Abu Qatada, often called “al-Qaeda’s ambassador to Europe” by the press, has been interviewed by his fellow inmate, `Adil `Abd al-Majid. A transcript of the lengthy, wide-ranging interview has been posted on the Shumukh forum. Second only to Maqdisi as an ideologue among Jihadis, Abu Qatada has been in and out of detention in the U.K. since 9/11 (he’s in again). This interview gives us a snapshot of where he stands intellectually after seven years. Particularly of note are his remarks on the Muslim Brotherhood, Alan Johnston (the BBC reporter held hostage in Gaza), and dialogue with the British government. Here’s a summary of some of the interesting bits (direct translations are in quotes):
- Opinion on Saudi Shaykhs – Bin Baz: No one alive today is his equal, but he made the mistake of obeying the Saudi regime, which brought great harm to the umma. Safar al-Hawali: He’s good, but couldn’t reach the summit of Islam [jihad]. He stopped or back peddled before he reached the top. The same goes for Salman al-`Awda. Both men talk the talk, but don’t go the next step.
- Muslim Brothers – There is some good in them. But over time, they became more concerned with protecting their organizational gains. You can see their opportunism in the past. Sayyaf `Abd al-Rasul, a Muslim Brother in Afghanistan, worked with the U.S. against the Taliban. The Muslim Brotherhood operates as the Islamic Party in Iraq and works with the Americans. Officials in the Iraqi government have been Muslim Brothers, such as Tariq al-Hashimi (a vice president). I love the MB when it is oppressed because it focuses on education and jihad. But when it is allowed greater freedom, it loses motivation and becomes a pragmatic political party. Hamas is a good case in point. Look at its recent decision not to declare itself an Islamic emirate like the Taliban.
- Revisionists – The revisionists are criminals. “It’s wrong to think that we will behave like seminary students, changing our minds because they want us to.”
- Women – “Women are the internal fortress and jihad is the external fortress.”
- Alan Johnston – When the U.K. Foreign Office learned that the brothers in Gaza wanted to exchange Johnston for me, they asked my lawyer to ask me if I would intervene on his behalf and secure his release. I demanded that the Guantanamo prisoners who have families in the U.K. be brought home and tried and that others not be extradited to America. This request was refused. I offered to lead a delegation to go to Gaza and talk to the Army of Islam (which was holding Johnson), but this was not allowed. I considered making a plea purely on humanitarian grounds, but the other brothers in detention discouraged me [presumably because Abu Qatada wasn’t getting anything in return.] The British government used my non-compliance against me in court when I requested to be released on bail after the court of cassation rejected the decision of the high court to extradite me to Jordan.
- Dialogue with British Government – I told a British security officer that there was a pseudo-agreement among the British Jihadi groups not to engage in armed activity in the U.K. I am open to dialogue with the government, even though some of the brothers are against it. I’ve been accused of many things, but I can live with myself.
Document (Arabic): 12-22-08-shamikh-recent-q-and-a-with-abu-qatada-in-prison