ji·had·ica

Abu al-Yazid Mending Fences with Hamas

It’s late, I know, but I couldn’t let Mustafa Abu al-Yazid’s interview with al-Jazeera go uncommented. I found it absolutely fascinating. My hat is off to Ahmad Zaydan for finding Mustafa and asking him excellent questions. International media focused on the A-bomb remark, but this was neither a very significant or surprising part of the interview (here I agree with Dan Drezner). It was just a quick unrehearsed side comment in an answer to a question about the security of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons. The most significant part of the interview was Abu al-Yazid’s endorsement of Hamas. “We support the sincere mujahidin in Palestine, even the mujahidin of Hamas. We support them and help them; they are our brothers; we and they have the same ideology and the same method,” Abu al-Yazid said. This is quite a different message from that of Ayman al-Zawahiri and Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, who have been

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The Gadahn Factor

Adam Gadahn aka Azzam al-Amriki has appeared in a new videotape focusing on Palestine. This is the latest in a massive 6-month media offensive by al-Qaida central to lay claim to the Palestinian cause and to discredit US president Obama. It is not clear when the 35-minute tape was made; it mentions Obama’s April speech to the Turkish parliament, but not his recent Middle East tour. The 35-minute tape was probably recorded some time in April, for it is dated Rabi al-Akhir, which ended on 25 April, and there are no references in the speech to events after that. Gadahn looks as serious as ever; his beard has grown and his spoken classical Arabic has improved (although he is clearly reading from a teleprompter). It is worth noting that he is speaking on a general topic (Palestine) as opposed to a US-specific one, and that he is introduced as Adam

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Bin Ladin in Trouble?

This morning al-Jazeera aired segments of a Bin Ladin audiotape which most international media are reading in the context of Obama’s Middle East tour, which started today. This is despite the fact that the statement seems to say nothing at all about the President’s tour, but talks instead about the Swat campaign in Pakistan. Bin Ladin argues the hostilities in Swat have caused immense civilian suffering for which the United States is ultimately responsible. The message is essentially that Swat shows that Obama is no better than Bush. For once, however, the most interesting aspect about the statement is not what it says, but how it surfaced. While most statements by AQ Central in recent years have been posted directly on the Internet, this one was distributed “the old way”, in a physical copy delivered by courier to al-Jazeera. As of 2pm EST, the statement has not yet appeared on

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Back

I have been busy the past two weeks, but the jihadis have been busier. Bin Ladin has issued two audio statements, one proposing practical steps to liberate Palestine and the other about the treacherous government in Somalia. Al-Zawahiri warned against the forthcoming Crusader attack on Sudan, while Mustafa Abu al-Yazid has addressed the people of Pakistan. Abu Umar al-Baghdadi has spoken about the US plan to withdraw from Iraq, but he does not seem to get the same attention from the online community as his colleagues in Afghanistan. Abu Qatada has issued a statement from prison about the decision to extradite him to Jordan. Fatah al-Islam sharia officer Abu Abdallah al-Maqdisi has been taking questions since Monday, but nobody is allowed to ask about Shakir al-Absi or Asad al-Jihad2 (hmm). On the magazine front, Sumud 33  has been out for a little while. Fortunately Sada al-Malahim 8 came out on

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Bin Laden And Zawahiri Not Sharing Talking Points

It’s interesting to compare Bin Laden’s new statement on Gaza with Zawahiri’s of last week.  Of course the overarching message–jihad now!–is the same.  But unlike Zawahiri, Bin Laden doesn’t mock Obama, he doesn’t echo Zawahiri’s call for demonstrations in Egypt (Bin Laden says demonstrations are useless), and he takes a slightly more conciliatory view of democracy (electing a president, yes; man-made legislation, no).  Bin Laden is also more explicit about how to raise money to finance the jihad (hit up rich businessmen). Bin Laden does echo Zawahiri in one important respect.  Zawahiri said that the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq is one of the “good omens” (basha’ir) of AQ coming to fight in the Palestinian Territories.  Bin Laden ends his message by saying that in this year there will be “omens” (tabashir, from the same Arabic root as basha’ir) of the receding of the Zionist-Crusader campaign.  Make of it what you

