Also in November 1979, was the largely lesser-known seizure of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia by young Saudi militant Juhayman al-Otaybi. Al-Otaybi and several hundred followers believed his brother-in-law Mohammed Abdullah al-Qahtani to be the Mehdi (Islam’s prophesied Messiah, some thought to be a resurrected Mohammed, or perhaps Jesus, returned to earth to issue in the final days). The al-Otaybi group’s taking of the mosque, aimed at unseating the House of Saud, resulted in the deaths of hundreds, including militants, the Saudi National Guard, and still unknown numbers of religious pilgrims amassed for the annual hajj. Al-Qahtani and most of the armed militants were reportedly killed during the storming of the mosque by Saudi military and Pakistani and French mercenaries, and al-Otaybi and most of his surviving followers were publicly beheaded in cities throughout Saudi Arabia in January 1980. Ever the opportunist, Ayatollah Khomeini publicly blamed “American imperialism and international Zionism” for supporting this attack on Islam’s holiest city and incited anti-American demonstrations around the Muslim world. Mobs overran and burned the U.S. Embassies in Islamabad, Pakistan, and Tripoli, Libya over the following days.