In 1901, Abdul Aziz ibn Saud set out with relatives to do some raiding in Nejd. His family had twice previously ruled Nejd as emirs. On the first occasion, the Ottomans expelled them (1818), tossing the severed head of the last emir into the Bosphorus. More recently (1891), their tribal rivals, the Rashidis, had exiled them to Kuwait. Back in Arabia, ibn Saud decided, impulsively, to seize Riyadh from the Rashidis, which he accomplished with just 40 men. A long guerrilla war followed. The Rashidis had Ottoman support, which meant, crucially, that the British sided with the Saudis when World War I was declared. With his ikhwan – a Wahhabist religious militia he had founded – and British munitions, ibn Saud conquered Nejd (1912), then the east coast, before taking Mecca (1925). He then defeated his rebellious Ikhwan at Sabilla (1929), establishing himself as king of Saudi Arabia (1932).
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