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Abu Ghaith Split from Al-Qaeda in March 2012 | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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London, Asharq Al-Awsat-Islamists in London have revealed that Suleiman Abu Ghaith-former Al-Qaeda spokesman and husband of Osama Bin Laden’s daughter- split from the terrorist organization in March 2012, during his stay in Tehran under the auspices of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. Multiple sources also disclosed that US intelligence agencies began pursuing Abu Ghaith after identifying his voice through intercepted telephone calls with relatives and his wife in Kuwait. Meanwhile, those close to Abu Ghaith said that he had received assurances that the issue with his citizenship in Kuwait would be resolved before he entered Turkish territory.

Turkish sources reported yesterday that Abu Ghaith, also known as Abu Youssef, remains under the custody of the Turkish security services. Yasser al-Siri, director of the London-based Islamic Observatory, a human rights organization concerned with news of Islamists around the world, said that Abu Ghaith’s name was removed from the UN wanted list in August 2011. He called on the Kuwaiti authorities to intervene rapidly and restore his citizenship, of which he was stripped in the wake of the 11 September 2001 attacks. Siri revealed that a Turkish court has acquitted him and refused to hand him over to the US authorities, because “he hadn’t committed any offence other than entering Turkish territory with a forged Saudi passport, in order to obtain political refugee status and then move on to Saudi Arabia to meet with his wife, Fatima Bin Laden.” Suleiman Jassim Abu Ghaith was born in Kuwait in 1956 and worked as a professor of Fiqh and Sharia law, as well as a preacher in the mosques of Kuwait, prior to joining the ranks of Al-Qaeda. He is well known for his opposition to former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein during the Iraqi occupation of Kuwait in 1990. In Kuwait, Abu Ghaith was close to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the coordinator of the 9/11 attacks who is currently facing trial in Guantanamo bay.

In 1994 he travelled to Bosnia to fight the Serbs, staying there for two months before returning to Kuwait. Yet his travels to Bosnia and Afghanistan continued, prompting the Kuwaiti Minister of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs to dismiss him from his role as a mosque preacher. Abu Ghaith later settled with his wife and six children in Afghanistan. Following the 9/11 attacks, Abu Ghaith appeared in a video as spokesman for Al-Qaeda, launching fiery statements threatening similar attacks, and prompting the government of Kuwait to revoke his citizenship. After the fall of the Taliban regime and the defeat of Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, the Abu Ghaith family, together with members of the Bin Laden family and several leaders of Al-Qaeda, travelled to Iran, which has hosted them over the past years.

The Turkish security forces managed to arrest Suleiman Abu Gaith after the Turkish intelligence services received intelligence information from the CIA with regards to Abu Ghaith’s arrival in Turkey. The Turkish intelligence services located the address of a hotel in the Çankaya district of the capital Ankara and arrested him. Turkish sources said, “After investigations were held with Suleiman Abu Gaith in the counter-terrorism branch of the Ankara security department, he was released by the court because he had committed no crime or terrorist act in Turkey. He merely entered Turkey from Iran with a forged Saudi passport in order to obtain political refugee status and then move on to Saudi Arabia to meet with his wife”.

The US put in a request for Abu Ghaith to be extradited for interrogation, within the framework of America’s fight against terrorism and members of Al-Qaeda, but Ankara has refused to do so on the basis of Turkish law, which stipulates that foreign nationals entering with a forged passport must be deported back to the country they came from, in the absence of any proof of their involvement in terrorist operations in Turkey.

Finally, Asharq Al-Awsat learned that Abu Ghaith had already requested to return to Kuwait, but local authorities did not respond. As he needs a passport in order to return, he was forced to use forged documents in order to escape his house arrest in Iran and head to Turkey, where he was subsequently arrested. Islamic Observatory director Siri told Asharq Al-Awsat that Abu Ghaith has not hurt or killed anyone; he was merely a spokesman for Al-Qaeda who travelled with his family to the neighboring Gulf States when he worked as a preacher in Kuwait. He pointed out that he currently suffers from poor health.