The Non-Strategic “Special Strategic Study”

The “Falluja Think Tank” recently published the “Special Strategic Study of the Global Battle and the Jihadi Movement’s Place in It.” Like Thomas, I had high expectations, but was disappointed in the end because the study amounted to little more than general summaries of U.S. and jihadi history. However, the author did state that divine providence allowed 9/11 to happen, which caused the U.S. to abandon its principles of democracy and human rights. The author started by establishing that the battle between the United States and the jihadis is religious in nature rather than geopolitical or for acquiring resources. He commented that today’s “crusaders” are not only supported by their governments, but also by the “dogmatists” like the Knights Templar and the Knights of Malta, who, he claimed, “resemble the mujahedeen because they fight for faith.” He went on to chart America’s “path” to global dominance and then gave a

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Jihadi Explains Iranian Realpolitik

Abu `Abd al-Rahman `Atiyyat Allah (possibly this person) has written a new booklet titled Ru’ya kashifa in which he tries to convince his Jihadi brethren that Iran and Hezbollah are not working with the U.S. and Israel as part of a grand conspiracy to subjugate Sunnis. Rather, he argues, Iran and its cat’s paw Hezbollah are seeking hegemony in the region. Achieving it means supporting popular Muslim causes and making temporary alliances with ideological enemies or competitors. Below is a summary: It is hard to analyze Shia states and groups because of their doctrine of dissimulation (taqiyya), or concealing one’s true beliefs. p.4 Dissimulation is permitted in Sunni Islam if you are in danger. But the Shia make a habit of it. p.5 Outwardly Iran and Shia groups stress Sunni-Shia unity; embrace causes that are important to Muslims, particularly the Palestinian issue; and put Iran forward as the only authentic

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Prophetic Precedents for Various Types of Warfare

This one is for all those who believe that Jihadis act strictly according to the Qur’an and the Sunna.  It’s a detailed study by Abu al-Harith al-Ansari of the various types of warfare and the prophetic precedents for each.  There are 41 kinds in all, including “media warfare,” “economic warfare,” “secret warfare,” “war of attrition,” and so forth.  If you’ve ever needed to make the argument that Islamic scripture determines Jihadi behavior, this 278-page book is for you. Of course, you’d still have a hard time explaining why a branch of al-Qaeda in Iraq recently broke with the organization and renounced suicide attacks. abu-al-harith-al-ansari-irshad-al-saul-ila-hurub-al-rasul إرشاد السؤول إلى حروب الرسول

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Al-Qaeda’s Ethics in War

An English-speaking woman, Umm Saad, has been translating some documents for the members of Ekhlaas. One of them is a story recounted by `Abd al-Rahman al-Faqir, a popular member of al-Hesbah. Faqir argues that what sets al-Qaeda apart from other insurgents is its obedience to Islamic law, even during warfare. To prove his point, he tells the story of an al-Qaeda commander (perhaps in Iraq) who schools a new recruit on the operational restrictions that Jihadis have to abide by. Of course, this doesn’t often happen on the ground, which is while al-Qaeda has been taking a public relations beating lately and why Faqir relates his story. Document (English): 6-11-2008-ekhlaas-abd-al-rahman-al-faqir-ethics-of-war-followed-by-al-qaeda

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Qur’an Verse 9:29

The moderators at the Middle East Strategy at Harvard blog kindly allowed me to post some comments on Raymond Ibrahim’s article.  Since they have now closed the thread, I’ll finish my thoughts here.  Ibrahim has been arguing that the Qur’an contains very clear doctrines on warfare.  I disagree; this is where the Qur’an is most confusing, which is why later scholars had to come up with the doctrine of abrogation to explain away the contradictions.  Ibrahim retorted by citing verse 9:29, which is traditionally taken to be a justification for fighting Jews and Christians until they submit and pay a tax. I responded to Ibrahim by saying that verse 9:29 does not support his position well since it is notoriously ambiguous.  He shot back that “(t)here is nothing ambiguous about 9:29—at least not to native Arabic speakers.”   For those of you that don’t know Arabic and might be inclined to

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Islamic Warfighting Doctrine and Jihadi Behavior

There is a well-worn rut of thinking which holds that Islamic doctrines of warfare determine Jihadis’ violent behavior. The doctrine functions like software on a computer: if you can identify the doctrines/software, you can predict behavior. Raymond Ibrahim has posted a version of this argument at the MESH blog. Ibrahim is right to say that Jihadis of the Salafi stripe take the medieval Islamic teachings on warfare seriously (sometimes to their detriment, as Brynjar Lia has argued in a recent article).  But he is wrong to argue that studying these doctrines helps us understand, much less anticipate, the actions of Jihadis. I say this for five reasons: 1. The classical tradition Jihadis draw on is very contradictory. (I see that Bernard Haykel has already made this point in a comment on Ibrahim’s post.)  Which of the contradictory rulings is operative? 2. Cost-benefit analysis is an integral part of medieval Islamic

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