Was it ISIS or Abu Sayyaf?
WHO SHOT the Saudi clerics? Philippine authorities are still investigating the failed assassination of two Saudi men, one of them an Islamic scholar, Sheikh Dr. Aaidh ibn Abdullah al-Qarni, who previously called a jihad against American forces in Iraq and Israel; and the other Sheikh Turki Assaegh, a religious Attaché of the Saudi Embassy in Manila. They were shot and wounded on March 1 during a forum at the Western Mindanao State University in Zamboanga City in southern Philippines.
The gunman Rugasan Misuari III - was killed by security men while trying to flee after shooting the two Arab lecturers, who were speaking to a huge crowd, mostly Filipino Muslims. Two other men – Junaide Saleh and Mujer Abubakar – had been taken into custody by the police after they scaled the university wall and tried to escape after the shooting. They were being investigated for their possible involvement in the attack.
It was unknown how the gunman managed to sneak the gun he used in attacking al-Qarni and Assaegh despite a strict security at the university gates. The Arab men were shot with a .45-caliber pistol, according to Senior Inspector Helen Galvez, a police spokesperson. “We are investigating this incident,” she told reporters.
Mayor Beng Climaco has ordered an investigation into the shooting. She said the Ulama Council of Zamboanga Peninsula organized the Islamic symposium. “I ordered the police to thoroughly investigate the shooting and its motive,” she said.
According to a 2012 report by the Investigative Project on Terrorism, alQarni was blocked by the Department of Homeland Security in the United States from attending a national Islamist conference in Chicago.
It said the 57-year old al-Qarni had been removed from his flight from Saudi Arabia despite having a visa from the U.S. embassy, and that he appears to be on the U.S. “no-fly list.” And the report – which can be accessed on this URL http:/ /www.investigativeproject.org/3864/cairprotests-saudi-radicalexclusion-from-us# - had advocated jihad in the past and that his preaching on the subject has been described as influential among al-Qaida followers. Continue on page 3
The report also said that during a 2005 sermon flagged by the Middle East Media Research Institute, al- Qarni called the jihad against American forces in Fallujah “a source of pride… downing their planes, destroying equipment, slaughtering them, taking them hostage...,” and proclaiming “Allahu Akhbar” from the mosques, and the worshippers and the preacher cursing them in their prayers.
It said al- Qarni belittled Muslims who failed to take action, including “harming the Jews.”
He also invoked Israel’s targeted killings of Hamas leaders Ahmed Yassin and Abdel- Aziz Rantisi, saying he prayed that Allah “will destroy the Jews and their helpers from among the Christians and the Communists, and that He will turn them into the Muslims’ spoils. I praise the Jihad, the sacrifice, and the resistance against the occupiers in Iraq. We curse them all of them every night and pray that Allah will annihilate them, tear them apart, and grant us victory over them… Throats must be slit and skulls must be shattered,” al- Qarni said. “This is the path to victory, to shahada, and to sacrifice.”
But other international media reports also said that ISIS has put a tab on al- Qarni and has previously called on its members and supporters to kill him because of his preaching that criticized the Salafi jihadist militant group. According to a report by the French news agency, al- Qarni's name was among those of a number of Saudi scholars listed by ISIS in the latest issue of its monthly online magazine, Dabiq, in an article entitled "Kill the Imams of Kufr". It accused the scholars of apostasy, and called on "lone wolves" to act against them.
There was no immediate statement from the Saudi Embassy on the daring attack on the Arab scholars, and neither the Aquino government or the Department of Defense about the report on alQarni, who is author of many motivational books on Islam.