Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat – Saudi Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz Al Sheikh yesterday strongly criticized the Al Qaeda organizations, and particularly the phenomenon of Al Qaeda elements disguising themselves in women’s clothing in order to avoid detection, saying that this has “contributed to tarnishing the reputation of Muslims.”
The Grand Mufti’s criticism came after the Saudi security authorities killed a suspected member of Al Qaeda dressed in women’s clothing on Friday after he opened fire on a security checkpoint. This would not be the first time that an Al Qaeda member has disguised himself in women’s clothing in order to avoid detection in Saudi Arabia.
In a telephone interview with Asharq Al-Awsat from Mecca, the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia Sheikh Abdulaziz Al Sheikh said that Al Qaeda elements disguising themselves in women’s dress is “dishonorable” and an example of “feminization.”
He also told Asharq Al-Awsat that “there can be no doubt that this behavior is wrong in every sense of the word” adding that “it is dishonorable, an example of feminization, and an exploitation of women.”
Grand Mufti Sheikh Al Sheikh added that those Al Qaeda elements who disguise themselves in women’s clothing are “criminals and sinners” who are trying to “distort the reputation of Muslims.” He added that “they are corrupt sinners, and we thank God that they have been revealed.”
The Saudi Grand Mufti, who is also Head of the Council of Senior Scholars and President of the Permanent Committee for Scholarly Research and Fatwa Issuance, told Asharq Al-Awsat that Al Qaeda elements disguising themselves in women’s clothing is something that is “worse than feminization.”
He added “the issue is not just feminization, this is worse than feminization…this is an attempt [by Al Qaeda] to sow hostility, hatred, and circumvent general security.” Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz Al Sheikh also praised the vigilance of the security apparatus in Saudi Arabia, and their prevention of such heinous crimes against Islam and Muslims.
The Saudi security killed a suspected member of Al Qaeda who, disguised in women’s clothing, open-fired on a security checkpoint in the early evening in Wadi al Dawasir, 360 miles southeast of Riyadh. Two men in a vehicle, one wearing a woman’s black abaya and veil, were stopped at a security checkpoint on Friday, the one dressed in women’s clothing descended from the vehicle and began shooting at the security forces, which shot back and killed him. The other man was arrested.
There are similarities between this incident and a previous incident which saw two Al Qaeda suspects whose names appeared on the Interior Ministry’s List of 85 Most Wanted Terrorists, killed by security forces in October 2009. The two men were disguised in women’s clothing, and were driving a car that was found to contain weapons and suicide vests.
Saudi Interior Ministry spokesman Major General Mansour al-Turki told Asharq Al-Awsat that the incident on Friday which resulted in the death of one individual “has Al Qaeda’s hallmark, particularly as disguising themselves in women’s clothing is the policy followed by the Al Qaeda organization in order to hide themselves from the eyes of the security forces.”
Major General Mansour al-Turki also said that this incident most likely has nothing to do with drug smuggling, and that it is more likely linked to the activities of the Al Qaeda organizations. He said that drug smugglers usually utilize women [to smuggle drugs] rather than disguise themselves in women’s clothing. He added that the investigation into this incident is ongoing, and that information will be forthcoming as to whether the two men are included on the Saudi Interior Ministry’s List of 85 Most Wanted Terrorists.