Makkah,September 20,2015(Arab News);-Some 100,000 security personnel have been deployed to oversee the annual Haj pilgrimage that begins on Tuesday, according to the Interior Ministry.
Maj. Gen. Mansour Al-Turki, spokesman for the ministry, said among those securing the massive crowds during Haj are members of an elite counterterrorism unit, traffic police and emergency civil defense personnel.
They are being supported by additional troops from the army and national guard.
The pilgrimage comes amid concerns over threats posed by terrorist groups.
Al-Turki vowed in an interview with The Associated Press that militants “cannot control a centimeter anywhere in Saudi Arabia.”
This year’s Haj is expected to draw up to 2 million pilgrims from around the world.
Local media, meanwhile, reported that some 460 pilgrims from GCC countries have been denied entry at the Batha border point in the Ahsa Province because they were carrying forged Haj permits.
Col. Mualla Al-Otaibi, spokesman of the Eastern Province Passport Department, told Al-Watan daily the pilgrims were sent back to their countries.
Some of these Hajis, however, alleged that they had fallen victim to scams of illegal operators in their countries who provided them with forged Haj permits. They said passport employees at the Batha border point discovered the forged permits.
The Hajis arrived at the Batha border point over a five-day period in a number of buses, according to the report.
They said more people had fallen victims to the scam, but their journeys have not started yet.
The pilgrims are disappointed that they cannot perform Haj this year. They hope to get their money back and are seeking punitive action against the illegal operators.