Scheuer and the Salafi Stew

In a new Jamestown article, Michael Scheuer has refined some of the arguments he made in May in response to the al-Qaeda-is-almost-defeated meme that has been going around since April. He and I had a brief exchange about it here (look in the comments), so I won’t reprise all of it.  But I do want to offer a counterpoint to his remarks on Saudi Arabia and Salafis. In his new article, Scheuer asserts that the Western press has bought the idea that al-Qaeda is near defeat. Journalists, he says, have bought it because some Islamist ideologues who previously supported al-Qaeda have criticized the organization.  (Scheuer calls these criticisms “recantations,” but only a few of the people he mentions have recanted.) These criticisms, Scheuer says, “are part of a bigger project conducted by several Arab states–led by Saudi Arabia–to make the United States and its allies believe Islamism’s strength is ebbing.”

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Oman, the Land of No Jihad

Ekhlaas member al-Suhayl observes that JIhadis criticize Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and other Arab countries for collaborating with the United States, but they say nothing about Oman. Moreover, Oman has not been the object of Jihadi violence. This despite the fact that Oman allows the U.S. to use its military bases, has an office for Omani-Israeli relations, has a constitution that violates Sharia law, and has reformed its curriculum to conform with “Bushi-Blairi” Islam. Abu al-Usud al-Saffak (The Blood-shedding Father of Lions) responds that Jihadis come from every country of the world except Oman. He’s at a loss to explain it. Suhayl concurs, remarking: “One of the mujahids said: ‘There are two countries from which mujahids do not originate: Oman and Bahrain.’” `Adhab al-Qabr (Torment of the Tomb) believes that the reason for Oman’s lack of Jihadi production is the Ibadi ideology that dominates religious matters. (This would be ironic

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Sunni Youth of Tripoli: Keep Your Powder Dry

The motives of the Sunni Muslim youth fighting in the Bab al-Tabbana neighborhood of Tripoli, Lebanon continues to animate discussion on Ekhlaas. One poster, Hafidat Usama (Granddaughter of Usama), claims to live in Bab al-Tabbana and to have witnessed the fighting. Hafidat asserts that the youth only armed themselves after seeing that the Lebanese army was not able to enter the neighborhood. Although the youth could not match the heavy weaponry of their `Alawi opponents, they manged to fight them to a standstill. Hafidat is annoyed with Umm al-Faruq, another female Ekhlaas member, who accused the Tabbana youth a few days ago of fighting for Saad al-Hariri’s Future Movement and of not being properly pious in their appearance or behavior. Hafidat shoots back that the youth were only fighting to protect their religious community and not for political reasons. Another member, Abu Hajir al-Kinani, counsels caution, explaining that Jihadis living

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Proof that Sincere Sunnis Are Fighting in Tripoli, Lebanon

Ekhlaas member Abu al-Bara’ al-Shami uploaded this video as proof that sincere Muslim youth are fighting solely to protect their religion and coreligionists in Tripoli.  I don’t think it proves his point at all.  In fact, the video suggests something else: the young men are relishing a chance to play superhero.  That doesn’t mean they aren’t sincere, but it’s hard to believe that there’s not a little bit of this going on.  You be the judge: Video: rpg-attack-in-bab-al-tabbana-tripoli

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New Issues of Three Jihadi Journals

Issue 4 of Sada al-Malahim (The Echo of Glorious Battles), the main organ of al-Qaeda in Yemen, is out. One article caught my eye: “Somalia…The Forgotten Land.” Issue 27 of Sada al-Jihad (The Echo of Jihad) is also out. SJ is produced by the Global Islamic Media Front. A few articles look interesting: “Al-Qaeda Is a Stone’s Throw From Palestine,” “Apostates Are More Dangerous Than the Enemy,” and “Interrogation (Methods and Phases).” Finally, the Ansar Media Institute published issue 50 of Hassad* al-Mujahidin (Harvester of the Mujahids). The periodical focuses mainly on Iraq and most of this issue is about various attacks and prison breaks. There is one article worth noting: “The Camera: A Weapon Without Bullets.” * Note: Hisad (“harvest”) seems to make more sense than Hassad (“harvester”) for the title, but that’s how the .pdf file is vocalized, so I’m going with it. Document (Arabic): 7-13-08-ekhlaas-issue-4-of-sada-al-malahim Document (Arabic):

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Trouble in Tripoli

Lebanon that is. Over the past few days, there has been fighting between the Jabal Muhsin and Bab al-Tabbana neighborhoods that has killed a handful of people and injured dozens. The former is predominantly Alawi and the latter is Sunni. The clash has prompted confused speculation on Ekhlaas. No one is sure who is fighting or who to root for. Abu_3ubayda puts it best when he says, “The resistance now is spontaneous and unorganized. What has happened so far is improvised.” One point of contention is the extent of Salafi involvement. Some members say that most of the Sunnis fighting are Salafis, while others deny it. Bab al-Tabbana is said to be a stronghold of Salafism in Tripoli, where the puritanical Sunni movement has become powerful, if fractured, in recent years. Still, not every Sunni taking up arms in the neighborhood identifies as a Salafi. Document (Arabic): 7-10-08-ekhlaas-truth-of-battle-between-sunnis-and-alawis-in-northern-lebanon

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Must-Read Blog on IRGC

Given all of the hullabaloo surrounding Iran’s weapons testing, it’s a good time to announce a new blog on the IRGC and Iranian politics by a close friend of mine, who shall remain nameless for the time being.  The blogger is one of America’s few, true experts on the IRGC and his site is an extremely welcome addition to the blogesphere. I’ll be offline for a few days, but should be back in business early next week.

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Walking the Talk: Forum Members Travel to Afghanistan and Iraq (Pt. 4)

When we left Harbi, he had met a Algerian Jihadi who told him how to get to Iraq. According to Furqan al-Junubi’s account, Harbi and two other Kuwaitis–Abu Salih (`Abd Allah Salih al-`Ajami), and Abu Talha (Nasir) al-Dawsari–pledged to go to Iraq and die there. They called this “The Pledge of the Houris” (the virgins promised to those allowed to enter Paradise–martyrs are a shoe in). Al-Miskin al-Muhajir was with them, but he could not go due to personal circumstances (he was able to go to Afghanistan latter–see part 1). I haven’t been able to find much on Dawsari, but there’s plenty on `Ajami. He was actually being held in Guantanamo until the U.S. transferred him to Kuwaiti custody in 2005; the Kuwaits acquitted him of all charges. By the time `Ajami met Harbi, he was married, had one child, and was financially comfortable. Those who knew him thought he

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In Defense of Sahab

Today, an apologia for Sahab Media, which distributes al-Qaeda’s media materials, was posted to the English forums on Ekhlaas. The text is directed not at the U.S. public in general, but at conspiracy theorists who argue that 9/11 was perpetrated by the U.S. government. The text was written by inshallahshaheed, aka Samir Khan, a Jihadi sympathizer who runs a well-known, English-language blog from his home in North Carolina.  Khan has posted the text there as well. Document (English): refuting-the-conspiracies-surrounding-as-sahab-media

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