Hani al-Sibai

Hani al-Sibai is a U.S. and U.N.-designated Islamist preacher and recruiter located in London.“Treasury Designates Seven Al Qaida Associates,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, October 3, 2005, http://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/js2960.aspx. In 2005, the U.S. Treasury accused him of “training and providing material support to al Qaida, as well as conspiring to commit terrorist acts.”“Treasury Designates Seven Al Qaida Associates,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, October 3, 2005, http://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/js2960.aspx. Similarly, the European Commission’s sanctions committee stated that al-Sibai “has provided material support to al-Qaeda and has conspired to commit terrorist acts.”Robert Mendick and Robert Verkaik, “Free to walk London’s streets, the extremist preacher and ‘mentor’ of Jihadi John,” Telegraph (London), April 25, 2015, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/islamic-state/11563712/Free-to-walk-Londons-streets-the-extremist-preacher-and-mentor-of-Jihadi-John.html. The commission further accused al-Sibai of belonging to terrorist cells and instructing others to travel to Afghanistan.Robert Mendick and Robert Verkaik, “Free to walk London’s streets, the extremist preacher and ‘mentor’ of Jihadi John,” Telegraph (London), April 25, 2015, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/islamic-state/11563712/Free-to-walk-Londons-streets-the-extremist-preacher-and-mentor-of-Jihadi-John.html. Al-Sibai has denied links to al-Qaeda.Robert Mendick and Robert Verkaik, “Free to walk London’s streets, the extremist preacher and ‘mentor’ of Jihadi John,” Telegraph (London), April 25, 2015, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/islamic-state/11563712/Free-to-walk-Londons-streets-the-extremist-preacher-and-mentor-of-Jihadi-John.html.

Al-Sibai is known as a radical preacher and terrorist propagandist in the U.K. He is the founder and director of the Maqreze Center for Historical Studies in London, which he runs out of his home.Robert Mendick and Robert Verkaik, “Free to walk London’s streets, the extremist preacher and ‘mentor’ of Jihadi John,” Telegraph (London), April 25, 2015, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/islamic-state/11563712/Free-to-walk-Londons-streets-the-extremist-preacher-and-mentor-of-Jihadi-John.html. The center’s website hosts a number of al-Sibai’s lectures and videos“Biography of Sheikh Dr. Hani Sibai,” Al Maqreze Center for Historical Studies, accessed May 4, 2015, http://www.almaqreze.net/ar/articles_read.php?article_id=147. and has reportedly influenced young British jihadists.Ben Leapman, “Muslim terror suspect allowed to stay in UK,” Telegraph (London), August 19, 2007, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1560703/Muslim-terror-suspect-allowed-to-stay-in-UK.html. He is suspected of radicalizing Mohammed Emwazi, better known as the ISIS terrorist Jihadi John.Jamie Doward, “My meeting with Mohammed Emwazi’s friend as they sought a radical path,” Guardian (Manchester), February 28, 2015, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/feb/28/encounter-mohammed-ezzouek-friend-mohammed-emwazi-isis. He has appeared on Al Jazeera and other Arabic programs praising Islamist fighters and denigrating the West.

Al-Sibai described the July 7, 2005, London bombings as “a great victory” for al-Qaeda.Don Van Natta Jr. and Stephen Grey, “Investigators Are Clear Who Carried Bombs, but Have Far to Go to Explain More,” New York Times, July 18, 2005, http://www.nytimes.com/2005/07/18/international/europe/18intel.html. British pan-Arab newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat has called al-Sibai “an expert in Islamist fundamentalist groups.”Mohammed Al-Shafey, “Al-Qaeda’s Indian franchise not a response to ISIS: expert,” Asharq Al-Awsat, September 12, 2014, http://www.aawsat.net/2014/09/article55336504/al-qaedas-indian-franchise-not-a-response-to-isis-expert. Al-Sibai claims he is a Middle Eastern political analyst and that his comments have been in that context.Ben Leapman, “Muslim terror suspect allowed to stay in UK,” Telegraph (London), August 19, 2007, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1560703/Muslim-terror-suspect-allowed-to-stay-in-UK.html.

Al-Sibai was born in Egypt where he trained as a defense attorney and reportedly provided legal representation to Islamist groups.Ben Leapman, “Muslim terror suspect allowed to stay in UK,” Telegraph (London), August 19, 2007, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1560703/Muslim-terror-suspect-allowed-to-stay-in-UK.html. He was previously a member of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ) which allied with al-Qaeda in 2001.Susan Sachs, “A NATION CHALLENGED: THE MIDEAST REACTION; Look at Bin Laden Is Unlikely to Change the Minds of Arabs Hostile to U.S.,” New York Times, December 14, 2001, http://www.nytimes.com/2001/12/14/world/nation-challenged-mideast-reaction-look-bin-laden-unlikely-change-minds-arabs.html. Current al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri formerly led the EIJ and reportedly has a long relationship with al-Sibai.Thomas Jocelyn, “Jihadist ideologues call on Zawahiri to detail problems with former al Qaeda affiliate,” Long War Journal, April 11, 2014, http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2014/04/jihadist_ideologues.php?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=jihadist-ideologues-call-on-zawahiri-to-detail-problems-with-former-al-qaeda-affiliate. Al-Zawahiri’s April 2014 call for ISIS to rejoin al-Qaeda was reportedly out of respect for al-Sibai, who requested the reconciliation.Thomas Jocelyn, “Zawahiri makes another attempt at reconciliation in Syria,” Long War Journal, May 2, 2014, http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2014/05/zawahiri_makes_anoth.php. Al-Sibai has also been tied to Adel Abdel Bari, an Egyptian-born senior al-Qaeda agent sentenced to 25 years in prison by the U.S. in February 2015.Robert Mendick and Robert Verkaik, “Free to walk London’s streets, the extremist preacher and ‘mentor’ of Jihadi John,” Telegraph (London), April 25, 2015, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/islamic-state/11563712/Free-to-walk-Londons-streets-the-extremist-preacher-and-mentor-of-Jihadi-John.html.

