Zarqawi Cleric Ally Killed in U.S. Strike.

Wext: Thursday, 23.September. @ 00:00:00 CEST

Mijar:

22. Sep. 2004, AMMAN ( Reuters ) - The spiritual mentor of al Qaeda ally Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Muslim cleric who justified Zarqawi's beheading of hostages in Iraq, has been killed in a U.S. air strike, associates and relatives said on Wednesday.

They said Omar Youssef Jumah, known as Abu Annas al-Shami, whose religious edicts or fatwas were heeded by his fellow Jordanian, died on Friday while hiding to the west of Baghdad.

The report could not be independently confirmed.

Shami called himself grand mufti, or spiritual guide, of Zarqawi's Tawhid and Jihad group, which says it has beheaded two Americans this week and is threatening to kill a Briton.

His wife in the Jordanian capital Amman was contacted on Sunday by Iraqi friends to tell them of Shami's death in an overnight air raid, a family member told Reuters in the city.

"They were told of the martyrdom of Abu Annas, who had left Jordan to fight in Iraq for God's cause," the relative said.

Shami and several comrades were being sheltered by local people from the Zouba tribe, from which anti-American insurgents draw support, close to Baghdad's main prison at Abu Ghraib, on the highway to the Sunni Muslim stronghold of Falluja.

U.S. aircraft have bombed buildings from Baghdad to Falluja in recent weeks in strikes aimed at Zarqawi's group, which has claimed responsibility for some of the worst violence in Iraq.

Islamist sources in Jordan said the Sunni cleric went to Iraq after last year's U.S. invasion. In edicts published on Islamist Web sites, Shami said Islam permitted the beheading of hostages who cooperated with the U.S. military.

"Whenever a major kidnapping would take place they would take from him a ruling on how to handle the hostage according to religious sharia teachings," said an Islamist activist who declined to be identified.

"Beheading is God's justice to inflict pain and sow fear into the hearts of the infidel crusader enemy who has come to desecrate the lands of the Muslims," Shami was quoted as saying last month on a Web Site used by Islamic militants purporting to show militants beheading an alleged CIA agent in Iraq.

The activist who knew Shami in Jordan said his militancy was shaped by four years as a religious seminary student in Saudi Arabia where he fell under the influence of the strict Wahabi brand of Islam before returning to Jordan in 1991.

For Shami, beheading was the most appropriate way to mete out justice to Islam's enemies, religiously justified by its prevalence as the most efficient way to execute criminals and enemies during Prophet Mohammad's era, his associates said.

Shami was also credited with writing many of Zarqawi's letters and statements that have appeared on Web Sites that purportedly claim responsibility for suicide bombings and attacks in Iraq, associates said.



Source: Reuters









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