Jordan arrests influential al-Qaeda scholar for ‘incitement’
Jordanian security forces arrested influential al Qaeda spiritual guide Abu Mohammad al Maqdisi on Monday on suspicion of fomenting terrorism on the Internet, security sources said.
They said Maqdisi was ordered to be held for 15 days after he was called in for questioning by the state security prosecutor. He was initially charged with “using the Internet to promote and incite views of jihadi terrorist organisations”.
The self-taught intellectual was seen as the spiritual guide of the slain al Qaeda leader in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and the think tank of the U.S. West Point military academy has called him the most influential living Islamist mentor.
“He was arrested soon after he appeared at the prosecutor’s office and charged,” one security source told Reuters.
He has spoken out against Islamic State in recent months, saying their brutal methods of decapitations smeared the reputation of global jihadism. However, he has softened his criticism in the wake of U.S.-led air strikes against the group in both Iraq and Syria.
He was released from prison in Jordan last June, where he had served a five-year jail term. Some Jordanian officials suggested that authorities fearful of militancy spilling across their own border had agreed to free him so that he would speak out against the Islamic State.
The Islamic State emerged as an offshoot of al Qaeda in Iraq before expanding into Syria after the start of the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad over three years ago.
The expansion ignited battles with rival Islamist groups, including the al Qaeda-affiliate al-Nusra Front, in which thousands have died.
Maqdisi has mocked the Islamic State’s proclamation of a caliphate, saying it only deepened already bloody infighting among jihadists.