March 10, 2009

Al-Qaeda founder attacks Osama bin Laden

POLITICS - Sayyid Imam al-Sharif (aka Dr Fadl) helped bin Laden create al-Qaeda and then led an Islamic insurgency in Egypt during the 1990s, but in a new book written inside an Egyptian prison al-Sharif has started attacking al-Qaeda's ideology, Osama bin Laden and bin Laden's Egyptian deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri.

Twenty years ago, Dr Fadl was al-Qaeda's intellectual figurehead with a crucial book setting out the rationale for global jihad against the United States.

But Dr Fadl now believes the murder of innocent people is both contrary to Islam and a strategic error. "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," writes Dr Fadl.

The terrorist attacks on September 11th were both immoral and counterproductive, he writes. "Ramming America has become the shortest road to fame and leadership among the Arabs and Muslims. But what good is it if you destroy one of your enemy's buildings, and he destroys one of your countries? What good is it if you kill one of his people, and he kills a thousand of yours?" asks Dr Fadl. "That, in short, is my evaluation of 9/11."

Dr Fadl also talks about Muslims who move to the West to create terrorist sleeper cells. "If they gave you permission to enter their homes and live with them, and if they gave you security for yourself and your money, and if they gave you the opportunity to work or study, or they granted you political asylum," writes Dr Fadl, then it is "not honourable" to "betray them, through killing and destruction".

Dr Fadl focused his comments on Ayman al-Zawahiri, a key figure in al-Qaeda's core leadership and a fellow Egyptian whom he has known for 40 years. Zawahiri is a "liar", writes Dr Fadl, who was paid by Sudan's intelligence service to organize terrorist attacks in Egypt in the 1990s, he writes.

Dr Fadl's cell in Tora prison in southern Cairo is guarded by sentries wielding AK-47 Kalashnikov assault rifles. Torture inside Egyptian jails is "widespread and systematic", according to Amnesty International, but Dr Fadl denies he was tortured or forced to make these statements in his new 200-page book.

Quite the contrary. He just had plenty of time to think about his actions, to read the Quran and rethink how the Muslim world would best be served. You don't write 200 pages on a topic unless you really honestly believe in it.

Dr Fadl was a central figure from the very outset of bin Laden's campaign against the United States. He was part of the tight circle which founded al-Qaeda in 1988 in the closing stages of the war against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. By then, Dr Fadl was already the leader of Egyptian Islamic Jihad, an extremist movement which fought the Cairo regime until its defeat in the 1990s.

Dr Fadl fled to Yemen, where he was arrested after September 11th and transferred to Egypt, where he is serving a life sentence.

Historically, terrorist movements have a tendency to alienate their popular support by waging campaigns of indiscriminate murder. This process of disintegration often begins with a senior leader publicly denouncing his old colleagues. Dr Fadl's missives may show that al-Qaeda has entered a stage of decline.

See Also:
Afghan men sentenced for 'blasphemous' Quran
North Korea no longer terrorists says USA
North Korea
Canada's troops in Afghanistan high on drugs

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