How Saudi Arabia’s fleet of aircraft provide round the clock security to millions at the Grand Mosque in Makkah

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Pilgrims circumambulate the Kaaba during Ramadan (Arab News photos by Ziyad Alarfaj)
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The Grand Mosque in Makkah can be seen with the clock tower in the foreground (Arab News photos by Ziyad Alarfaj)
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Pilgrims circumambulate the Kaaba during Ramadan (Arab News photos by Ziyad Alarfaj)
Updated 13 June 2018
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How Saudi Arabia’s fleet of aircraft provide round the clock security to millions at the Grand Mosque in Makkah

  • It runs continuous missions to keep an eye on Makkah’s traffic conditions and the Grand Mosque from the sky
  • Recorded data is transferred directly to the necessary authorities, where procedures are put in place to enhance security and ease traffic

JEDDAH: The Ministry of Interior’s General Security Aviation Command, with its advanced fleet of aircraft, is the main element in the authorities’ security plans for the Grand Mosque this Ramadan. 

It runs continuous missions to keep an eye on Makkah’s traffic conditions and the Grand Mosque from the sky. Arab News accompanied the Security Aviation aircraft in one of the tours above the Grand Mosque and the routes leading to it.

The aircraft took off from the Security Aviation base in Jeddah an hour before sunset and headed toward Makkah, where the aircraft continuously scanned areas of the Grand Mosque, the areas around it and the routes leading to it using latest monitoring gadgets.

Recorded data is transferred directly to the necessary authorities, where procedures are put in place to enhance security and ease traffic. The planes also execute medical evacuation, take part in mock drills and perform security and humanitarian tasks (search, rescue and evacuation).

Security Aviation Commander Brig. Gen. Hassan Al-Bassam said the General Aviation Security Command is working in the Ramadan season according to plan. He said that all services are focused on visitors to the Grand Mosque.

Al-Bassam said they are preparing themselves with each passing day of Ramadan and the increasing number of pilgrims, along with getting ready for the last 10 days of the holy month. Air presence has been intensified, with continuous surveillance and monitoring of the central district and the roads leading to it.


US denies ‘final conclusion’ reached on Khashoggi case

Updated 18 November 2018
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US denies ‘final conclusion’ reached on Khashoggi case

  • A US newspaper published what it claimed were details of an intelligence report on the case
  • ‘The State Department will continue to seek all relevant facts’

JEDDAH: The US government denied on Saturday it had reached a final conclusion over the killing of Jamal Khashoggi after a US newspaper published what it claimed were details of an intelligence report on the case. 
“Recent reports indicating that the US government has made a final conclusion are inaccurate,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said.
“There remain numerous unanswered questions with respect to the murder of Mr. Khashoggi. The State Department will continue to seek all relevant facts,” she said.
“In the meantime, we will continue to consult Congress, and work with other nations to hold accountable those involved in the killing of Jamal Khashoggi.”

But President Donald Trump told reporters on Saturday that his administration would get “a very full report,” including who was responsible for Khashoggi’s death, on Monday or Tuesday.
The Washington Post published an article citing anonymous sources, who it says are close to the CIA which suggests the Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman ordered the killing — something Saudi Arabia vehemently denies.
The Kingdom’s public prosecutor on Thursday released details of its investigation, saying the decision to kill the journalist was made by the head of a rogue mission during an attempt to repatriate him. The prosecutor is seeking the death penalty for five of the suspects. 
On Saturday, Donald Trump spoke with CIA Director Gina Haspel and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo from Air Force One, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said. 
Trump praised US relations with Saudi Arabia when he was asked about the case. Saudi Arabia is “a truly spectacular ally in terms of jobs and economic development,” the US president said.
Earlier, Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the US Prince Khalid bin Salman, strongly denied the Washington Post story, and said he did not tell Khashoggi to go to Turkey, as the report claimed. 
“I never talked to him by phone and certainly never suggested he go to Turkey for any reason. I ask the US government to release any information regarding this claim,” Prince Khalid said
Khashoggi, a Saudi who lived in the United States, was a columnist for the Post.
He was killed on Oct. 2 at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul after he went to get marriage documents.