Seif Al-Adl, the Egyptian military leader of Al-Qaeda, remains to be a mysterious character, who is often a subject of great controversy. It is believed by many that his role is not yet over, and an important document posted on the internet by many fundamentalist sites, sheds further light on the subject.
It seems that there is some dispute over Al-Adl’s true identity, with some saying that he is one and the same as Colonel Mohamed Mekawi, a former Egyptian Army Officer. However, a Libyan Islamist, Noman Ibn Othman, told Asharq al-Awsat yesterday that he had met both Mekawi and Al-Adl together during the years of Jihad against the Russians in Afganistan. He also stated that Mekawi is almost a decade Al-Adl’s senior.
One of the most important points made with regards to Al-Adl, is in relation to his knowledge of Al-Zarqawi’s successor. This was of particular importance when news emerged that Al-Zarqawi, the leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, had been shot in operations taking place in the West of the country. According to Al-Adl, Al-Zarqawi’s successor was believed to be a Syrian physician, Sulaiman Khaled Darwish (aka Abu Al-Ghadiah), who was the leader of the Arab Mujahedeen in Harat Camp. The Harat Camp was also personally supervised by Al-Zarqawi.
Noman Ibn Othman, a political asylum seeker in Britain and an expert on fundamentalist movements, stated that Al-Adl’s photograph is listed on the FBI’s most wanted list of terrorists, which is topped by that of Bin Laden. Noman Ibn Othman went on to state that there had been no news about Colonel Mekawi (aka Abu al-Munthir) since 1994. It is believed that he had been in strong disagreement with Al-Qaeda, especially with Ayman Al-Zawhri, the Jihad leader and Bin Laden’s greatest ally.
Ibn Othman also commented that Mekawi’s great military abilities were immediately identifiable. He had entered into battle against the Russians with the rest of the Mujahedeen in Jalal, using his experience in the Egyptian army. According to some fundamentalists in London, it is thought that he participated in operations against the Russians with Bin Laden in Jalal Abad for a short time. It was during the Khurst Airport Battle, when he witnessed the chaos between the Arabs and Afghans that Mekawi made his famous statement. He declared that it was “a war of goats”, referring to an old Egyptian saying which describes that which is old, as belonging to the days of the war of the goats.
Mekawi considered himself distinguished amongst the other Arab Afghans, due to his military skills. He regarded those around him as amateurs, and refused to enter into the “war of the goats”. Mekawi left for Peshawar, where he continued to lose confidence in the Afghans, until the war with Russia was over.
In a testament made by Al-Adl, after the news was published that Al-Zarqawi had been shot in his right lung, it is made clear how Al-Zarqawi became acquainted with Al-Qaeda. The testament, which was published by fundamentalist internet sites, highlighted that it was Al-Adl who had recommended Al-Zarqawi to Al-Qaeda. It also became clear that the link between the two men was Abu-Qutadeh, the Palestinian fundamentalist, currently residing in London under permanent electronic surveillance.
In the internet posting, Al-Adl also describes the details of his agreement with Al-Zarqawi. It seems they had decided to set up a central leadership command circle in Iran, from which further sub-circles would branch off.
Ibn Othman, the Libyan Islamist, revealed that Al-Adl is the son-in-law of Abu al Walid al Masry, another Egyptian fundamentalist. Abu al Walid al Masry’s book was serialised in Asharq al-Awsat in in December 2004. His book dealt with the Arab Afghans, from their entrance into Afghanistan until their expulsion from the country with the Taliban.
Al-Adl had five children from his marriage to Abu al Walid’s daughter, and they were all living in Kabul during the bombardment on Afghanistan. Abu al Walid was one of the most senior Arab Afghans, based in Qandhar, he was, for many years, the supervisor of The Islamic Principality, a journal which was regarded as the voice of Mullah Omar. The journal was published in Arabic, English and Pashto. Abu al Walid also wrote tens of articles on Mahrousa, a fundamentalist site run by the Egyptian fundamentalist, Osama Rushdy, who used the pen name Hashem Al-Makri. Rushdy was one of the leaders of the Jama’ah Islamiyah, the illegal Egyptian fundamentalist group.
The Islamic Observatory, London-Based Islamic human rights NGO, revealed that Mekawi used to lead a special task anti-terrorism force in the Egyptian armed forces” Commandos Unit, before he was forced to resign from the army. It is also believed that he is married to a Pakistani woman. Islamic fundamentalists based in London, have told Asharq al-Awsat that after colonel Mekawi was arrested, tried, and fired from the Egyptian army, he was contacted by Al–Jihad group which invited him to return to Pakistan. It is thought that he strongly disagreed with Al-Jihad and subsequently launched a campaign, criticising Al-Zawhri. He accused Bin Laden’s closest ally of being an agent, who received money from the Iranians, implicating the ranks of the organisation in failed and unstudied operations.
