Who was responsible for the al-Aqsa Mosque fire in 1969?
The morning of August 21, 1969, a fire engulfed the southeastern wing of the holy Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. Al-Aqsa is known to Muslims all over as Haram-al-Sharif (the Noble Sanctuary). This is a cherished location for Muslims for over 1,300 years, a site visited by Prophet Muhammad SAW on his winged horse, El-Baraq on The Night of Ascend.
The fire destroyed a 1000 year old precious and historic pulpit that was presented by Saladin in the 12th Century. The damage done to the Mosque was restored to some extent with the contribution of $US 9 million by Jordan.
As the natural reaction would be, heated demonstrations took place in the Arab parts of Jerusalem to condemn this act. All access points to the Mosque were blocked, hundreds of police officers were recruited to curb the agitators, and a curfew was put in East Jerusalem the same evening. The initial assumptions stated that an electrical fault became the cause of the fire but reports started spreading about Israelis responsible for it. At the time the fire was being extinguished, there were also claims that the Israeli fire extinguishers threw gasoline on the fire instead of water.
The next day brought to limelight another culprit, Dennis Michael Rohan, an Australian tourist who was termed responsible for the arson and was arrested on August 23. Rohan turned out to be a Protestant follower of the Church of God which is an evangelical sect. Rohan believed that the process of the second coming of Messiah will fasten with the burning of the Mosque. Presented in front of the court, Rohan stated that he was acting as “the Lord’s emissary” following the divine instructions and also stated that his reason for trying to destruct Al-Aqsa Mosque was in order to give a chance to rebuild it as the Jewish Temple. He was later found to be mentally ill and was hospitalized in a mental institution.
One of the consequences of Al-Aqsa fire was the creation of the OIC by King Faisal of Saudi Arabia in the first-ever meeting of Islamic Summit which was convened in September 1969 in Rabat, Morocco. However, the efforts of the OIC have not succeeded in keeping the Mosque safe from the terrorist attacks and defilement even to this day.
Israel has been trying to destruct al-Aqsa Mosque through different means even after the arson, damaging the Mosque’s foundations by building tunnels leading to the Temple Mount (i.e. the Jerusalem Shrine). A letter from Ahmed Ibrahim Lobad was published in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle on June 13, 1996 stating that “It is impossible to detail all incidents of Israeli destruction, desecration and usurpation of Muslim and Christian holy place in a brief letter. To mention a few: In 1969 Zionists burned and heavily damaged part of the al-Aqsa Mosque, Israeli authorities would not help [sic] in extinguishing that fire.”
Even while Israel has repeatedly denied that Rohan was a Jew, facts have proved him to be a Zionist, recruited by the violating parties to commit this sinful task. This claim of Rohan being an Israeli was also stated by The Wall Street Journal on November 13, 2000. Taissir Rajab Al-Tamimi, who is the Chief of Judges and Chairman of the Islamic Law High Council in the Palestinian Authority, stated in an Interview on August 23, 2004, “The Israeli government conspired and formed an alliance with this criminal – who came from Australia, and is a Jew – for the burning of the blessed al-Aqsa Mosque.” Another prominent figure, Ibrahim Hooper who is a member of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, listed down “the 1969 arson attack on Al-Aqsa Mosque” in the list of the major violations made by Israel to the sacred Islamic sites, in his article for The Washington Post on October 16, 1996.
Despite repeated denials by Israelis, media and independent reports have repeatedly blamed Israel as a major force behind the Al-Aqsa fire, thus bringing shame and ignominy for the Jews all around the world.