Arabs founded Jerusalem, says Jordan-based institute

A Muslim worshipper offers his Friday prayer outside Jerusalem’s Old City amid the coronavirus restrictions. Al-Aqsa Mosque in the city is one of Islam’s three holy sites. (Reuters)
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Updated 28 June 2020

Arabs founded Jerusalem, says Jordan-based institute

  • Jordanian think tank publishes a white paper that says Arabs have been living in the holy city for the last 5,000 years
  • The white paper also reiterates that “whenever Muslims controlled Jerusalem (in 638, 1187 and 1948), they did not expel Christians and Jews”

AMMAN: Arabs were the first inhabitants of Jerusalem and have lived there for at least 5,000 years, according to a white paper published by an Amman-based think tank.

“They founded and built it in the first place — and have been there ever since,” the paper says.

Using unpublished documents, the paper, from the Royal Aal Al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought, seeks to correct the misperception “that Arabs are newcomers to Jerusalem.”

The institute, an Islamic non-governmental entity, is headed by Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad, personal envoy and special adviser to King Abdullah II of Jordan, since 2000.

Among the many references the document uses to make its point is the Amarna Correspondence, a series of diplomatic letters between Canaanite city-state kings and their Egyptian overlords during the 14th century B.C., which mention Jerusalem. The paper presents pictures of the cuneiform tablets uncovered in Egypt in the late 19th century to validate its argument.

Along with archaeological discoveries, the Biblical record is also used as a source to establish original Arab presence in Jerusalem. The Bible, the paper says, shows that “the Arabs, Hamites, Canaanites, and Jebusites were the original inhabitants of the land of Palestine, including the area of Jerusalem.” Canaanites and Jebusites were there long before the Jews, even before Judaism was revealed.

The 108-page document quotes passages from the Old Testament to establish that “Jerusalem was always an Arab city” and notes that, “the Palestinian Arabs of today are largely the direct descendants of the indigenous Canaanite Arabs who were there over 5,000 years ago. Modern-day Arab Muslim and Christian Palestinian families (such as the “Kanaan” tribe, direct descendants of the Canaanites) are the oldest inhabitants of the land.”

The paper mentions Salah Eddine Ayyoubi — the Muslim historical figure who fought the Crusaders and reclaimed Jerusalem in the 12th century, allowing the Christians to remain and inviting Jews expelled from Jerusalem by the Crusaders to resettle in the city — to validate its point.

According to Prof. Sari Nusseibeh, former president of Al-Quds University in Jerusalem, the white paper is a “well-referenced and clearly argued document.”

Nusseibeh’s family has been, since the seventh century, entrusted with the keys to the historic Church of the Holy Sepulcher (situated in the Christian quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem). The paper, he says, “debunks the Israeli and extremist Jewish narrative in more than one way, replacing it with a clear historic overview of continued Arab presence in the city and benevolent Islamic rule.”

On the Hashemite custodianship of Jerusalem’s holy sites, which is a pivotal theme of the white paper, Nusseibeh, one of the leaders of the first Palestinian intifada, says the document “recognizes the Palestinian role in the Hashemite custodianship, thereby emphasizing the special political relationship between the Palestinian people and the Hashemite Kingdom. In more than one way, it shows that a Hashemite custodianship of the holy sites, especially in the context of peace, promises a more secure place for all three religions than does the present policy of the Israelization of Jerusalem.”

HIGHLIGHTS

• Using unpublished documents, the paper, from the Royal Aal Al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought, seeks to correct the misperception that Arabs are newcomers to Jerusalem.

• Along with archaeological discoveries, the Biblical record is also used as a source to establish original Arab presence in Jerusalem.

The white paper also reiterates that “whenever Muslims controlled Jerusalem (in 638, 1187 and 1948), they did not expel Christians and Jews.”

Rather, it says, they guaranteed their rights and religious rights and even welcomed Jews into the city. This, it points out, is in contrast to the Christian expulsion of Jews in 630 and their slaughter of Jews and Muslims (and even Orthodox Christians) in 1099, and unlike “the Jewish slaughter of Jerusalem’s original inhabitants in 1,000 B.C.; the Sasanian-Jewish expulsion of Christians in 614, and even the expulsion of Palestinians in 1948.”

In other words, contrary to the misperception that Islam has no moral right to Jerusalem, Islam has historically been more peaceful and tolerant of other religions than either Judaism or Christianity, it notes.

Vera Baboun, a member of the Palestinian National Council and former mayor of Bethlehem, said that the Jerusalem white paper articulates the “diverse historical realities away from the exclusive narrative that Israel is adopting to deny the cultural, human, historical and religious rights of the Arab Palestinians whether we’re Christians or Muslims.”

