The Siege of Mecca

  • by Yaroslav Trofimov
  • Narrated by Todd McLaren
  • 8 hrs and 11 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

On November 20, 1979, worldwide attention was focused on Tehran, where the Iranian hostage crisis was entering its third week. The same morning, the first of a new Muslim century, hundreds of gunmen stunned the world by seizing Islam's holiest shrine, the Grand Mosque in Mecca. Armed with rifles that they had smuggled inside coffins, these men came from more than a dozen countries, launching the first operation of global jihad in modern times. Led by a Saudi preacher named Juhayman al Uteybi, they believed that the Saudi royal family had become a craven servant of American infidels and sought a return to the glory of uncompromising Islam. With nearly 100,000 worshippers trapped inside the holy compound, Mecca's bloody siege lasted two weeks, inflaming Muslim rage against the United States and causing hundreds of deaths. Despite U.S. assistance, the Saudi royal family proved haplessly incapable of dislodging the occupier, whose ranks included American converts to Islam. In Iran, Ayatollah Khomeini blamed the "Great Satan", the United States, for defiling the shrine, prompting mobs to storm and torch American embassies in Pakistan and Libya.
The desperate Saudis finally enlisted the help of French commandos led by Captain Paul Barril, who prepared the final assault and supplied the poison gas that knocked out the insurgents. Though most captured gunmen were quickly beheaded, the Saudi royal family responded to this unprecedented challenge by compromising with the rebels' supporters among the kingdom's most senior clerics, helping them nurture and export Juhayman's violent brand of Islam around the world.
Written with the pacing, detail, and suspense of a real-life thriller, The Siege of Mecca reveals how Saudi reaction to the uprising in Mecca set free the forces that produced the attacks of 9/11 and the harrowing circumstances that surround us today.


What the Critics Say

"Solid journalistic and storytelling skills....Trofimov does excellent work in narrating [these events]." (Kirkus)
"A compelling historical narrative....Casual readers will be well served by this introduction to Muslim fundamentalist terrorism." (Publishers Weekly)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

"The Siege" - A Review

If you enjoy connecting the dots of past incidents in the Middle East and seeing their impact on today's world...A MUST "READ"! Fast paced, easily understood. Doesn't get into mundane minutia but flies at 30,000 feet. Fanatic zealots think their guy is the Machti (the prophet the returns to save the world and purge all infidels from the lands of Islam).

To prove their point they seize the grand temple in Mecca and kill hundreds of innocents. This causes the entangling of the House of Saud, the US, other Islamic countries, and France's elite anti-terrorism squadron.

CAUTION: you may miss work sitting in the parking lot, while waiting for the end!
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- Mitch Emswiller

An essential book

I was thoroughly enthralled listening to this untold story of an event that was somewhat overshadowed at the time and which turns out to have been something of a turning point in the radicalization of Islam.
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- Philip

Book Details

  • Release Date: 10-19-2007
  • Publisher: Tantor Audio