Written By: Elena White
Article Date: Jun 25, 2012 - 8:23:45 PM
In a recent address to the press, controversial Yemeni cleric Sheikh Abdel-Mageed al-Zindani, a powerful tribal leader whose alleged ties with al-Qaeda landed him years ago on America’s most wanted terror list, vehemently denied that he broke a deal with the White House to have his name remove, arguing that if he ever indeed figured on the list, it was mainly because he refused to follow then-President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s orders.
A week ago, the prominent Sunni Muslim cleric was accused by local newspapers of having collaborated with the White House by giving out information on al-Qaeda’s positions and plans in the southern province of Abyan in exchange for his international rehabilitation.
When interviewed by al-Jazeera.net, the Sheikh called the so-called “secret documents” which news sites said to be possessing as “sheer lies and fabrications.” Al-Zindani accused “the remnants of the regime” – former President Saleh’s loyalists – of trying to stain his reputation and character by painting him as a traitor and manipulator.
“Ali Abdullah Saleh has complained against me to the Americans asking them to limit my activities and prevent my movements internally and externally,” Zindani said, noting that the campaigns targeting him increased after he annouced his support of the youth movement. The cleric further stressed that his relation with Yemen’s former strong man reached a break point after he refused to issue a fatwa allowing the killing of youth protesters under a “national protection chart.”
Zindani alleged that former President Saleh sought to justify religiously his killing of protesters by using clerics and religious leaders. Those allegations were denied by the General People’s Congress – Ali Abdullah Saleh’s party – Moreover, Sheikh al-Zindani advanced that former American ambassador to Yemen, Edmond Hole Agar had himself recognized that the addition to America’s most wanted terror of al-Zindani had been politically motivated and bore no justification.
According to the Sheikh, Saleh at the time was trying to limit his growing influence in Yemen by preventing him from receiving donations from Arab countries for his al-Imam University in Sana’a, the capital. Founder of the University, Zindani recently made the headlines as it was revealed he had received millions of dollars from the ministry of finance for the construction of a new al-Imam mosque. Lawyers immediately filed a motion against the decision, calling for a review of such “state patronage” in a time of economic crisis.
Zindani was also accused by Ahmed Ali Saleh – former President Saleh’ son – of using his Jihadists – the Sheikh who is also a high ranking member of al-Islah, Yemen’s Islamic faction, leads a reported 2,000 Islahi Jihadis – Sunni fundamentalists advocating the use of force to impose the advancement of Islam – to lay waste the Republic and allow al-Qaeda militants to resume their expansion campaign in the country.
Regarding alleged “collaboration” documents, Zindani explained that the UN Justice For All Commissioner Kimberly Brook had sent a memo to his office on October 26, 2011, explaining she had been tasked with contacting persons and entities to strike off his name from the Security Council’s list of terror supporters.
He went on saying media sources belonging to the General People’s Congress – GPC - had published a document disclosing the so-called Zindani cooperation with the American intelligence services in return for the removal of his name.
Analysts close to al-Qaeda in Yemen say that the terror accusations regarding Sheikh Zindani, and the offer of cooperation with the Americans, comes within the former regime’ s campaign of political defamation and extortion.
Abu al-Fida, a former al-Qaeda member said in a call to al-Jazeera, that Zindani is one of the symbols of the nation, forming a focal point of the confrontation of the crusaders with the Muslims, stressing that Zindani and other symbols of the nation are being targeted by the U.S. to justify their murderous acts in Yemen.
Abu al-Fida said, “it is impossible that Zindani will one day or at any moment be a help to Islam sworn enemies, against his mujahidin sons and brothers,” in description to al-Qaeda elements, adding that “despite his difference with the mujahidin in opinion, he respects them and relates to their plight.”
Researcher in Islamic groups’ affairs, Nabil al-Bokiri, said that what had been said about al-Zindani was no more but a rumor. He said “such rumors come within the context of the political targeting to Sheikh al-Zindani, by Saleh regime’s media supporters.”
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