Interesting: Abu Suleiman al-'Uteibi Killed in Afghanistan
Abu Suleiman al-'Uteibi (identified in the Saudi press as Muhammad al-Thubaiti, a young Saudi cleric) was killed in Afghanistan's Paktia Province during a skirmish with coalition forces there, according to a press release from Al-Qaida in Afghanistan today. The statement clarifies that al-'Uteibi had arrived in Afghanistan six months ago after leaving Iraq. Al-'Uteibi seems to have been a favorite of Abu Musaab al-Zarqawi's, having arrived in Iraq from Saudi Arabia shortly before the latter's death in June 2006. Al-'Uteibi makes his first public appearance in a video released on April 11, 2007 and is identified with the lofty title of "Chief Religious Judge of the Islamic State of Iraq", even though he was only 28 years old at the time.
But shortly afterwards, Abu Omar al-Baghdadi declared the names of his cabinet (on April 19, 2007), and he didn't pick al-'Uteibi as his Minister of Religious Courts:
3-Professor Sheikh Abu ‘Uthman al-Tamimi, Minister of Religious Courts (Apparently the first choice that was read out by the “spokesman” was changed at the last minute, because a voice-over is done in someone else's voice with al-Tamimi’s name substituted for the first choice; the Bani Tamim are one of Iraq’s major tribes, and they are mostly Shi’a with important Sunni subsections. There are also Tamimis in Saudi Arabia—Muhammad bin Abdel-Wahhab, the founder of Wahhabism in the 18th century belonged to this tribe—so this fellow could be a non-Iraqi too. The first choice could have been Sheikh Abu Suleiman al-Uteibi, a Saudi, who was recently identified as the chief religious judge of the ISI; I have no idea why they would have changed it.)Al-Baghdadi officially sacked al-'Uteibi in statement released for that purpose on August 25, 2007, and appointed an Iraqi sheikh, Abu Ishaq al-Juburi, in his place. It seems that shortly after being fired, al-'Uteibi left Iraq for Afghanistan.
It would be interesting to discover the background to the al-Baghdadi-al-'Uteibi rift, and what al-'Uteibi had to say about it to the mujaheddin in Afghanistan, and whether there's a deeper rift between the outlooks of the jihadists in Iraq and those in Afghanistan.
picture of Abu Suleiman al-Otaibi as he appeared in a propaganda video
I guess I've been asleep, but can somebody tell me when did "tandheem qa'idet aljihad fi afghanistan تنظيم قاعدة الجهاد في افغانستان" come into being? When did OBL's and Zawahiri's Al-Qaeda become "Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan"? Is this a new franchise? Is it a split within Al-Qaeda? Does this mean that it is an admission that OBL/Zawahiri are no longer in Afghanistan, thus it was necessary to find a new leadership/organization/hierarchy there? I'm not certain, but it seems that the first time we had heard from this organization was when Zarqawi was killed; is this Zarqawi's outfit in Afghanistan?