Maj. Gen. Al-Nafiei, who led Saudi forces to break Grand Mosque siege, dies

Maj. Gen. Muhammad Bin Zuwaid Al-Nafiei, the commander of the Special Forces that wrested the control of the Grand Mosque from the Juhayman Al-Otaibi gang in 1979 (1400 AH), died on Wednesday.

Al-Nafiei was one of the most prominent and famous personalities in the history of the Saudi army. His life was full of great successes and achievements. He made outstanding contributions in the protection of the homeland and its people.

Born in Makkah in the Hijri year 1364, Al-Nafiei lived his childhood in the holy city. He was associated with Al-Wahda Club in Makkah and won many medals during his early years of life.

He moved to Riyadh after joining the Saudi army. He was holder of a bachelor’s degree in military sciences and was well known for his love of poetry and Arabic literature.

Maj. Gen. Al-Nafiei played a big role in cleansing the Grand Mosque when insurgents, led by Juhayman Al-Utaibi and Mohammed Al-Qahtani seized Islam’s holiest shrine after taking several worshipers as hostages. The sacrilegious storming of the Grand Mosque by armed fanatics sent shock waves throughout the Islamic world.

The siege, which started in November 1979, continued for two weeks until the Special Forces, under Al-Nafiei, purged the Grand Mosque of the militants and their ideological leaders and took the control of it.

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