Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Al-Qaeda Mufti Sets Sights on Women

by Mshari Al-Zaydi

Ibrahim Al-Rubaish calls on women to incite others to perform jihad 

File photo of AQAP's , Ibrahim Al-Rubaish, (AAA)
File photo of AQAP’s , Ibrahim Al-Rubaish, (AAA)

Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat—In what could be perceived as a shift in tactics, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has appealed directly to women to exploit public sympathy for their Cause and incite others to carry out jihad. 

In an interview posted on YouTube, senior Al-Qaeda leader, Ibrahim Al-Rubaish, called on the general public to join the protests calling for the release of some detainees. However Rubaish went further than this, asserting that Al-Qaeda must continue its armed confrontation, calling on any released detainees to continue the fight. 

He said: “Their Cause should not end with their release from prison, they should send a message, they entered prison for the sake of their Cause, and they should leave defending, fighting for, and protecting this Cause.”

Rubaish, who is wanted on terrorism charges by the Saudi authorities, also called on these detainees to exploit the general public’s sympathy. He said: “The detainees should exploit the people’s sympathy for them and call them to carry out jihad” adding “they must become callers (to jihad).”
The Al-Qaeda commander was including female detainees in this category, making this a rare statement from Al-Qaeda addressing women. 

This call came one day after Qassim police announced the arrest of a number of people who had taken part in an illegal demonstration calling for the release of security detainees.

Rubaish referred explicitly to female detainees held on security charges. During the interview, he asked: “What have these [detained] sisters done wrong? If we look at their cases, we find that their only guilt is that their husbands, or relatives, are mujahedeen, or that they support the mujahedeen.”

However this focus by Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) on female detainees is not completely unprecedented. The group had previously threatened to carry out a kidnapping campaign targeting senior Saudi officials in response to the arrest of a woman who was sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment for providing material support to the terrorist organization. 

There has been an increasing focus and awareness on Saudi detainees awaiting trial on security charges, particularly in relation to providing aid or support to illegal groups. In the past, media attention and international humanitarian organization’s had focused on those sympathetic with Al-Qaeda and jihadi ideology. However more recently, we have begun to see more focus being given to those implicated in security cases but who are not necessarily followers of this ideology, including relatives of Al-Qaeda members. 

A number of such figures have issued provocative comments on twitter in order to stir and incite this issue on social media and the wider world. This is particularly interesting in light of the sensitivity of Saudi society towards issues relating to women. 

Rubaish is a former Guantanamo Bay detainee who was repatriated to Saudi Arabia in late 2006. His name was included on the Saudi Interior Ministry’s 2009 list of most wanted terrorists. The Jamestown Foundation has reported that Rubaish is now a “mufti” for AQAP. 

Mshari Al-Zaydi


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