The "Ottoman" epidemic in the Arabian Peninsula

Shrouded history with "sadness"... and forbade consolation

The crimes committed by the Ottomans against the Saudis after the fall of Ad-Diriyah symbolize a tragic example that cannot be imagined regarding those who claim to be Muslims, while they were showing cursing, killing, torture and displacement against innocent people and non-combatants. With the multiplicity of the Ottomans’ crimes, the top of which was their campaigns against the first Saudi state.

Ibrahim Pasha

Ibrahim Pasha and his army enjoyed the torture of innocents; he focused on the influencers like notables and scholars, as the history books are full of stories and events that recurred on the crimes that were committed in (1818), by a military commander known for his addiction to narcotic drugs, and the large number crimes and psychoses he suffered under the influence of alcohol and drugs. To prove this point, it is mentioned in Ottoman documents what confirms that there is a person accompanying Ibrahim Pasha in his campaigns called ” Al-Maajun Agha”, who prepared his chew of opium.

To illustrate by example, his army captured Sheikh Suleiman bin Abdullah, grandson of Sheikh Muhammad bin Abdul Wahhab, after the fall of Ad-Diriyah. For being a scholar from a well-known family, his assassination indicates that the Turks wanted to draw in minds their brutality and their lack of respect for the scholars; if they violated their interests. Therefore, to oppress Sheikh Suleiman, the musical instruments accompanying the invaders were played in front of him, knowing full well that this annoyed him. In addition, when he was forced to hear what he hated, the gun bearers were ordered to shoot him at one time; as soon as he was executed, his severed corps flew among those who were witnessing the execution.

As for the judge of the town of Ad-Dilam, Sheikh Ali Al-Arini; his execution was more brutal and far from humanity, as he was dragged to the execution yard where it equipped by an artillery in the middle, then they lifted him and put his head into the mouth of the cannon, to be its ammunition, and the fuse was lit while people saw his remains (May Allah bless his soul) flying in pieces in the sky. Moreover, those who were not killed in this way among the scholars, were tortured to death; and among those who were beaten but did not die, Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid Al-Hanbali, as they tortured him with the most severe forms of torture, when they beat him and then extracted all his teeth.

They distorted the sky with the flying severed corpses.

Furthermore, the execution and terrorism were not limited to Ad-Diriyah only, but it was also the mission of the Ottoman army in general; all of the local leaders who are loyal to the Saudi state were killed, and the assassinations were performed in a systematic manner with accurate tracking, using the most severe forms of satisfaction for revenge, as the bodies of some of them were thrown into the streets after being beheaded.

Ibrahim Pasha in his campaign after he took down Ad-Diriyah shortly before his departure; he wanted to wield all kinds of devastation and sabotage. After he wasted the lives of innocent people and terrorized them, he deliberately devastated buildings, crops, orchards and palms to cause a real crisis in all the countries of the first Saudi state, with the intention not to be recovered from his blow, and for the inhabitants to be aware of the punishment that will befall them if they try again in the Saudi political unity, striking food security and destroying the infrastructure.

They compelled the innocence the Saudis had become accustomed to before their conquest of the first Saudi state

He was not only limited to this point, but he was also thinking in a way of clustering devastation over the details of people’s lives; in addition to targeting lives and their food security, he sought to try ignoring future generations by plundering and stealing the cultural heritage and local manuscripts. Indeed, he stole 591 copies of the Qur’an that he had found in mosques and among people, and 571 manuscripts and volumes that he had taken forcibly from the homes of scholars, as they were enjoying the scholars’ sorrow over the holdings taken from their library. For more ignorance, they took the scholars who were not killed so that people will be destroyed at all levels.

All the human crimes committed by Ibrahim Pasha during his campaign led to devastation, destruction and high prices, and the spread of corruption from the actions of his campaigners who brought alcohol with them, and practiced rituals that people in the first Saudi state were not used to see, which contradicts the teachings of the Islamic religion, morals, values ​​and sound principle. Malignant and infectious diseases spread among people due to the large scale of devastations as a result of coming of soldiers from several lands who carried the diseases of principles and their genes.

Hussein Bey and Abbosh Agha:

After Ad-Diriyah fell and Ibrahim Pasha left, the Ottoman Empire surely believed that the first Saudi state would not be reestablished within its borders, especially after the massacres, chases, devastations, looting and plundering that had been committed. In addition, the Ottoman military garrisons left in the various Najd towns with the intention of trying to control the people and following up the deterioration among people, so that the Saudi forces would not think of regaining their power again. Especially after the execution of Imam Abdullah bin Saud bin Abdelaziz, the last imam of the first Saudi state, who was sent to Istanbul, and the execution was considered as a crime and hatred for Arab in general and Saudi in particular. Given that the Saudis were the ones who resisted injustice and achieved victories in many battles against the Ottomans with their rudimentary weapons versus heavily armies, cannons, planning and continuous support.

The Ottoman garrisons in the Najd countries were playing the role to which it was assigned by their leadership, and the Ottomans did not expect the Saudis would be quick to recover from their first strikes. Next, as soon as Ad-Diriyah fell in (1818), the resistance returned, led by Imam Turki bin Abdullah whom Ibrahim Pasha failed to capture during his military operations after the collapse.

Therefore, the garrisons suffered from constant anxiety about the local resistance, and they permanently lost some of their elements as a result of assassinations and resistance. Imam Turki’s resistance, for example, continued after (1818) until he was eluded against the Ottomans in (1821), when they were forced to send a campaign led by Hussein Bey and Abbosh Agha. After Imam Turki was able to control Riyadh, the campaign arrived and surrounded him with his followers, and because the siege exhausted the campaign leaders, they offered the Imam reconciliation on the condition that he surrenders, however, for these leaders have no responsibility or promise, Turki decided to leave Riyadh to gather his strength for resistance. 70 of them remained, and they surrendered to Hussain Bey and Abbosh Agha, on the promise that they were safe. However, as soon as they left their place, they were executed directly.

