Hajj tragedy: In defence of Allah, Iran and pilgrims
On September 11, 2015, the fourteenth-year anniversary of the U.S. twin-tower attack, a crane on the loose belonging to the Bin Laden family (family of the suspected twin-tower master-mind) construction company handling work at the Haram, went berserk, and like a thunderbolt from hell crushed pilgrims in the precincts of the holy Ka’abah. Over 100 pilgrims lost their lives.
Two weeks later when the hajj was at its peak and gathering momentum, about 2,000 pilgrims also lost their lives in what was said to be a “stampede” at the Jamarat Al-Aqbah. Many more are still missing.
Prior to these two tragedies, there was a fire at a residence of the pilgrims, in which fewer pilgrims died. There were casualty.
Of all world reactions, that of the Bahraini Al Khalifah dynasty was most strange and bizarre. The unpopular Al-Khalifa who had been chased out of his country and took refuge in Saudi Arabia congratulated the Saudis for organizing a successful Hajj!
The first Saudi official report was very degrading and humiliating, as it accused black African pilgrims for the tragedy. It later back-pedaled and claimed that the said “stampede” was as a result of disregard to Hajj rules by the whole pilgrims in the conduct of the hajj rite; ironically, they killed themselves!
The Saudi Grand Mufti, Abdul-Aziz ibn Abdullah Al al-Shaykh said, some pilgrims wanted to be killed in Mina in order to reach a high station in the hereafter, hence they put their selves in harm!
Subsequently, in the most disturbing manner, typical of the Wahabbi ideology, the Saudi authorities blamed Allah for the tragedy. And like a wild fire, those benefitting from the Muslims’ wealth hijacked by the Al-Saud royal family, the Oil Sheikhs, echoed the theory across continents. They said, “This was due to divine fate and destiny which is inevitable!” According to this theory, Allah decided to take the lives of the pilgrims at Mina in this humiliating manner, hence the stampede.
Reacting to this, a renowned teacher in the Islamic Seminary of Qom, Iran, Ayatollah Makarem-Shirazi said the House of Saud has no clear understanding of the meaning of divine fate and destiny explaining that, “Can we remove road controls and say the death toll from the accidents that will occur are caused by divine fate and destiny?”
When all these raging controversies were going on, Nigerians were astonished to hear from the BBC Hausa radio (also monitored by Daily Trust newspaper) an interview with Kebbi State Ameerul Hajj and Emir of Argungun, Isma’il Muhammad Mira who narrowly survived the ordeal, blamed the Saudi security for the tragedy.
He said, the Saudi security blocked the way which thousands of pilgrims were passing for the symbolic rite in Mina under scorching sun.
“Saudi security barricaded the road. That was how everybody stumbled. Those at the back were not aware that the front was no longer moving, and those at the front were stopped by the Saudi security. And the security were being increased in number to ensure that they effectively blocked pilgrims from passing through,” he said.
He said, “Only God knows what they planned and what happened at the place, and God will avenge the deaths. But what we know is that they barricaded our way.”
On the death toll presented by the Saudi authorities he said, “To say that the corpses totaled 700 is just ridiculous. As an Ameerul Hajj, in one of the hospitals we visited trying to determine our victims, the list of the dead people in that hospital alone was more than 1,200.”
There is another confession by a Nigerian pilgrims and legislator, Senator Bgenga Ashafa representing Lagos South constituency, who told the Senate during its session that Saudi authorities should be held accountable for the disaster for blocking 9 out of the 10 doors at Mina.
He said, Nigeria, with the second highest death toll, should seek explanation from Saudi Arabia over the death of its pilgrims. This is the likely reason a delegation from Saudi Arabia quickly visited Nigerian National Assembly and apologized.
Senator Gbenga Ashafa also accused the Saudi medical officials for inaction to save lives, because of what he described as their “deficiency in faith”. According to him, for the timely and well-coordinated effort of Nigerian medical personnel, the death toll would have been higher.
