The Seizure of the Grand Mosque in Mecca in 1979

The BBC Arabic Service has produced a short documentary giving the full story of the seizure of the Grand Mosque (Masjid al-Haram) in Mecca in 1979, that was a crucial turning point in the modern history of Islam.  Contrary to my previous statements, based on false reporting from Saudi Arabia, the seizure was not carried out by Shia gunmen allied to Iran, but by the very same fundamentalist Muslims from the eastern district of Arabia, the Nejd, from where the Saudi royal family itself originated.

Many people think Saudi Arabia is a very ancient kingdom, but that is not the case. Arabia was conquered in 1932 by the army of the Saudi clan under King Ibn Saud, who defeated and replaced the former rulers of Mecca, the Hashemites, who traced their descent from Mohammed the Prophet.  The Saudis were in coalition with a group of fundamentalist Muslims who followed the teachings of a preacher named Ibn Wahhab, and were called Wahhabis.  Their extreme ascetic form of Islam is known as Salafism, and they were against all forms of modernization and westernization of Islamic culture and Muslim society.  The justification for their campaign was that the Hashemites had become corrupt due to contact with the West and were introducing modern western features into Islamic society.  The only remaining Hashemite monarch in the world today is King Abdullah II of Jordan.

By 1979 the Saudis had themselves become quite westernized and had introduced modernization (such as TV) into their Kingdom.  In the Nejd, the grandsons of former supporters of the Saudis, who themselves were brought up on Salafi Islam, were becoming very disquieted by these trends.  A particular former drug dealer, Juhayman al-Otaybi, a member of an influential family in the Nejd, decided to take action.  He declared his brother-in-law, Mohammed Abdullah al Qahtani, a very religious Salafist, to be the Mahdi.  The Mahdi is the concept of a Messiah or redeemer taken by both Islam and Christianity from Judaism.  Juhayman then started to plot to overthrow the Saudi regime and decided that his first step would be to take over the Grand Mosque in Mecca.

He organized his plan very efficiently.   He reconnoitered the structure of the Mosque and prepared for the take-over.  The day of the take-over, November 20, 1979, which was the first day of the year 1400 according to the Islamic calendar, his followers carried numerous coffins into the Mosque covered with religious slogans.  The coffins were filled with automatic weapons and no-one challenged them.  As soon as the Imam finished the final prayer, Juhayman’s followers took over the microphone and announced the take-over.  They ordered their followers, some 200 in all, to take their positions, which included on the tops of the 4 minarets and at all the gates.  Juhayman then announced the coming of the Mahdi.  He had taken all the attendees hostage, maybe 50,000 people, but then released most of them

For up to 2 hours nothing happened, then finally the Saudi police sent a  few policemen to see what was going on, they were met with a hail of bullets and most of them were killed.  Then the Saudis sent some Army soldiers and the same thing happened.  Then they sent their special forces unit, and the same thing happened.  With gradually higher levels of attack and with great losses on both sides, the rebels were forced into the huge basement of the Mosque,   But, the Saudis, without any apparent organization, were unable to dislodge them from there.  At this point the Saudis contacted French President Giscard d’Estaing for help.  He sent his top security team to advise the Saudis (as non-Muslims they were not allowed into the Mosque).

They set up a central headquarters and decided that since the rebels were well-armed and there was no way to defeat them fighting in the labyrinthine basement they would use poison gas.  They drilled holes all around the perimeter of the Mosque, then they threw in grenades and pumped in high levels of CS gas.  The rebels were then defeated, and after 17 days they had no more food or water and were overcome by the gas.  Some surrendered and others were captured by Saudi forces with gas masks. Approximately 65 surviving rebels, including Juhayman, were quickly tried and executed.  Some 200 Saudi forces and rebels were dead as well as ca. 50 civilians and some 500 were wounded.

