May 21, 2004 Special Dispatch No. 719

Kuwaiti Citizens Complain: Our Sons Were Lured into Fighting in Iraq via Syria

May 21, 2004
Iraq, Kuwait, Syria, The Gulf | Special Dispatch No. 719

Several Arab newspapers in the Gulf referred recently to reports regarding the training of Kuwaiti youth in Syria for Jihad in Iraq. The following are excerpts from these reports:

The Kuwaiti daily Al-Rai Al-Aam reported: "Kuwaiti Islamist missionaries (Du'aat) enticed Kuwaiti teenagers with the idea of Jihad, urged them to take part in the Iraqi resistance against the Americans, and arranged their passage to Syria. There, the teenagers met clandestinely [with trainers] who prepared them for combat and secured their crossing into Iraq via the Syrian border.

"Family members of two Kuwaiti youngsters said that a [certain] group in Al-Fuheihil lured their sons aged 16 and 17 and convinced them to go to Syria after requiring them to shave off their beards and to change their hairstyles according to the new fashion … to avoid suspicion. They added that they had discovered their sons' intentions through friends who disclosed to them parts of the propaganda and enticement schemes. The relatives gave the information to the [Kuwaiti] foreign ministry, which demanded from the Kuwaiti embassy in Damascus to find the two Kuwaiti teenagers immediately, and to coordinate that with the Syrian authorities in order to prevent their travel to Iraq. The search for them is still going on." [1]

Sources in the Kuwaiti Defense Ministry reported that one of the teenagers contacted his relatives and told them that he was indeed in Syria, but did not disclose his location. [2]

The Saudi daily Al-Watan reported that Syrian sources denied that "the Kuwaiti embassy in Damascus had received a request or notification from the foreign ministry about the Kuwaiti teenagers." According to the Syrian sources, "the report about the Islamist missionaries and their arrangement of travel for boys aged 16 and 17 [to Syria] is incorrect. According to these sources, it is easy to discover [that the report is incorrect] from the way the story was told, where supposedly a certain network exists and part operates in Kuwait, the other in Syria, and the third in Iraq… This is illogical considering the tense events [in the region] which uninterrupted crossing between these three countries even more difficult… Preparing the travelers to [go to] Damascus in order to fight [in Iraq] then transferring them to Iraq is impossible because the Syrian security and defense authorities are known for their alertness and vigilance…" [3]

The liberal Arab website Elaph added that a Kuwaiti citizen had recently submitted a complaint to the director general of Kuwaiti State Security, in which he claimed that Sheikh Hamed Al-Ali, professor of Islamic Culture at the College of Basic Education in Kuwait, was the one who recruited his son to fight in Iraq and that he was the one who arranged his travel to Syria, and from there to Iraq. The State Security Office, which investigated the complaint, intends to question Al-Ali. [4]

Al-Ali, who until 2000 was secretary-general of the Salafi Movement in Kuwait, is known for his radical views; recently Kuwait's attorney-general launched an investigation of him after he delivered a sermon in one of the mosques in Al-Jahraa region explaining how to prepare explosives, and published further information on the matter on his website. [5]

In another sermon at the Ayash Ibn Rabi'a mosque in the Al-Raqqa region, Al-Ali said: "All the drops of blood from the Shuhadaa [martyrs] in Fallouja, Afghanistan, Palestine, Kosovo, and Chechnya will collect and drain into one river, in which the [lava] of the Jihad volcano will flow."

He added: "The abhorrent political borders set by the international Zio-Crusaders separate the nation from its brethren's aid… We should walk on the path of Jihad without looking back… Victory will come soon and the martyrdom of the leaders [Hamas leader Abd Al-Aziz Al-Rantisi and Chechen fighter commander Abu Al-Waleed] is evidence that victory is nigh." [6]

[1] Al-Rai Al-Aam (Kuwait), May 4, 2004.


[3] Al-Watan (Saudi Arabia), May 6, 2004.

[4], May 5, 2004.

[5] Al-Jazeera TV, April 5, 2004.

[6], May 5, 2004.

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