March 12, 2008 / 10:02 AM / in 10 years

Jordan releases leading al Qaeda mentor

AMMAN (Reuters) - Jordanian authorities on Wednesday released Jordanian Sheikh Abu Mohammad al-Maqdisi, a leading al-Qaeda mentor, after several years imprisonment without trial, security sources said.

They said Maqdisi, who was regarded as the spiritual mentor of slain al Qaeda leader in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, had been in solitary confinement since he was rearrested in July 2005 following his acquittal at a trial of al Qaeda sympathizers.

“He was released,” said one security source without elaborating on the circumstances of the release of Maqdisi.

The militant Jihadi shared a cell block with Zarqawi for four years between 1995 and 1999. Both were freed in an amnesty. Zarqawi later went to Afghanistan then Iraq.

U.S. intelligence officials say Maqdisi is a major Jihadi mentor who wields more influence over Islamist ideology than leading militants such as Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahri.

A study by a private think tank of the U.S. military academy West Point in 2006 described Maqdisi, a self-taught religious intellectual, as the most influential living Islamist mentor. (Writing by Suleiman al-Khalidi; Editing by Ibon Villelabeitia)

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