Talk to Al Jazeera – Former al-Qaeda Mufti: I condemn ISIL attacks

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A former religious advisor to Osama bin Laden, Abu Hafs al-Mauritani has joined a chorus of Muslims in condemning the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group, denouncing its recent attacks in Paris as going against the tenets of Islam.

In his first interview to an English-TV audience, Mauritani tells Al Jazeera’s Sami Zeidan that ISIL has “misunderstood” Islam, just as people in the West might “misunderstand Christianity”.

“Islam forbids the killing of innocent people, regardless of whether they are Muslims or non Muslims,” he says. “Killing civilians and innocent people … is unacceptable and has nothing to do with jihad.”

A former al-Qaeda ideologue who served on the group’s Shura Council, Mauritani left al-Qaeda in August 2001 after disagreeing with bin Laden’s decision to target civilians.

After the September 11 attacks, he fled to Iran where he spent 10 years in prison before being extradited to Mauritania.

Speaking from the Mauritanian capital Nouakchott, he accuses ISIL’s recruitment methods, citing political and not religious grievances for the group’s rise.

He blames the West’s support for Israel, “corrupt Arab regimes” and “counter revolutions after the Arab Spring” for the spread of the armed group.

“Why else would they have hit France and not hit the Vatican?” he says. “The Vatican represents western Christianity, why didn’t they attack a church?”

France has been bombing ISIL targets in Syria since late September, and since the Paris attacks has carried out a wave of air strikes on the Syrian city of Raqqa, the de-facto capital of the “Islamic State”.

Mauritani, who rejects Baghdadi’s claim to be the leader of all Muslims, says ISIL fails to meet the conditions and requirements of a caliphate and is a “fruit” of the US-led occuptaion of Iraq.

Mauritani also talks to Al Jazeera about why he joined – and left – al-Qaeda and what drives people to join the ranks of ISIL and other armed groups.

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39 COMMENTS

  1. interesting interview. I think every true muslim who is following the choran teaching cannot justify terror attacks on civilians.
    Also the former religious advisor of Osama bin Laden condemn those attacks on civilians and he was a terrorist himself playing a key role in one of the most dangerous terror organization in the world. What i think it is that the islamic state is carrying on a deadly revenge and destabilization on the west for the killing of many children and civilians that every days are dying under bombs carry on by France, United States ect, but nobody is really talking about that much anymore because people got used to hear it every day and people don't even pain attention like they should.. It shouldn't be like this. We should really give the same importance when attacks carry on by military kill hundreds of people with drones and when terrorists kill people in the west.But when it happen that terrorists are striking the west for everybody comes as a big surprise which it should not be.The ISIL is an extremely violent terror organization, how come that our politicians did not realize that before those attacks?

  2. بارك الله في الشيخ وجزاه خيراً على إظهاره للحق وفضحه لجرائم الدول الغربية البشعة والمتكررة ضد المسلمين..

  3. Aggressive Islamism is the problem not the West. Get rid of that and you wave bye bye to ISIL, al qaeda, al nusra, al shabaab, boko haram,….. . They push a political agenda that has to be stopped

  4. AL JAZEERA THE PETRO DOLLAR WAHABI, SALAFIST PROPOGATER, IT IS WRRITEN IN THE BOOKS, THE MESSENGER WILL COME TO YOUR SOLD OUT WITH HIS QUAYAMAT, THROUGH ME , HE EXPRESS HIS WILL NOW IS THE TIME, PL RETRACT OR FACE QUAYAMAT, ISLAM END IS VERY NEAR, THE MESSENGER NEVER GAVE THIS HATE MESSAGE PROPAGATED BY YOU PORKIS PETRO DOLLARS JAHANOON KA JIN

  5. I am not Muslim but I like what this man is saying. It's hurtful that innocent civilians are dying in the hands of these heartless terrorists but the west is the cause of the problem we all are facing today.

  6. ps i aplaud this mans courage to face the entire world with his faults in life. these people are to be listend to because this man has a soul and has love for humans. evtough it took him time to find it he did and he is not scared of sharing his views muslims should cherish such a brave man. the wars in afganistan and irak where wrong the only just cause in the middle east is defeatin isis. it is to protect muslims, cristians, athiest and jews.

  7. One point two billion Muslims in the world, it only took a few million Muslim radicals to kill one-hundred-seventy million of their own Muslim kin in the name of Allah, sharia-law, sovereign state. Now they've invaded Europe with this killer religion-? May the righteous Europeans grow some courage burn down the refugee camps burn the Mosques drive the Muslim horde back to where it came from-!

