Wounded Saudi cleric on IS hit list: Report PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 03 March 2016 13:36

By DAN TORIBIO JR.

Authorities are pursuing an investigation of an assassination attempt on an influential Saudi preacher/authorwho was shot inside the Western Mindanao State University (WMSU) campus where the gunman was killed and two suspects arrested Tuesday night.

Preacher Sheikh Aaidh al-Qarni and Saudi religious attache Sheikh Turki Assaegh were both wounded in the shooting that happened as they were leaving the WMSU gymnasium where the cleric had given an address.

Dr, Qarni was reported to be on the hit list of  the Islamic State (IS).

Lawmen collared Junaide Cadir y Saleh, 36, of Taguiti and Mujer Abubakar y Amilasan, 31, of Sta. Barbara, two alleged cohorts of Rugasan Misuari III, an engineering student and a resident of Paraiso Homes Subdivision, Tumaga, who was shot dead by security escorts of the preacher.

Dr. Qarni is an international lecturer and renowned author of many inspirational and motivational books worldwide and ShecikhTurkiAssaegh is a religious attaché of the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia.

Police later said only Cadir appeared to be a suspected member of the Abu Sayyaf and a cohort of Misuari.  Abubakar was still under investigation as of press time.

Misuari was shot and killed by men of the Police Security and Protection Group who were escorting the two foreigners.

Qarni was invited to speak in a symposium organized by the Ulama Council of Zamboanga Peninsula, at the WMSU gymnasium which was attended by thousands Muslims.  While he and Assaegh were about to board their service vehicle past 8 p.m., Misuari who was armed with a .45 caliber pistol appeared and shot them at close range.

The security escorts of the two foreigners retaliated and killed Misuari.

Police recovered the gun of the slain gunman.

The two foreigners were taken to the ZAEC community Hospital and werer later were transferred to Zampen Hospoital before they were airlifted to Manila.

Meanwhile, three women who attended the symposium were given first aid by a medical team after they panicked during a chaotic situation after the shooting.

Dr. Al-Qarni whose real name is Aaidhibn Abdullah al-Qarni who was born on January 1, 1959. He  is a Saudi Islam Muslim scholar, author and activist, and is best known for his self-help book La Tahzan (Don’t Be Sad), which is aimed at Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

IS militants who control vast swathes of Iraq and Syria had called on “lone wolves” to attack Qarni and several other Saudi clerics whom they accused of apostasy in the latest issue of Dabiq, their monthly online magazine, according to Agence France Presse (AFP)

The Philippine government should investigate whether the Islamic State group (IS) had influenced the shooting, international security analyst Stephen Cutler told reporters in Manila.

“Its possible it is Daesh-related because he was on this hit list but I don’t know yet,” the American said, using an Arabic abbreviation for the IS group.

Tuesday’s shooting also came as the army quelled a rampage by an obscure armed group that pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in Butig, a poor farming town some 200 kilometres (120 miles) northeast of Zamboanga.

At least 12 militants and five soldiers were killed while more than 30,000 people were displaced over several days of fighting, which ended as the army seized the gunmen’s main camp over the weekend.

However, Filipino authorities have not linked sympathisers of Islamic State jihadists to Tuesday’s attack.

Saudi media outlets described Qarni as a senior Islamic scholar and he has more than 12 million followers on Twitter. In his book “Awakening Islam,” the French academic Stephane Lacroix included Qarni in his list of “the most famous” Saudi preachers.

Last week, the Saudi embassy in Manila asked local police for increased security for its premises, as well as for the Saudi national airline due to an unspecified threat, Philippine foreign affairs spokesman Charles Jose said. – Dan Toribio with AFP report.