Saudi cleric on ISIL hit list shot in Philippines

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A prominent Saudi cleric who is on Islamic State of Iraq and Levant’s (ISIL’s) hit list was shot and wounded in the Philippines on March 1.

Sheikh Aaidh al-Qarni and Saudi diplomat Sheikh Turki Assaegh were both wounded in an assassination attempt as they left a university auditorium in the southern port city of Zamboanga, where the cleric had given an address.

Medical personnel wheeling Saudi preacher Sheikh Aaidh al-Qarni (centre) into the hospital after an assassination attempt in Zamboanga on March 1. /AFP
Medical personnel wheel Sheikh Aaidh al-Qarni into the hospital after an assassination attempt in Zamboanga on March 1. /AFP

The gunman was killed by the Filipino police escorts of the two wounded Saudis and two suspects who were seen with the gunman were arrested.

Qarni suffered gunshot wounds to the right shoulder, left arm and chest while Assaegh, a religious attache at the Saudi Embassy in Manila, was wounded in his right thigh and left leg, according to a police report.

Qarni, a senior Islamic scholar, has more than 12 million followers on Twitter, according to Saudi media.

In his book “Awakening Islam”, French academic Stephane Lacroix included the cleric in his list of “the most famous” Saudi preachers.

In the most recent issue of ISIL’s Dabiq online magazine, leaders for the terror organization called on “lone wolves” to attack Qarni and several other Saudi clerics whom they accused of apostasy.

Last week, Saudi asked the local police for increased security for its embassy in Manila, as well as for the Saudi national airline due to an unspecified threat, Philippine foreign affairs spokesman Charles Jose said.

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