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Abdul Majeed al-Zindani (Arabic: عبد المجيد الزنداني‎, ʿAbdul Majeed ; born in 1942 in Ibb, Yemen) is a leading militant Islamist, founder and head of the Iman University in Yemen, head of the Yemeni Muslim Brotherhood political movement and founder of the Commission on Scientific Signs in the Quran and Sunnah, based in Saudi Arabia.[1] He has been described by Daniel Golden of the Wall Street Journal as "a charismatic Yemeni academic and politician."[2] and by CNN as "a provocative cleric with a flaming red beard".[3]

Abdul Majeed al-Zindani
Native name
عبد المجيد الزنداني
Born (1942-01-01) January 1, 1942 (age 77)
NationalityYemen Yemeni
OccupationAcademic and Politician

In 2004 the US Treasury Department published a press release stating that the United States had by executive order designated Zindani as a "Specially Designated Global Terrorist".[4]


al-Zindani spent his early college years in Egypt, studied at Ain Shams University (first studying biology and chemistry, but then switching to Islamic studies) where he failed to get a degree, returned to Aden in 1966, went to Saudi Arabia in 1967 where he was a senior official in the Islamic Call Organization, and was sent home in 1962 when he was arrested by the ruler of Egypt. In 1970, he returned to Yemen where he formed the Yemeni Muslim Brotherhood and devoted his life to politics.[5]

Iman UniversityEdit

Al-Zindani is the founder and president of the Iman University in Sanaa, Yemen. The institution was founded in 1995 with Yemeni government support. It also received foreign donations from the conservative Wahhabist heritage nations of Saudi Arabia and Qatar, receiving about 400 students annually.[1][6]

The US Treasury[4] statement that Zindani is loyal to bin Laden states that some students at Iman University have been arrested for political and religious murders. Some believe that the school's curriculum deals mostly, if not exclusively, with Islamic studies, and that it is an incubator of extremism.[7][8]

The Sunday Times has established that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Northwest Airlines Flight 253 suspected bomber who was arrested on Christmas Day 2009, attended lectures by al-Awlaki at the university in 2005.[9]

Political activityEdit

Al-Zindani is "a leading member" of Yemen's al-Islah Party, (the Yemeni Congregation for Reform), of which Tawakel Karman, who was awarded the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize, is also a member.

Commission on Scientific Signs in the Quran and SunnahEdit

He approached the Saudi government's largest charity, the Muslim World League, in 1984 to establish a Commission on Scientific Signs in the Quran and Sunnah, based in Saudi Arabia. He headed the Commission as secretary general until stepping down in 1995. Although he no longer has any official role with the Muslim World League, he is still invited to its events.

A criticism made of the commission is that in its enthusiasm to prove that evidence in favor of Qur'anic scientific miracles "is clear and obvious" and that "a group of eminent non-Muslim scholars in several fields" has testified to this,[10] the commission has spread misleading, out-of-context statements by several of these non-Muslim scholars.[2] In 1984, a member of the commission, Mustafa Abdul Basit Ahmed, moved to the United States to recruit non-Muslim Western scientists to verify the miraculous signs of the Quran. However, in a 2002 story[2] in the American newspaper Wall Street Journal, several non-Muslim scientists spoke of questionable practices used by the commission to coax statements from them, such as hard-sell interviews by Sheikh Abdul Majeed al-Zindani, and false promises to be "completely neutral."

