Al-Maqdisi and the Jordanian Jihadi-Salafi Movement

As most readers of Jihadica will know, the famous Jordanian radical scholar Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi was arrested in September 2010 on suspicion of aiding terrorists and was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment in July 2011. Since then, however, we have rarely heard anything from the man often described as the most important radical Islamic scholar alive. As my current research focuses on quietist Salafis and the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan, I regularly read Jordanian newspapers, which not only give us some idea of what is happening with al-Maqdisi, but also report on the Jihadi-Salafi community that he has left behind. Hunger strike For those who know something about al-Maqdisi’s earlier stays in prison, it is clear that these periods have often been some of the most productive ones in his entire life. He once even referred to the period 1994-1999 as the “blessed days”, as they allowed him to write

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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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Jihadi reactions to Obama

We have heard Bin Ladin and Zawahiri’s comments, and Marc Lynch and others will tell us how the Arab mainstream reacted. But what are the grassroot jihadis saying about Obama’s Mideast tour in general and his Cairo speech in particular? Let me begin by lowering your expectations. For a start, we should not expect to see any positive reactions to Obama’s initiative, for anybody thus inclined would not be on the forums in the first place. Second, there is no tradition among jihadi strategists or pundits for parsing presidential speeches. They might pick up on a phrase (like Bush’s reference to a “crusade”) and use it for their own purposes. But generally these guys don’t listen to what America says – they watch what she does. I should also add that Faloja, the main jihadi forum, has been down since this morning (as has Shuraa), so our ability to gage

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Transformations of ‘Usbat al-Ansar

Falluja Forum contributor Abu al-Ghadiyah recently posted an article titled “Transformations of ‘Usbat al-Ansar” that the Lebanese paper al-Akhbar published in March. The article was part of a larger series of reports that journalist Hasan ‘Aliq wrote regarding the political and security climate in Lebanon’s largest Palestinian refugee camp Ain al-Hilweh. He argues that the Islamist position is growing stronger in the camp due to changes in their attitudes towards the Lebanese state. However, Fatah attempts to check the Islamists’ growing influence have resulted in bloodshed and instability. In “Transformations of ‘Usbat al-Ansar,” ‘Aliq claims that since 2003 ‘Usbat al-Ansar, a Palestinian militant organization that espouses takfiri ideology and allegedly sends fighters to Iraq, has recently undergone three major transformations. The first is the surrendering of Badi’ Hamadah, aka Abu ‘Ubaydah, to the Lebanese Army. According to the article, this move negatively impacted the organization’s relations with and support from

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Mixed Feelings About Shoe-Thrower

One might suppose that the mood is celebratory on the Arab Jihadi forums after Zaidi chucked his shoes at President Bush.  However, a lot of posters are unhappy with reports that Zaidi is a communist.  So much for solidarity. Document (Arabic): 12-16-08-faloja-shoe-thrower-is-dismissed-as-communist Document (Arabic): 12-16-08-faloja-another-post-dismissing-shoe-thrower-as-communist

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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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New Booklets on Media, Jihad

Abu al-Harith al-Ansari, a popular Jihadi author, has written an introductory booklet to Jihadism that explains the ideology and motivations of its adherents. Topics covered include: “Why we fight,” “Who we fight,” “How we fight,” and “Who we fight first.” Another interesting booklet that was posted recently is by Abu Ta Ha al-Miqdad, an Ekhlaas member. The booklet is a study of how the media distorts Islam and the Jihadi Movement. There’s an introductory essay on how to spot spin, followed by close readings of articles from the mainstream Arab press. (Follow the links in the .pdfs to get the documents.) Document (Arabic): 7-28-08-ekhlaas-new-book-by-abu-harith-al-ansari-on-principles-of-jihad Document (Arabic): 7-27-08-ekhlaas-how-to-uncover-media-spin

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