On Monday, July 4, a 26-year-old Saudi man killed himself and four others outside the sacred tomb of the Prophet Muhammed, the second holiest site for Muslims. The suspect, Naer Muslim Hamad, was intercepted while cutting through a vacant parking lot in Medina, Saudi Arabia. Cornered, he detonated an explosives belt, killing the four Saudi security officers and injuring five others. It is unknown if the assailant targeted the security installation guarding the mosque or the mosque and its attendees.
The attack came on the heels of a series of attacks across the Muslim world during the month of Ramadan, including a truck bomb in Baghdad that killed nearly 300 people and multiple attacks in Bangladesh. Whatever the intended effects of these attacks, be it recruitment, political delegitimization, or sheer terror, ISIL—widely believed to have orchestrated the attacks—may have miscalculated in Medina.
Muslims consider Medina sacred due to is historic significance and religious symbolism. During his lifetime, Muhammad outlined Medina’s sacred location, calling it a “sanctuary.” All those who commit crimes will be cursed, he noted, especially singling out those who would dare plot against the citizens of Medina with ruin “like salt in water.