The significance of this attack is that it set the pattern for what was to follow.  The development of Al Qaeda by Osama bin Laden, who  also from a pro-Saudi family. He also, as a fundamentalist Muslim, resented the introduction of modernization and westernization into Arabia (although he and his followers were not against using Western arms and communications).  But, he saw the Americans as the major target. This was followed by ISIS led by the self-proclaimed Caliph al-Baghdadi, who saw the establishment of the Islamic State as his major aim.  Both bin Laden and Baghdadi (supposedly) are gone now and the IS is almost defeated.  But, this pattern is established. The Saudis are now thoroughly westernized, and the next fundamentalist Sunni reformer is probably waiting in the wings, to declare the next Mahdi or Caliph to overthrow the corrupt Saudis.

Correction: In my analysis of the US economy I made a mistake in the current value of the Dow Jones Industrial Averages.  It has now reached 22,000, a huge increase of 4,000 since Pres. Trump was elected 7 months ago.

 

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Facts About Jerusalem

Here are some facts about Jerusalem, perhaps unpalatable to some:

  1. Mohammed died in 632 ce. In the Koran it says he ascended to heaven on his steed Buraq from the “fatherest Mosque.”  This clearly refers to a Mosque in Arabia, because Mohammed never left Arabia and there were no Mosques outside Arabia at that time and no Muslims had ever been to Jerusalem up to that time.
  2.  The Arab Muslims under Mohammed’s successor Caliph Omar (or Umar) conquered Jerusalem and the surrounding country from the Byzantine Christians in 637 ce, 5 years after Mohammed’s death! Jerusalem was still a predominantly Jewish city at that time.
  3. The Mosque of the Dome of the Rock was not built until 691 ce and the Al-Aksa (or “Fartherest”) Mosque was not built until 705 ce, although a wooden structure existed on the site before that.  However, it is clear that Mohammed could not have ascended to heaven from this Mosque because it was not built until 73 years after his death.
  4. It is evident that the Mosques on the Temple Mount (called Haram al-Sharif or Noble Sanctuary by the Muslims) where the Jewish Temples stood for thousands of years before, were claimed as holy or sacred to Islam in order to establish their claim to the Holy city of Jerusalem.
  5. Jews and other visitors who enter the area of the Western Wall and the Temple Mount from West Jerusalem must go through metal detectors and undergo a security check.  Muslims entering the Temple Mount and the Mosques from East Jerusalem until now have not had to undergo any security check.
  6. This is because after the 1967 Six-Day War, in an attempt to show magnanimity, Gen. Moshe Dayan then Israeli Defense Minister, allowed the Temple Mount (the holiest site in Judaism) and its Mosques to be controlled by the Jordanian Muslim Trust or Wakf.  As Churchill said “in victory magnanimity” but the Muslims have shown no gratitude for this colossal mistake by Dayan.  It has led to many years of further strife over the site.
  7. Many times there have been violent confrontations between Muslim gangs throwing Molotov cocktails and rocks on Jewish worshipers at the Western Wall below and the Israeli border police or IDF.  On several occasions Israeli forces have had to enter the Mosque to put down riots and attacks.
  8. The fatal shooting of two Israeli Border Police last week by a gang of Palestinian Arab terrorists who came from the Mosque with guns and then returned there has caused the IDF security experts to decide that metal detectors are needed there too.
  9. Metal detectors are used at most major Mosques, including the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, and at most Mosques in India.  This is a basic security precaution and does not in any way interfere with the ability of Muslims to access or to pray at the Mosques.
  10. The current rioting and violent confrontations in Jerusalem and elsewhere are part of the usual Arab Muslim reaction to anything Israel does in Jerusalem, where Israel has full sovereignty.  The false rumor that “Al-Aksa is in danger” has been used time and time again to foment Muslim anger at Jews and was the primary excuse for the anti-Jewish riots in 1929 in Jerusalem and Hebron that resulted in massacres of the Jewish inhabitants.  The murders of the Salomon family in the settlement of Halamish by a Palestinian Arab last week is another example of that false incitement.