The commission drew the scientists to its conferences with first-class plane tickets for them and their wives, rooms at the best hotels, $1,000 honoraria, and banquets with Muslim leaders – such as a palace dinner in Islamabad with Pakistani President Mohammed Zia ul-Haq shortly before he was killed in a plane crash. Ahmed also gave at least one scientist a crystal clock.[2]

Marine scientist William Hay complained of having fallen into a "trap" in interviews, while embryologist Gerald Goeringer claimed "mutual manipulation" between the scientists and conference organizers. Retired Geologist Professor Alfred Kröner of the University of Mainz has a standard e-mail reply clarifying his "out of context" remarks during one of the conferences and has described the proceedings which resulted in his remarks being used by Muslim apologists. In a video recorded interview he describes the events and explains how he was asked to answer purely hypothetical questions and it was from these answers that he was subsequently quote-mined and misrepresented. Interviews have also been recorded with Alison (Pete) Palmer, Prof Tom Armstrong and Alfred Kröner [11]

AIDS researchEdit

Al-Zindani gave a speech praising the quality of scientific and medical research carried out at the Iman University, claiming that they had successfully treated many cases of AIDS.[12][13] In 20 cases, al-Zandani said that the virus had vanished completely without any side effects, and he called on the UN, which "spends enormous amounts of money to fight the disease," to send "its senior scientists to review [the university's] findings."[citation needed]

Dr. Jamil al-Mughales, the head of the Clinical Immunology Services of King Abdulaziz University, has disputed al-Zindani's results, saying he personally inspected blood tests, and contradicting al-Zindani's claims.[14] Al-Mughales said that if he were the Minister of Health, he would put al-Zindani in jail. "I hope that the mass media does not give him more press, because I think he has some hidden motives, because he is on the list of the terrorist lists," he said.[15]

Later, Al-Zindani applied for a patent for an herbal method purporting to treat AIDS; the application was published on the World Intellectual Property Organization website in April 2011.[16]

Vice and virtue movementEdit

In July 2008, al-Zindani joined a panel of Islamic clerics and prominent tribal chiefs to announce the creation of a new morality authority. The Meeting for Protecting Virtue and Fighting Vice declared its intention to alert Yemen's police force to infringements of Islamic law. The declaration followed reports of vigilante activity by self-appointed 'morality guardians' in Hodeidah, Aden, and Sana'a.[17]

Jyllands-posten cartoon controversyEdit

In 2006, Zindani pressed charges against 21 newspapers and their editors in Yemen for reprinting the controversial Muhammad cartoons, originally printed in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten in 2005. On November 25, 2006, al-Zidani won the first case—against the newspaper Al-Rai Al-A'm—and the newspaper was ordered to cease printing for six months, and its editor was sentenced to one year of prison.

Banned by USEdit

Anwar al-Awlaki, who attended and lectured at the university

On February 24, 2004, the US Treasury Department issued an order labeling Zindani a "Specially Designated Global Terrorist". The Department said that Zindani had a "long history of working with bin Laden, notably serving as one of his spiritual leaders", and that he "served as a contact for Ansar al-Islam (Al), an Iraqi and Syrian based terrorist organization linked to al-Qaeda". The Department also stated that it suspected students of his Al Iman University of assassinating three American missionaries, and "the number two leader for the Yemeni Socialist Party, Jarallah Omar".[4][18] Al Awlaki also took classes and lectured at Iman University, headed by Zindani.[19]

John Walker Lindh is also a former student of Iman University linked to terrorist groups.[7][20]

Zindani's name was subsequently submitted to the UN 1267 Committee's list[21] of individuals belonging to or associated with al-Qaeda. Among the factors offered to Guantanamo detainee Abdul Rahman Mohamed Saleh Naser's Administrative Review Board, justifying his continued extrajudicial detention, were:[22]

  1. "The detainee decided to go to Afghanistan after hearing and speaking with Sheik Al Zindani.
  2. "Abd Al Majid Zandani was an active supporter of Usama Bin Laden. Zandani was involved in raising funds and recruiting volunteers for the Bin Laden organization. Zandani is also a religious and legal expert for Usama Bin Laden.
  3. "Executive Order 13224 designates Shaykh Abd Al Majid Al Zindani as a person who commits, threatens to commit, or supports terrorism."[4]

In mid-January 2010, Zindani said he would call for jihad in the event that US troops were sent to Yemen for the purpose of fighting al-Qaeda.[23]

