Saudis Foil Hajj Attack

Militants aiming to disrupt Muslim ritual nabbed
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 22, 2007 6:27 AM CST
Muslim pilgrims perform the ritual "stoning of the devil" in Mina, in Saudi Arabia, Thursday, Dec. 20, 2007. Thousands of Muslim pilgrims throw pebbles at the stone pillars representing the devil as a...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – As millions of Muslims completed the annual Hajj pilgrimage yesterday, Saudi police said they'd arrested a group that had been planning attacks, Al Arabiya reports. An official said the al-Qaeda suspects, detained at cities across the country, had been intent on disrupting the ritual and causing "security confusion." Mecca itself was not believed to have been the terror plot's target.

At the Jamrat, the site where the hajj has been marred in the past by fires and stampedes that killed hundreds, the three stone "pillars" which pilgrims pelt with stones have been converted into long elliptical concrete walls to handle many more pilgrims. Thanks to the $1-billion project, pilgrims can now throw stones on three levels, Al Arabiya reports, and this year's hajj has gone smoothly.