Kuwaiti minister, accused of backing "jihad" in Syria, resigns

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Kuwaiti Minister of Justice and Islamic Affairs, Nayef al-Ajmi talks during a parliament session at Kuwait's National Assembly on April 1, 2014 in Kuwait City. (Photo: AFP - Yasser al-Zayyat)

Published Friday, April 4, 2014

A Kuwaiti minister, accused by a senior US official of promoting jihad in Syria, has resigned just days after receiving the backing of fellow cabinet members, a report said Friday.

Justice and Islamic Affairs Minister Nayef al-Ajmi, who strongly denies the US accusations, said he had asked to be relieved of his duties for health reasons, Al-Rai newspaper reported.

The US Treasury under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, David Cohen, charged earlier this year that Ajmi "has a history of promoting jihad in Syria."

His appointment to the cabinet in January was a "step in the wrong direction," Cohen said in a lecture in the United States, parts of which were carried by the Kuwait press late last month.

Ajmi said he had "asked to be relieved of his post because of health problems which predated the accusation that he backed terror," Al-Rai reported.

He said that the cabinet, which gave him its full support on Monday, would consider his request on Sunday.

Ajmi said he had been undergoing tests in London when the reports of Cohen's comments surfaced in the Kuwaiti media last month and had cut them short to head home.

A statement released after Monday's cabinet meeting said ministers had followed Cohen's comments "with great attention and displeasure."

Ajmi acknowledged he had taken part in fund-raising campaigns for Syria, but insisted they had been for humanitarian purposes and not for Syria's al-Qaeda affiliate al-Nusra Front as alleged by Cohen.



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