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Ibrahim Sulayman Muhammad al-Rubaish (July 7, 1979 – April 12, 2015) was a terrorist and a senior leader of Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), who was held in extrajudicial detention in the United States's Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba. He was released into the custody of Saudi Arabian authorities and then escaped in 2006.[2] He became AQAP's mufti (expounder of Islamic law).

Ibrahim Sulayman Muhammad Arbaysh
Ibrahim al-Rubaish.jpg
Ibrahim Sulayman Muhammad al-Rubaish

(1979-07-07)7 July 1979[1]
Died12 April 2015(2015-04-12) (aged 35)
Cause of deathDrone attack
Criminal statusRepatriated in 2006 and placed on the Saudi most wanted list in 2009. Became senior leader in AQAP, killed in drone strike

Guantanamo detentionEdit

Al-Rubaish was captured near the Pakistan-Afghan border and transferred to Saudi Arabia on December 13, 2006.[3]

When he was captured by the US army in 2001 for alleged connections to Al-Qeda, he was a teacher in Pakistan, ultimately being released from Guantánamo in 2006, a time during which he wrote a famed poem, Ode to the Sea, which caused controversy in India when it was included in the BA second semester syllabus at Calicut University, eventually withdrawing it.[4]

On February 3, 2009, Saudi security officials published a new list of Saudi suspected terrorists. Al-Rubaish was one of 11 of the 85 men on this list who was a former Guantanamo captive.[3]

AQAP's muftiEdit

In November 2009, a research paper from the think tank The Jamestown Foundation asserted that al-Rubaish was now a mufti for Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).[5][6]

Call for assassination of Saudi royalsEdit

The paper's author Murad Batal Al-Shishani asserted that Al-Rubaish had produced an audio tape Al-Qaida had released in September attempting to justify a recent attempt to assassinate a senior member of the Saudi Royal Family. The paper asserted Al-Rubaish had published a book criticizing Shaykh Salman al-Ouda, a critic of al Qaida's attacks on September 11, 2001. It also claimed that he had released an additional audio tape in November 2009, criticizing the Saudi government's introduction of mixed sex education for children.

Repatriation and escapeEdit

ISN 192 -- Ibrahim Sulayman Muhammad Arbaysh's Guantanamo detainee assessment.

Al-Rubaish was transferred to Saudi Arabia on December 13, 2006, then escaped from custody and joined AQAP in Yemen, becoming a senior figure in the group.[5][7]

Call for jihadEdit

In early 2013, al-Rubaish called for jihad against Americans, saying "It is my duty to spur the Muslims to kill the Americans, to get them out of the Muslims' land", also expressing hope that Sunnis would unite in a war against Shiite Iran.[8]

U.S. terrorist designation and rewardEdit

In October 2014, the U.S. State Department's Rewards for Justice program opened a US$5 million reward for Al-Rubaish's location.[9] In December 2014, he was designated a Specially Designated Global Terrorist.[10]


AQAP released a statement in April 2015 announcing that al-Rubaish had been killed with other unnamed individuals in a drone strike near Mukalla on April 2015. It is believed that the drone strike was carried out by the United States.[7]


Being "the main ideologue and theological adviser" of AQAP, "his writings and sermons were prominent in its publications."[11]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^
  2. ^ "List of Individuals Detained by the Department of Defense at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba from January 2002 through May 15, 2006" (PDF). United States Department of Defense. 2006-05-15. Retrieved 2006-05-15.
  3. ^ a b Hood, Jay W. (Major General) (November 30, 2005). "Ibrahim Sulayman Muhammad Arbaysh-". JTF GTMO Detainee Assessment. US Department of Defense. p. 3. Retrieved April 15, 2015 – via The Guantánamo Docket-The New York Times.
  4. ^ Shahina KK (1 August 2013), "Poetic Injustice", Open the magazine. Retrieved 18 September 2019.
  5. ^ a b "Former GITMO detainee now al-Qaida brass". United Press International. 2009-12-04. Archived from the original on 2009-12-06. Retrieved 2009-12-05. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  6. ^ Murad Batal Al-shishani (2009-11-25). "Ibrahim al-Rubaish: New Religious Ideologue of al-Qaeda in Saudi Arabia Calls for Revival of Assassination Tactic". The Jamestown Foundation. Archived from the original on 2009-12-06. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  7. ^ a b "Yemen al-Qaida branch says top cleric killed in drone attack". Associated Press. 14 April 2015. Archived from the original on 15 April 2015. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  8. ^ Memri March 12, 2013
  9. ^ "Reward Offers for Information on Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) Leaders". U.S. Department of State - Rewards for Justice. 14 October 2014. Retrieved 24 June 2017.
  10. ^ "Terrorist Designations of Ajand Misr and Ibrahim al-Rubaysh". U.S. Department of State. 18 December 2014.
  11. ^ Andrew Buncombe (14 April 2015), "Ibrahim Sulayman Muhammad al-Rubaish: Religious leader of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula killed in Yemen drone strike", The Independent. Retrieved 18 September 2019.

External linksEdit