“The Saudi security forces were terrible; they did nothing. They were just watching as people began dying. No efforts were made to help anyone”, this statement was from a pilgrim who survived the stampeded during an interview.
In an interview with ABNA news agency, another pilgrim narrated what actually happened as a primary witness to the event: “The Saudi police blocked the road, forcing people to move in a very small and closed up road. They sent most of Hajj pilgrims on Street 204, but unfortunately that streetwas closed out! Police then called on those people in the front to sit and wait. When they sat down those behind thought the way had been opened up and as a result moved forth. People began tripping over one another and mayhem ensued”.
He was also asked why Iran and Nigeria suffered most casualty: “The tents of African and Iranian pilgrims were set up near where the accident happened, which is why they suffered most”.
Similarly, pan Arab daily Asharq Al-Awsat, a medium financed by the Al-Saud family claimed that the stampede was prompted when 300 Iranian pilgrims travelled from Mozdalafe to Mina failed to go to their tents. An Iranian pilgrim interviewed said it was not true. “After coming to Mina we went to our tents and ate breakfast, then we moved toward Jamarat. This event happened near Jamarat not at the entrance of Mozdalafe. There was a one-way road toward the Jamarat. How is it possible for 300 people to move against thousands?!”
There is now a twist in the story. The cause of the stampede is now Iran. Trumpets of Saudi royal kingdom have now began a full blown crafted propaganda in the media, which claimed that the stampede was as a result of lawlessness of the Iranian pilgrims.
In countries like Nigeria where Wahabbism is flourishing and being financed by the Al-Saud family with blood Riyals and Dollars, special programmes were being organized with ‘Cheap Imams’, while news commentaries are sponsored on radio stations in order to soften the already tensed nerves of Nigerians in the face of glaring evidences regarding the callous and recklessness of the Saudi authorities. According to this propaganda, that was why Iran recorded the highest deaths in the tragedy! Asharq Al-Awsat said so. What a bundle of contradiction!
The contradictory statements were aimed at exonerating the Saudi royal family from blame, when in the actuals sense the family’s hands are soaked with innocent blood. A Saudi Arabic daily, Al-Diyar reported that, the stampeded was caused by the untimely presence of the Saudi infamous deputy crown prince (whose unofficial nickname is “Reckless”) and Saudi Defense Minister’s entourage, which was accompanied by 200 military and 150 police personnel, in addition to 200 luxurious vehicles. This resulted in fatal blocking of the two of the three corridors of Mina. The irrefutable personal video recording of the incident attested to this fact. To cover up what actually happened in Mina, the Saudi Kingdom has banned the release of the official CCTV recording of the event.
The same Asharq Al-Awsat in an interview with Mr. Hani al-Shoukri, an astute Middle-East expert presented a new insight into the Mina tragedy. Mr. Hani al-Shoukri claimed that there is evidence indicating the Saudi security forces indeed dispersed toxic chemicals among the pilgrims, which led to the deadly incident.
Another Egyptian Saudi-based medical expert, Dr. Abdulhamid Fauzy wrote a complaint letter to Saudi monarch that a poisonous substances must have been used on the pilgrims during the stampeded.
As reported by AL-MUDIH news channel, Dr. Fauzy explained that after thorough medical examination and expert analysis he and other doctors in Egypt have come to the conclusion that a poisonous gas has been used on the pilgrims.
He further explained that, some of the pilgrims who survived are now experiencing complete loss of memory, to the extent that some could not even remember their names. He noted that such situation cannot happen to victims of a stampeded.
Many observers have suspected a foul play in the hasty burial and refusal of the Saudi authorities for medical examination of the corpses to ascertain cause of their death, as well as its refusal to allow for an independent investigation. Conspiracy obvious.
The most likely reason for the tragedy was contained in a report by al-Nahrain-net News Agency. According to the agency, a report by one of European intelligence agencies indicates that through collaboration the Mossad, Israel's foreign intelligence agency, has abducted a number of Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) commanders, diplomats and prominent officials during the Thursday's stampede.
