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Sudanese Salafi cleric denies connections to ISIS in Libya

July 9, 2017 (KHARTOUM) - The prominent Sudanese Salafi cleric Abdel-Hay Youssef has denied connections to Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State (ISIS) in Libya.

ISIS fighters in Derna, eastern Libya (Photo Reuters)

Earlier this week, the spokesperson of the Libyan National Army Ahmed Mismari accused Youssef of financing and training ISIS elements in Libya, saying the Sudanese cleric pledged allegiance to the late Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and called for waging Jihad against the Libyan army.

In a statement on Sunday, Youssef denied connections to Al-Qaeda, saying he didn’t deliver any lectures to extremist elements in Libya as claimed by Mismari.

He pointed out that he visited Libya twice on the invitation of the Mufti of Libya Sadiq Al-Ghariani to lecture prayer leaders and muftis.

It is noteworthy that Mismari has presented videotape in which Youssef was speaking after a mass “standing prayer” organised by Islamic Groups to honour al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

Commenting on the video tape, Youssef said they performed Salat al-Gha’ib (absentee funeral prayer) for Osama bin Laden in the open and in the presence of the media in order to show the true Islamic legal stance.

Youssef further said he criticised the ISIS in a number of occasions, stressing the extremist group was established by the Zionists and Crusaders intelligence in order to distort the image of the Islamic Jihad.

Last month, Mismari, accused Sudan of colluding with Qatar and Iran in supporting terrorism in Libya. He claimed that Qatar and Iran had military factories in Sudan which were supplying weapons and ammunition to terrorists both in Libya and elsewhere.

In 2015, the Ministry of Interior in Khartoum announced that about 70 Sudanese had gone to join the ISIS franchises, both in Libya and Syria.

However, experts on Islamic groups put the total number of the Sudanese fighters within ISIS at 150 Jihadists, saying that 56 of them had travelled to join the extremist organisation from countries other than Sudan.

They say that 35 of them have been killed in Iraq and Syria while 20 others have died in Libya.

(ST)