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Q&A On Gaza

Asad al-Jihad2, who some claim is senior AQ member Hukayma, is taking questions on Gaza.  The Q&A session, modeled on that of Zawahiri, is open for four days of questions; AJ2 will give his answers soon after.  Individuals are allowed to ask five question and news orgs can ask ten. One has to be careful not to read too much into these questions since some were probably posted by intel orgs.  But the concerns raised jive with everything else I’ve seen on the forums: what’s our stance on Hamas, who are the authentic Jihadi groups and why aren’t they doing more, and what do we do about Egypt and the Gulf countries? I don’t have time to summarize them all, but one question directed to Asad al-Jihad2 struck me: “What is your view regarding the recent disclosure that Gaza is being annexed to Egypt and the West Bank is being

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New Zawahiri Statement: Obama Is Killing Muslims In Gaza

An audio statement by Zawahiri was just posted to the forums.  Here’s a summary: Bin Laden swore he would keep fighting until Palestine and Muslim lands are free of foreign occupiers. The Israeli attacks are Obama’s “gift” to the Palestinians before he takes office.  President Mubarak of Egypt is an accomplice in this slaughter since he has closed Egypt’s border with Gaza. To the Muslims and mujahids in Gaza and Palestine: Al-Qaeda is with you.  We are attacking the American-Zionist Crusade wherever we can and we are quickly moving toward you.  The American withdrawal from Iraq heralds our approach toward you. To the Muslims in Egypt: Strike and protest to force Mubarak to end the blockade. To the Bedouins in Sinai: Help break the blockade. To the Muslims of the world: American propaganda portrayed Obama as your savior but here he is “killing” Muslims in Gaza.  Demonstrating against these atrocities

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More On Sayyid Imam’s Effectiveness

Monika Maslikowski has a smart take on Sayyid Imam’s communication strategy vs. that of Zawahiri (it’s part of a larger assessment of the latter’s stumbles as a communicator this year).  She seconds my argument that Imam’s personal attacks on Zawahiri are effective because “Zawahiri’s success as a leader is dependent on whether or not he can gain trust and support.” On the same subject, the Shack has an essay by an Egyptian lamenting Imam’s personal attacks.  For a different perspective by another Egyptian, I’d point you to Caliph’s remarks in the comments section of a previous post.  Without revealing too much, Caliph has closely followed Egyptian media and Islamism for years.  I’d rate his comments pretty high on their own merit, but one’s background seems to matter in these sorts of debates.

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Response To Rob At The Shack

We’re probably now at the point of diminishing returns, but the issue of Jihadi revisions is important enough to work through the particulars until it’s clear what’s fact, what’s unproven, and what’s merely a matter of taste.  It’s important not just for assessing the impact of Sayyid Imam’s work but for understanding how ideological challenges to Jihadism fail or succeed.  My response to Rob is below the fold:

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Assessing The Impact Of Jihadi Revisionists

Rob at Media Shack has posted a summary of a discussion on al-`Arabiyya’s “Death Industry.”  Of interest to him (and me) is Montasir Zayat’s assessment of Sayyid Imam’s latest book (Zayat only read the first one and a half chapters).  Here’s Rob’s take: In Zayat’s view, what’s being printed now in Al-Masri Al-Youm is a disgrace and jeopardizes the reputation of the entire Revisions process.   No Jihadists or even Muslims anywhere will treat them seriously. Rob agrees with this sentiment (as does Nathan Field).  But that’s not exactly what Zayat says.  Zayat does say the book is a disgrace, but he’s also pessimistic that anything can move Jihadis, no matter how refined.  Here he is in the same interview responding to the host’s question of which man, Imam or Zawahiri, has more popularity: Dr. Sayyid Imam has an abundance of Sharia knowledge and he certainly had these beliefs before he

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