Report: Fundamentalists Plotted Disturbances At Mecca
MANAMA, Bahrain (AP) _ Members of an pro-Iranian underground fundamentalist group arrested in Egypt were planning to go to Saudi Arabia to create disturbances during the annual Moslem pilgrimage, a newspaper reported.
Bahrain’s Arabic-language newspaper Akhbar Al-Khaleej on Friday quoted Egyptian investigators as saying that Iranian intelligence officers had recruited the group as well as others in Britain, Pakistan, Bangladesh, India and Afghanistan. It said the groups were expected to work together.
Twenty members of the Egyptian-based group were to smuggle arms and explosives to Saudi Arabia, organize demonstrations and distribute hostile leaflets calling for ″internationalization of the two holy shrines,″ the Cairo-datelined report said.
It quoted the investigators as saying that members of the group confessed to links with Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guards, the pro-Iranian Lebanese Hezbollah party, and the underground Iraqi party called Al-Daawa.
The shrines at Mecca and Medina are Islam’s holiest, and the Saudi ruling family is considered their custodian. Moslem pilgrims from all over the world converge annually on the kingdom for the pilgrimage, called the hajj, which falls this year in the latter part of July.
Demonstrations the Iranian pilgrims last year sparked clashes with Saudi police that left 402 people dead, 275 of them Iranians. The Saudi authorities said they died in a stampede, while the Iranians claim Saudi police shot them.
Saudi Arabia has limited pilgrims from each country to 1 per 1,000 people in any country, setting an expected Iranian quota of 45,000. Iran has said that if it cannot send its usual 150,000 pilgrims, it will boycott the event but that other groups will demonstrate against the Saudi government.