Nothing -- not even the rise of Osama bin Laden -- shook the foundations of Saudi Arabia as the siege of Mecca 28 years ago.
From the interview of Wall Street Journal reporter Yaroslav Trofimov:
Why do you believe there is a co-relation between the events of 1979 and the genesis of Al Qaeda?
The Mecca uprising of 1979 was the very first operation of global jihad in modern times, uniting radicals from all over the world -- Saudis, Egyptians, Pakistanis, even American converts to Islam. This organisation served as a model to Al Qaeda in the future, and some of the surviving rebels actually went to Afghanistan and later joined Al Qaeda.
But this is not the only connection. In order to storm the Grand Mosque in 1979, the Saudi government needed a fatwa from the leading Islamic clerics, the Wahhabi ulema. The clerics obliged -- on the condition that the kingdom become much more rigid in enforcing the Wahhabi brand of Islam.
As part of this grand bargain, millions of dollars in Saudi petrodollars started to flow all over the world to fund the clerics' effort to spread Wahhabi Islam -- creating the Islamic madrassas, charities and welfare groups that would breed the new generation of Al Qaeda recruits.
I blame Bush.