Protests in YemenEdit

The New York Times reported that protests outside the American embassy in Yemen on September 13, 2012 began hours after Zindani urged followers to emulate protests in Libya and Egypt, according to some residents of Sana. Protesters were denouncing a video caricaturing the prophet Mohammed and Islam.[24]


  1. ^ a b "Yemeni Sheikh of Hate". National Review. Archived from the original on October 31, 2007. Retrieved October 5, 2007.
  2. ^ a b c d Daniel Golden (January 23, 2002). "Strange Bedfellows: Western Scholars Play Key Role in Touting `Science' of the Quran". Wall Street Journal.
  3. ^ Yemeni leader lashes out at U.S. as protests continue Archived February 9, 2012, at the Wayback Machine CNN. March 1, 2011
  4. ^ a b c d "United States Designates bin Laden Loyalist; February 24, 2004". Archived from the original on March 14, 2010. Retrieved 2012-02-07.
  5. ^ Islamic fundamentalism. Westview Press. p. 218. Retrieved March 17, 2010.
  6. ^ Yemeni Sheikh al-Zindani's New Role as a Healer Publication: Terrorism Focus Volume: 4 Issue: 8 Date: April 6, 2007 By: Andrew McGregor
  7. ^ a b Raghavan, Sudarsan (December 10, 2009). "Cleric linked to Fort Hood attack grew more radicalized in Yemen". The Washington Post. Retrieved December 10, 2009.
  8. ^ Glenn R. Simpson, "Terror Probe Follows the Money," The Wall Street Journal, April 2, 2004. Retrieved January 21, 2010.
  9. ^ Leppard, David (January 3, 2010). "MI5 knew of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab's UK extremist links". The Sunday Times. Retrieved January 2, 2010.
  10. ^ Abdul Majeed al-Zindani in an interview in the May 2001 issue of a magazine published by the Commission on Scientific Signs
  11. ^ What those scientists really thought of the Quran; By TheRationalizer; 21 March 2011
  12. ^ Zindani claims cure for AIDS during TV interview on YouTube
  13. ^ "Sheikh Al-Zindani Surprises Medical Experts by Officially Announcing AIDS Medication (Local News)". March 25, 2012. Archived from the original on March 25, 2012. Retrieved March 20, 2018.
  14. ^’s-aids-herbal-cure/[permanent dead link]
  15. ^ Ghaleb, Thuria, "Controversial sheikh claims AIDS cure," Yemen Observer, December 19, 2006, accessed November 19, 2009[permanent dead link]
  17. ^ "Pulitzer Centre on Crisis Reporting, August 11, 2008". Archived from the original on June 21, 2010. Retrieved March 17, 2010.
  18. ^ "Microsoft Word - nefabackgrounder_alawlaki.doc" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on April 14, 2010. Retrieved March 17, 2010.
  19. ^ "Chucmach, Megan, and Ross, Brian, "Al Qaeda Recruiter New Focus in Fort Hood Killings Investigation Army Major Nidal Hasan Was In Contact With Imam Anwar Awlaki, Officials Say," ''ABC News'', November 10, 2009, accessed November 12, 2009". USA: ABC. November 10, 2009. Retrieved March 17, 2010.
  20. ^ Schmidt, Susan; Imam From Va. Mosque Now Thought to Have Aided Al-Qaeda; The Washington Post, February 27, 2008. Retrieved November 20, 2009.
  21. ^ "UN 1267 Committee banned entity list". United Nations. Archived from the original on July 28, 2006. Retrieved March 17, 2010.
  22. ^ Factors for and against the continued detention (.pdf) of Abdul Rahman Mohamed Saleh Naser Administrative Review Board May 18, 2005 – p. 35
  23. ^ Worth, Robert (January 14, 2010). "Yemen: Clerics Oppose U.S. Troops". The New York Times. Retrieved January 15, 2010.
  24. ^ Nasser Arrabee and Alan Cowell, "Turmoil spreads to US embassy in Yemen," The New York Times, 13 September 2012.

External linksEdit