The jihadi forum debates over Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi’s alleged turn to moderation have not ended since our last report. On the contrary, the forum Midad al-Suyuf (MS) has escalated its campaign against al-Maqdisi and his supporters. The latest of these defenders is the London-based Saudi Islamist Muhammad al-Mas’ari. At the current time of writing, as many as eight of the twelve headline stories on MS are devoted to al-Maqdisi. Interestingly, other forums carry very little of this material, presumably because administrators want to play down the debate. In fact, a message on the Faloja forum this week urged readers to not even mention Midad al-Suyuf at all. (By the way, Faloja has been down since yesterday afternoon).
The controversy is now playing out on prime time television. Al-Arabiya is devoting this evening’s program Sana’at al-Mawt, its weekly documentary series on jihadism, to al-Maqdisi and his critics.
News about the upcoming program has al-Maqdisi himself furious. He came out live on Paltalk last night and gave a six-minute speech denouncing the forthcoming program and rejecting the existence of a split between him and followers of Zarqawi. Speaking from Zarqa, where he is in house arrest, al-Maqdisi insisted he has not changed his views. He also criticised those who agreed to be interviewed for the program, saying it is forbidden to speak to journalists working to undermine the mujahidin. This is not the first time al-Maqdisi speaks on Paltalk – last time was on 4 December as far as I know – but he does not usually issue audio statements, so this is a fairly desperate preemptive act of damage control on his part.
A side note for the islamologically inclined: Maqdisi provided a partial answer to Greg’s query over at Waq al-Waq yesterday about the origin of the term al-ruwaybidha. Al-Maqdisi used it to denounce the producers of Sana’at al-Mawt, and he cited the hadith which is likely the origin of the term:
“[there will be a time when] People will believe a liar, and disbelieve one who tells the truth. People will distrust one who is trustworthy, and trust one who is treacherous; and the ruwaybidha will have a say.” Someone asked: “Who are they?” He said: “Those who rebel against Allah and will have a say in general affairs.”
A quick internet search produced the following alternative translations for the final phrase: “The Insignificant/silly/ignorant person speaking in general affairs” or “The moron speaking on matters of the general public.”
I didn’t know they had bloggers at the time of the Prophet.