Those who tracked the development of the various jihadist groups in Syria during the war there will probably remember Abu Abd al-Aziz al-Qatari, who was originally in Jabhat al-Nusra before he broke off, becoming the founder and leader of the 'third way' Jund al-Aqsa group. Qatari was likely killed by Jamal al-Ma'rouf's 'Syrian Revolutionaries Front' (SRF) in early 2014 amid the infighting that broke out between the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham and the various Syrian rebel factions. His body was discovered dumped in a well in the SRF's stronghold region after the routing of the group by Jabhat al-Nusra and others in late 2014.
Despite his nickname, Qatari was actually of Palestinian origin. He was reportedly a veteran of the jihad insurgencies in Afghanistan, Chechnya and Iraq before joining the jihad in Syria. By some accounts, the 'Qatari' part of his nickname derives from the claim that after the U.S. invasion of Iraq he moved to Qatar and stayed in that country for a time, supporting the jihadists in Iraq from there. One of his sons- who went by the nickname of Abu Turab- was killed in the fighting in Syria.
It turns out that another of his sons- Abd al-Aziz- was in Turkey for a time before being deported to Jordan and recently sentenced to imprisonment by the Court of State Security for offences in relation to terrorism. I obtained from a source close to this case three documents in relation to Abd al-Aziz's situation. As a preface to the documents and interview, I feature a brief biography of Abd al-Aziz provided by the source.
The first two documents are the appeal submission presented by Abd al-Aziz's lawyer to the Court of Cassation. The lawyer Mousa al-Abd al-Lat, as it turns out, is actually a figure in Jordan with some public profile, known for the legal representation he provides in cases involving Islamic groups and accusations of terrorism. He has also appeared in Jordanian media to talk about issues such as the Islamic State and the international coalition against it.
In short, the submission argues that the Prevention of Terrorism Law as amended on 1 June 2014 cannot be applied to the material time of this case. Further, Abd al-Aziz's age at the time of the alleged offence is such that the case should at least be dealt with in the Court of Minors and not the Court of State Security. The submission also argues that Abd al-Aziz is innocent of any crime and merely worked with a charitable association (the Murj Dabiq association). In conclusion, the submission argues that Abd al-Aziz should either be declared innocent, referred to the relevant court, the original decision annulled or at least his punishment should be reduced. The submission draws attention to Abd al-Aziz's poor health condition and claims that he is the only provider for his mother and sister.
Besides the submission document, I present in this post a statement issued by the Murj Dabiq association regarding Abd al-Aziz. Mousa al-Abd al-Lat confirmed to me that the statement was presented to the Court of State Security as part of the case. Finally, I include an interview with the source who provided me these materials. That interview is slightly edited and condensed for clarity.
Keep in mind that I do not have access to the Court of State Security's original ruling and its lines of evidence. Thus, I cannot comment either way about the validity of the arguments of each side. If anyone wishes to present the more precise evidence against Abd al-Aziz, feel free to contact me and I will post it here. In the meantime, I simply present some materials on a rather interesting case that has not been covered in the media, to my knowledge. Further, I have established more concretely some details of the biography of Abu Abd al-Aziz al-Qatari: he was indeed in Iraq for at least part of the 1990s, and the Qatar connection appears to be a real one.
Specimen A: Brief Biography of Abd al-Aziz
Abd al-Aziz Muhammad Yusuf Abd al-Salam al-Othamana: from Haifa, born 1995 Iraq/Baghdad. Resident in Turkey. He was deported from Turkey because of a summons to Jordan on 24 January 2019 CE. And he was arrested in Amman- Jordan in the General Intelligence Directorate on 25 January 2019 CE.
Date of ruling: 15 June 2020 CE.
Shattering and fragility in the bones, inflammation in the nerves, acute bleeding in the intestines and urination of blood. Until today he has not been referred to a specialist doctor. His condition is in decline.
Specimen B: Mousa al-Abd al-Lat's Submission to the Court of Cassation
The Jordanian Court of Cassation:
The appellant: Abd al-Aziz Muhammad Yusuf Abd al-Salam and his attorney the lawyer: Mousa al-Abd al-Lat.
Issue for cassation: the decision issued by the court of the State Security on case no. 6939/2019 determined on 15 June 2020 and including the ruling against the appellant for five years as the decision came in unfairness so he petitions against it for the following reasons:
1. The Court of State Security erred in not dealing with the crucial and effective legal defence and did not issue any decision regarding it and it is that the appellant was a minor at the material time as it was noted (despite the lack of recognition of that) that during the year 2012 and during his presence with his father, the prevention of terrorism law was not in effect and so the court has to consider this essential defence and issue its decision by declaring his innocence as the law became effective on 1 June 2014.