In his testament, Al-Adl said, “we followed the military trials carried out by the Jordanian State Security Court, concerning our returned Afghan-Jordanian brothers, as well as those for several small Islamic groups that tried to wage operations against Israel with Jordan as a base. As we followed the trials of Abu Mossa”b Al Zarqawi and Abu Mohamed Al Maqdisi in the Tawhid case, or what was known as Bay”at Al Imam [the Imam”s Allegiance], we realised that they were the most prominent of the Jordanian Islamists from the media’s perspective." Seif added, "Our brother Abu Qatadah then focused on publicizing the ideas of these two in his journal, Al Menhaj that was published in London. It was in this journal that we first read the letters of Abu Mohamed Al Maqdisi, the letters of Al Zarqawi , and their historical defense before the prosecution. Abu Qatadah always reminded us that we had active brothers in Jordan who were expected to have a promising future in the course of Da”wah. Thus we were very happy when we heard of their release in 1999 and we were not surprised when we learned that Abu Musab and some of his brothers had arrived in Pakistan." He continued, " Abu Mossa”b and Al Maqdisi did not need to be recommended to us as we had followed the trials and had witnessed the ideas they had presented in these trials. That was enough for us to welcome them”.
Seif Al-Adl admits that he shares Al-Zarqawi’s extremist ideas, however not all aspects of Al-Zarqawi’s approach, such as silence and decisiveness, are agreed up by other Al-Qaeda brothers. He clarifies, “this intrigued me and opened a wide door of memories that led me to recall the major milestones in my history and how my relationship with Allah had guided me to true Islam in the mid-eighties". The difference between Al-Zarqawi and Al-Adl, may also be identified in the dissimilarity between Al-Zarqawi and the rest of Al-Qaeda in relation to the formers tendency to excommunicate governments.
Al-Adl then went on to discuss September 11th, he said, “first of all, Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi had not prior knowledge of these attacks, but knew some details after the strike took place”. Seif clarifies,
"we explained the aims of the September attacks to Zarqawi and provided him with some important details of phased out targets. Also, since we had speculated an American response, we had not estimated that the strikes would succeed to achieve more than 20percent of the target that was planned. This was enough, however for America to respond as we initially wanted. Then we all know what took place in the following two months, including threats to wipe out Al-Qaeda and its supporters everywhere. The Americans started getting contradictory in their statements and actions, and their supporters and dependants started emulating their master in these statements and actions. This is in fact what we had hoped would happen and what we planned. It was crowned when Bush declared war on Afghanistan".
Al-Adl reveals that Al-Zarqawi appointed himself a deputy in Afghanistan; this deputy was the Syrian physician Sulaiman Kahled Darwish. In addition, he had two aides, Khaled Arouri and Abdel Hadi Deghlas, two Jordanian young men who had accompanied him to Afghanistan in the very beginning. Al”Adl noticed that, “Abu Mossa’b [Al-Zarqawi] and his aides were very vigorous in their training”. He described it further; “they used to push themselves hard to reach higher goals all the time”.
The Egyptian fundamentalist statement asserted that “contrary to what the Americans continuously claimed, Al-Qaeda did not have any connection with Saddam whatsoever. American attempts to connect Saddam to Al-Qaeda were in order to create excuses and legitimate causes to invade Iraq. So after we were trapped in Iran, after being forced out of Afghanistan, it became inevitable that we would plan to enter Iraq through the north, which was free from American control. It was then that we moved south to join our Sunni brothers".
Al-Adl then moved to the question of Iran, and said "The steps taken by Iran against us shook us and caused the failure of 75percent of our plan. Approximately 80percent of Abu Musab’s [Al-Zarqawi] group were arrested. It was important to create a plan for Abu Musab to follow with those left with him. Where were they to go? The destination was Iraq, via the Northern Iran/Iraq border. The aim was to reach the Sunni areas in the center of Iraq and then to start preparations to combat the American invasion. It was not a random choice; it was a well studied one."
Al-Adl describes his farewell with Al-Zarqawi, “When Abu Mossa”b was saying goodbye before going to Iraq, there was an added dimension to him. It was the focus on taking revenge on the Americans for the crimes he had seen them commit in Afghanistan with his own eyes". The grudge and hostility Al-Zarqawi held against the Americans was enough to create new aspects to his personality. Al-Adl added, "I cannot write about this new character as I have not met him since he left Iran. But from what I have heard about him, it seems that he has become an experienced leader who is able to manage the conflict with the Americans and the Israelis".