New Articles on al-Maqdisi and Bin Nayif

Just a quick note to say that there is a new article on the idelogy of Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi in the latest issue of the British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies. The author is of course Joas Wagemakers, the world’s leading Maqdisi expert and an occasional Jihadica commentator. While I am at it, I should mention that Wagemakers published two other excellent articles on related topics last year, one on al-Maqdisi’s Qur’an interpretation and another on al-wala wa’l-bara in Salafi discourse.

For more relevant academic articles, see the indispensible overview of current contents of periodicals on the Middle East by the GLORIA Center in Herzlia, Israel.

On the current affairs side of things, there are two new articles on the Bin Nayif operation. Greg Johnsen of Waq al-Waq has an excellent piece in the National which gives you the big picture of the operation. Then there is a great analysis by Saud al-Sarhan in the Saudi newspaper al-Watan. Al-Sarhan traces in detail the long history of Saudi al-Qaida’s targeting of government figures, and argues that the main novelty in the Bin Nayif attack was the tactics. The attack does not herald a new wave of violence, he concludes (and I agree). Al-Sarhan, for those of you who don’t know him, is a Saudi intellectual and PhD candidate at Exeter University in the UK. He writes frequently in Arab media and occasionally in the Western press (see e.g. this New York Times piece).

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9 Responses

  1. Really Thomas?? You would cite al-Sarhan to prove this point, that the attack marks nothing new? This is either a lapse of judgment or something else that I cannot put my finger on. Maybe this attack does not fit the narrative of your upcoming book (already at the printer’s) and you don’t want it undermining your thesis. The Saudi royal family is controlling the PR surrounding the event, and al-Sarhan’s piece seems, one would deduce, to be part of that effort. You make no mention of that agenda and even go as far as to establish al-Sarhan’s bona fides as an author published by the New York Times. However even al-Sarhan has very little to go by when arguing that this event marks nothing new, or does a mid-level security officer equal in stature a royal strongman as important as Prince Nayif?
    I am disappointed in you. I was looking forward to your book as an important milestone in our unfiltered knowledge about Saudi Arabia. Now I will keep looking for what seems like a contrived narrative.

  2. Sorry I hurt your feelings Thomas, but when the acknowledged expert on Saudi jihadism side-steps an important event and makes his case by citing an article published in the Saudi (it is all “official”) press, then one is clearly disappointed and secondly one sense a hesitation to give this event its due. Instead of addressing the importance of this issue, at least when it comes to the perception and confidence of the jihadists about the sustainability of their cause, you chose to ignore it, and worse, you bring in Maureen Dowd’s essay on anonymous writers into the discussion, in an attempt to deflect criticism of what can only be called a very uncharacteristic move on your part to fudge an issue. I think I was charitable when I excused it as the wounded pride of a first time author. Would you rather I find other explanations for this illogical behavior of yours?
    I don’t think you are gullible enough to fall for the PR of the Saudi royal house, so what is it? I am angry because I had such high expectations for your scholarship and for your book. What do you think happened? Let me tell you that I bear no ill-will towards you in any personal manner. But I am genuinely disappointed.

  3. It is wrong and ignorant to assume that all Saudis are parrots of the Saudi royal family or that everything that gets printed in the press the royals own is ipso facto false or wrong. Sarhan is an independent scholar who is not on a Saudi government sponsored scholarship in the UK or on any royal’s payroll. As such, he is not beholden to the royals. In fact, I can relate from personal experience how he has been deliberately kept out in the cold by the royals. He is a rare and important voice from the Kingdom with vast knowledge of Islam, Islamism and Saudi history and much besides. You would be short-changing yourself by dismissing what he has to say. Furthermore, I don’t see how claiming that AQP has been crushed by the Saudi authorities, despite the recent suicide attack, in any way tarnishes Hegghammer’s fine scholarship. This is a view that I and many others hold, including in the various western intelligence communities. The Bin Nayif attack was directed from Yemen, which is proof that AQP has very limited room to operate in the Kingdom, if any at all.

  4. After the Kuwait war , the Kuwait’s authority expel tens of thousands of Palstinians families to Jordan (the majority of the Palstinian refugees had Jordanian citizenship) , one of those is Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi and his family , he create with Al-Zarqawi a band of gang of five .. they came out with a plan to bomb a movie theater which play porn (SALWA) in the city of (Zarqa -Jordan) , the guy whom suppose to execute the operation like the move and forget himself , so he is the only one injured , and he bring his bodies to jail with him .. in a visit he told me this (When he recover at the hospital and saw every thing around him white he really thought he is in Paradise) .. long story short these jobless , bone head , long beard characters are every where in the Arab world , some of them get (deep government business) contracts , sometimes as big as (Zarqawi) and as a result (al-Maqdisi) get a touch of fame beyond his imagination

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