2. As per on the date of his birth established in the interrogation reports, the appellant was a minor and not of legal age and it was necessary for the Court of State Security to refer him to the Court of Minors and try him as it is the one that has the relevant authority in that and successively also for on the date of the incident at the end of 2012, he was a minor. Therefore all the legal proceedings have been invalid as it was necessary for the appellant to accompany a representative from the oversight of minors along with referral to the Court of Minors concerned with that, while the Court of State Security is not the relevant authority to consider the issue of this case and did not issue any preparatory decision on this matter.
3. The words of the appellant with the public prosecutor page 5 lines 12, 13 and 15 (as my father was with Jabhat al-Nusra so they asked me to join Jabhat al-Nusra but I did not join them and I did not follow them...and that was in the middle of 2012).
4. He was working after that in the Murj Dabiq charity association that is licensed in Turkey and he was treated at the end of the month of 2012 and he did not enter Syria at all since that date and this fact is established through his words with the public prosecutor and the investigator and also through the official document issued by the Murj Dabiq charity association and it is a humanitarian association known both inside and outside Turkey for its credibility, something that was brought to light through the witness of Turkish nationality.
5. By the content of the official letter of the Turkish association in which it was mentioned: that after his wounding he was treated in the hospitals for a period of two years and he was working inside the association's office in Istanbul as a volunteer while he did not enter Syria at all as per the testimony of the association and the testimony of the witness of Turkish nationality.' And the Court of State Security did not make clear the legal reasons for why it was not convinced of the testimony of the witness of Turkish nationality who testified under the legal path and it was clear and the official letter that was brought to light by means of him in which it was written: 'That he met him at the end of 2012 and was treated inside the hospitals of Turkey and he did not enter Syria at all, and that the appellant worked with the official Turkish authorities as a translator and he accompanied Queen Rania al-Abdullah to the Rohingya Muslims for relief provision and he worked in the licensed Turkish humanitarian organisations.'
6. Successively, the appellant is ill and there is a photocopy of his medical portfolio that was brought from the prison and it is official evidence that his condition is difficult to treat and requires treatment in the private hospitals, relying on the governmental medical reports that affirmed that his condition is getting worse with the withering of his hand and he is exposed to risk and death because of this illness, and the harsh ruling of five years against him will make the illness in him increase to the point that it will lead to his being afflicted with a bad state and his death because of this illness.
7. We attach the medical report that establishes that he is the sole provider for his ill and elderly mother as well as his ill sister Kawthar Muhammad Yusuf Abd al-Salam and there is no provider for them in Jordan and they are foreigners in exile and he came to Jordan in order to get married and provide for and care for his ill mother and sister who suffers from disability.
8. The court contravened the judgments of the Cassation court in connection with the case. See decision 1743/2019 as the facts on display in this case do not concord with the punishment or the reality regarding them.
9. The decision of the Court of State Security came without justification and was not built on logical satisfaction in accordance with the dates and material facts of this case. In addition the decision was not built on any realistic or legal lines of evidence. And it is necessary for the conclusion to be in accordance with the mentioned facts in this case. And it is not possible in any case not to deal with the legal defence dependent on the fact that the appellant was a minor in 2012 and he was not of the legal age and it is necessary to refer him to the Court of the Minors. And it is necessary to declare his lack of any responsibility for any crime because the prevention of terrorism law was not in effect on the material date. So it is not allowed from the requirements of the simplest fairness that a person should be put on trial for something on something that was not applicable to it at the time, and the established reality in the documents of this case is that the material facts were carried out in December 2012, and likewise it is not allowed to conclude imaginary facts otherwise.
10. The official Turkish authorities, and among them the Murj Dabiq charity association have their international reputation and credibility, and therefore the document pointed out cannot be ignored and it is a testimony clearly affirming that the appellant was among the best volunteers of the association since 5 December 2012 and he was under the supervision of the Turkish state, and after his wounding he was treated in the hospitals of Istanbul and he was no longer able to return to work because of the disability that afflicted him.
11. The Court of State Security summoned the official books of the Murj Dabiq charity association that is licensed in Turkey and the testimony of the witness of Turkish nationality and it did not justify or make clear the reasons why it ruled out this personal and written testimony that was effective and affirming the truth. And therefore the ruling out of this testimony by the Court of State Security contravenes the rulings of the law of principles of criminal trials, especially as the witness attended from Turkey at his personal expense. In addition the official testimony from the Turkish humanitarian association that has credibility on the international level affirms facts and affirms the reality that concorded with the words of the appellant with the public prosecutor. Further, it is necessary for the one justice to be towards accepting the irrefutable evidences supported and among them the official documents and medical reports present in the file.
