[QODLink]
Middle East

Jordan releases anti-ISIL Salafi leader

Salafi leader Maqdesi released amid growing concerns about the worsening security situation in Iraq.

Last updated: 17 Jun 2014 14:13
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Maqdesi was found guilty of 'plotting terrorism' and recruiting fighters to join the Taliban in Afghanistan [AP]

Amman, Jordan - Jordanian authorities have released Salafi leader Assem Barqawi, better known as Abu Mohammad al-Maqdesi, after having served a five-year prison sentence on allegations of jeopardising state security and recruiting jihadists to fight in Afghanistan. 

His release came as a surprise to some after the escalating war in Syria has presented big security challenges to neighbouring Jordan, especially amid an increasing number of Jordanians joining jihadist groups inside the war-torn country.

"We did not expect his release. We thought he would be interrogated and held further," Mohammad Shalabi, better known as Abu Sayyaf, head of the Jordanian Jihadi Salafist Movement told Al Jazeera in a phone interview.

Maqdesi is a supporter of al-Nusra front which, unlike ISIL, does not have any ambitions to take over the region.

-Hasan Abu Hanya, expert on jihadist movements

Experts and Salafists, however, say that releasing Maqdesi, who has been very critical of violence committed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), serves Jordan's interest as the movement has achieved gains in neighbouring Iraq recently and added to Jordan's security woes. 

"Maqdesi is a supporter of al-Nusra front, one of the fighting groups in Syria, which unlike ISIL, does not have any ambitions to take over the region," said Hasan Abu Hanya, an expert on jihadist movements. 

"He is the mentor and father of our curriculum," Abu Sayyaf told Al Jazeera. 

"There is a pressing need for a mentor like him at this time of bloodshed. He is very concerned about the blood of Muslims being shed and their souls and honour," Abu Sayyaf added.

In a recent statement published to his website, Tawheed, the leader condemned ISIL and called it "deviant" and called on jihadists to follow "the right [path] and stop the bloodshed".

According to Abu Hanyah, there are more than 2,000 supporters of ISIL in Jordan - an alarming number for the Jordanian authorities. 

"If some 4,000 ISIL members turned Mosul upside down, it is very dangerous for Jordan to have such numbers of supporters, given how violent and experienced the movement is," he said.

Jordanian officials' concern has been exacerbated after Iraq reportedly pulled out its forces from the Jordanian border on Sunday.

During a meeting with parliamentarians dedicated to discussing the challenges following the situation in Iraq, Jordanian Interior Minister Hussein Majali said that Jordan had built-up its military presence near the Iraq border by sending gendarmerie forces and additional security forces. 

Maqdesi arrived at his house in Rusaifa town in northern Jordan, which is home to the Salfist movement, yesterday. He refused to give media interviews, but will soon issue a statement, according to Abu Sayyaf.

His lawyer, Majid Liftawi, believes his client is not guilty of any terror charges.

"It was all because of his political beliefs and writings," he said. 

576

Source:
Al Jazeera
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
As Western stars re-release 1980s charity hit, many Africans say it's a demeaning relic that can do more harm than good.
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Tokyo government claims its homeless population has hit a record low, but analysts - and the homeless - beg to differ.
3D printers can cheaply construct homes and could soon be deployed to help victims of catastrophe rebuild their lives.
Featured
Pro-Russia leaders' election in Ukraine's east shows bloody conflict is far from a peaceful resolution.
Critics challenge Canberra's move to refuse visas for West Africans in Ebola-besieged countries.
A key issue for Hispanics is the estimated 11.3 million immigrants in the US without papers who face deportation.
In 1970, only two mosques existed in the country, but now more than 200 offer sanctuary to Japan's Muslims.
Hundreds of the country's reporters eke out a living by finding news - then burying it for a price.