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AQ Central
Bernard Haykel

Messages to Arabia: Al-Qaida Attacks MBS and the Saudi Monarchy

Since the early 1990s, al-Qaida has routinely vilified the Saudi royal family and its government for being un-Islamic and illegitimate, describing the monarchy and the princes as apostates who should be attacked and toppled from power. The gist of al-Qaida’s condemnation of the Saudi rulers is that they are lackeys of the West who only pretend to be Muslim and therefore need to be fought and deposed. The Saudi royals have consistently undermined Islam from within and are delivering Islam’s wealth to the West—Arabia’s vast oil and gas reserves—at well below market value. Because of this, the Saudi dynasty’s real nature has to be revealed and the Saudi state destroyed. Every al-Qaida leader has vilified the Saudis in this way, from Usama bin Ladin to his son and putative heir, Hamza. The latter, in 2016, launched a six-part audio series seeking to expose the Saudi royal family’s history of “betrayal.” Anti-Saudi

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Death of a Mufti: The Execution of the Islamic State’s Abu Ya‘qub al-Maqdisi

For the October 2018 issue of the CTC Sentinel, I wrote about the case of Abu Ya‘qub al-Maqdisi, a senior religious scholar in the Islamic State accused of treason and espionage by the group’s leadership in eastern Syria. According to Mu’assasat al-Turath al-‘Ilmi (“The Scholarly Heritage Foundation”), a dissident Islamic State media outlet, Abu Ya‘qub was arrested by the Security Department (Diwan al-Amn) back in July 2018; the next month, on August 30, 2018, the charges against him were read aloud in parts of eastern Syria controlled by the Islamic State, a stunt seen as portending his execution. Since then, two things have changed. The first is that Abu Ya‘qub, a Jordanian whose real name is Yusuf ibn Ahmad Simrin, has been killed—according to Mu’assasat al-Turath, executed. On December 4, 2018, the dissident media outlet confirmed his death at the hands of the Security Department, stating that the latter was giving the

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