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Abu Ghayth, Sulayman (1965–) - PERSONAL HISTORY, INFLUENCES AND CONTRIBUTIONS, LEGACY, BIOGRAPHICAL HIGHLIGHTS, PERSONAL CHRONOLOGY:

kuwaiti qa’ida kuwait government

A Kuwaiti Islamist, Sulayman Abu Ghayth is best known as a spokesman for al-Qa’ida.

PERSONAL HISTORY

Sulayman Abu Ghayth was born in Kuwait on 12 December 1965. He is a teacher and preacher with a long reputation as a strident Islamist voice in the emirate. He attracted attention by speaking out in the mosques in Kuwait against the Iraqi invasion in 1990, despite the danger of arrest by Iraqi troops. Following liberation in 1991, he began criticizing moves toward greater democracy from his base at the al-Rumaythiyya mosque. In the following years, he became increasingly critical of the government, which responded by suspending him several times as an imam.

Never a prominent figure among Kuwait’s Islamists, Abu Ghayth was originally a member of the social reformist Muslim Brotherhood but gradually seemed to drift toward more radical causes. He had apparently fought in Afghanistan and was said to have joined Muslim guerrillas fighting in Bosnia-Herzegovina in the summer of 1994. Removed as imam of al-Rumaythiyya mosque about 1999 for diverting from approved religious themes, as well as stridently attacking the Kuwaiti and other Arab governments, he subsequently taught religion classes at a Kuwaiti high school.

In the summer of 2001, he left his wife and six children in Kuwait and made his way to Afghanistan where he joined al-Qa’ida leader USAMA BIN LADIN . It later transpired that he had been recruiting Kuwaitis for at least several years to join al-Qa’ida training camps in Afghanistan.

INFLUENCES AND CONTRIBUTIONS

In the aftermath of the 11 September 2001 attacks, Abu Ghayth appeared on a video next to Usama bin Ladin on 7 October 2001, and appeared on videos aired twice more within the week as al-Qa’ida’s official spokesman. As a result, the Kuwaiti government stripped him of his Kuwaiti nationality on 14 October (his youngest daughter, born after his departure from Kuwait, was granted Kuwaiti citizenship by the emir in June 2002). On another video that aired in early 2002, Abu Ghayth made the first al-Qa’ida claim of responsibility for the 11 September attacks in the United States. Another statement by Abu Ghayth in April 2002 claimed al-Qa’ida responsibility for the April 2002 synagogue bombing in Tunisia, and a following statement in June 2002 warned the United States of more attacks. A message broadcast in December 2002 claimed al-Qa’ida responsibility for the November 2002 suicide attacks in Kenya.

Similar to bin Ladin and Ayman al-Zawahiri, Abu Ghayth continued to evade capture. Whereas the other two were presumed to be at large in either Afghanistan or Pakistan, reports emerged in mid-2003 that Iranian authorities had arrested Abu Ghayth. On 17 July 2003, the Kuwaiti minister of the interior, Shaykh Nawwaf al-Ahmad Al Sabah, said that Kuwait had rejected an offer from Iran to extradite Abu Ghayth on the grounds that he was no longer Kuwaiti. However, Iranian authorities denied his presence in Iran. On 16 January 2004, the U.S. Treasury Department froze the assets of Abu Ghayth. In June 2005, U.S. and foreign intelligence officials alleged that Abu Ghayth was living in Iran, along with bin Ladin’s son Sa’d and al-Qa’ida security chief Sayf al-Adil. Conflicting reports contended that the al-Qa’ida figures were either under house arrest or enjoying the support of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.

LEGACY

It is too early to asses Abu Ghayth’s lasting legacy, but he will certainly be remembered for his role as the voice of al-Qa’ida.

BIOGRAPHICAL HIGHLIGHTS

Name: Sulayman Abu Ghayth

Birth: 1965, Kuwait

Family: Married; six children

Nationality: Kuwaiti (stripped of his citizenship by the Kuwaiti government)

Education: Unknown

PERSONAL CHRONOLOGY:

  • 1994: Reportedly fights with other foreign Muslim volunteers alongside the Bosnian government during the wars among the countries of the former Yugoslavia
  • 2001: Travels to Afghanistan, joins up with al-Qa’ida; issues video-taped statements as al-Qa’ida’s official spokesman; Kuwaiti government strips him of his citizenship
  • 2003: Reportedly captured in Iran
Abukhalil, As'ad (1960–) - PERSONAL HISTORY, INFLUENCES AND CONTRIBUTIONS, THE WORLD’S PERSPECTIVE, BIOGRAPHICAL HIGHLIGHTS, PERSONAL CHRONOLOGY:, LEGACY [next] [back] Abu-Assad, Hany (1961–) - PERSONAL HISTORY, INFLUENCES AND CONTRIBUTIONS, BIOGRAPHICAL HIGHLIGHTS, PERSONAL CHRONOLOGY:, THE WORLD’S PERSPECTIVE, LEGACY

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