AMMAN, Jordan – The spiritual mentor of al-Qaida’s reputed leader in Iraq was arrested early Wednesday on suspicion he made contacts with terror groups since his release from prison a week ago, Jordan’s deputy prime minister said.
Isam al-Barqawi, also known as Sheik Abu-Mohammed al-Maqdisi, is said to have taught radical Islamic ideology to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, head of al-Qaida’s branch waging a bloody insurgency in Iraq.
Deputy Prime Minister Marwan Muasher said al-Barqawi was detained because “there were contacts between him and terrorist groups outside Jordan” since his release.
“He was arrested to find out the nature of these contacts,” he added. Muasher declined to provide other details. “If the charges are proven right, then he will be taken to court.”
Authorities carrying an arrest warrant detained al-Barqawi from his home in Russeifa, a predominantly Palestinian district, 20 miles northeast of Amman, a man answering the telephone at al-Barqawi’s home told The Associated Press.
The man said he was a relative of al-Barqawi but refused to be identified further to avoid problems with the authorities.
Al-Barqawi and al-Zarqawi, both Jordanian-born, shared a cell block for four years between 1995 and 1999. Both were freed in an amnesty, and Al-Zarqawi later went to Afghanistan, then to Iraq, where his followers have waged a campaign of car bombings, attacks and kidnappings.
Al-Barqawi was later arrested for another terror plot that targeted Israelis and Americans during millennium celebrations in Jordan. He was acquitted by a military court, which later tried him in another terror plot, but also found him innocent last October. He remained in jail for eight months without explanation and was released last Tuesday.