ISIS may have attacked Mecca. The Jerusalem Post reports:
Saudi security forces shot dead two alleged Islamic State fighters and two others blew themselves up outside the holy city of Mecca on Thursday, the interior ministry said.
“The terrorists fired upon security forces requiring them to respond in kind to neutralize the threat, leading to the killing of two and the death of two others who blew themselves up with explosive belts,” the ministry said in a statement.
State-owned Al-Arabiya TV reported that the security forces surrounded the group in the Wadi Noman area south of the city, showing images of police trucks mounted with machine guns around a walled compound.
No civilians or security forces were killed or wounded, the interior ministry said.
These are preliminary reports from what’s undoubtedly a chaotic scene, in a nation with a less-than-free press. That being said, if they’re true, this is big news. The religious wars in the Middle East seem to have reached into the very heart of Islam.
The legitimacy of the Kings of Saudi Arabia is based in large part on their protecting the cities of Mecca and Medina (they bear, among other titles, the old Ottoman honorific of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques). Riyadh is unlikely to take this lying down. The Saudis have suffered their fair share of (often-underreported) terror attacks in recent months and years, but this may mark a turning point. Such an attack also signals, as if anyone were in doubt, ISIS’ deadly intent even against their fellow Sunni Muslims.