Once again AQAP/Ansar al-Shari’a shows its mean spirit, not only destroying the lives of the living but resorting to desecrating the dead. Before pulling out of Ja’ar in southern Yemen, several of the iconclasts destroyed the shrine of al Ja’dani in Al Tareyyah, among other shrines. Ibrahim Suleiman al Rubaish, a former detainee at Guantanamo Bay and now a senior AQAP leader, issued a video taking credit for the demolition work. Here is what he is reported to have said:

“Here are the mujahideen by the grace of Allah the Great and Almighty carrying out what Allah commanded them to do and reviving their jihad in the Cause of Allah…. So, just as they fought democracy and representative councils which make laws alongside Allah, they are destroying the domes which are being worshipped other than Allah, along with the graves and mausoleums, which people try to get close to other than Allah the Great and Almighty.”

“We fight the idolatry of the palaces and the graves – both are the same.”

The idolatry he does not see is his own intolerance, as though Allah has made him a successor of the prophet. Yemen’s south is dotted with shrines, reflecting the generations of Sufis and other devout scholars who have lived in Yemen over the centuries. Rubaish, who is in fact a Saudi and not Yemeni, places himself above all these Yemenis of the past. Like the other AQAP leaders, he is not likely to last long, but the destruction he touts adds salt to the wounds of the current turmoil in Yemen. Yemen has a rich Islamic history of monuments and saints tombs. Unlike the Taliban blasting in 2001 of the Buddha images at Bamiyan, also a senseless act, Rubaish cannot even claim to be destroying an image from another religion. He thinks he is fighting “the palaces and the graves,” but he is really fighting against time and doing more to harm Islam than promote it.