JERUSALEM, Isr. – A heavily armed faction of Scientologists -many of whom are believed to be American, have taken control of the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem and are holding an unspecified number of hostages inside, Brigader General Moti Almoz, spokesman for the Israeli Defense Forces, said during a press briefing this morning.
“The group has barricaded themselves inside the mosque and are refusing to negotiate,” Brig. Gen. Almoz said, adding that Israeli soldiers and police have exchanged sporadic gunfire with the Scientologists. “We have reports they are holding between two and three hundred people but we are unable to confirm their status at this time.”
Brigadier General Almoz said one of the Scientologists, whom authorities believe to be the ringleader, issued a statement via the mosque’s P.A. system conveying the group’s intentions. “They have made clear that any attempt to enter the site will be met with deadly force,” Brig. Gen. Almoz said. The IDF’s spokesperson went on to say that an unidentified member of the armed faction passed a handwritten message to Israeli police that described the group as a “recon team for the Galactic Confederacy.”
“They’ve indicated that they intend to hold the mosque indefinitely or, at least, until the arrival of their god, Xenu, who they believe is using the mosque as a ‘gateway’ to earth,” Brig. Gen. Almoz said.
Scientologists worship an extraterrestrial being known as Xenu, the autocratic dictator of the Galactic Confederacy who, more than 75 million years ago, brought billions of people to earth aboard a spacecraft which, according to biblical texts, is said to resemble a Douglas DC-8 commercial airliner.
Israeli intelligence officials believe the group may be affiliated with a secretive order within the Church of Scientology known as Sea Org. Consisting of the church’s most dedicated members, the Sea Org has been rumored in the past to be involved in paramilitary activities and may be in possession of a small naval fleet.
A Twitter account purportedly belonging to one of the Scientologists inside the al-Aqsa mosque tweeted early Sunday morning that “the almighty Xenu’s arrival is upon us! May his presence purify all of mankind!”
An American intelligence official speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly comment on the situation, told Haaretz that the United States is assisting Israel in trying to determine the names and nationalities of those involved in the siege.
The al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem is considered to be among the holiest sites in Islam and sits atop the Temple Mount, an important site not only for the Muslim faith, but Christianity and Judaism, as well.