Security for the Hajj is a top priority, said Minister of Interior Prince Nayef bin Abdulaziz in a press conference following his inspection of Hajj facilities in Makkah yesterday. Prince Nayef also serves as chairman of the Supreme Hajj Committee.
Prince Nayef said that as many as 60,000 security forces would be deployed in Makkah and at other sites in order to ensure the safety of the pilgrims who have come to the Kingdom for the Hajj. Saudi security forces are ready to deal with any eventuality, he said.
Saudi authorities have taken steps to avoid a stampede on the Jamarat Bridge, he said, noting that Saudi authorities would prevent pilgrims from squatting under the bridge. He also urged pilgrims to adhere to Islamic etiquette of behavior and not to rush onto the bridge.
Prince Nayef also said that due to the situation in Iraq, Iraqi pilgrims were given special permission to receive Hajj visas at the border crossings between Iraq and Saudi Arabia as well as at Saudi airports. Original plans called for Iraqis to pick up their Hajj visas at the Saudi embassy in Jordan.
Turning to terrorism-related issues, Prince Nayef said that Saudi Arabia is keeping an eye on Saudis coming from Iraq. He noted that the Kingdom is carefully monitoring the border between the two countries, and that the number of security forces at the border can easily be increased. He stressed that Saudi Arabia opposes any of its citizens going to Iraq and engaging in terrorist acts, and urged Iraqi authorities to hand over any Saudis who do so.
Prince Nayef denied rumors that captured terrorists would be put on trial after the Eid Al-Adha holiday. “The timings will be set according to the results of investigations,” he said.