Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi
|Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi
أبو محمد المقدسي
|Born||Isam Mohammad Tahir al-Barqawi
Nablus, West Bank (then occupied by Jordan)
|Known for||Alleged links with terrorism|
Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi (Arabic: أبو محمد المقدسي) or more fully Abu Muhammad Asem al-Maqdisi (أبو محمد عصام المقدسي) is the assumed name of Isam Mohammad Tahir al-Barqawi (عصام محمد طاهر البرقاوي), a Salafi jihadi Islamist Jordanian-Palestinian writer. He is best known as the spiritual mentor of Jordanian mujahid Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the initial leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq. However, an ideological and methodical split emerged between Maqdisi and Zarqawi in 2004 due to Zarqawi's takfiri proclamations towards the Shi'a populations in Iraq. Maqdisi opted for a more cautious approach towards targeted Shi'a killings, attempting to stop Zarqawi's radical ideological movement before Zarqawi's methods become counter-productive. The writings of Maqdisi still have a wider following; a study carried out by the Combating Terrorism Center of the United States Military Academy (USMA) concluded that Maqdisi "is the most influential living Jihadi Theorist" and that "by all measures, Maqdisi is the key contemporary ideologue in the Jihadi intellectual universe".
Maqdisi served a five year term in a Jordanian prison for allegations of jeopardising state security and recruiting jihadists to fight in Afghanistan. He was released in June 2014 in a move by the Jordanian government, speculated to be motivated by their opposition to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. The Tawhed jihadist website, which he owns, continues to operate; the USMA report describes it as "al-Qa`ida's main online library". On September 21, he advocated the release of British hostage, Alan Henning: "Is it reasonable that his reward is being kidnapped and slaughtered? ... He should be rewarded with thanks."
Maqdisi was born in 1959 in the city of Nablus, Palestine At a young age his family emigrated to Kuwait. He later studied at the University of Mosul in Iraq. It was during this time he began to take on an Islamist world view.
He began to travel around Kuwait and Saudi Arabia in order to visit with numerous religious students and sheikhs. However he came to believe that many of these religious figures were ignorant of the true state of affairs in the Muslim world. He then began to study the writings of Sheikh ul-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah and Imam Ibnul Qayyim. While in Medinah he read the writings of Imam Muhammad ibn Abd al Wahhab and was strongly influenced by them.
Maqdisi travelled to Pakistan and Afghanistan and met many of the jihad groups there at the time. He also confronted the members of Takfir wal-Hijra and wrote a book refuting their extreme views. In 1992 he returned to Jordan. He began to denounce the Jordanian government and what he believed were the man-made laws being implemented there. He was also the first prominent Islamist scholar to brand the House of Saud as unbelievers or takfir, and to hold the adoption of democracy as tantamount to apostasy. His teachings gained many adherents and this earned him the attention of the Jordanian government, and he was arrested and imprisoned. During the years 1995-1999 both he and al-Zarqawi were in prison together and he exerted a strong influence on al-Zarqawi, shaping his Islamist ideology. After they were released from prison al-Zarqawi departed for Afghanistan while Maqdisi stayed in Jordan. He was later rearrested on terrorism charges for conspiring to attack American targets in Jordan. He was released again in July 2005, but arrested again after he gave an interview to al Jazeera. In 2009 he defended himself against "younger extremists accus[ing] him of going soft" by quoting the American Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, which identified him "as a dangerous and influential jihadi theorist." 
Maqdisi has also told those thinking of fighting for the Yemeni government against the Shia insurgency of the Houthis, that they should instead keep well out of the war against the Houthis because Yemeni’s must not help Yemen’s pro-Western government, which deserves to be overthrown.
This is our Aqeedah
Democracy is a Religion
...So, Do Not Fear Them!
Expecting the Best from Allah
- Wagemakers, Joas (June 11, 2012). A Quietist Jihadi: The Ideology and Influence of Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi (1 ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 320. ISBN 978-1-10760-656-2.
- Allawi, Ali A. "The Occupation of Iraq: Winning the War, Losing the Peace." Yale University Press, 2007.
- USMA Militant Ideology Atlas, summary
- Jordan releases anti-ISIL Salafi leader
- Democracy: A Religion!, Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, Al Furqan Islamic Information Centre, Australia, 2012 Revised Edition, pp. 8-12.
- A Virulent Ideology in Mutation: Zarqawi Upstages Maqdisi, Nibras Kazim, September 12, 2005 hudson.org
- "Credentials Challenged, Radical Quotes West Point" By ROBERT F. WORTH, New York Times April 29, 2009
- Yemen's war: Pity those caught in the middle
- Official website (in Arabic)
- Al-Jazeera interview, July 2005
- CTC Militant Ideology Atlas, compendium