The Tragic Death of Mashal Khan

Mashal Khan was a Pashtun student at the Abdul Wali Khan University, Mardan, Pakistan, who was killed by an angry mob on the premises of the University on 13 April 2017, over fake allegations of posting blasphemous content online.  Following investigations, the Inspector General of Police later stated “We did not find any concrete evidence under which [a blasphemy] investigation or legal action can be launched against Mashal, Abdullah or Zubair.   Mashal’s friend Abdullah stated to the police in writing that both Mashal and he were devout Muslims, but were actively denouncing mismanagement by the university and had previously led protests against it. Following the death of Khan, at least 45 people were arrested.  The suspects will be brought before the Anti-Terrorism Court of Pakistan.

Such is the situation in Pakistan and in many other Muslim countries, that anyone thought to be guilty of blasphemy can be killed.  Theoretically under Islam, blasphemy is a capital crime, and in a Muslim State like Pakistan where Sharia law is enforced, execution is the sentence.  But, since such cases rarely get to the court and the tendency is not to enforce the death sentence, it has become common for a mob of righteous Muslims to take the law into their own hands.  The same happened in Afghanistan in March 2015, Farkhunda Malikzada, a 27-year-old Muslim woman falsely accused of burning a Koran, was beaten to death by a mob in central Kabul as hundreds looked on.  This also lead to an international furore.

In the case of Mashal Khan, he was an excellent student who had gone to Russia to take a course and had come back to Pakistan with western ideas.  On his wall he had pictures of Lenin and Che Guevara.  Apparently he had upset some of his fellow students and the Administration of the University with his out-spoken views.  On the day of his death the rumor spread that he had blasphemed against Islam and a mob of his fellow students gathered outside his room.  Then they forced their way in and beat him, then dragged him outside the building and in broad daylight in front of hundreds of people they shot him and mutilated his body.  Let me repeat there was no actual evidence that he ever posted anything blasphemous.  But, even if he did…

There were 20 policemen on duty at the University that day and neither they nor the Administration did anything about it.  They did not report the incident to the police as required.  After complaints by his parents and friends, and international reporting, the police were forced to take action.  They have several videos taken on cell cameras  of the incident and they have arrested many students and members of the University Administration.  After further political protests, the University was forced to shut down.   There is now a serious debate going on in Pakistan over whether the blasphemy law is too broad and needs to be abolished.  But, there is strong opposition by the religious elements, many of whom believe that what the mob did to Mashal Khan was righteous justice. 

A Peaceful Religion?

One of the biggest issues of debate in the West is “is Islam a peaceful religion?” as many of our leaders have told us it is.  Now this is not a question about Muslims per se, we know there are certainly millions of nice, pleasant, peaceful Muslims.  But, the question is not about the individuals, but rather about the belief system itself.  And if Islam is not a “peaceful religion” that is a serious problem for Western civilization and those who have to protect the lives of their citizens in Western countries.  

The Arab Muslim world is in meltdown.  There are currently civil wars in Syria, Iraq, Libya, Egypt, Lebanon, Yemen, and all the major Sunni Muslim states have cut off ties with Qatar, as well as the more familiar Sunni-Shia schism that goes back to the origins of Islam.  The social fabric of Islam has broken down.  In so many of these countries there were dictators, and this comes from the fact that in Islam there is no distinction between religious and the secular power.  From the beginning there was one leader, Mohammed and he led both the religion and the army and controlled the state.  This was continued in the various Muslim empires that developed (Ummayad, Abbassid, Fatimid and Turkish).  All of them had Caliphs that controlled both state and religion, there was no separation of the two as in Western Christian civilization, that led eventually to a complete separation as in the USA.

If we judge by the degree of violence related to where-ever Islam exists, we can see an arc of war that stretches form Nigeria in the west thru Africa (N. Africa, and Somalia) thru to the Philippines in the east.  Case in point, the uprising of Muslims in the southern island of Mindanao, which is largely inhabited by Muslims.  There has been an on-going war there for generations due to the Muslim attempt to secede from the Philippines to form their own Muslim state.  Three days ago the Muslim militias (including Abu Sayyaf) invaded the town of Marawi, causing ca. 50,000 Muslims to flee.  The fighting has barely concluded, with the Philippine Army retaking the town.    

