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Aug 05, 2011
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Al-Qaeda Leader in Baghdad Abdallah Azzam Al-Qahtani, on Death Row, Talks about His Life and His Role in the Organization

#3206 | 04:37
Source: Al-Arabiya Network (Dubai/Saudi Arabia)

Following are excerpts from an interview with Abdallah Azzam Al-Qahtani, an Al-Qaeda leader in Baghdad, which aired on Al-Arabiya TV on August 5, 2011:

TV anchor: He is a Riyadh University graduate and a former civil defense officer, but today, he is a prisoner in Iraq, after having left his job, his family, and his country Saudi Arabia in 2004, and having infiltrated into Iraq in order to become a member of Al-Qaeda, and later a field commander in Baghdad. He was captured in mid-2010 and sentenced to death.

Our colleague Ahmad Al-Saleh met with Abdallah Azzam Al-Qahtani in a Baghdad prison.


Interviewer: How did it all begin? What did you do beforehand? What did you study?

Abdallah Azzam Al-Qahtani: I completed my B.A. studies at King Faisal University in planning and management. Then I joined King Fahd Security College, and after two years I got a diploma and graduated.

Interviewer: As an officer?

Abdallah Azzam Al-Qahtani: Yes.

Interviewer: What did you do as an officer?

Abdallah Azzam Al-Qahtani: I worked in the Ministry of the Interior, in civil defense.

Interviewer: I'm surprised you didn't do something more aggressive than civil defense.

Abdallah Azzam Al-Qahtani: "Civil" means that…

Interviewer: That you are peaceful?

Abdallah Azzam Al-Qahtani: Yes.

Interviewer: Because here in Iraq, civil defense generally means the fire brigades, for example, or other types of aid.

Abdallah Azzam Al-Qahtani: It's the same for us [in Saudi Arabia].

Interviewer: Are you by nature a peaceful man? All these military actions…

Abdallah Azzam Al-Qahtani: As you can see…


The death sentence was passed on March 16, 2011.

Interviewer: In all honesty, were you guilty as charged? Be honest. Or are you innocent of these charges?

Abdallah Azzam Al-Qahtani: The charges brought against me… What can I say?

Interviewer: Regardless of whether it was right or wrong – did you actually do what they charged you with?

Abdallah Azzam Al-Qahtani: Yes.


Interviewer: What was your role or position in Al-Qaeda in Iraq?

Abdallah Azzam Al-Qahtani: It varied over time.

Interviewer: You started out as a regular fighter?

Abdallah Azzam Al-Qahtani: Yes.

Interviewer: And then?

Abdallah Azzam Al-Qahtani: Eventually, I was in charge of security in the capital of Baghdad.


In the Islamic State of Iraq, we didn't have the capabilities of a stable country, with a budget of billions, with skilled, professional soldiers… Everything was done according to our capabilities.

Interviewer: Perhaps you didn't have any need for prisons, because you either acquit people or kill them..

Abdallah Azzam Al-Qahtani: No, we have prison sentences.

Interviewer: Where would you jail them?

Abdallah Azzam Al-Qahtani: It would depend upon the region and the circumstances. Some areas had prisons, and other didn't. It would depend upon the capabilities, and upon the circumstances, in terms of security, finance, and so on.

Interviewer: But most of the rulings were death sentences.

Abdallah Azzam Al-Qahtani: According to Islamic law – whether execution, banishment, or flogging… The punishment was implemented as determined by Islamic law.

Interviewer: What was your executive branch? Did you have a military force...

Abdallah Azzam Al-Qahtani: The military force had its own missions. This did not require great military power or capabilities. This was purely a security issue.

Interviewer: A matter of intelligence?

Abdallah Azzam Al-Qahtani: Yes.


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