He (Osama bin Laden) said that he was

shocked to see the tanks rolling into the holiest shrines of Islam, and he had thought that the Saudi government was behaving criminally by this by desecrating the shrine instead of just starving out the rebels.

–Yaroslav Trofimov

In 1979, a group of extremists called al-Ikwan led by Juhayman al-Otaybi, a man who claimed his brother-in-law Muhammad Abdullah al-Qahtani was Mehdi (redeemer of Islam), attacked and held siege the Masjid-al Haram in Mecca.

The al-Ikhwan made a plan to capture the mosque in order to get rid of the monarchy and also the Wahhabi purists to revive Saudi culture, which in the recent years had become Westernised and more progressive. Both al-Otaybi and al-Qahtani had met while in prison where al-Otaybi allegedly saw a vision in which al-Qahtani was Mehdi and together they decided to institute a theocracy in order to prepare for the Day of Judgement.

This event shocked the world, especially Muslims, who could not believe their Holy Mosque had gone easily into the hands of extremists along with many worshippers and pilgrims as hostages.

The attack was also carried out on the first day of the Islamic year linking with the tradition of mujaddid, a person who fights all sinful and extraneous elements and revives Islam at the turn of a century.

In addition to the 10,000 Saudi soldiers, 50 commandos from Pakistan also helped take back control of the mosque. It took two weeks and 127 lives of pilgrims, Saudi forces to contain the situation. 117 militants were killed and later around 67 to 68 militants were executed by the government.