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Al-Qaida's 'Mr Theology' Abu Hafs al Mauritani released from prison

Abu Hafs al Mauritani, a former senior adviser to al-Qaida known as 'Mr. Theology', was released from a prison in his home nation of Mauritania in west Africa over the weekend, his family confirmed to the Associated Press.

Sidi Ould Walid said his brother was released after renouncing his ties to the terror network and condemning the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Hafs refused to be interviewed or to be filmed as he left the prison.

On militant forums, jihadists exchanged congratulations over the release.

Hafs was an adviser to Osama Bin Laden who helped form the modern al-Qaida by merging Bin Laden's operation with Ayman al-Zawahri's Islamic Jihad.

Hafs spent years in custody in Iran before being extradited to Mauritania in April. Walid says his brother was interrogated multiple times and his release indicates he is no longer seen as a threat.

An earlier report by the Washington-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies said Abu Hafs' real name is Mahfouz Ould al Walid and he was relocated to Iran after the Taliban's Afghanistan fell in late 2001. It said Iran placed senior al-Qaida leaders under a loose form of house arrest in 2003.

U.S. intelligence officials reported in 2002 that Abu Hafs was killed in an American airstrike, but later said he was alive and in Iran.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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