12. And as your court is a court of issue and as the appellant is ill and needs treatment outside the prison and oversees his ill mother who is elderly and his sister who suffers from delay in mental development and there is no person in Jordan following their affairs and they are in need of medical care and he is the sole provider for them, we ask you to reduce the punishment.
We petition from your court:
1. Accepting of cassation in form for its presentation within the legal period.
2. And on the issue, declaring his innocence or referring him to the relevant Court of the Minors or annulling the decision or reducing the punishment.
Attorney of the appellant
Mousa al-Abd al-Lat.
Specimen C: Statement from the Murj Dabiq Association
In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
Statement about the Jordanian volunteer: Abd al-Aziz Muhammad Abd al-Salam
Date: 12 October 2019 corresponding to 13 Safr 1441 AH.
God Almighty says: 'And say: act, for God, His Messenger and the believers will see your work.'
The Islamic religion is a religion not based on individualism or selfishness, but rather it is a social religion whose members emphasise strengthening each other like the structured edifice.
We are in the Murj Dabiq charity association that is licensed in Turkey since 2011 with license number 27016130. And it is a volunteer charity association striving to spread good and working to help the needy in Syria and to offer all that is necessary in these difficult circumstances through which Syria is passing.
And the Jordanian citizen Abd al-Aziz Muhammad Abd al-Salam was among the best volunteers of the association when he began working with us as a volunteer on date 5 December 2012 and for a period of four months in our office located on the Turkish-Syrian borders and it was under the supervision of the Turkish state.
So he was offering and expending all his efforts in helping his people and brothers in Syria and offering support to them for the sake of working to realize good and peace.
But after four months of his work he was exposed to a severe wound during his undertaking of his humanitarian work in helping some of the families, when he was wounded in his hand, abdomen and foot. And he was then transferred to the Turkish hospitals to receive the necessary treatment.
And he continued receiving treatment for a period of two years in the hospitals of Istanbul until he recovered by grace from God Almighty, but he was no longer able to return to work with us because of the disability that afflicted him.
We ask God to heal him, prolong health and safety for him and for every noble man of high ethics put to use to help the others in every place.
And God is the One behind the intention.
Murj Dabiq Charity Association.
Specimen D: Interview with the Source
Q: When did Abd al-Aziz go to Turkey and was he with the Murj Dabiq association during all the time of his work?
A: He went to Turkey in 2012 and he worked in the Murj Dabiq association during the period between 2013-2019 except the period of wounding and times of treatment. The reason for his injury: during a tour of distributing aid to one of the disaster areas, the Syrian aircraft targeted that locality and Abd al-Aziz was wounded and he was taken to Turkey straight away for treatment.
Q: In which areas in Syria did he work and what were his greatest accomplishments in helping the peoples?
A: He worked in the areas of the borders, Atmeh, Sarmada, and the border areas of Aleppo and some of the countryside areas of Idlib. Among his accomplishments inspecting the Rohingya Muslims with Queen Rania and with international humanitarian NGOs from the Red Crescent and Qatari charity associations and all this is documented among the NGOs in photos. And the documents and photos present with Abd al-Aziz are all detained with the Jordanian intelligence on his mobile phone.
Q: According to what you believe, what are the reasons for his deportation to Jordan and his trial? The accusation is only based on the fact that he is the son of Sheikh Abu Abd al-Aziz al-Qatari?
A: The reasons for his deportation: it came following a request notice from Jordan to deport its citizen to it, for a number of reasons, among them Abd al-Aziz's media activity and his support for the positions of Turkey towards the Arab and Islamic causes. Also the family is considered an opponent of the Jordan regime so this was a pre-emptive step to cut the path before a personality that may have a future political role.
Q: Do you have a message for the Islamic Ummah regarding this case?
A: Our message to the Islamic Ummah: may God have mercy on you oh our precious Ummah, for we have prayed for it the prayers of the absent one (a dead Ummah), but we call on the noble ones who have remained preaching the voice of justice and truth that they should not forsake the one who sacrificed for the sake of the awakening of this Ummah, even if a word that robs the sleep of the oppressors from those who have been imposed on the necks of the weak ones.
[Appendix to the interview]:
. The mother and ill sister are barred from travel and the sister has treatment sessions. And there is no activity on the mother's part at all and she is elderly, but merely because she is the wife of so-and-so and her son has cases against him. We want to try to get them out of this shell from Jordan to Qatar for example because she has a residence permit there anf the important thing is for the travel ban to be lifted from them.