A Portrait of the Terrorist as a Young Man

Of all the jihadis we’ve seen in recent years, Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi must rank as one of the most violent. Nicknamed “the slaughtering sheikh” (al-shaykh al-dhabbah) by fellow militants, he is widely held responsible for killing hundreds of Shiites in Iraq and personally beheading the American hostage Nicolas Berg. It would therefore be interesting to know what went on in the mind of this man, who was killed in an American attack in 2006. While several publications have tried to show us the man behind the myth, it would be even better if we could get a glimpse of what al-Zarqawi thought in his pre-Iraq years. Well, the time has come. About a week ago, a jihadi website posted a notebook allegedly used by al-Zarqawi while imprisoned in Jordan in the 1990s. The link on the website (the eleventh title from the top) is called Safahat min Daftar al-Shaykh Abi

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What’s the Minbar doing in Moscow? (Part 3)

In the previous two parts of this short series (here and here), we saw that the Jordanian radical ideologue Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi and his website, Minbar al-Tawhid wa-l-Jihad, have been closely involved in efforts to support the mujahidun in the Caucasus by offering advice, translating books into Russian and encouraging and praising their efforts. We still don’t know why this is the case, however. In this final part of the series, we will try to answer that question. The Shari’a Committee To understand why al-Maqdisi and his website are so interested in the mujahidun in the Caucasus, we need to go back a few years to an interview that al-Maqdisi gave to the Jordanian newspaper Al-‘Arab al-Yawm, which was published on 5 July 2005. As regular Jihadica readers know, al-Maqdisi used his week-long release from prison in that year to criticise his former pupil Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi and to scold

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Al-Qaida and Norway

Why would al-Qaida attack Norway? Here are some thoughts by Dominic Tierney and yours truly. I also have other, somewhat less obvious thoughts on the matter, but I will wait to share them until we know more about the facts in the case.

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International media have been in a frenzy recently over the publication of an English-language jihadi magazine entitled Inspire. The magazine – available here (beware of possible virus) – appears to be the work of the Yemen-based group al-Qaida on the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). The magazine features the logo of the “al-Malahim foundation”, AQAP’s media arm, and contains articles by and about AQAP members such as Anwar al-Awlaqi and Nasir al-Wahayshi. Unfortunately, only 3 of the 67 pages are legible, as the PDF seems to be corrupt. The coverage has been followed by extensive blogospheric speculation about the document’s significance. Rarely have I seen so much fuss over such an insignificant event. The hulabaloo says a lot more about Western media than about al-Qaida. Specifically it reveals a level of ignorance about the world of jihadi propaganda that I find very disappointing nine years after 9/11. For one, Inspire is not –

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