O ctober 10th 2001: Just one month ago the al-Qaeda terror network of Osama Bin Laden had carried out the largest terror attack in history. Now they are on the withdrawal, hiding from America´s retaliation that hit Afghanistan in the form of day-and-night carpet bombings and precision strikes on selected Taliban and al-Qaeda targets.
While the B-52 bombers where crossing the skies over the Hindukush, al-Qaeda send a video message to the Qatar-bases TV-channel Al Jazeera.
In it, a young, black bearded Kuwaiti scholar named Sulayman Abu Ghaith called for the Muslims of the world to defend Islam by attacking America and its interests where ever they are. Posing as the organization´s official spokesman, Abu Ghaith warned the U.S. of more al-Qaeda attacks to come.
„The Americans should know that the storm of plane attacks will not abate, with God’s permission“, the Kuwaiti extremist said, „There are thousands of the Islamic nation’s youths who are eager to die just as the Americans are eager to live.“
Just three days prior to the October 10th message, Sulaiman Abu Ghaith had appeared in another video tape broadcasted by Al-Jazeera. He was seen sitting next to Osama Bin Laden and Ayman az-Zawahiri, as they were talking about upcoming war with America in Afghanistan.
The former high-school religion-teacher Sulaiman Abu Ghaith had just left Kuwait, his wife and his six children in summer 2001 and joined al-Qaeda in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.
In April 2002 Abu Ghaith was featured in an al-Qaeda video in which he – for the first time – admitted al-Qaeda was responsible for 9/11. Another statement by Abu Ghaith in April 2002 claimed al-Qaeda responsibility for the April 2002 synagogue bombing in Tunisia, in a following message in December 2002 the Kuwaiti jihadi claimed responsibility for the November 2002 suicide attacks in Kenya.
Scholar turned Mujahed
Born in Kuwait 12 December 1965, Sulaiman Abu Ghaith became a preacher in the „Masjid ar-Rumaythiyya“, speaking out against Saddam Hussain´s Invasion of Kuwait in 1990. Later he was an outspoken critic of the Kuwaiti regime which led the government to suspend him as an imam several times. In the 1980s the former member of the Muslim Brotherhood was drawn to fight Jihad in Afghanistan against the Soviets. There he apparently made contact with Bin Laden and the Arab mujaheddin for the first time.
After he was branded by the Kuwaiti government as being a member of opposition, Abu Ghaith left for Bosnia and fought alongside other Arabs against the Serbian army in summer of 1994. Back in Kuwait the authorities removed him as the main imam at the ar-Rumaythiyya mosque for attacking Arab governments. Abu Ghaith decided to work as a teacher for religion instead.
On October 14th 2001, four days after he called for more attacks against the U.S., the Kuwaiti government stripped Abu Ghaith from his citizenship, saying in a released statement: „In the national interest and according to Article 14 of the 1959 nationality law, the council of ministers has approved a proposed decree to withdraw Sulaiman Abu Ghaith’s nationality.“ According to the Kuwaiti officials Abu Ghaith was among those Arab fighters, the Taliban regime granted the Afghan citizenship, which he still holds.
Exile in Iran
As the U.S. attacked Afghanistan in fall and winter of 2001, Sulaiman Abu Ghaith fled the country within the months following U.S. ground invasion. Intelligence suggested he had left for Iran.
In mid-2003 media reports in Iran said, al-Qaeda´s spokesman had been arrested by Iranian authorities and is now being held at a prison. Apparently the Iranians contacted the Kuwaiti government and offered to extradite Abu Ghaith. Kuwait refused. On 17 July 2003, the Kuwaiti minister of the interior, Shaykh Nawaf al-Ahmad As-Sabah said they rejected Iran´s offer because Bin Laden´s anchorman was no longer Kuwaiti citizen.
Iran never publicly admitted having Abu Ghaith or other al-Qaeda members in custody. American intelligence officials were sure the Kuwaiti was living in Iran, accompanied by one of Bin Laden´s sons and maybe also by the Egyptian military chief of al-Qaeda, Saif al-Adel.
September 2010 – Sa´ad Bin Laden, Saif al-Adel
and Abu Ghaith are released
For several days now there have been rumors of the release of Sulaiman Abu Ghaith. Jihadi sources say the 44year old al-Qaeda spokesman was recently allowed to exit Iran with some family members (probably a second or third wife). More and more details have emerged now.
Sources say Sulaiman Abu Ghaith was part of a group of al-Qaeda members released by the Iranian government in the past several days. In addition to him, Sa´ad Bin Laden, Osama Bin Laden´s son, was also among those who left Iran after years of custody.
One group of released al-Qaeda people was led by Sa´ad Bin Laden, the second one was a group of Egyptians and Saudis led by a „leading Egyptian“, which could only mean Saif al-Adel, and the third group of prisoners was headed by Sulaiman Abu Ghaith.
This news is significant for a bunch of reasons. First of all, if true, it confirms that Sa´ad Bin Laden is indeed alive and was not – as the CIA suggested – killed in a U.S. drone attack in Pakistan in January. Bin Laden himself refused to give permission for his now 30year-old son Sa´ad to leave Afghanistan with his mother Najwa Bin Laden, back in 2001. The al-Qaeda leader wanted the young man to join him in Jihad against America.
As a wanted member of the terror group and without Kuwaiti passport, AQ spokesman Sulaiman Abu Ghaith is not able to return to his country of birth. It is very likely he joined al-Qaeda central in the AfPak-border region, and that´s in fact what Jihadi sources say.
More than anything else, U.S. intelligence will be interested in the fate of Saif al-Adel, al-Qaeda´s General. The battle-hardened Egyptian Ex-Special forces soldier is seen as a dangerous element within the terror network. His release from Iranian custody could very well mean his return to the planning and command center of AQ central.
The developing story of the AQ-prisoner-group release from Iran has to be followed closely as different sides tell one and the same reason for the release. Iran didn´t let them go as a sign of good-will but as part of a mysterious and secret hostage exchange. More to come soon…