What are the chances of an attack in, operations in, or campaign against - all by terrorists - the holy Muslim cities of Mekkah and Madinah?
The last time there was a major incident in Mekkah was in 1979 when a group of hardline Wahhabis took over Haram ash-Sharif or the Grand Mosque, wherein is the Ka’ba. Their beliefs and demands are not unlike those of the hardline Wahhabis of today, omninously. (One difference is that the insurgents of 1979 declared one of their own as the Mahdi, which is not something modern hardline Wahhabis would be wont to do.) It took troops and weapons to put down the insurgents, which did much to harm the House of Saud’s reputation (not the use of force but, rather, their ineptness in preventing the takeover to begin with and their inability to put it down more swiftly when it happened).
Last year (or was it the year before that?), there were firefights between Saudi forces and terrorists in Mekkah, which showed the terrorists were grouping up and stocking up on weapons in the city. (As much as this shocked me, I’m glad the Saudi forces drove them out before they could do anything.)
For those who may be unfamiliar with why this is significant, the use of force or violence is strictly forbidden in Mekkah: this rule goes back to pre-Islamic pagan times. (Not that this rule prevented violence from occuring, but this does meanthat any unjust violence that occurs is instinctively condemned by Muslims through all ages and in all places.) This is so crucial that the Qur’an had to give a special dispensation with regards to fighting pagans in Mekkah and in the holy months - otherwise Muslims would have been reluctant or unwilling to fight their oppressors. The fact that Muhammad conquered Mekkah peacefully also emphasizes Mekkah as an abode of peace and tranquility.
Considering their similarities with the insurgents of 1979 and their willingness to even bring weapons into the sacred confines of Mekkah, how possible is it for there to be an incident by terrorists in Mekkah or Madinah?
The Bastards who use “Jihad” as an excuse to commit acts of violence that can include innocent victims have demonstrated their disdain for Islam by staging such events from mosques and using these sites as refuge. Only recently has The West (naughty in its own right, admittedly) decided that this disdain should go both ways if the site is being used as a terrorist device.
I believe one who holds such a twisted interpretation of Islam would have no qualms about staging an event from a holy city; and even of taking the city as a strategic “They wouldn’t DARE violate Mecca” HQ–all in the name of the battle against the enemies of Islam, of course. And once they stuff the Ka’ba full of munitions & supplies (can you smell the irony here?) thinking it’s a great place to store their crap, they just might find this structure, if not the whole city, will be found only in legend.
Well, there are all numbers of terrorist groups some more insane than the others. But Mecca would be such a stupid target to target that I don’t think any but the most clinically insane groups would target it.
Granted, many actions in the region have the perverse effect of causing lessened support for the target’s supporters, due to their not being able to defend it, and so I guess the only non-clinically insane reason to take it out would be to defeat the Saudi regime.
However, if you severely damaged Mecca in the action, while perhaps maybe having a chance of toppling the Saudi regime, it would backfire if you were an international organization. I would think that any support one might get from disgruntled people who feel they aren’t safe would be overweighed by the indignant outside Arabia’s borders.
I don’t think the religious sites would be a target of terrorism so much as conquest. It would truly be a case of who’s “holier than thou” and involve a purification of the religion to the standards of those involved. Which might well be the Wahhabi sect given the proximity to Mecca. Worst case would be a revision to the purification process before entering Makkah and Madinah. I can’t see denying one of the 5 pillars of Islam to the overwhelming majority of Muslims. THAT would be a war.
Mekkah is in many ways a perfectly normal Saudi city. They got Starbucks, McDonalds, highways and elementary schools. It would not be much more difficult to do an attack in Mekkah than in any other city.
(It might be a bit tougher because of an increased security presence. On the other hand the Security Services here are both compromised and fragmented. Hundreds of weapons, thousands of uniforms and plenty of cars are in the hands of the Bad Guys.)
Every Hajj, the Iranians have an anti-America demo. Why the Saudis let it happen is a mystery. Are they able to stop it? Perhaps they choose to let it happen.
We can be certain that a counteroperation would be swift, deadly and well-rehearsed. The Royal Family takes security at the holy sites darn seriously.
I can see no reason it will not happen and lots of reason it will.