Al-Qaida Advises the Arab Spring: Egypt

The number of jihadi publications on the Arab Spring is increasing dramatically as the months go by and my time has – as always – been very limited, hence my recent absence from Jihadica. I have several posts about al-Qaida’s advice to the Arab Spring lined up, however, including this one about Egypt. Scepticism When one thinks of Egypt and jihadis, the first person that comes to mind is probably Ayman al-Zawahiri. Al-Qaida’s leader has issued many a “letter of hope and good tidings to our people in Egypt” since the beginning of the Arab Spring and although that title may sound as if these epistles contain Christmas greetings to the country’s Coptic community, they offer nothing of the sort. In part three of his series of letters to the Egyptian people, al-Zawahiri spends most of his time warning his countrymen about the supposedly evil intentions of the United States

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Countering Violent Extremism, Pt. 3 (Final): Programs & Measuring Effectiveness

As I’ve said in the two previous installments, how you define and scope CVE will affect program design and implementation. The most important questions to ask are: Which population along the spectrum is the focus of the program? Who is best suited to implement the program? What laws and human rights principles come into play? How do you know if you’re succeeding? For each point along the spectrum, there is a variety of programs that might work. Here’s just a sample: Disseminating derogatory information about a terrorist group and its actions Interventions by law enforcement or respected community leaders Counseling and mentoring Change Yourself: adventure programs, leadership development Change the World: non-violent political activism, volunteerism Some will work better for one part of the spectrum than another. Some might work across the board. The exact nature of the program is not nearly as important as finding a satisfactory answer to this question:

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A Tangled Net Assessment of al-Qaeda

Yesterday, Mary Habeck posted a net assessment of al-Qaeda’s fortunes. After I said something uncharitable about it on Twitter, Mary was understandably annoyed. In the spirit of fairness, I will give her argument a full airing here and respond. Mary first states the facts that she believes most AQ experts agree on: “al Qaeda is primarily the small “core” located somewhere in Afghanistan-Pakistan” “the affiliates have an ambiguous relationship with this core and are generally focused on local concerns” “the objective of the core is to attack the U.S. and its allies” “because of our excellent counter-terrorism (CT) efforts, we have thwarted all such attempts on the U.S. since 9-11” Like Mary, I do not subscribe to 1, 2 and 3 and I know many other AQ experts, inside and outside government, who don’t as well. Al-Qaeda is the small group in Af-Pak and its affiliates who have pledged an

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Joas’ Oeuvre

Those of us who parse Islamist and Jihadi-Salafi texts “like Talmudic scholars poring over a manuscript” are familiar with Joas’ meticulous work on Maqdisi and others of his ilk. But since I’ve never seen Joas invited to give a single talk in this part of the world, I have the feeling that his work has not gotten the full airing it deserves outside the academy. So over Joas’ protests (sorry brah!), here’s a quick rundown of what he’s been up to since 2009: “Legitimizing Pragmatism: Hamas’ Framing Efforts from Militancy to Moderation and Back?” Terrorism and Political Violence, 22, no. 3 (2010): 358-378 (article on Hamas’ efforts to legitimize its changing policies vis-à-vis Israel over the years while staying true to their original rhetoric) “Protecting Jihad: The Sharia Council of the Minbar al-Tawhid wa-l-Jihad,” Middle East Policy, 18, no. 2 (2011): 148-162 (explains the rise of the now well-known Shari’a Council of

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