The Siege of Mecca

The Siege of Mecca


In November 1979, several hundred militants opposed to the westernisation of Saudi Arabia under the House of Saud occupied the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Islam’s holiest site, demanding a return to a more pure form of Islam. Dirk van den Berg’s fascinating documentary talks to both Saudi and western expert witnesses, including three French special forces officers who were secretly brought in to help end the siege.

Hundreds of soldiers, pilgrims and militants died – grainy video shows snipers firing from the minarets – while scholars debated the strict edict against using weapons inside the mosque. In the aftermath, Saudi society became more dogmatic, and the action itself undoubtedly inspired Osama Bin Laden.


Documentary charting the events of the seizure of the Grand Mosque in the Saudi Arabian city by hundreds of Islamic radicals in November 1979 and the lasting impact of the siege.