U.S. and other Western intelligence officials are predicting Iranian-instigated riots and deaths at the annual pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia next month.
The Iranians have done little to disguise their design. They have appointed as their pilgrimage leader a top terrorist who has, for several years, secretly headed the "Organization of the Islamic Revolution of the Arabian Peninsula," a code-name for using terrorism and other means to overthrow the governments of Saudi Arabia and other gulf states. Security in Saudi Arabia will be tight. But intelligence experts are dumbfounded that the Saudis are courting this kind of trouble once again. "They (Saudis) wanted renewed relations with Iran, and this was part of the price," one source told us.Saudi Arabia reestablished relations with Iran in March after a three-year break, which resulted from repeated efforts by Iranian pilgrims to cause disturbances at the hajj, the annual religious pilgrimage to the two holy cities. In 1986, the Saudis discovered more than 100 Pasdaran guards disguised as pilgrims bringing in plastic explosives and other arms. Finally, during the hajj in 1987, a riot was sparked, and 402 people were killed, mostly Iranians.
It was after that debacle that Iranian President Rafsanjani released his special brand of invectives and threats to the Saudi leadership by declaring in August 1987: "The martyrs' blood (dead Iranian pilgrims) should be avenged by drying up the roots of the Saudi rulers in the region. The sacred blood of martyrs should be avenged by ridding the Holy Shrines of the existence of the evil Saudi rulers."
The Saudis have agreed to accept 110,000 Iranian pilgrims during the June 14-24 hajj period (a pilgrimage that's one of the main pillars of Islam and is a required ritual for male Muslims to perform at least once in their life).
Thousands of fanatical Iranian Revolutionary Guards have already been called up to go to the hajj next month on assignment from the Iranian leadership, and one group has been formed to serve as a control and coordination unit. Saudi nationals have been recruited and have received military training in the holy Iranian city of Qom to help Iranians infiltrate Saudi Arabia.
The darkest omen of violence was the appointment of the man assigned to lead the pilgrims, Mohammed Reyshahri. He's a man who is always ranked in the top 10 of the Iranian's rogue gallery when it comes to fanatical murderers.