The Siege of Mecca : The Forgotten Uprising in Islam's Holiest Shrine, Paperback

The Siege of Mecca : The Forgotten Uprising in Islam's Holiest Shrine Paperback

3.5 out of 5 (1 rating)


20 November, 1979: as morning prayers began, hundreds of hardline Islamist gunmen, armed with rifles smuggled in coffins, stormed the Grand Mosque in Mecca.

With thousands of terrified worshippers trapped inside, the result was a bloody siege that lasted two weeks, caused hundreds of deaths, prompted an international diplomatic crisis and unleashed forces that would eventually lead to the rise of al Qaeda.

Journalist Yaroslav Trofimov takes us day-by-day through one of the most momentous - and heavily censored - events in recent history, interviewing many direct participants in the siege and drawing on secret documents to reveal the truth about the first operation of modern global jihad.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 320 pages, maps
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Middle Eastern history
  • ISBN: 9780141034065



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Very interesting and informative look at the attempt by millenarian fundamentalists to take over Mecca in 1979. The reader also gets a a better understanding of the way the the Saudi kingdom works, particularly the relationship between the monarchy and the clergy. Some of the author's attempts at linking this event and the response of the Carter administration to it to wider global political events and trends seem overblown, but otherwise this is fairly insightful.

Also by Yaroslav Trofimov