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Al-Qaeda Mufti Abu Hafs sheds light on Iran, Qatar influence on extremist groups including LIFG

The Address | Benghazi – Libya

LIBYA – Mahfouz Ould al-Walid, known as “Abu Hafs al-Mauritani,” the former Mufti of al-Qaeda, revealed in an interview with Al Arabiya English what he described as the balanced relationship pursued by both the Iranian regime and Qatar with armed extremist groups.

According to his interpretation, the two countries’ relations with al-Qaeda, the Takfir, Hijra, Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) and other armed groups are part of the agenda to maintain “political interests”.

“There is no doubt that Iran was present with al-Qaeda for more than one reason, including the geographical location adjacent to Afghanistan. Qatar also had a partial presence, as it wasn’t in the face of the Taliban, and I think it is the only country that did not send troops to Afghanistan during the American war,” he told Al Arabiya English.

Abu Hafs added: “Qatar had a certain policy towards Islamic trends and it was less hostile than the rest of the other countries. This led armed groups and organizations to exclude Qatar from the rest of the Gulf countries, despite its involvement in what is known as the war on terrorism.”

Abu Hafs – the negotiator who finalized the deal to house al-Qaeda and other armed terrorist organization in Iran after the war on Afghanistan following the 9/11 attacks – said: “Iran was keen not to clash with Islamist groups and was really doing politics. Iran was able to avoid the armed confrontation on its territory with these groups. At the same time, Iran sought to not be the starting point for any military action against other countries, (as he described)”.

According to him, Tehran “managed to retain a kind of excellence and independence in the face of the so-called terrorism, Iran did not engage in the US war on terrorism, making gains through this balance.”

He explained: “I was responsible for negotiating with the Iranians when members of the organization and their families entered Iran. Al-Qaeda leaders asked me to negotiate with the Iranians, but I refused because in the past Iran tried to initiate a relationship and al-Qaeda turned it down, so it was clear that considering the situation they will not accept”.

He also said that this impression was transferred to the Iranian side so they sought contact and discussed the humanitarian situation and about overcoming past differences. “Negotiating with them was not limited to the issue of al-Qaeda, but included all the jihadi and Islamic groups that were present in Afghanistan,” said Abu Hafsa.

Al ARABIYA

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