Unconventional thinking about the Middle East.

Saturday, December 03, 2005


Asharq Al-Awsat reported on some of the chatter from the jihadi websites concerning the death, apparently by suicide (via Alphabet City blog), of Muhammad bin Abdullah bin Sayf al-Jabir (Abu Omar Al-Sayf). He turned out to be a Saudi national from the Qaisoumeh Province, who had studied Islamic jurisprudence at Imam Muhammad Bin Saud University (Qasim campus), and had become a principal ideologue of the jihadist movement, with specific expertise on why democracy is heretical. He had been a comrade of Khattab’s, another Saudi national who headed the Arab terrorists fighting in Chechnya. Khattab was killed three years ago. It is claimed that Al-Sayf took his own life alongside his wife and bodyguards, but it is as yet unclear if this happened in Daghestan or Chechnya.

Mea culpa: I messed up: Hussein Al-Zurfi and not Emad Al-Zurfi was the ‘brother’ abducted in Najaf on Thursday. In fact, that is what it says in the news story that I linked to from Aswat Al-Iraq. But I was too fixated on the news of the court order against the other brother, Emad, that I missed this crucial point. Sorry. This incident was mentioned in a front page, above-the-fold piece by Edward Wong in the New York Times today:

On Thursday evening, Hussein al-Zurfi, whose brother, Adnan al-Zurfi, a former Detroit businessman and ex-governor of Najaf who is running in the Dec. 15 parliamentary elections, was kidnapped in the neighboring town of Kufa.

Signs of corruption in the local forces have also emerged. The former head of a paramilitary squad here, Abdul Aal al-Kufi, was arrested by Iraqi forces a month ago in the city of Diwaniya and turned over to the Najaf police. Mr. Kufi is now imprisoned on charges of corruption and of kidnapping the sons of the former police chief of Najaf.

When Mr. Kufi headed his squad, he answered directly to Mr. Zurfi, then the governor of Najaf. Both men were ousted from power when the Supreme Council won the provincial elections last January. Mr. Zurfi, the Detroit resident whose brother was abducted Thursday, is heading a party called Loyalty to Najaf, which is competing in the Dec. 15 national elections.


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