Afghan-Arab Mustafa Hamed, is Al-Qaeda’s most prominent historian and is blacklisted by the US Treasury.
Also known as Abu al-Walid al-Masri, he emerged from Tehran to resume his activity in lecturing radical groups through his website named "Mafa" earlier this year.
Back to Tehran from Qatar
Abu al-Walid, a friend of Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri friend, willingly left Qatar in 2016 and went to Tehran to live there with his children.
Abu al-Walid, who is the father-in-law of Saif al-Adel and who was Al-Jazeera’s correspondent in Kandahar between 1998 and 2001, went to Iran with his family in 2002 after the 9/11 attacks to live there with a group of al-Qaeda commanders and Bin Laden’s family members.
There were allegations that Iran released Abu al-Walid, Saif al-Adel and Mohammed Islambouli, the brother of Khaled Islambouli who assassinated Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat, from house arrest in 2010.
Abu al-Walid, Saif al-Adel and Islambouli returned to Egypt during the military rule following the January 25 revolution and later when the Muslim Brotherhood assumed power in the country. Then they left again to Turkey, Qatar and Iran.
Commenting on resuming Mafa’s activity, Abu al-Walid explained that the website was established in 2009 to publish six books about Afghanistan and the Arabs’ history during the phase of jihad against the Soviets. The books had a unified headline “Literature of the outcast, narratives of Arab Mujahideen in Afghanistan.”
“I resumed Mafa’s activity after returning to Iran because I have plenty to say about public matters. My opinions can only be voiced on Mafa as it’s not under the control of international powers which globalized people’s economies and which want to globalize people’s minds,” he said, adding that Iran’s “atmosphere for freedom” allows him to publish on Mafa.
“The website has set the priorities straight. The religion comes first because it’s the origin and before the sect which is the branch. The nation comes first because it’s the origin, before organizations, parties and groups which are branches and in many times obstacles,” he added.
“The Arab Spring did not allow for saying anything different but this was not the case in Tehran. Mafa is now here in Tehran, right where it began, to resume singing outside the flock.”
Abu al-Walid had lived in Afghanistan since 1993 and until he left his residence in Herat crossing the borders towards Iran with a group of fighters from the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan.
He currently resides in Tehran and writes with the website of Al-Samoud Magazine linked to the so-called Islamic emirate in Afghanistan. He also finished writing his book “The Islamic Movement and the water war” in Tehran.
Shiite clerics and harboring Arabs
Despite claims by Wafaa Ali al-Shami, Abu al-Walid’s wife, that her family was under pressure in Iran, Abu al-Walid confirmed through Mafa that Iran helped al-Qaeda members after the 9/11 attacks. This is confirmed by the fact that they returned to live in Iran.
“The Iranians let the Arabs and their families enter Iran and offered help to some of them. Some Shiite clerics were enthusiastic about harboring Arabs and protecting them in Iran and they were confronted with opposition. Some graffiti in Tehran called for expelling Taliban’s Shiite clerics to Afghanistan because they provided significant support to Arabs in Zahedan and Tehran,” he added.
Al-Qaeda, Iran and random relations
“Of course there are relations between Iran and al-Qaeda. They were imposed by the circumstances of America’s war on Afghanistan. However, they were random and were not planned thus they did not have any positive effects on either. Before the war, al-Qaeda ignored the fact that Iran is a large neighbor to the west of Afghanistan. Meanwhile the Arabs’ situation in Afghanistan was bad due to international siege and the Islamic emirate suffered from the siege and from internal conflicts. All this called for good neighborly relations and cooperation with Iran to resolve misunderstandings. Al-Qaeda could have been a mediator but it was based on the Salafist approach that was hostile to Shiites to the extent of accusing them of infidelity sometimes. If it hadn’t been for Bin Laden’s moderate character, al-Qaeda would have resembled ISIS,” he added.
He noted that relations eventually developed between the Islamist radicals and Tehran.
“A Salafist jihadist category began to understand facts and put things in order. It was very late but better late than never.”
Al-Qaeda and co-existing with Shiites
The website Mafa and Abu al-Walid’s writings reflect the theory of joint cooperation and what the mullahs’ regime of Tehran has in common with armed radical political Islam groups and which is based on the points of convergence between Navvab Safavi, a cleric who was close to Khomeini and the founder of Fada'iyan-e Islam group, with Sayyid Qutb in 1954. This Safavi-Qutb convergence was under the excuse of rapprochement between Islamic sects to fulfill caliphate and imamite-related aims.
