The Impact Of The Denudation

When Sayyid Imam’s first book was released serially last year, CT pundits were split.  Some, like Lawrence Wright and Peter Bergen, said it was evidence of a serious fissure in the Jihadi Movement and would further divide it.  Others, like Michael Scheuer, said it was neither evidence of a fissure nor would it divide the movement because Sayyid Imam was being coerced, which instantly discredits his book.   From the beginning, I took issue with both sides.  I didn’t like the war-within position because I don’t believe that most Jihadis will change their minds upon reading Sayyid Imam; they’d require a lot more than that (family intervention, etc).  But I also didn’t like the nothing-to-see-here position because it too easily adopted a Jihadi talking point and because it, like the war-within position, did not see that the most important audience for Sayyid Imam’s book was the pious, educated Arab public,

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The Denudation Of The Exoneration: Part 12

  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. Continuing… 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

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