Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat- Some of the most infamous contributors to extremist internet chartrooms, known for their support of al Qaeda and attacks on those intellectuals and politicians who disagree with fundamentalist Islamic ideology are not Saudi citizens, according to exclusive information obtained by Asharq al Awsat, but most readers were.
An informed source, which has monitored these forums for some time and analyzed the aliases of a number of writers, cited the Arab arena forum (muntadah al sahah al arabiyah), based in the Untied Arab Emirates, and writers for the voice of jihad (sawt al jihad) and al Battar, two online newsletters which represent al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia as examples.
Umm Osama (the mother of Osama), better known as al Khansa writes for al Qaeda’s bulletins and, in an interview with Asharq al Awsat on 12 March 2003, she indicated she headed the women’s wing of al Qaeda inside the Kingdom.
Known as Fatah al adghal (youth of the jungle), a writer for al Sahah is in fact a Pakistani national who moved to Saudi Arabia with his family aged 3. It is difficult for the untrained eye to see that he is not Saudi especially given his local focus and fluency in the local dialect. Thought to be around 20, the writer received his religious education in the Kingdom and has visited Pakistan several times throughout his life.
According to the source, “Fatah al Adghal’s writings can be divided into two periods. In his first “confused” phase, he supported al Qaeda. After the terrorist attacks in Saudi Arabia and his arrest, he distanced himself from the extremist group which he accused of a lack of jurisprudence but continued to criticize and attacks several Saudi writers, intellectuals, and journalists.”
Another previous notorious contributor was Louis Atiyatallah, who had an article s published by a London-based Arab newspaper and a book issued in the British capital. “We are aware he received support from a certain government and had his writings corrected by Saudis,” the source said.
Hidden behind the alias was “an Iraqi man named Omar Hadid, who also called himself Adnan or Marwan Hadid, after the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood leader Marwan Hadid who repeatedly clashed with the Assad regime and was later arrested and died in 1975”, the source added.
Confusion surrounding the identity of the writer was compounded when a third person named Marwan Hadid, a Syria who woks in the Saudi city of al Taif , was discovered. Nevertheless, it is the Iraqi Omar Hadid who wrote under the alias Louis Atiyatallah and was killed in Iraq . His penname survived his death and has been used by others who share his ideology and views if not the distinctive writing style. “It is not unusual in some cases for nicknames to be used by others with access to restricted areas on internet forums,” the source said. For example, in the case of al Mutawathib, three different individuals were known to use the name and write in support of al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia and publish its statements on al sahah.
It transpired that the real Umm Osama was an Egyptian woman in her mid-twenties living in Medina who was interested in communicating with extremists. She was arrested and released after it was discovered that she was using internet message boards to fill time.
Dr. Habibi al Luwayhiq al Mutayri, of the Saudi Human Rights Association, was accused by some of being Fatah al adgal but he denied this in an article published on al sahah using his real name.
Fatah al adghal had co-written an article entitled personal memories with “Bashir al Najdi” and “The brother who obeyed God (Akhu man ta’ Allah”) who was arrested during a confrontation with the security services in al Rawabi, east of Riyadh, last May. The Ministry of Interior later indicated that his real name was
Abdul Aziz al Tuwayli al Anzi, according to the Ministry of Interior; he also wrote under the pseudonym Abdullah bin Nasser al Rashid and Farhan bin Mashur al Ruwaili in sawt al jihad on the internet.
In the article, Fatah al Adghal remembered his discussions with “Akhu man ta’ Allah” and regretted the latter’s decision to join al Qaeda. “He supported me against my adversaries and defended me. He was shy at the beginning but quickly grew in confidence. His talent soon started to shine through and he developed a unique style”, he said.
He also reminisced how the two men rejoiced at the September 11 attacks and cheered the 199 hijackers, writing, “I recall our admiration for Louis Atiyatallah, who held an important position in an internet forum. The Kuwaiti Muhammad al Mulayfi and the writer al Zawwaq al Twwaq were also part of our circle. They wrote about the war in Afghanistan and celebrated the attack on New York City.”
The close friendship did not last very long as Fatah al adghal refused to support the terrorist bombings that took place in Saudi Arabia in 2003 and remembered being “suspicious of an article defending the attacks” written by “Akhu man ta’ Allah””.
Fatah’s own recollections received mixed reviews in internet chat rooms with one member Sindibad criticizing the article in the Saudi Dar al Nadwah forum for being a preemptive attempt to deflect attention from its author’s activities and prevent any action by the security services.
In one of his latest articles, Fatah al adghal criticized the Saudi writer Abdullah bin Bajad al Utaybi for supervising a television series aired on MBC during Ramadan analyzing the phenomenon of terrorism.