Ex-Qaida Leader Freed in Mauritania
A former al-Qaida leader extradited to Mauritania in April after being arrested in Iran in 2002 has been released from custody, his family said Saturday.
Mahfoud Ould Waled was freed Thursday, a family member told Agence France Presse.
Waled was one of the top muftis (interpreters of Islamic law) with the Taliban when they were in power in Afghanistan.
He was said to be close to al-Qaida founder Osama Bin Laden, who was killed last year in Pakistan, until the time of the September 11, 2001 attacks.
According to an expert on the case, Waled argued the attacks were illegal under to Sharia Islamic law.
Waled fled to Iran after the invasion of Afghanistan by U.S. forces in late 2001.
During his detention in Mauritania, Waled met with several foreign delegations, including from the U.S., who wanted to learn more about Islamist motivations, the family member said.
Waled arrived in the Mauritania capital Nouakchott on April 5. According to a Mauritanian security official, his return to the West African nation was permitted after he publicly renounced his jihadist beliefs.
The group al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, which pledged allegiance to al-Qaida in 2006, has been active in North Africa for several years, notably in Mauritania, where it has kidnapped several westerners.