Saudi cleric labels joining Qaeda un-Islamic: report

Filed on January 12, 2010

RIYADH - A senior Saudi cleric said that joining Al-Qaeda is forbidden by Islam, a newspaper reported on Tuesday, as concerns grow about the strength of jihadist group in neighbouring Yemen.

“Affiliation with the so-called Al-Qaeda group is haram,” or banned under Islamic teachings, Sheikh Abdul Mohsen Al-Obeikan, a top religious scholar and an advisor in the court of King Abdullah, told Okaz newspaper.

Obeikan reiterated the official Saudi view that Qaeda’s ideology was one of forbidden “takfirism,” which accuses others of apostasy to justify murdering them.

Anyone who joins Al-Qaeda “belongs to a group that has adopted takfir thinking,” he said.

The statement came as Riyadh steps up efforts to dissuade Saudis from joining the Yemen-based Al Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) led by Yemeni and Saudi radical Islamists.

AQAP is believed to be behind the attempted Christmas Day bombing of a US airliner.

It has also attempted several plots against the Saudi government, including a botched assassination bid last August on the country’s top internal security official, Deputy Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef.

The government plans a conference of religious scholars on takfir ideology, as it seeks to define takfirism as extremist and un-Islamic.

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