Viewing cable 05MUSCAT231

05MUSCAT2312005-02-09 13:30:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN Embassy Muscat
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 MUSCAT 000231 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/09/2015 
     ¶B. 04 MUSCAT 2226 AND PREVIOUS 
Classified By: Ambassador Richard L. Baltimore III. 
Reason: 1.4 (b, d). 
¶1. (SBU/NF) As a string of security detentions continues to 
roil the political waters in Oman, the Foreign Ministry sent 
a note on February 5 to select foreign embassies offering 
clarification of the government's action.  The MFA letter was 
adamant in denying any violent or terroristic intentions on 
the part of the detainees, citing instead their "illegal 
association against the national security" of the state. 
While the MFA claims the number of detainees is less than 
twenty, we have compiled a list of 22 persons thus far 
alleged to have been picked up by the authorities.  Internet 
accounts about one recently released detainee suggest his 
demeanor has changed considerably following his ordeal.  End 
¶2. (SBU) The recent detentions (reftels) of Omanis in 
connection with some undisclosed "illegal association" 
continue to be the center of dinner table conversations 
around the country.  The overwhelming tenor of Internet 
chatroom debate has decisively shifted away from speculation 
as to what mischief the detainees may have been up to and 
instead largely deride the government for holding these 
individuals without sufficient (in the popular view) cause. 
While a number of voices call for not jumping to conclusions 
about the innocence of the detainees, they are decidedly in 
the minority. 
Foreign Ministry Explanation 
¶3. (SBU/NF) Following the Information Minister's January 30 
remarks on the detentions (ref A), for which he continues to 
be widely panned, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on February 
5 sent a diplomatic note to us (and apparently a select 
number of other embassies) offering clarifications of the 
police action and firmly dispelling any notion that the 
detainees had been plotting acts of terror or violence.  The 
text of the note, curiously delivered in English, is below. 
(Begin text) 
Note on detentions, Ministry of Foreign Affairs 
In recent days there have been a number of reports in the 
media about detentions made by the Government of Oman since 
the beginning of this year.  In support of the interview 
given by Information Minister H.E. Hamad bin Mohammed al 
Rashdi January 30, we are happy to offer some further 
Contrary to media reports, the total number of citizens 
detained is fewer than 20.  To date none of these people have 
been charged with any crime.  They have been detained because 
it has been established that there is credible evidence 
implicating the individuals concerned in illegal association 
against the national security of the State and its policies 
of modernity and development. 
In keeping with internationally accepted legal norms it would 
be wrong for the Government to announce details of the 
individuals concerned with this matter potentially or 
actually sub judice.  Secondly, as Information Minister al 
Rashdi made very clear, because of the close knit nature of 
Omani society, it would be unjust to expose the individuals 
concerned to potential public humiliation and social 
exclusion until and unless good grounds for doing so are 
In addition we wish to make it clear that to date there is no 
evidence of any terrorist or international connection to 
these events at all.  Those detained have not been found in 
possession of any weapons or explosives, and there is no 
evidence of any conspiracy to carry out acts of terrorism, 
nor is there any evidence of any connection with 
international terrorist organisations. 
Finally we wish to emphasize that we value and respect the 
work of leading international human rights organisations.  In 
a few short decades Oman has developed with remarkable speed 
and effectiveness, as recognised by a number of international 
organisations, most notably the World Health Organisation, 
and in so doing the Government of Oman believes it serves its 
citizens very well.  Our Country is guided by our 
constitution: the Basic Statute of the State 1996, which 
affords all our citizens the rights and privileges generally 
recognised by modern international norms. 
February 5, 2005 
(End text.) 
¶4. (C) MFA Under Secretary Sayyid Badr al-Busaidi confided to 
the Ambassador February 7 that he was the author of the MFA 
note, deeming it necessary to make better sense of the 
Information Minister's poor attempt at explication.  While 
Sayyid Badr did not go into greater detail with the 
Ambassador, the text's reference to the illegal association 
somehow threatening the policy of "modernity" lends further 
support to our presumption in ref A that the detainees may 
have been advocating a restoration of the Imamate (vice 
Sultanic) system of rule that was abolished in the 1950's. 
Speculation on Detainees 
¶5. (SBU/NF) Sorting through the piles of Internet message 
board postings, we have produced the list below of alleged 
detainees identified by name by private citizens.  While we 
cannot confirm the accuracy of the data, the degree of detail 
provided lends it a degree of credibility in our view. 
