Denis Michael Rohan (born 1 July 1941) was a Christian Australian citizen who, on 21 August 1969, set fire to the pulpit of the Al-Aqsa mosque, in Jerusalem. Rohan was arrested for the arson attack on 23 August 1969. He was tried, found to be insane, and hospitalised in a mental institution. On 14 May 1974 he was deported from Israel "on humanitarian grounds, for further psychiatric treatment near his family". He was subsequently transferred to the Callan Park Hospital in Australia. Some sources say that he died in 1995, but an investigation by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) in 2009 found that was still alive then and a few years later he spoke to an ABC journalist.


According to a detailed article by Abraham Rabinovich, Rohan's first known case of auditory hallucinations (which he believed to be divine 'revelations') came in Australia in 1964, when he was asked by his employer to transport "an augur, a 30-foot-long lift device" by truck 35 miles to another location, but was commanded by a voice in his head not to do so. His manager told him he was "mentally sick," and he was committed to Bloomfield Mental Hospital for four months. After his release he moved first to England where he worked at a hospital in Middlesex, and then to Israel where he arrived by ship in March 1969. He volunteered at Kibbutz Mishmar Hasharon in the Sharon Valley between Haifa and Tel Aviv where he stayed a few months. According to Kibbutzniks, one night they were startled by wild shouts from Rohan; when one volunteer attempted to calm him, Rohan told them he thought that perhaps he was Jewish. He spoke to an American theology student and volunteer of "the imminence of the Messiah's coming and the construction of a new temple". From the kibbutz he went to Jerusalem, staying in hotels. After reading a biblical passage in the Book of Zechariah:
"Behold the man whose name is the branch, for he shall grow up in his place and he shall build the Temple of the Lord. It is he who shall build the Temple of the Lord and shall bear royal honor and shall sit and rule upon the throne."
Rohan became convinced that he was "the branch" and destined to "build the Temple of the Lord".

Arson of Al-Aqsa

On the morning of 21 August 1969, Rohan started a fire fuelled by kerosene in the al-Aqsa Mosque. The fire destroyed an intricately designed 12th-century minbar, or pulpit, known as the minbar of Saladin. Rohan, who had been in Israel on a tourist visa, was arrested two days later. He pleaded insanity and was deported.


Rohan, a Christian, stated that he considered himself "the Lord's emissary" and that he tried to destroy the al-Aqsa Mosque acting upon divine instructions to enable the Jews of Israel to rebuild the Temple on the Temple Mount in accordance with the Book of Zechariah, thereby hastening the second coming of Jesus Christ. Rohan mistakenly believed that the al-Aqsa Mosque occupied the site of the temple, when in fact the Dome of the Rock did. The mosque was instead built on the foundations of a Herodian basilica called the Royal Stoa. Rohan was a subscriber of ''The Plain Truth'' magazine published by the Worldwide Church of God's (WCG) founder Herbert W. Armstrong and stated that he had begun his attempt after reading an editorial by Armstrong in the June 1967 edition. ''The Daily Telegraph'' newspaper in London pictured Rohan on its front page with a copy of ''The Plain Truth'' magazine sticking out from his outside jacket pocket. On 26 September 1969, Armstrong, in a letter to financial contributors to his ''The World Tomorrow'' program, distanced himself from Rohan: Prior to the Rohan incident, in 1968 Armstrong, via WCG's sponsored Ambassador College, had become involved with the Israeli government in archaeological digs in the area of the Temple Mount.


The fire at Al-Aqsa was the cause of great anger in the Muslim world, and demonstrations and riots occurred as far away as Kashmir, in India. Many Muslims alleged Rohan's actions were part of a wider plot by Israelis, while some Israelis have attacked widely-repeated claims by some Palestinians and other Muslims that Rohan was Jewish, when in fact he was Christian. Palestinian officials have alleged that the arson was carried out with the blessing of Israeli authorities and minimize the culpability of Rohan, while Israeli firefighters at the scene later complained that the hostility directed at them by an assembled crowd of Palestinians interfered with their ability to put out the fire.

Chief Rabbinate of Israel

According to the ''Jewish Political Studies Review'', author Yoel Cohen recorded that the official Israeli Chief Rabbinate adopted a mostly conservative stance toward the capture by Israel of the Temple Mount in 1967, in response to questions about whether to rebuild the Temple and reinstitute the sacrificial service, and whether Jews should be allowed by religious law to ascend the Temple Mount to pray: Cohen further footnoted these remarks with comments from an interview:

Arab/Muslim reactions

=U.N. resolution

= On 28 August 1969 a complaint was submitted to the United Nations Security Council by twenty-four Muslim countries in response to the Al Aqsa arson attempt. Mohammad El Farra of Jordan stated:

=Yassir Arafat, by and on his behalf

= Yassir Arafat later developed a regular television interview speech in which he would refer back to this act of attempted arson, while avoiding mention of Rohan by name. The Palestinian newspaper, ''La Presse Palestinienne'', reported the following:

See also

*Herbert W. Armstrong *Radio Church of God *Lost Ten Tribes *1975 in Prophecy! *Ambassador College and Ambassador University *Big Sandy history of Texas campus location *Bricket Wood history of UK campus location *Ambassador Auditorium *Garner Ted Armstrong *Stanley Rader *Basil Wolverton *Art Gilmore *Bobby Fischer * Jerusalem syndrome


External links

Ambassador Report article (page 16) on Armstrong's response
- Audio and transcript of a ''Background Briefing'' program broadcast on ABC Radio National about Rohan (23 August 2009)
Official Israeli Policy toward the Temple Mount
{{DEFAULTSORT:Rohan, Denis Michael Category:People of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict Category:Australian people imprisoned abroad Category:Prisoners and detainees of Israel Category:1941 births Category:Possibly living people Category:Australia–Israel relations Category:Australian arsonists