Now it may be that the extremists, militants and armed elements are a minority within each Muslim country or ethnic minority, but the fact is that where-ever there is Islam there is an armed uprising that seeks to destroy the current government and take it over in the name of Islam.  We can trace this tendency to two causes:

  • Jihad.  It is incumbent on every Muslim to carry out jihad or holy war to fight for Islam to be dominant in the governance of the State where he/she lives.  This would result in the imposition of Muslim Sharia law, that requires everyone in the State to follow the Muslim religion, infidels and heretics would either convert or be murdered.
  • Modern Political Islam.  This was initiated in 1928 when Hassan al Banna founded the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, in order to reassert Muslim control of power in Muslim/Arab countries.  It included a hatred for the West and all it stood for (democracy, liberalism, secularism) that was considered to have infiltrated and influenced Muslim society.  In order to remove this influence and return Islamic society to its original form such groups as Hamas, al Qaeda and ISIS wage ferocious wars of destruction.  

The reason “homegrown” Muslim terrorists wreak havoc and murder in their home countries is due to these two influences, spread by Islamic preachers in Mosques and through the internet via web-sites and videos.  Such avenues have hardly been touched by the Western powers-that-be due to concern for freedom of expression and individual rights.  These considerations must be overcome in order that the threat of jihadi Islam be defeated.

It is believed by Muslims that the world is divided into two regions, Dar al Harb, the region of war (or Dar al Kufr, the region of infidels) and Dar al Islam, the region of Islam (or Dar al Salam, the region of peace).  Looked at rationally, the opposite is in fact true, the region of Islam is the most war-torn violent region in the world, while the West is largely a region of peace (apart from Muslim terrorism and domestic violence).  The West does not seek to attack Muslim regions, only in response and in defense against attacks initiated by Muslim terrorists. So there is something fundamentally wrong and perverse about the Muslim religion and it needs fixing if the Muslim world is to enter the 21st century.  But, it is not our job to fix it, it is theirs.

 

The Racial Distinction

It is common among liberals to lump all forms of racism together, anti-Black, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, they’re all the same.  But are they?  To a right-wing extremist, a racist, they might appear to be.  But, looked at more carefully there are distinctions.  

For example, there is a sharp difference between the ambitions of Jewish and Muslim minorities in western societies.   Jews by and large want to stay in the background, they don’t want to rock the boat, they don’t want to draw attention to themselves, and they certainly don’t want to impose their own religious or cultural norms onto the general society.  Certainly non-religious Jews play a large role in western political life, but they want to be part of it, not change it. They want to integrate.

By contrast, Muslims are generally non-integratable, they remain in sharply defined cultural and religious community groups. They don’t like western norms, they want to change them.  In Muslim society in general and especially in the more extremist states, music is forbidden, mixed dancing is forbidden, women must wear clothes that hide themselves completely and women are treated as property.  These are all aspects of Sharia law, and it is incumbent on any believing Muslim to live under Sharia law and to strive to ensure that the country he lives in is governed by Muslims according to Sharia law.

There is an equivalent to Sharia law in Judaism and that is called “Halakha” or “the way.”   The fact is that very few people have ever heard of this because although it is Jewish law, and  governs relations among religious Jews, it has no relevance to the general western society and there are no Jews, as far as I know, who have ever suggested that Halakha should replace indigenous common law in Britain or in any other countries.

With Blacks the matter is a bit more complex, because in the US where the Blacks were slaves they were stripped of their own indigenous cultures and religions, and so became part of American culture and in fact influenced it very strongly (think of jazz, dancing, accents).  However, African Blacks live in a wide range of cultural and religious societies, from West Africa (Nigeria) to East Africa (Kenya) to South Africa.  But, it is generally accepted that tribal ways cannot govern a modern state, and so the societal norms are generally of western colonial origin.

