Jan 26, 2009
Amuse bouche AQ: GWOT Strategic PSYOP
An offering from the main GWOT Strategic PSYOP can be detected from this piece in the new Economist:
Al-Qaeda's failure to fight for Palestine comes up repeatedly in jihadist internet forums. It also forms part of the latest ideological counter-attack against al-Qaeda by Sayyid Imam al-Sharif, one of its founders in 1998 and a leading jihadist ideologue under the pen-name "Dr Fadl". He has since fallen out with its leaders, particularly Ayman al-Zawahiri, who succeeded him as head of Egypt's Islamic Jihad group. Al-Qaeda, he now says, "did not offer Palestine anything except words".
Dr Fadl was arrested in Yemen in 2001 and extradited to Egypt. His first assault on al-Qaeda for its profligate killing of Muslims, at the end of 2007, prompted Mr Zawahiri to write a rebuttal of nearly 200 pages. The rejoinder to that, issued in November, was serialised in an Egyptian newspaper. His latest critique ranges from personal attacks on Mr Zawahiri to accusations that al-Qaeda has distorted Islamic law on jihad and inflicted a series of disasters on Muslims.
Dr Fadl accuses Mr Zawahiri of being an agent of the Sudanese intelligence services who agreed to carry out ten attacks in Egypt in the 1990s in exchange for $100,000. He denounces him as a liar and a coward who incites others to die in jihad while not taking part in the fighting. Egyptian prisons and graveyards were filled with jihadists, but Mr Zawahiri fled abroad, he says.
Al-Qaeda blames America for all the woes of the Muslim world. But Dr Fadl says the problem is Muslims' own failings. He accuses al-Qaeda of declaring entire populations, even in Muslim countries, to be apostates, and of establishing a "criminal doctrine" of wholesale slaughter. This defies traditional injunctions in Islamic law against indiscriminate killing. Even the killing of non-believers in war is restricted, he avers, pointing to the bans on killing women, boys, the demented and hired hands such as labourers and peasants.
The attacks on America in 2001, says Dr Fadl, prompted foreign invasions and the destruction of the "Islamic state" set up by the Taliban. It led to the death of more Muslims than have been killed in all of Israel's wars. "Every drop of blood that was shed or is being shed in Afghanistan and Iraq is the responsibility of bin Laden and Zawahiri and their followers," he writes. Their talk of Palestine is "just for propaganda"; they cannot find allies among Palestinians.
Do the ideological revisions of Dr Fadl, facilitated by the Egyptian security services, matter when the assault in Gaza may have won al-Qaeda new supporters? Some officials argue that the emotional fury will pass; they say Dr Fadl's first attack hurt al-Qaeda even though it followed Israel's equally brutal war in Lebanon in 2006. But pundits such as Bruce Hoffman, of Georgetown University in Washington, think the impact will be marginal. "Dr Fadl discomfits al-Qaeda," he says. "Young hotheads are not going to listen to some geriatric sitting in an Egyptian prison. But al-Qaeda worries he might have an impact on its finances."