"Yet could the Wahhabis not be restrained. Whether with or without provocation - their apologists find reasons for most of their excesses - they raided at the turn of of the [19th] century right up to the Euphrates. There they pillaged and massacred, looted and sacked. In such abandon they took peculiar delight, for, although they contemned the infidel Sunnis, they contemned the infidel Shiahs much more. And Iraq was largely a Shiah country.
"In April, 1801, the Holy City of Karbala was sacked by the fearless Puritans, now under the command of Sa'ud, the son of Abdul Aziz [ibn Muhammad ibn Sa'ud]. The tomb of Husain (on whose beloved name the Shiahs cry every Month of Muhurrum) was desecrated, and all the city's inhabitants were put to the death. It was such frightfulness as had not been seen in Iraq since the Mongols of Hulagu, who destroyed for ever the vast irrigation systems of that once fertile land.
"Gorged with booty and self-satisfaction, Sa'ud now retired, laying waste the territory between Karbala and Basra. An iconoclast damns all the consequences.
"Dar'iya [the Sa'udi capital] went wild with delight at the triumph. Yet the Islamic world was in tears. Persia in particular, whose Faithful in Iraq had suffered most, showed unappeasable resentment, but the shock went through the world of Islam from one end to the other. Yet more terrible alarms were to come.
"The futility of making treaties with these Wahhabis of the first Empire was again proved when, without warning, they occupied Hali, a port on the Red Sea under the jurisdiction of [the Grand Sharif of Mecca] Ghalib. Remonstrance was useless. The Wahhabis obviously meant war. They offered such terms to the Hijaz as militaristic Empires suggest to small but proud States that are in their way.
"Sa'ud, in fact, the commander whose name was already execrated throughout the Shiah world, anticipated the declaration of war. He captured the summer residence of the Meccans, the pleasant town of Taif, and thence he sent his soldiers raiding in all directions. The situation for the Sharif was untenable; he had no force capable of withstanding these Puritan zealots who equated the gaining of loot with the will of Allah.
"As was to happen before a similar threat a hundred years later, the ruler of Mecca retired on Jidda. In April, 1803, Sa'ud made a bloodless entry into Mecca itself.
"Then took place what might have been anticipated: the purgation of the Holy City. Mecca, in the eyes of Abdul Wahhab, was the font of iniquitous practices. It was in Mecca that the hajis had seen the holy religion defiled and debased, and from Mecca, therefore, that erroneous doctrines had been propagated throughout the world of Islam. Now should its cleansing be done.
"The Ironsides in a 'Romish' Church were not more thorough than were the Wahhabis now. The worship of Allah alone should be allowed among the Faithful, and anything savouring of adoration of any mortal being, whether Abraham or Muhammad himself, should be disrupted. Tombs were destroyed. The coverings of the Kaaba were torn off. Traffic in holy things was forbidden. Places of visitation were blotted out. Of all the local ceremonies two only were allowed to endure: the Stoning of the Devil at Mina and the Kissing of the Black Stone in the Kaaba. Presumably this was because God alone was honoured by such rites.
"Intoxicated with the ease of their success, the Wahhabis marched on from Mecca to the Red Sea. At Jidda, however, the history of 1925 was to be anticipated: it put up a fierce resistance. And, just as Medina was the last town in Turkish hands to surrender during the Great War, so now the second holiest city in Islam foiled the Wahhabis' attempts to capture it.
"All this was in the year 1803. Towards the end of it, on November 4th, an event occurred which might have taught the Wahhabis a lesson on how the outside Islamic world was reacting to their regime of terror. For an that day, just as Abdul Aziz was acting as Imam to a mass of worshippers for the afternoon prayer, a man rushed forward, to plunge a dagger in the Imam's heart.
"The assassin was a Shiah, a Persian. Two years previously he had seen the Wahhabis slaughter his children at Karbala. For reprisal he had to wait long and to plan carefully. At last, after pretending to be a Wahhabi, he created his opportunity. Abdul Aziz was dead. The Shiahs were revenged.
"This fanatically consummate exponent of the doctrine of taqiya was burned alive by the indignant Wahhabis." (Ibn Sa'ud: The Puritan King of Arabia, Kenneth Williams, 1933, pp 36-39)