The Al-Nahrain-net exposé on the Mina stampede which is based on preliminary intelligence reports indicate that Saudi and Israeli intelligence agencies have probably collaborated to abduct IRGC commanders, diplomats and staff working in Iran's Supreme Leader's office, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. According to this report the former Iranian ambassador to Lebanon, Ghazanfar Roknabadi, is believed to have been kidnapped in the deadly stampede. Mr. Roknabadi is considered an eminent member of Supreme Leader's office staff and a figure who is well-informed regarding the secrets of the Hizbullah missile armament.
Among those also identified and declared missing, according to report, are: Ali Asghar Fouladgar, the head of institute for IRGC strategic studies, Hussein Danesh, Fo'ad Mashghali, Ammar Miransari and Seyyed Hasan Hasani- all members of IRGC or Iran's Supreme Leader's office for pilgrimage.
The shift of blame on Iran and missing of its high ranking officials is a good reason to believe that, Mossad perpetuated the recent stampede in Saudi Arabia to enable it abduct visiting Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) commanders.
It had happened before. Last year, an Iranian nuclear expert who was on a lesser pilgrimage (Umrah) in Saudi Arabia was declared missing, but was later reported to be in the hands of Mossad. The world has witnessed the sponsored assassination of Iran’s nuclear professors in the past. Similarly, last years, Saudi security raped some Iranians (women and men) while on a lesser Hajj. During the 1987 Hajj, Saudi security have shot to death about 400 Iranian pilgrims in the precincts of the holy Ka’abah, for daring to voice their anger on the arrogant so-called super powers, close allies of the Saudi kingdom. And this year, Iran recorded the highest death toll in Mina.
The hands of Mossad is highly visible in the Mina tragedy. Israel and Saudi are two countries having sleepless nights over the brokered deal on Iran’s nuclear enrichment.
This year alone, the Muslims world has suffered triple tragedy in Saudi Arabia with over 4,000 deaths and increasing number of casualty, without the country accepting responsibility and offering apology. Instead, the Muslim world is blamed. Whatever the case, the world can never trust Saudi kingdom in view of its relationship and total submission to the western world. There is now greater suspicious on the Saudi monarch, especially with its alliance with U.S. in killing Muslims in Yemen, Bahrain, Syria and Iraq.
The House of Al-Saud is becoming shaky by the day; internal conflict becoming more visible. There is said to be internal wrangling within the family with the second generation crown Princes calling for reform within the dynasty, and the extension of rule beyond the direct descendants.
The global reaction now is that, Hajj operation be taken off the shoulder of Saudi royal family. The two holy sites in Makkah and all the wealth in the country belong to all Muslims, and not the exclusive reserve of the Al-Saud. If authorities in Iraq can effectively handle a pilgrimage of 40 million participants with no single death, then the Al-Saud family has woefully failed. They do not deserve the title of Custodians of the Two Holy Sites, but killers of visitors of the two holy sites.
The insensitivity of Saudi authorities knows no boundary. The kingdom did not show any sign of remorse to what happened; no national mourning, and no apology. Instead, it was busy hosting world burly wrestlers (WWF) for a live action in the country. It did the same thing during the Rushdie affair. When the late Ayatollah Ruhullah al-Kohmaini passed death sentence on Salman Rushdie over his blasphemous book, Satanic Verses, the Saudi government was busy hosting World Cup organized by the same governments that financed and backed the author. It was only Iran, among all Muslims nations, that observed a three-day national mourning over the Mina tragedy.
Let there be an independent investigation to be jointly carried out by representatives of all Muslim nations. An eye for an eye. All those found complicit in the tragedy should face the law, as stipulated by Islam. Let the justice claimed by the Al-Saud kingdom take its course. This issue should go beyond mere compensation.
Ibrahim Usman writes from Kaduna