So let’s be a bit careful when we discuss these matters.  They can be controversial.  But, now we are seeing the development of right-wing political parties, such as in Holland and France, that are not ant-Semitic but are anti-Muslim.  It is because they no longer see the Jews as a threat (in any case that “threat” was well taken care of during the Holocaust), but they do see the invasion of western societies by large Muslim minorities as threatening their own way of life.

Beware Ideologues

One of my favorite writers, Bertrand Russell, once said, “Beware of ideologues, they are dangerous people.”   When I was young and impressionable I pondered the meaning of that statement, why beware of people with an ideology?

But experience has shown that it is a good advice.  Ideologues tend to have ideologies that result in the deaths of others, many others, those who don’t share their ideology.  For example, for communists it was implicit that all capitalists were evil and as such needed to be “got rid of.”  So millions of enemies of the Soviet State were simply murdered.  Nazis were sure that European (Christian) civilization, such as it was, needed to be rescued from  Jewish influence, so murder all the Jews (they managed 6 million).  Racism, the ideology that supposes that ridding the world of ‘inferior’ races will somehow make life better, has resulted in the murder of millions of Blacks.  And so it goes.

This brings me to Islam, a religious ideology that requires that all non-believers (kaffir) be either converted or killed.  They have killed millions, especially in India and Africa, to expand their ideology and this was long before the current scourge of political Islam (Islamism) came along with its particular brand of terrorism.  Terrorism itself is not new, but radical Islamic terrorism is a new phenomenon, that derives from the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood, founded in 1928 in Egypt by Hassan al Banna and based on the belief that Islam must be purified from all foreign and Western (Christian) influences.  It is only a step from that to Hamas, Hezbollah, the Iranian regime and the Islamic State that is prepared to murder millions.

The common theme of these disparate ideologies is intolerance.  Intolerance of those who believe differently, who act differently, who think differently and of those who look different.  It may be true that most Muslims are peaceful citizens, but beware the ideologues among them.

The Jews became the Christians

International Holocaust Remembrance Day, January 27, commemorates the day that Russian forces liberated the concentration camp at Auschwitz where 1.5 million Jews were murdered (Israeli Holocaust Remembrance Day is in April, commemorating the uprising of the Warsaw Ghetto).  Here is an essay written for this occasion.

Jesus Christ was a Jew.  He was born a Jew, lived as a Jew and died a Jew. In fact he never mentioned the word “Christ” because it is Greek, he spoke Aramaic, which was the lingua franca of the region.  He never called himself a Christian and indeed no such designation existed then.  He considered himself merely a reformer within the realm of Judaism. For example, his teaching was an adaptation of Rabbi Hillel from centuries earlier, who wrote “that which is hateful to you do not do to another.”  Jesus was then murdered by the imperial forces of Rome and crucified as just another Jew. The religion known as Christianity was founded by Saul of Tarsus, a Jew who Hellenized his name to Paul and missionized for his heretical version of Judaism among the Greeks within the Roman Empire.

Initially the Christians were persecuted by the Romans, they were murdered and used in spectacles where they were devoured by lions and killed by gladiators.  But, many years later when the Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity (in 312 ce) he was responsible for deciding the tenets of the Christian religion (such as the semi-divinity of Jesus) at the Council of Niceae (325 ce) and wiping out all other variants as heretical.  So the collapse of the Roman Empire was coincident with the acceptance of a new and supposedly non-violent religion.

Yet, the religion was corrupted by the power and wealth of the Church and of the Christian Empires that succeeded Rome, the Byzantines, the Italian States, France, Germany, Spain, Portugal and England.  As a result of replacement theology, Judaism was supposed to be extinct and therefore Jews could be killed if they did not accept Christianity (the Muslims did the same).  This lead over the centuries not only to religious anti-Judaism, but also to racist anti-Semitism.

The logical outcome was that the perverse political extremist Adolf Hitler could use popular anti-Semitism as a means to attain power and then use his control over Europe during WWII to eliminate the Jews, which meant murdering millions of men, women and children.  So the Jews of Europe took the role of the downtrodden people of Jesus, that the early Christians had taken in relation to the Roman Empire.