Abu Yahya al-Libi

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'Abu Yahya al-Libi is an Islamic cleric and a spokesman for al-Qaeda. Born in Libya, his real name is reported to be Muhammad Hasan Qaid, and is also known as Yunus al-Sahrawi.[1] He was captured in 2002 in Afghanistan but escaped in 2005 from Bagram Theater Internment Facility. The U.S. has offered a $5 million reward for him.[2] There are unconfirmed reports that he may have been killed by a drone airstrike in December 2009.[3]


His statements feature theological justification for tactics in jihad. For example, he has for the licit use of human shields, under the doctrine of al-Tatarrus, which refers to "God’s sanctioning of Muslim armies that are forced to kill other Muslims who are being used as human shields by an enemy during a time of war.[4] According to Brachman and Warius, he criticizes traditional teachings with
"I have never seen [al-Tatarrus as an explicit concept] mentioned in hadiths of the Prophet or in the biographies of the fighting companions in this same particular way that scholars have expressed it." By calling the conditions placed on al-Tatarrus by Islamic scholars something “new” (and thus an “innovation”), he grants himself the religious authority to not only reject the entire body of Islamic literature (and accompanying restrictions) on the killing of innocent Muslims, but he positions himself as the sole arbiter of what constitutes “permissibility” with regard to killing.

Arabian Peninsula

Michael Scheuer describes him as preaching a more extreme position, to Sunni militants, than may be consistent with the positions of the top al-Qaeda leaders. For example, Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri have not directly criticized the Saudi security forces, while al-Libi called them "the villainous troops of the tyrants of al-Sauds" [5] Jarret Brachman suggested al-Libi, a fairly young man, could become the next-generation successor to bin Laden. [1]

He published a manifesto, entitled "We are not Houthis", distinguishing al-Qaeda from the Houthi movement insurgency in Yemen. Saying that both the Houthis and the Saudi regime are Muslims who have strayed, the document focuses on what he terms the hypocrisy of Saudi Arabia in renouncing the Mujahideen and of the "commandment of Jihad". According to the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism at Herzliya, he said "the Saudi regime and the Wahabbi establishment, succumbing to the former’s dictations, are quick to declare it an obligation to go on Jihad against the Houthis in Yemen, while in other arenas in the Muslim world, such as Iraq, they try to make it more difficult by way of Fatwas forbidding going on Jihad. This fickle policy stems, in his eyes, from certain interests of the House of Saud, such as the relationship with the United States."[6]


Brachman describes him as well-versed in media, having been the Taliban webmaster in 2002. He went to Afghanistan in the 1980s, joining the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, which both fought against the Soviets and planned the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi. The LIFG sent him to Mauritania for higher theological education. Probably in 1996, he returned to Afghanistan and combat near Jalalabad.