It “puts the readers face to face with their own misconceptions and lack of knowledge, thus debunking the exclusive Israeli political or Biblical narrative which is used to negate the right and the existence of the Palestinian rights in Jerusalem or the Palestinian land at large,” she said.

The paper notes that Islam has been dominant in Jerusalem for 1,210 out of the last 1,388 years. “This is more than the period of Jewish domination over the last 3,020 years (953 years) or Christian domination over the last 2,000 years (417 years).”

To counter the prevailing notion that Jerusalem finds no mention in the Holy Qur’an, the paper states that for over 1,300 years, it was customary for Muslim pilgrims to visit Jerusalem after they had completed the Hajj to Makkah and Madinah.

The Al-Aqsa Mosque/Al-Haram Al-Sharif in Jerusalem is one of Islam’s three holy sites.  According to the classical commentaries on the Qur’an, “the city,” “the land,” “the Holy Land,” “the Mount,” “the Temple” and “the Olive” all refer to Jerusalem or places in Jerusalem.

 


New Daesh leader was informant for US, says counter terrorism report

Updated 18 September 2020

New Daesh leader was informant for US, says counter terrorism report

  • CTC said it is “highly confident” Al-Mawla became the new leader of Daesh after the previous leader, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, was killed

NEW YORK: The man widely believed to be the new leader of Daesh was once an informant for the US, according to a new report from the Combating Terrorism Center (CTC), a research body at the US military academy of West Point in New York.

“Stepping Out from the Shadows: The Interrogation of the Islamic State’s Future Caliph” is based on Tactical Interrogation Reports (TIRs) — the paper trail the US military creates when enemy fighters are detained and interrogated — from Al-Mawla’s time in captivity in the late 2000s.

Before his release in 2009, Al-Mawla named 88 extremists involved in terrorist activities, and the information he divulged during his interrogations led US forces in the region to successfully capture or kill dozens of Al-Qaeda fighters, the report claims.

The CTC said it is “highly confident” Al-Mawla became the new leader of Daesh after the previous leader, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, was killed in a US air raid in Syria in October 2019.

Although Daesh announced that a man called Abu Ibrahim Al-Hashimi Al-Qurashi was Baghdadi’s successor, US officials have also stated that Al-Qurashi’s true identity is actually Al-Mawla — also known as Hajj Abdullah.

Before joining Daesh, Al-Mawla is believed to have been the deputy leader of Al-Qaeda.

While details about the operation resulting in his capture are scarce, the TRIs reveal that he was captured on January 6, 2008.

The following day, US Central Command announced the capture of a wanted individual who “previously served as a judge of an illegal court system involved in ordering and approving abductions and executions.”

In his interrogations, Al-Mawla offered up details of terrorist plots to his interrogators, while minimizing his own involvement. He identified many jihadists by name and offered descriptions of their roles in the terrorist organization and details of their involvement in attacks on US-led coalition forces during the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Al-Mawla — a former officer in Saddam Hussein’s army and once Baghdadi’s speechwriter — emerges from the TIRs as a mysterious personality with a vague past, whose ethnicity could not be determined with certainty. The statements in the reports are rife with contradictory elements and open to a wide range of interpretations. As the authors point out in their introduction: “It is incredibly difficult to ascertain whether what Al-Mawla divulges regarding himself or ISI (the forerunner of Daesh) as an organization is true.”

Details of the specific demographics of Al Mawla’s birthplace of Al-Muhalabiyyah in Iraq’s Tal Afar district are sketchy, but it is generally accepted to have a predominantly Turkmen population. The authors of the report point out that some sources have suggested “this could pose legitimacy problems for him because (Daesh) mostly has Arabs in its senior leadership echelons,” but add that at least two other senior members of the group were reported to have been Turkmen.

Al-Mawla also claimed to have avoided pledging allegiance to ISI because he was a Sufi. The report’s authors cast doubt on that claim, given his quick rise to prominence in the terrorist group and the fact that ISI and Daesh branded Sufism as heresy.

But the authors do believe the TRIs give some valuable insights into Al-Mawla’s personality.

“The fact that he detailed activities and gave testimony against (fellow jihadists) suggests a willingness to offer up fellow members of the group to suit his own ends,” they wrote. “The amount of detail and seeming willingness to share information about fellow organization members suggests either a degree of nonchalance, strategic calculation, or resignation on the part of Al-Mawla regarding operational security.

“He appears to have named individuals in some capacity across all levels of the organization, while describing some individuals in some detail,” they continued.

The US Department of Justice has offered a $10million reward for information about Al-Mawla’s identification or location.