3 December 1979, Makkah: It was as great a sacrilege to devout Muslims as an attack on Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre would be to Christians, or a profanation of the Wailing Wall would be to Orthodox Jews. Last week, a day before the beginning of the Islamic New Year, a mysterious band of Muslim fanatics seized the Sacred Mosque of Mecca, taking an unknown number of hostages. At week’s end, the situation at the Sacred Mosque was unclear. Government officials in Riyadh said that Saudi armed forces, including the crack National Guard commanded by Prince Abdullah ibn Abdul Aziz, were in “complete control” of the mosque. Other sources, however, suggested that some of the invaders were holding out.
– December 3, 1979