  8. Al Qaeda had a bad PR…
    During the Afghanistan war against the Russian invaders, no media had ever educated the people of our planet, on the meaning of the word Taliban and Al Qaeda. If the media had done so, Muslims would have received much more solidarity and compassion from the non Muslim people. The Taliban (Scholars) were those who, since the other brave Afghan men were butchered already by the Russian oppressors set up a new party: Al Qaeda (The Brotherhood). Al Qaeda reaches out to all brothers and sisters who want to fight the oppressors. Automatically they connected to Muslim and non Muslim networks with interests in a non-communist Afghanistan. The CIA, who supplied them not only special guns and special ammunition, drastically changing their ancient military strategies (for more efficiency and accuracy), these opportunistic Americans also invested lots of money and interests in the land. Al Qaeda recognized this neo-colonial strategic game, and turned the guns to their former allies. See… the Scholars (taliban) are very wise and extremely friendly people, but they were under command of Osama, a Saudi hired by the CIA. Osama was a wahabi fascist, dressed up like a Scholar. He even acted like an Afghan Scholar. More importantly, he had a good PR… The media covered him worldwide and pictured him as a hero to Muslims and a Devil to non Muslims. Mossad's Creative Branch' involvement is evident of course.
    The well-spoken, spirited brother up here, had no PR… being elected as Mufti by The Brotherhood members should have entitled him to a similar platform as was give to Osama, who was only a military leader, a general say.
    But as Osama's massacres and collateral damage traumatized the world; and his videos, pictures and statements became branded into the minds of billions… the Mufti received no coverage. Instead, the sunni mufti was captured by the Americans and put in an Iran (Shia) jail for 10 years. Cos America and Israel have the highest connections within each country of the world. Their special branches ensured secrecy and selective media coverage, in order to get justification to attack Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya… to burn down your own reich hause is an old trick, but Bush gambled on it. The foreign boys were hired and paid to blow up these buildings, Osama just had to say he did it. Just as the French kids were paid by ISIL or other CIA agents' associates to go massacring in Paris. All so that Bush & co could create an all out war against Al Qaeda, which soon after the victory in Afghanistan, became an international movemement of freedom fighters against oppressors…

  9. Most attacks in europe are done bij people that grew up in europe. Alot of them are known bij police etc.. Are often discriminated and walking arounr with a stamp on there heads since they where born. In some countrys they can't find a job. They are rejected bij bouncers when they want to hafe fun, only because they are north african!!! This enviroment creates hate en that's perfect habitat for groups to recruit. They think they have a goal for fighting a "holy war" and gets radicalysed. With so much hate for the european country they grew up combined with a history of crime it is possible they attack like we saw in france. To things needs to happen, fight them over there and maybe more important, stop discriminate whatever religion in our countrys.

  10. why does it matter when he resigned? only that he did! and now it would be wise to hear the reasoning and perceived justification of the groups behind these attacks. such understanding could help the West solve these problems and bring peace if only that was their goal…

  11. Unfortunately, ISIS has now made any withdrawl from anywhere impossible. The West is in defense mode and they don't negotiate with terrorists. If France is considering a change in their constitution to protect themselves from home-grown terrorism, that's pretty serious. ISIS has made the lives of ordinary Muslim citizens far more difficult by it's actions.

  12. interesting how the interviewer couldn't understand how the shaykh would still remain in the group after the killing of hundreds of people until he brought up the example of the millions of people killed by Western aggression.

  13. there is no question that isreal is the illegitimate child that the americans have supported. isreal steals land from the original inhabitants of palestine and are judaizing the area, this events in turn fuels terrorist attacks! the mere existence of apartheid isreal is a danger to all!

    Palestinian laborers must pay 11% of their wages to Israel’s national trade union, Histadrut, for insurance tax. Yet Palestinians do not receive Histadrut insurance benefits such as unemployment compensation, disability benefits or old age pensions.

  14. I am proud that YouTube has made Al Jazeera available to US viewers. I am disappointed that Al Jazeera blocks so many interesting reports unavailable to its US viewers. Watching our politicians you may get the idea we like being mislead. What we actually like is full disclosure of any agenda and spin placed on information. It hurts your credibility to give the impression that you are hiding some bias in some stories from your US audience. Use sub titles if necessary. Welcome, I am interested in whatever you have to say that helps US understand your point of view…

  15. I really don't understand media at all,if you want an insight to these groups why don't you speak to them directly. I would like to hear from them concerning their activities and the reasoning behind it.this person states in his interview that he left the group after the 9/11 attacks so what is he bringing to the table?just some quotes from usama bin laden who was killed a few years back.I want to know why the Islamic leaders aren't able to refute these people with Quran and Sunnah?

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