Al-Sibai moved to the U.K. in 1994 after an Egyptian court convicted him in absentia of plotting terrorist attacks with the EIJ.Ben Leapman, “Muslim terror suspect allowed to stay in UK,” Telegraph (London), August 19, 2007, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1560703/Muslim-terror-suspect-allowed-to-stay-in-UK.html. Al-Sibai requested asylum, telling British authorities he had been tortured in Egypt for his connections to the Muslim Brotherhood and legal work with Islamist groups.Ben Leapman, “Muslim terror suspect allowed to stay in UK,” Telegraph (London), August 19, 2007, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1560703/Muslim-terror-suspect-allowed-to-stay-in-UK.html. The U.K. denied his request but has been unable to carry out his deportation, despite calls from lawmakers, including former Prime Minister Tony Blair.Robert Mendick and Robert Verkaik, “Free to walk London’s streets, the extremist preacher and ‘mentor’ of Jihadi John,” Telegraph (London), April 25, 2015, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/islamic-state/11563712/Free-to-walk-Londons-streets-the-extremist-preacher-and-mentor-of-Jihadi-John.html; Ben Leapman, “Muslim terror suspect allowed to stay in UK,” Telegraph (London), August 19, 2007, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1560703/Muslim-terror-suspect-allowed-to-stay-in-UK.html. British human-rights law forbids the deportation of people if such actions would result in torture or death.Robert Mendick and Robert Verkaik, “Free to walk London’s streets, the extremist preacher and ‘mentor’ of Jihadi John,” Telegraph (London), April 25, 2015, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/islamic-state/11563712/Free-to-walk-Londons-streets-the-extremist-preacher-and-mentor-of-Jihadi-John.html. Al-Sibai remains a free man in the U.K. despite his U.N. designation and ties to jihadists.Robert Mendick and Robert Verkaik, “Free to walk London’s streets, the extremist preacher and ‘mentor’ of Jihadi John,” Telegraph (London), April 25, 2015, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/islamic-state/11563712/Free-to-walk-Londons-streets-the-extremist-preacher-and-mentor-of-Jihadi-John.html. He reportedly lives with his wife and five children in a west London home worth over $1.5 million.Robert Mendick and Robert Verkaik, “Free to walk London’s streets, the extremist preacher and ‘mentor’ of Jihadi John,” Telegraph (London), April 25, 2015, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/islamic-state/11563712/Free-to-walk-Londons-streets-the-extremist-preacher-and-mentor-of-Jihadi-John.html. Bed sheets and blankets cover the windows of his home, and neighbors report that al-Sibai leaves through a backdoor leading to an alley.Robert Mendick and Robert Verkaik, “Free to walk London’s streets, the extremist preacher and ‘mentor’ of Jihadi John,” Telegraph (London), April 25, 2015, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/islamic-state/11563712/Free-to-walk-Londons-streets-the-extremist-preacher-and-mentor-of-Jihadi-John.html.

In 2016, it was reported al-Sibai claimed approximately £50,000 in yearly benefits for his wife and children from the British government.Jake Ryan, “Jihadi John hate preacher Hani al-Sibai is still spouting extremist ideology in the UK,” Sun, August 28, 2016, https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/1686118/jihadi-john-hate-preacher-hani-al-sibai-is-still-spouting-extremist-ideology-in-the-uk/. According to media reports, he told British officials that he was too unwell to work, could not walk without experiencing severe discomfort, and required assistance with bathing and getting dressed. In March 2017, the British government cut al-Sibai’s disability benefits, and the police began investigating him for benefits fraud. A Daily Mail investigation had revealed al-Sibai to apparently be in healthy physical condition.Paul Bentley, “London-Based Islamic preacher Linked to Tunisia Attacks has his Benefits Cut After a Mail Exposé Cast Doubt on his Claim to be Severely Disabled,” Daily Mail, March 10, 2017, https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4303180/Islamic-preacher-linked-Tunisia-attacks-benefit-cut.html.

 
United Nations
September 29, 2005

The U.N. Security Council added “Hani al-Suba’i” to its Al Qaida Sanctions List on September 29, 2005.“Security Council Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee Adds Three Names to Its Sanctions List, Amends One Entry,” United Nations Security Council, January 26, 2012, http://www.un.org/press/en/2012/sc10532.doc.htm.

European Union
September 29, 2005

The European Union designated “Hani Al-Sayyid Al-Sebai” as an al-Qaeda associate on September 29, 2005.“Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) No 97/2012 of 6 February 2012,” Official Journal of the European Union, February 6, 2012, http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/HTML/?uri=CELEX:32012R0097&qid=1430836834248&from=EN.

United Kingdom
October 10, 2005

The U.K. added “Hani Al-Sayyid al-Sebai Yusif” to its financial sanctions list on October 10, 2005.“Consolidated List of Financial Sanctions Targets in the UK,” HM Treasury (U.K.), last updated April 27, 2015, http://hmt-sanctions.s3.amazonaws.com/sanctionsconlist.htm.

United States
October 3, 2005

The U.S. Department of the Treasury designated “Hani Muhammad Yusuf Al-Siba’i” a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) on October 3, 2005.“Treasury Designates Seven Al Qaida Associates,” U.S. Department of the Treasury, October 3, 2005, http://www.treasury.gov/press-center/press-releases/Pages/js2960.aspx.

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