Battle against Jews and Crusaders
On co-existence, Abu al-Walid said: “Of course I meant co-existence with the Shiites, and I mean much more. I mean unifying the wings of the nation that consist of Sunni and Shiite in one battle against Jews and Crusaders, as Bin Laden’s famous expression puts it. And before that, I mean co-existing between Salafism and Sunnis.”
In his article “ISIS and another emotional talk,” he said: “Wahhabism’s hostility is against the four Sunni sects rather than against Shiism or Sufism. Wahhabism has been specifically hostile to the duty of jihad because it wants to sabotage its path via a loud bid on sharia, jihad and doctrine. Wahhabi jihad harms the nation’s real jihad and obstructs its emergence while replacing it with a fake jihad which it manages, funds and nurtures.”
Staunch defense of the mullahs’ regime
Abu al-Walid once staunchly defended Iran saying: “The Revolutionary Guards, the Quds Brigade and the missiles’ program cannot be discussed at all because this would be an attempt to disarm Iran thus leading to its complete surrender. So why does Israel and the US keep bringing this up? It’s to exert psychological pressure and justify economic sanctions and international isolation that force Iran to freeze its reaction to developments in Arab neighbors from the ocean to the Gulf by turning them into citizens of a Zionist empire that has international ambitions. What they want is Iran’s retreat, and they want to force it to adopt a policy that isolates it from its Islamic surrounding and Zionized Arab neighborhood.”
Iran’s support to Hezbollah, Houthis
Abu al-Walid also defended Iran’s support of Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Houthi Movement in Yemen and said: “It is a humanitarian, Islamic and security matter. I am afraid Arabs and Muslims will not realize the importance of Yemen on the Islamic, strategic and Arab level except after losing it. The problem is that Iran is taking up the responsibilities abandoned by others at a time when the sect is more important than religion and the organization is more important than the nation.”
“As for Iran’s support of Hezbollah in Lebanon, this increases Iran’s pride as Hezbollah is the only Islamic front that directly confronts Israel. This would not have been possible if it had not been for the support which Iran provides and which the latter views as an Islamic responsibility and a positive support for its national security.”
“Iran’s support of the Houthis is a responsibility which every Muslim and Arab must assume to support the people of Yemen who are being exterminated at the hands of the Gulf’s Zionists and Arab Zionists.”
Commenting on Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s remarks about US President Donald Trump once, Abu al-Walid said: “Rouhani was calm and confident while he was criticizing and disciplining Trump. Rouhani’s suavity may not benefit a lot or it may require a stick that supports this calm rhetoric as without this Iranian stick, the US will resume its policies.”
Born in Egypt, Abu al-Walid joined the Muslim Brotherhood cubs in his hometown in Egypt when he was just six years old.
He graduated from the engineering faculty in 1969 from Alexandria University and worked as a journalist during the 1970’s. He wrote about Afghan jihad and had participated in it since 1979 before the Soviet invasion.
He met Mawlawi Jalaluddin Haqqani, a leader of a fighting group in Afghanistan in June 1979, and he later worked with him from 1992 until 1980.
In 1980, he became friends with Afghan leader Abdul Rasul Sayyaf but the friendship ended in a severe dispute due to Sayyad’s approach in leading his armed group.
Abu al-Walid met Abdullah Yusuf Azzam for the first time in Peshawar in 1984, and they became friends’ however this friendship was somehow affected following disagreements over the role of Sayyaf and other Afghan groups’ leaders.
In 1988, he met Bin Laden and they remained friends until the latter was killed in 2011.
In 1986, he met Ayman al-Zawahiri in Peshawar, and before that in 1979, he met Kamal al-Sananiri.
In 1993, he went to Khost and lived in al-Qaeda camps and also supervised a training program for fighters in Uzbekistan. These fighters later formed the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan led by Mohammed Tohir Yoʻldoshev.
In the winter of 1996, he went to Sudan and stayed there for few a months but later left Khartoum in May with Bin Laden and other al-Qaeda commanders, including Saif al-Adel, and went to Jalalabad.
He met Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar in Kandahar several times and he was among the first Arabs to pledge allegiance to him as commander of the faithful in 1997.