Center for Strategic Communication


Omar Mahdi Zeidan. Image from the SITE Intelligence Group.

A Jordanian cleric from Abu Musab al Zarqawi’s home town of Zarqa recently gave a speech praising a jihadist who was killed in a US drone strike in Yemen.

The cleric, Omar Mahdi Zeidan, heaped praise upon Abu Thabit al Muhajir, another Jordanian from Zarqa, who was also known as Abdul Rahman al Urduni. Zeidan’s speech was recorded on video and released by the Sinam al-Islam jihadist forum on June 25, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which translated the video.

Abu Thabit was killed in a US drone strike earlier this year. Although his death was announced by a fellow jihadist, the date and location of his death were not given. The jihadist said that Abu Thabit had been killed during a “continuous fight and battle with the apostate soldiers of the tyrants,” a reference to Yemeni soldiers. In May, the Yemeni military launched a military campaign to eject al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula from major cities and town in the southern provinces of Abyan and Shabwa.

In the funeral speech, Zeidan offered religious justification for waging jihad against “apostate” Muslims who refuse to abide by sharia, or Islamic law. Zeidan quoted numerous verses from the Quran, hadiths (sayings attributed to the Prophet Mohammed), and writings of influential Muslim scholars in his effort to provide justification for waging jihad against Muslims as well as non-Muslims. Zeidan argued that it is important to fight Muslim “disbelievers” before taking on the West.

“Our people in Libya, Afghanistan or Iraq are fighting disbelievers amongst their own just like the Prophet, Allah’s peace and prayer be upon him, fought his people,” Zeidan said. “The Prophet, Allah’s peace and prayer be upon him, didn’t start with fighting the Romans or the Persians, but he started by fighting his people and made the criterion in that to be this religion ….”

Omar Mahdi Zeidan is the brother of Mahmoud Mahdi Zeidan, an al Qaeda leader also known as Mansur al Shami, who was killed in a US drone strike in North Waziristan sometime in early 2010 (the exact date of his death is not known, see LWJ report, Jordanian al Qaeda operative killed in US airstrike in Pakistan). Shami served as an ideologue and as a bodyguard for former senior al Qaeda leader Mustafa Abu Yazid, the group’s commander in Afghanistan and chief financier who was killed in a US drone strike on May 21, 2010.

Abu Thabit is the second Jordanian known to have been killed while fighting alongside al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula this year.

Muhammad Fazi al Harasheh, a.k.a. Abu Hammam al Zarqawi, who was the nephew of slain al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al Zarqawi, was also killed sometime this year. According to Abu Hammam’s eulogy, the clerics with influence were “of the city of al-Zarqa.” [See LWJ report, Zarqawi’s nephew killed in Yemen drone strike.]

Despite Omar Mahdi Zeidan’s open support for jihadists, he is allowed to operate freely in Jordan.