Mecca.

 In the middle of the day, Saudi troops abseiled from helicopters directly into the courtyard in the center of the mosque. The soldiers were picked off by insurgents holding superior positions. At this point, King Khalid appointed Turki head of the operation.

 The insurgents broadcast their demands from the mosque loudspeakers, calling for the cutoff of oil exports to the United States and the expulsion of all foreign civilian and military experts from the Arabian peninsula.

 The Commandant of the Pakistan SSG, Brigadier Tariq Mehmood, asked for permission to end the siege by flooding the mosque. This proposal was deemed unacceptable by Saudi authorities. They then used tanks to ram the doors of the mosque and Pakistani Commandos Black Storks then resorted to spraying the mosque with non-lethal gases in order to subdue the occupiers, and dropped grenades into the chambers through holes drilled in the mosque courtyard. The Pakistani commandos stormed the mosque, and used the least amount of force possible to avoid damage to the mosque. They killed most of the insurgents, and managed to force the surrender of the survivors.

The battle had lasted more than two weeks, and had 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.

 This much about what happened after the seizure. Coming back now to the main theme of the second part of the article by Ahmed Raza.

Though there are many points on which one can differ from the thesis by the two WoP writers, yet, the main theme which they proffer in their respective posts, seems plausible in so far as what the TTP hoodlums are doing in Pakistan, and all that in the name of Islam [a religion of peace] cannot be done by someone other than the Khwarijites of today

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Next: 1979: Rebirth of Kharijites and Road to Pakistan 

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  2. […] Next: The Seizure of the Grand Mosque and Thereafter […]


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