The leaders of the campaign reached Riyadh, and committed heinous crimes against its people, with the crime that they harbored Imam Turki and his followers, so their punishment was that their money was taken, while many of them were imprisoned, especially those who did not have attractive amount of money for Ottoman thieves.

Although the siege was in Riyadh, Hussein Bey wanted to repeat the scenario of injustice against Ad-Diriyah when he withdrew to the town of Tharmada’a, where he invited the people of Ad-Diriyah to come after the commander of the Tharmada’a garrison after he ordered Khalil Agha to build a large house for them when they arrived, and he ordered that whoever enters this house shall not get out under any circumstances. His offer for the people of Ad-Diriyah to respond to him was that he would distribute them among the Najd towns according to their desire, explaining that he had to evacuate and destroy it so that no one would be there. Nevertheless, he was aiming to surround those who were hiding to kill them.

Then, about 230 men with their families came to Tharmada’a from Ad-Diriyah, and when he made sure that no one else would come, he gathered them in the house that he built and called it the barn, where he ordered the killing of everyone who was in. The tragedy that happened was that he did not only kill men, but he stole their money from their families, and captured some children. Therefore, the people called 1236 AH (the year of the barn) which corresponded to (1821), and the harshness of the tragedy increased to the extent that they were not satisfied with killing men, but they stole their money from their families, and took some children as captives.

After Hussein Bey reassured that the ground was full of blood in Tharmada’a, his soldiers dispersed in other Najd towns to kill and torture the people and confiscated money after imposing unfair taxes and stealing livestock and weapons, even women’s jewelry were taken from their bodies.

Emphasizing on the systematic Ottoman crimes against the Saudis, Hussein Bey was not different from Ibrahim Pasha, as he practiced atrocities and oppression against scholars. He, for example, tortured Sheikh Abdulaziz bin Suleiman bin Abdul Wahhab in Huraymila, imprisoned him, looted his home, stole the contents of his library; his rare manuscripts and valuable books, sent his judge accompanying the campaign – Zallali – and assigned him to supervise the theft of Sheikh Abdulaziz’s library, then after he had finished, he set fire to the library.

In fact, one of the most difficult situations of tragedies is that Hussein and Abbosh’s army had orders to kill everyone who refused to pay money, so they killed many men because they had nothing to pay. In order for Hussein Bey to distinguish his work, he committed historically unprecedented crimes when exhuming the grave of the fire prince, in order to make sure that he was dead, for he was among those who resisted and defeated one of his divisions, however, he was killed in the other confrontations. In the two towns of Najdi Dakhla and Raghba, they cut trees and palms, and historians mention that they cut more than a thousand palm trees, with the intention of cutting off supplies from the people who used to depend on dates as their food, with the intention of causing famine.

Consequently, Hussein Bey collected about 70 thousand French riyals from Al-Qassim, and large quantities of the stolen crops of the people, and all of this was stored in Tharmada’a in the warehouses allocated to collect the looted items when he left back at the end of (1821), and left military garrisons in some major countries.

Hussein Abu Zahir

After the departure of Hussein Bey and Abbosh Agha where they left the garrisons, The Ottoman commander, Hussein Abu Zahir, arrived in Najd in (1822), accompanied by about 800 soldiers. He was among the most deceitful people because as soon as he arrived, he showed himself to the people as a religious hermit, and the people were deluded that he had come to try to wipe out the bad effects left by the campaigns that preceded him. However, it was sent for the sake of Imam Turki bin Abdullah and his resistance to their campaigns and their protectors.

Furthermore, the second reason of his coming was that the Ottomans noticed that they had accumulated huge sums of money in previous campaigns; therefore, Abu Zahir focused on collecting money and taxes from people, accordingly, he sent his soldiers to countries to collect money, and the operation was carried out with great brutality and cruelty against people.

Abu Zahir did not win Imam Turki, so he focused on disciplining the people on all sides and on collecting their money and livelihoods. He was also provoked for some of his soldiers and companies were defeated by people, including the strength of Musa Abu Kashif, who went towards the plains tribe that severely fought him, until they killed him with 30 of his soldiers while the rest who accompanied him fled.

Hussein Abu Zahir also sent a force to a location near Hail, and when they refused to respond to his orders to pay the money, he besieged them and killed nearly 60 men.  In his rancor against them, he asked the Medina garrison to send another force to Moaqq, led by Ali Agha and Kashef Ismail, with 500 soldiers after they were provided with a mountain cannon. Accordingly, they practiced the harshest types of terror and revenge; among of his divisions sent to the Subai tribe which inflicted losses on him i.e. they killed 300 Turks near Al- Hayer, and killed Ibrahim Kashef, one of their leaders, while the rest of the Najd towns rose up, including Unaizah, which expelled the garrison to Medina.

(1) Othman bin Bishr, Title of Glory in the History of Najd, investigated and commented by: Abdul Rahman Al Sheikh, 4th Edition (Riyadh: King Abdulaziz Foundation, 1983).

(2) Ibrahim bin Issa, The History of Some Incidents in Najd (Riyadh: Dar Al-Yamamah, 1966).

 (3) Ameen Rihani, The History of Najd and its Complements, Edition 2 (Beirut: D.N, 1954)

(4) Pierre Karpitz, Ibrahim Pasha, translated by: Muhammad Badran (Cairo: D.N., 1937).

(5) Saud bin Hathloul, History of the Kings of Al Saud (Riyadh: Riyadh Press, 1961).