by Florian Flade
Years have past without any word, any statement, video tape or other proof of life by al-Qaeda´s main spokesman, the Kuwaiti Jihadi Sulaiman Abu Ghaith. Now the 44 year-old al-Qaeda man has released a new book, the first part of an upcoming series of documents, titled „Twenty Instructions Upon The Path of Jihad“.
Abu Ghaith as I wrote in this earlier post, acted as al-Qaeda´s media spokesperson in the weeks after 9/11 and during U.S. invasion in Afghanistan. He joined the organization quite late and became a permanent official member only in Summer 2001. The Gulf Emirate of Kuwait stripped Abu Ghaith, who had fought in Bosnia in the early 1990s and worked as an Imam in his Arabic homeland, off his citizenship in October 2001 as he rose to the leadership level of al-Qaeda and called for attacks against the United States.
Without any doubt Sulaiman Abu Ghaith fled American troop invasion in Afghanistan and most likely took the path to Iran were he lived in asylum, probably under house arrest imposed by the Iranian government, which acknowledged Abu Ghaith´s presence back in 2003 and offered to extradite him back to Kuwait (the Kuwaiti government said he was no longer Kuwaiti citizen – so no interest in getting him back).
Meanwhile, intelligence agencies in Europe and North America seem to agree, Abu Ghaith was (along with other al-Qaeda members) „released“ from Iran and returned to the frontlines, meaning he joined al-Qaeda´s main body in the Afghan-Pakistan border region or – as some Arabic news outlets suggested – even traveled to Yemen to join the local al-Qaeda branch there.
The latest document of Abu Ghaith is an unusual proof of life by the Islamist. The 104-page book was signed „Abu Yusuf Sulaiman Jassim Abu Ghaith – Official Spokesman of the Al-Qaeda Organization“ and was recently published on a Islamic website supporting Jihadi course.
As Australian terror expert Leah Farrell wrote on her blog, the new book features an sanctioning introduction by another „disappeared“ al-Qaeda figure – Abu Hafs al-Mauritani.
To me it seems rather obvious Al-Mauritani and Abu Ghaith were in some sort in contact with eachother in the years following 9/11. The al-Qaeda men might even have shared the same compound in Iran while living under house arrest although some sources say al-Mauritani was even allowed to leave the country some years back. No confirmation is available for that information.
If both Jihadis left Iran together it is likely they took the same bath as Egyptian al-Qaeda military head Saif al-Adel took and returned to the active planning, commanding, plotting or instructing ranks of the al-Qaeda network, meaning the former Iran-residents are in the Pakistani tribal region.
Analysis of the new Abu Ghaith book will show how life in exile has shaped the Jihadi´s take on Jihad, religious duties and politics.
The first question comes to mind looking at the author´s self-desription: Why is Abu Ghaith highlighting he might have lost his „job“ to another person within al-Qaeda? It says „Official Spokesman of the Al-Qaeda Organization (2001)“. Does the „2001“ mean, Abu Ghaith is not even sure if he is still holding this position? Who – if not Abu Ghaith – was the official al-Qaeda spokesperson in recent years?