Sayyid Imam has some surprising things to say about Sayyid Qutb and some interesting speculation on Zawahiri’s tenuous position in al-Qaeda. He also observes that Libyan and Mauritanian students serve as Zawahiri’s primary research assistants. I don’t know about their nationalities, but there’s no doubt Zawahiri has research assistants (as do many productive academics). Moreover, Zawahiri talks about Mauritanian seminarians coming to visit him and Bin Laden in his Exoneration, so it makes sense that some stayed on to help him write.
Zawahiri says in Knights that he joined al-Qaeda to unite the efforts of the Muslims. That’s not true. Zawahiri knew Bin Laden for 14 years, from 1987 to 2001, and never joined with him. Rather, he criticized Bin Ladin harshly as a Saudi intelligence agent for merely reducing donations to his (Zawahiri’s) group in 1995. To this end, Zawahiri wrote an article critical of Bin Laden called “The Youth Are Generous with Their Lives and The Rich Are Stingy with Their Money” (جاد الشباب بأرواحهم وضنّ الأغنياء بأموالهم), in the Kalimat Haqq journal.
Egyptian Islamic Jihad did not join Al Qaeda; only Zawahiri and eight others joined. It wasn’t to unite jihad; it was because Zawahiri saw his fame and fortune linked to Bin Laden. Bin Laden knew Zawahiri had nothing to offer him except his name. He kept Zawahiri out of the dark regarding 9/11 and didn’t allow him or anyone else to make media appearances.
Zawahiri used to visit the al-Qaeda media committee under Khalid Shaykh Muhammad in Kandahar to learn about its activities [ie he was out of the loop].
9/11 was a big break for Zawahiri because it gave him the opportunity to play a role in the media because the leaders of al-Qaeda were either hiding, killed, or captured.
Here are some of the things Zawahiri did to capitalize on 9/11:
- He glorified the 9/11 attacks and berated those who criticized them as American agents.
- He justified the 9/11 attacks.
- He didn’t take responsibility for the negative effects of 9/11, the immediate aftermath of which ruined al-Qaeda, the Taliban, Afghanistan.
Even though they tried to obscure their crimes, current and future generations will never forget that Bin Laden, Zawahiri, and their followers bear sole responsibility for losing an Islamic state, which had been established by the Taliban.
Zawahiri has canonized Bin Laden to such an extent that he denies his errors, as if Bin Laden is infallible. It’s odd that Zawahiri has criticized the Muslim Brotherhood his entire life yet became a follower of one of them (Bin Laden). Zawahiri justifies all of Bin Laden’s crimes like Goebbels did for Hitler.
Here are the reasons why Zawahiri has canonized bin Laden after criticizing him and accusing him of collaboration:
- Reason one: Bin Laden provided the greatest opportunity for Zawahiri to get the fame he’s craved for 30 years, an opportunity realized after 9/11.
- Reason two: Zawahiri knows that al-Qaeda is Bin Laden and no one else. 99% of its membership is Saudi and Yemeni and is tied to Bin Laden personally. Zawahiri has canonized him in order to get the allegiance of his followers if Bin Laden dies. It’s doubtful that Bin Laden’s followers will follow Zawahiri, but he tries nonetheless.
- Reason three: 99% of al-Qaeda’s financing comes from Saudi Arabia to Bin Laden personally. Zawahiri has to canonize him to continue to get their support if bin Laden dies. “Zawahiri is preparing for the moment of the announcement of Bin Laden’s death so that he can inherit his organizational legacy.”
- Finally: Zawahiri has to talk about all the issues of the umma to be perceived as its leader, especially the Palestinian issue.
Zawahiri does not care about the destruction he has justified. In his life, only three things matter to him: preserving his personal well-being, media attention in any form, and gathering money. “In short: fleeing, microphones, and donation boxes.”
Bin Laden and Zawahiri care nothing for the people of Afghanistan. During the four years Bin Laden was in Sudan, he spent millions of dollars on the Sudanese and paved hundreds of kilometers of road. He was in Afghanistan for five years before 9/11 and gave an oath of allegiance to Mullah Omar, yet he did not pave a single road, build a single school, or construct a single hospital. Hundreds of Afghan kids were dying at that time yet he did nothing and things only got worse after 9/11.
Al-Qaeda entered Iraq after its occupation in 2003 by standing on the shoulders of Ansar al-Islam, a Kurdish group. Then al-Qaeda renounced Ansar al-Islam and operated in Iraq independently. (The amir of this group, Mullah Krekar, told me in 1990 that he had translated my book, al-`Umda, into Kurdish.)
Al-Qaeda in Iraq was accused of being made up of foreigners. To establish that it was an Iraqi resistance, al-Qaeda sent one of their senior leaders, `Abd al-Hadi al-`Iraqi, from Waziristan to Iraq, but the U.S. captured him along the way.
I want to remind readers that Zawahiri was influenced by the words of Sayyid Qutb. Although both men have severe jurisprudential shortcomings, there’s a big difference in their level of sincerity. If Qutb had lived, I think he would have realized his jurisprudential mistakes. But whereas Qutb had studied his whole life, Zawahiri stopped his intellectual development after reading Qutb. I tried for years to push him to study the Sharia but to no avail. He doesn’t have the patience for it.
When I was part of Egyptian Islamic Jihad, Zawahiri put his name on some of my works to cover up his Sharia shortcomings. When I broke my ties with them, they continued to steal from my book. Later, Zawahiri came to rely on the seminary students around him from Libya and Mauritania, especially for writing the Exoneration. They merely hunted for statements that justified their actions without distinction between sound and weak statements.
I’ve written these words, as I did in the Document, to warn Muslims, especially the younger youth, about these reckless, opportunistic people and their like. Do not be fooled by slogans or by the justice of a specific cause until you know the reality of the person’s life who raises these slogans. Is he honest or is he hunting for ignorant quarry and trading upon them?
Document (Arabic): 12-1-08-al-masry-al-youm-denudation-part-12