Jordanian government arrest of anti-ISIS Salafist leader is wrong, might help ISIS, attorney says
By Ali Younes
Jordanian government arrested and detained Jordanian Jihadist and Salafist leader Abu Mohamad Al Maqdisi, his wife told the Arab Daily News yesterday. She said that the Jordanian government has arrested her husband over allegedly using the internet to publish illegal Jihadist literature.
She also said in a text message that her husband, who has made several anti-ISIS statements in the past, was called to the headquarters of the Jordanian intelligence department where he was interrogated and then transferred to the office of the Prosecutor general of the State Security court.
She added that her husband has refused to sign the government charges against him which at that point he was transferred to Jordan’s maximum security prison, Muwaqar 2, pending formal charges. Al Maqdisi whose real name is Asem al Barqawi is one of the Jihadist world top ideologues and theorists and whose work and statements carry a lot of weight among the salafists and jihadists groups in Jordan and around the world.
Ever since his release from prison where he finished a 5 years sentence last August, Al Maqdisi has made very strong statements against the “Islamic state” or ISIS/ISL accusing the organization of spreading extremism and of killing innocent civilians, Journalists and aid workers.
He told me on several occasions in the past few weeks that ISIS’s beadings of American and other western journalists and aid workers are “wrong” and “criminal.” He added that “Their actions have nothing to do with Islam”.
Attorney Mousa Abdallat, who represents the Jihadists in Jordan, told the Arab Daily News last night that the charges against al Maqdisi stem from a recent Jordanian law that took effect last June that prohibits the using the internet or electronic devices to promote “ extremism and terrorism” or other aspects of violence. Abadallat said that the charges against him, if it turned out to be true, are very serious and if convicted, al Maqdisi could face 3- 15 years of jail time.
But Abdallat warned that “arresting al Maqdisi is wrong, because he is very important in the Jordanian efforts to combat extremism and terrorism of the Islamic State. “Maqdisi’s arrest, moreover, sends the wrong signal to the peaceful salafist groups.” Abdallat, continued, “the Arrest of al Maqdisi will end up helping ISIS and prove its point that only Jihadist extreme violence is the language that should be used by such organizations.” Abdallat asserts that there is strong undercurrent of ISIS support in the country, and that the Jordanian government is making a strategic mistake in arresting al Maqdisi. Al Maqdisi spent 16 years off and on in Jordanian jails -out of the 20 years he has been living in Jordan after he moved from Kuwait- on various charges related to his religious activities .
The Salafists can be divided to those who use Jihad as a mean of violence to achieve their goals, and those who describe themselves as the “peaceful salafists” who do not use or promote violence to express their theological ideology.
Before his arrest, Al Maqdisi, was in the middle of an effort to unify Salafist Jihadist groups in the region to stand against the “extremism of ISIS” which he considers “ very dangerous and have done more to tarnish the image of Muslims and Islam than others.”
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