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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Zarqawi Mentor Maqdisi Free Again

Jordan has once again freed Sheik Abu Mohammed al-Maqdisi, mentor of the late and unlamented Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. This isn't the first time. They first arrested him in 2005, then released him. He promptly re-established contact with terrorist networks and was arrested again. The machinations in this case clearly illustrate the problems we have in securing consistent policies and official action on terrorism among even our closest allies.

For some background, I give you the passage below, taken from an August 3, 2005 State Department cable:


The state prosecutor formally charged Issam al-Barqawi (aka Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi) on July 18 with plotting subversive acts in Jordan, according to press reports. Deputy PM and GOJ spokesperson Marwan Muasher told reporters that was re-arrested because "he contacted terrorist parties," which he declined to identify. A senior judicial source told the press that "State Prosecutor Mahmoud Obeidat charged Maqdisi with plotting subversive acts on Monday (July 18) and ordered his detention for 14 days pending further investigations." Jordanian officials released Maqdisi from custody on June 26, six months after the Security Court acquitted him of plotting subversive acts and possessing explosives as part of an alleged cell in Mafraq, due to "lack of evidence" (ref A) . However, the GOJ arrested him again on July 5. Islamist weekly al-Sabil reported that Jordanian authorities arrested Maqdisi at the request of "another Arab country," which allegedly accuses him of involvement in issuing fatwas sanctioning attacks on its territories. The paper quoted Maqdisi's family members who complained that the authorities did not allow Maqdisi to have an attorney present during his interrogation after his re-arrest. Considered a former spiritual mentor of Zarqawi, Maqdisi appeared to have distanced himself from certain of Zarqawi's actions in Iraq. He gave a lengthy interview to al-Jazeera upon his release in which he again repudiated some of Zarqawi's activities, such as attacks on churches and members of the Shi'a community.

As time permits, I'm working on a chart of Zarqawi's Jordanian cell network based on various U.S. government documents I've obtained. More to follow.


Views expressed on INTELWIRE are those of the author alone.



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INTELWIRE is a web site edited by J.M. Berger. a researcher, analyst and consultant covering extremism, with a special focus on extremist activities in the U.S. and extremist use of social media. He is a non-resident fellow with the Brookings Institution, Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World, and author of the critically acclaimed Jihad Joe: Americans Who Go to War in the Name of Islam, the only definitive history of the U.S. jihadist movement, and co-author of ISIS: The State of Terror with Jessica Stern.


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