One of Al Qaeda’s senior theologians is calling on his followers to end their military jihad and saying the attacks of September 11, 2001, were a “catastrophe for all Muslims.”
In a serialized manifesto written from prison in Egypt, Sayyed Imam al-Sharif is blasting Osama bin Laden for deceiving the Taliban leader, Mullah Omar, and for insulting the Prophet Muhammad by comparing the September 11 attacks to the early raids of the Ansar warriors. The lapsed jihadist even calls for the formation of a special Islamic court to try Osama bin Laden and his old comrade Ayman al-Zawahri.
The disclosures from Mr. Sharif, also known as Dr. Fadl and Abd al-Qadir ibn Abd al-Aziz, have already opened a rift at the highest levels of Al Qaeda.
Be glad you don’t have to pay this man’s insurance premiums:
The group’s deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, a former associate of the defecting theologian in Egypt, personally mocked him last month in a video, remarking that he was unaware Egyptian prisons had fax machines. Meanwhile, leading Western analysts are saying the defection of Mr. Sharif indicates the beginning of the end for Al Qaeda.
An expert on Islamic terrorism with the Jamestown Foundation, Steven Ulph, also said the defection of Mr. Sharif could hemorrhage support for Al Qaeda. “The important point to make, when you have the combination of a respected ideologue, plus someone who was in the field, say these things it is more important than having a Saudi sheik that moderates his message,” he said.
Mr. Sharif, currently serving a life sentence in an undisclosed Egyptian prison, wrote in the 1980s two of the modern seminal texts for Sunni jihadism and in particular Al Qaeda, in “Fundamental Concepts Regarding Jihad” and “The Five Ground Rules for the Achieving of Victory or Its Absence.” Those books are scholarly justifications, citing the Koran and Hadiths, for joining a war against Muslim apostates such as the Egyptian ruling class and for a broader jihad against the far enemy of America.
This is better than any gossip coming out of the U.S. Who cares about the She-cat, or whether John Edwards keeps his trousers zipped and his hair combed? What is important is that Sharif has decided to open his mouth:
His latest texts are a renunciation of his earlier work, saying the military jihad or war against apostate states and America is futile. But the ex-jihadist also calls into question the virtue of Mr. bin Laden and Mr. Zawahri. In some ways the manifesto reads in parts like a spicy Washington memoir by an embittered former official.
Of his old associates he writes, “Bin Laden, al-Zawahri, and others fled at the beginning of the American bombing [in Afghanistan], to the point of abandoning their wives and families to be killed along with other innocent people,” according to a translation provided by the Middle East Media Research Institute. It goes on, “I think that a sharia court should be established, composed of reliable scholars, to hold these people accountable for their crimes - even if in absentia - so that those who are ignorant in their religion do not repeat this futility.”
So the worm turns…and al Qaeda in Iraq continues its downward spiral…
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On Monday, an American intelligence official familiar with the interrogation of Mr. Sharif said that in 2004 the Al Qaeda cleric was tortured. “All I am saying is that screw drivers were involved,” this official, who asked to be anonymous, said. When asked if Mr. Sharif was tortured, Mr. Gunaratna responded by saying, “He spent time in an Egyptian prison.”
But Mr. Gunaratna also said he believed Mr. Sharif’s conversion was genuine. “He has had a genuine change of heart because we are seeing a trend today in Egypt where the original members of both of the major jihadist organizations are turning, the senior members of these groups, many have gone back and been remorseful,” he said. “He is not an exception because there is a trend. . . The traditional jihad movement is almost coming to an end. What has it accomplished in more than 25 years?”
Is this a rhetorical question?
Would anyone care to answer it? I could begin by enumerating all the Arabic words I’ve learned. “Allahu Akbar” comes to mind.
And how about those missing towers in New York City and their impact on the past and future US presidential elections?
Or we could consider the Christmas festivities for all the families in London and Madrid who will be observing the “celebration” without their loved ones.
Hat tip: Captain’s Quarters