NIGERIA’S communications minister Alhaji Isa Ali Ibrahim also known as Sheikh Pantami has been listed on the Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) terrorist watchlist over his extreme religious stance and his links with Al-Qaeda.
Sheikh Pantami, who is also the deputy secretary-general of the Supreme Sharia Council in Nigeria and a former student of Salafist ideology, was trained in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East with other top Islamic jihadists. He is a chief imam who has been leading the Jumu’ah prayer for over 20 years in both Nigeria and the UK and currently serves as a member of the sharia board of Jaiz Bank.
A PhD holder from Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, Scotland, before his appointment as a minister, Sheikh Pantami was a known Islamic preacher and held what was termed dangerous views against the US government. According to one report, the minister was said to be a very close confidant of the late Mohammed Yusuf, the former leader of Boko Haram with whom he allegedly shared jihadist doctrines.
According to Western intelligence, the minister had ties with Abu Quatada al Falasimi and other Al-Qaeda leaders that he revered and spoke glowingly of in several of his videos on YouTube. In one of his narratives, Sheikh Pantami had eulogised Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi, who joined Al-Qaeda after emigrating to Afghanistan at the end of the September 11, 2001 terror attack on the World Trade Centre as a great leader.
Sheikh Pantami had said: “Under the Osama’s leadership, he became the unit commander of army of Al-Qaeda with the support of the commander of the loyal Mullah Omar. It was after the September 11 attack that he suffered serious leg injury and was taken to Iraq for treatment where he spent a long time recovering.”
“When Iraq was attacked by the enemies of God, this great man joined in the fight leading his group against the US military and its allies in Iraq.”
According to Middle Eastern Intelligence, photographs of Sheikh Pantami and his jihadist allies are trending on the Internet. One of the minister’s aides said, however, that the allegations were false.
He added: “This is a personal attack on somebody’s personal belief and religion. This allegation is not coming from the American government but one useless organisation.”