Leader of a militant group that seized the Grand Mosque in Mecca in November 1979, protesting the corruption and excesses of the Saudi royal family and demanding a return to a purer Islam. Proclaimed the coming of the Mahdi and the end of the Saudi state. Attacked the religious legitimacy of the Saudi family, declaring them unfit to serve as custodians of holy cities. Executed by the state. His messianic message reflected a growing dissatisfaction with the Saudi state and pressured the royal family to accede to demands for a consultative assembly (majlis); this did not materialize until after the Gulf War, 1990–91.
See also Qahtani, Muhammad al-