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I hope this assists - an article I had published in JOMSA some years ago, Owain

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

The Holy Mosque Medal 1979


During the 1979 pilgrimage or Hajj, one of the five pillars of Islam and at the holiest shrine of Islam, on the 20th of November, under the leadership of Jaheeman Bin Saif Al Otaibi, various fundamentalists of Saudi, Pakistani, Libyan, Moroccan and Yemeni origin seized control of in the Holy Mosque in Mecca. At this time Al Otaibi proclaimed that the Mahdi had come in the person of Mohammed Bin Abdullah Al Qahtaini and that all the pilgrims present should acknowledge him as their leader.


This taking of the Holy Mosque, a 38 acre complex, appears to have been well planned as the militants were well armed with machine guns, anti aircraft guns, as well as various other weapons. These had been brought into the Holy Mosque in seven trucks bearing the logs “Permanent Construction Co. Bin Laden”, earlier that day under the guise of construction work vehicles. Similarly the militants were well provisioned with dates and water, being supplied with plentiful reserves of the Holy Zamzam water from the Holy Mosque. Whilst it is believed that their numbers were up to some 1,200 a more realistic figure is about 300.


Once the militants had consolidated their position the following demands were made,


1.      Oil supplies to the United States of America were to cease.

2.      Radio and television services within the Kingdom were to cease.

3.      The employment of women should cease.

4.      Price controls were to be introduced.

5.      Moral values were to be re-instated and all Shariah decrees were to be thoroughly implemented.


Initially the response to the storming of the Holy Mosque was restrained. It is forbidden to shed blood within the confines of the Holy Mosque. This being so King Khalid Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud obtained a ruling from the religious authorities that following the failure of reasoned dialogue to resolve the situation that force could be used. The Holy Mosque was then stormed by government forces aided by French Commandos. The Interior Minister Prince Naif Bin Faisal Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud declared that the Holy Mosque was liberated at 1 30 am on Sunday 4 December.


According to the official Saudi Government statement the following casualties occurred.


Saudi personnel killed          130

Saudi personnel injured        461, of whom 27 later died.

Militants killed                     75

Militants captured                170

Pilgrims killed                      27 including 3 women.


It is believed that some, if not many, of the militants escaped. Amongst the dead was the proclaimed Mahdi who it is claimed committed suicide. The prisoners, including Al Otaibi, were then tried and despatched in groups around the Kingdom where they were publicly beheaded. It appears from later reports that the militants had also planned to attack the Royal Palace in Riyadh and also the Holy Mosque in Medina however these plans came to naught. It is also said that an attempt to kidnap the King and to force him to abdicate was to occur but due to illness the King did not go to the Holy Mosque as planned. On Friday following the liberation of the Holy Mosque King Khalid along with members of the royal family, scholars and pilgrims performed morning prayers to celebrate the liberation of the Holy Mosque.


To commemorate the liberation of the Holy Mosque the Saudi Government instituted a medal the details of which are as follows,


Obverse                    In the centre a depiction in black enamel of the Ka'aba, the focal point of the Holy Mosque around which the pilgrims perambulate, upon which is a white enamel dot representing the silver housing of the black stone which is set into the south - east corner of the Ka'aba. The Ka'aba is surmounted by bronze and white enamel rays depicting the sky which is turn are edged by a wreath of laurel leaves. Immediately below the Ka'aba are two crossed swords, hilts downwards, on either side of which is the Arabic inscription on white enamel,




“Medal of the Holy Mosque.”


Reverse                     Plain, with the inscription,









“In the name of God, the merciful, the compassionate.

A tribute from a safe nation

To the heroes of the Holy Mosque

Who sacrificed in combat with honour against evil.

In the year 1400.”


Size                           4 cm in diameter.


Metal                        Bronze.


Ribbon                      37mm, with a central 1mm red stripe bordered on each side by stripes of white, 9mm, black, 1.5mm and green, 7.5mm, outermost. Medals to officers are distinguished by a rosette upon the ribbon.


Suspension                A loop affixed to the top of the medal, which is in turn affixed to a 40mm wide ribbon suspension bar.


Designer                   The Saudi Ministry of Defence and Aviation.


Manufacturer            Arthus Bertrand of Paris.


Instituted                  By Council of Ministers Decree of 11/01/1401 H corresponding to 19/11/1980.


This medal was principally awarded to those troops who took part in the battle to retake the Holy Mosque in Mecca and the recipients consisted mainly of the following:


a) The National Guard.

b) The Royal Saudi Army.

c) The Royal Saudi Air Force.


It is not known whether awards of the medal were made to the French military personnel involved in the operation. Accompanying the medal was a certificate bearing a depiction of the medal as a neck badge and the illustrated certificate is translated as follows,



In The Name of God, By His Grace and Providence




By Order of His Royal Highness




Technical Sergeant Sadaq Hassan Nahas




1980/11/19 Gregorian.                                    H 1401/01/11 Riyadh.


Chief of Royal Diwan                                     Chief of Royal Protocol





The Kingdom, Robert Lacey, 1981.

Medal of the Holy Mosque of Saudi Arabia, John Liffiton, OMRS.

History of the Ka’bah, Mohammed Hussain Azhar, 1995.


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Hello Gentlemen,

Like Owain said, this medal is in 2 classes, or at least seen with plain ribbon, or with a ribbon with rosette (for officer).This medal was manufactured by Arthus Bertrand, the medaillon itself is relatively often found on medal show in France, but the medal complete with its suspension is scarce to be found. I was fortunate enough to catch one some days, long long before corona era....,and even more fortunate to source the ribbon. By fortunate, it didn't costed me a lot, like 100 € for the medal, and the ribbon, but you simply do not found this medal complete, it's not easy at all.

Regards to all.


Saudi Arabia Holy Mosque Uprising 1979 1st Class.jpg

Saudi Arabia Holy Mosque Uprising 1979 2nd Class.jpg

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