A former Guantanamo detainee has emerged as a leading ideologue and theologian for al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula – one of the strongest al Qaeda affiliates in the world.
Ibrahim Suleiman al Rubaish was captured by Pakistani authorities in late 2001 and then handed over to American officials who transferred him to Guantanamo.
Rubaish was held there until Dec. 13, 2006, when he was transferred to Saudi Arabia and placed in the Saudi rehabilitation program for jihadists. At some point, Rubaish escaped from Saudi Arabia by fleeing south to Yemen.
In February 2009, the Saudi Kingdom placed Rubaish, along with at least 10 other former Gitmo detainees, on its list of 85 most-wanted terrorists. One of the former Gitmo detainees Rubaish fled to Yemen with, Said Ali al Shihri, is now the deputy of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which was formed when the al Qaeda branches in Yemen and Saudi Arabia merged.
Two other former Gitmo detainees who fled to Yemen along with Rubaish have been killed in shootouts. [See LWJ reports "Former Gitmo detainee killed in shootout" and "Another former Gitmo detainee killed in shootout."]
Since leaving Saudi Arabia, Rubaish has become an influential proponent of waging jihad against the Saudi royals.
Rubaish’s influence is so great that he has risen to the rank of Mufti within al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, according to an analysis by the Jamestown Foundation. The role of Mufti is crucial for al Qaeda’s operations because the Mufti provides the theological justifications for the organization’s terrorism.
The Saudi regime has consistently challenged the religious credentials of al Qaeda’s Muftis since 2003, when the kingdom launched a widespread crackdown on the terrorist network in response to attacks on Saudi interests.
Rubaish is now the terrorist leader responsible for providing al Qaeda’s answer to the Saudi regime’s theological arguments.
Rubaish has attempted to establish his religious credentials by writing a book that challenges the authority of Sheikh Salman al Ouda, who is a popular Saudi cleric. Al Ouda himself was once an outspoken critic of the Saudi royal family and repeatedly challenged its legitimacy in the early 1990s.
Al Ouda was even cited and praised by Osama bin Laden in a 1994 screed entitled “The Betrayal of Palestine,” in which the terror master lambasted the Saudi government’s own top Mufti, Bin Baaz, for endorsing the 1993 Oslo Accords.
After being imprisoned for several years, al Ouda changed his tune and renounced his prior disloyalty. Sheikh al Ouda currently supervises the Islam Today web site on behalf of the Saudi regime. In his book, Rubaish chastised al Ouda for his “alliance” with the Saudi regime.