Noting that their number exceed 20, in seeming contradiction 
to the Foreign Ministry text above, we have also heard 
anecdotal accounts of numerous other persons detained for a 
few days and released. 
¶6. (SBU) One of the listed detainees, Khalifa al-Mahruqi, has 
been subject of considerable speculation in recent days. 
Internet message board contributors in "Al Sablah" who claim 
to have paid calls on his family since his recent release 
after 24 days in custody report that he is a changed man. 
Saying he is normally active and talkative, several persons 
have reported that Mahruqi is much weakened by his ordeal and 
refuses to discuss it.  These descriptions have led to 
speculation in the message board that al-Mahruqi may have 
been subjected to "mental stresses" during his detention. 
¶7. (SBU) The following is our unofficial listing of persons 
allegedly detained as part of the government's crackdown on 
an "illegal association": 
(Start of list) 
Shaikh Muhammad bin Sulaiman bin Muhammad al-Shi'aili 
Preacher at Sultan Qaboos University, Muscat region 
Chairman of the Islamic Culture Group at the Student Affairs 
Department, Sultan Qaboos University 
Originally from Ma'amor, Bahla (Dakhiliyah region).  He has 
lived in Nizwa for 10 years and worked at Sultan Qaboos 
University since 1986.  He has a BA in Islamic Studies. 
Dr. Ali bin Hilal bin Muhammad al-Abri 
Lecturer at Sultan Qaboos University 
Preacher at the al-Hamra Mosque 
Lives in Hamra, Dakhiliyah region 
Humud bin Mohammad bin Salim al-Rahbi 
Vision Inspector/Tester, Ministry of Health 
Lives in Bidbid, Dakhiliyah region 
Ahmed bin Muhammad bin Sulaim al-Rahbi 
Student, College of Education in Nizwa, Dakhiliyah region 
Shaikh Yusuf bin Ibrahim al-Sarhani 
Lecturer at the College of Education in Nizwa 
Sometimes preaches at the Izki Mosque 
Lives in Izki, Dakhiliyah region 
Mahmoud bin Muhammad al-'Azri 
He is from Izki, Dakhiliyah region 
Shaikh Said bin Sultan bin Muhammad al-Harthi 
Preacher at Wadi Nam in al-Qabil wilayat, Sharqiyah region 
Muhammad bin Salim bin Muhammad al-Harthi 
Employee at the Directorate General of Education, North 
Sharqiya region 
Said bin Abdullah bin Ahmed al-Saqri 
Shaikh Dr. Jabir bin Ali bin Humud al-S'adi 
Lecturer at the College of Sharia'a and Law, al-Musana'a, 
Batinah region 
Shaikh Muhammad bin Rashid bin Salih al-Gharbi 
Teacher of Quranic Sciences at Sultan Qaboos University 
Studying for his Ph.D.; lives in Suwaiq, Batinah region 
Saif bin Salim al-Busaidi 
Lives in Manah, Dakhiliyah region 
Salim bin Said bin Ahmed al-S'adi 
Preacher from Wadi Bani Khalid, Sharqiyah region 
Shaikh Salih bin Salim al-Rabkhi 
Ministry of the Royal Diwan, 
Director of Mosques in Bahla, Dakhiliyah region 
Ahmed bin Muhammad bin Sulaiman al-Saqri 
Works for state oil company Petroleum Development Oman 
Lives in Ghobra, Muscat region 
Shaikh Nassir al-Sab'ai 
Lecturer at the Institute of Shari'a Sciences 
Shaikh Khamis al-'Adawi 
Advisor at the Iftaa Office in Bahla, Dakhiliyah region 
Shaikh Humaid al-Yahmade 
Works at the Iftaa office 
Said al-Mawali 
Works at the Directorate General of Education in Izki, 
Dakhiliyah region 
Khalifa al-Busaidi 
Inspector of Islamic Studies in Manah, Dakhiliyah region 
Shaikh Salih bin Rashid al-Ma'amari 
Former Director of the Sultan Qaboos Institute for Religious 
Studies in Sohar, Batinah region 
Khalifa al-Mahruqi (reportedly recently released) 
Mosque Preacher in Adam, Dakhiliyah region 
Driver for Shaikh Humud al-Sawafi 
(End of list.)