Ismail al-Wahwah was an Islamist cleric and leader of the Australia chapter of the international Islamist proselytization organization Hizb ut-Tahrir (HT). Former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has accused HT of nurturing “extremism in our suburbs.”Michael Safi, “Hizb ut-Tahrir insists it rejects violence following Abbott’s ‘desperate’ accusation,” Guardian (London), February 19, 2015, http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2015/feb/20/hizb-ut-tahrir-insists-it-rejects-violence-following-abbotts-desperate-accusation. Al-Wahwah died on May 17, 2023.“Obituary of Dawah Carrier,” Hizb ut-Tahrir Media Office, May 18, 2023, https://www.hizb-ut-tahrir.info/en/index.php/press-releases/jordan/24603.html.
Al-Wahwah traveled to Syria in 2013 to preach the necessity of erecting a global caliphate and “[supporting] the blessed uprising.”Geoff Chambers, “Sheikh Ismail al-Wahwah: A sinister player in a world of radicals,” Daily Telegraph (Sydney), October 10, 2014, http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/sheikh-ismail-alwahwah-a-sinister-player-in-a-world-of-radicals/story-fni0cx12-1227085769758. He made fiery anti-Western, antisemitic, and anti-capitalist statements, and believed that Western “civilization will pay the price” for its criminal politicians. Al-Wahwah called for a new “world order” and promised to send “troops to Australia, to France to Germany” just as Western countries “send their troops to Iraq to bomb Iraq to spread democracy.”Ben McClellan and Geoff Chambers, “Radical Muslim cleric Ismail al-Wahwah tells supporters a new world order is coming,” Daily Telegraph (Sydney), October 11, 2014, http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/radical-muslim-cleric-ismail-alwahwah-tells-supporters-a-new-world-order-is-coming/story-fni0cx12-1227086878686. He also called for jihad against Jews in Israel, whom he considers to be “illegitimate occupiers”“Muslim extremist Ismail Alwahwah anti semitic lecture,” News.com.au, March 9, 2015, http://video.news.com.au/v/313805/Muslim-extremist-Ismail-Alwahwah-anti-semitic-lecture. and the “most evil creatures of Allah.”Louise Cheer, “’They will pay with blood’: Islamic leader’s online rant calling the Jewish people ‘the most evil creatures of Allah,’” Daily Mail (London), March 12, 2015, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2991638/They-pay-blood-Islamic-leader-s-online-rant-calling-Jewish-people-evil-creatures-Allah.html.
Al-Wahwah called Australia part of a U.S.-led “crusader invasion” targeting the Muslim world.Ben McClellan and Geoff Chambers, “Radical Muslim cleric Ismail al-Wahwah tells supporters a new world order is coming,” Daily Telegraph (Sydney), October 11, 2014, http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/radical-muslim-cleric-ismail-alwahwah-tells-supporters-a-new-world-order-is-coming/story-fni0cx12-1227086878686. He justified the January 2015 attacks on French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo as “a cure” for relieving pressure caused by “daily humiliation” of Muslims and “insults to their book and prophet.”Taylor Auerbach, “Charlie Hebdo terrorist attacks a ‘cure,’ says leader of Hizb ut-Tahrir Australia Ismail Alwahwah,” Daily Telegraph (Sydney), January 13, 2015, http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/charlie-hebdo-terrorist-attacks-a-cure-says-leader-of-hizb-ut-tahrir-australia-ismail-alwahwah/story-fni0cx12-1227182578266. Al-Wahwah had also been seen at past HT events with Man Haron Monis, the Islamist who took more than a dozen people hostage at a Sydney café in December 2014.Dan Kedmey and David Stout, “3 Dead After Police Storm Sydney Café to End Hostage Crisis,” Time, December 15, 2014, http://time.com/3633134/sydney-hostage-martin-place-lindt-cafe-terrorism/; Taylor Auerbach, “Lindt cafe gunman Man Haron Monis was honoured guest at Hizb ut-Tahrir’s Lakemba hate-fest,” Daily Telegraph (Sydney), March 17, 2015, http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/lindt-cafe-gunman-man-haron-monis-was-honoured-guest-at-hizb-ut-tahrirs-lakemba-hate-fest/story-fnpn118l-1227265393578.
HT operates legally in Australia, where al-Wahwah’s views were protected speech. Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott called for the group to be banned, but such efforts failed there and in other Western countries that host HT chapters. Al-Wahwah responded that countries that had banned HT had failed to stop the group’s operations in those countries. Abbott would have to “prevent the flow of air” to stop HT, al-Wahwah said. Geoff Chambers and Sarah Crawford, “Extremist group Hizb ut-Tahrir sends veiled threat to Prime Minister Tony Abbott,” Daily Telegraph (Sydney), February 10, 2015, http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/extremist-group-hizb-ut-tahrir-sends-veiled-threat-to-prime-minister-tony-abbott/story-fni0cx12-1227213869800.
On July 25, 2018, al-Wahwah flew to Jordan with his wife to visit family and friends. Jordanian authorities arrested him at the Queen Alia International Airport in Amman. According to the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, Jordanian officers did not present an arrest warrant or provide a reason for his arrest. At the request of the Arab social justice organization Alkarama, the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention sent a letter to Jordanian authorities on October 16, 2018, requesting the reasons for al-Wahwah’s detention. On October 22, Jordan’s State Security Court prosecutor charged al-Wahwah with incitement against the political regime, insulting the king, and belonging to an unlawful movement. That same month, he was reportedly moved to Jordan’s Al Muwaqqar II maximum security prison. On January 15, 2019, he was sentenced to two years in prison with one year suspended sentence. On February 4, 2019, Alkarama filed on al-Wahwah’s behalf for intervention from the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression.Stephen Johnson, “Australian leader of extremist Islamic group that wants a global Muslim caliphate is moved to a notorious maximum security prison in Jordan,” Daily Mail (London), last updated November 8, 2018, https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6365301/Australian-leader-Hizb-ut-Tahrir-Ismail-al-Wahwah-moved-Jordanian-maximum-security-jail.html; “AUSTRALIAN-JORDANIAN CITIZEN SENTENCED TO IMPRISONMENT BECAUSE OF FACEBOOK POSTS,” Alkarama, February 5, 2019, https://www.alkarama.org/en/articles/australian-jordanian-citizen-sentenced-imprisonment-because-facebook-posts. Al-Wahwah was released on April 25, 2019. HT Australia, Facebook post, April 25, 2019, 8:35 a.m., https://www.facebook.com/hizbaust/photos/a.607681262698200/1561848627281454/.
On May 17, 2023, al-Wahwah died of an undisclosed illness. HT emir Ata Abu Rashta offered his condolences in a May 18 press release by the HT Media Office.“Obituary of Dawah Carrier,” Hizb ut-Tahrir Media Office, May 18, 2023, https://www.hizb-ut-tahrir.info/en/index.php/press-releases/jordan/24603.html.
- Extremist entity
- Hizb ut-Tahrir
- Type(s) of Organization:
- Political party, transnational
- Ideologies and Affiliations:
- Islamist, jihadist, pan-Islamist, Salafi, Sunni
- Leader of HT Australia
Hizb ut-Tahrir is an international Islamist movement seeking to unite Muslims under one Islamic caliphate. Hizb ut-Tahrir members have been linked to violent acts in multiple countries. The group itself has been banned in at least 13 countries, including many Muslim-majority countries.
Extremists: Their Words. Their Actions.
On October 27, 2018, domestic terrorist Robert D. Bowers carried out an anti-Semitic attack at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. He fired on congregants as they gathered for worship, killing 11 people and wounding six others.