Mailbag: More Calendar Trouble

Mailbag: Why you should pay attention to the calendar.

16 April 2015

It’s not uncommon for us to receive e-mails of the the ilk of the one reproduced below, accusing us of being biased in favor of some particular politician, offering some undeniably bad nyah-nyah “fact” about that politician, and challenging us to report the “truth” about story (while asserting that we will undoubtedly “spin” the report in that politician’s favor):


The terrorist released unilaterally by Obama (Ibrahim al-Rubaysh) now has a $5 million reward on him due to his reign of terror in Yemen. Looking forward to seeing your tap dance around this one and why it is certainly NOT Obama’s fault. Fun to watch.

 

As we’ve stated in previous mailbag entries, the people who send us such missives would be well advised to check their calendars before hitting the ENTER key in order to avoid embarrassment.

Ibrahim Sulayman Muhammad Arbaysh (whose name is also various rendered as Ibrahim Suleiman al-Rubaish or al-Rubaysh) was a suspected Al Qaida terrorist and spiritual leader from Saudi Arabia who was captured near the Pakistan-Afghan border in 2001 and held at the U.S. Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba. He was later transferred to the custody of Saudi Arabian officials, from whom he subsequently escaped and made his way to Yemen, where he resumed his Al Qaida activities:


Rubaish while in U.S. custody at Guantanamo told his interrogators he received training at al-Farouq camp run by al-Qaida near Kandahar, Afghanistan, prior to the U.S.-led invasion in 2001.

He was transferred to Saudi Arabia, where he was placed in a national rehabilitation project.

At some point, he escaped across the southern border of Saudi Arabia into Yemen and has now emerged as a top theologian for al-Qaida.

His rank as a top ideologue in al-Qaida puts him in charge of countering the theological arguments from the Saudi regime and his statements have been used as justification to target top officials in Riyadh, the report adds.


 

In October 2014, the U.S. Department of State offered rewards of up to $5 million each for “information leading to the locations of eight key leaders of the Al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) terrorist organization,” including the formerly detained Ibrahim al-Rubaysh, described as a “senior AQAP Sharia official and advisor

who provides the justification for the group’s attacks and participates in attack planning.”

The example of Ibrahim al-Rubaysh might indeed be cited as an instance of a huge “Whoops!” in the U.S. government’s War on Terror, but that tricky calendar thing comes into play when one attempts to pin that “whoops” on President Obama: although the Obama administration has indeed transferred a number of detainees away from the military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Ibrahim al-Rubaysh was released into the custody of Saudi Arabian authorities in December 2006, more than two full years before Barack Obama became President of the United States. Back in December 2006 George W. Bush was president, while Barack Obama was merely the junior U.S. senator from Illinois who had no authority to order anyone (unliterally or otherwise) released from custody in Guantanamo Bay. We’d have to be able to manipulate the time-space continuum in order to find a way to pin Ibrahim al-Rubaysh’s release from Gitmo on President Obama.

Moreover, it’s quite unlikely al-Rubaysh is still carrying out a “reign of terror in Yemen” (or has a price on his head any more), as he was reportedly killed in a drone attack in mid-April 2015:


Yemen’s Al Qaeda branch says its top cleric, a Saudi-national who has had a $5 million bounty on his head, has been killed.

The group said in a statement on [14 April 2015] that Ibrahim al-Rubaish was killed in a drone attack two days earlier. The group did not specify where the purported strike took place.

Al-Rubaish was released from Guantanamo Bay in 2006, after which he joined Al Qaeda in Yemen. He was considered the group’s the main ideologue and theological adviser and his writings and sermons were prominent in its publications.

Last year, he hailed the seizure of swaths of land in Iraq and Syria by Al Qaeda’s rival, the Islamic State group.


 

Dear Reader,

Snopes.com has long been engaged in the battle against misinformation, an effort we could not sustain without support from our audience. Producing reliable fact-checking and thorough investigative reporting requires significant resources. We pay writers, editors, web developers, and other staff who work tirelessly to provide you with an invaluable service: evidence-based, contextualized analysis of facts. Help us keep Snopes.com strong. Make a direct contribution today. Learn More.

Donate with PayPal