Maqdisi invokes McCants

The al-Maqdisi controversy has taken a very interesting new turn. In a statement posted his website earlier this week, Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi cited several Western scholars, including Dutch al-Maqdisi specialist Joas Wagemakers and Jihadica founder Will McCants, to make the point that his enemies understand him better than his detractors in the jihadi community do. The statement, entitled “Among the Methods Used by the Infidels to Plot Against the Call and the Preachers, and shared by many Ignorants and Fools,” represents another attempt by al-Maqdisi to rid himself of accusations that he has moderated his position on jihad. For previous attempts see here and here. What’s distinctive about this statement is its frequent references to Western academics and liberal Arab commentators, which al-Maqdisi uses variously to discredit his critics and to boost his own credentials. Al-Maqdisi first accuses his critics of running the errand of the infidels by implementing a

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Maqdisi Dispute Spills into the Open

The jihadi forum debates over Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi’s alleged turn to moderation have not ended since our last report. On the contrary, the forum Midad al-Suyuf (MS) has escalated its campaign against al-Maqdisi and his supporters. The latest of these defenders is the London-based Saudi Islamist Muhammad al-Mas’ari. At the current time of writing, as many as eight of the twelve headline stories on MS are devoted to al-Maqdisi. Interestingly, other forums carry very little of this material, presumably because administrators want to play down the debate. In fact, a message on the Faloja forum this week urged readers to not even mention Midad al-Suyuf at all. (By the way, Faloja has been down since yesterday afternoon). The controversy is now playing out on prime time television. Al-Arabiya is devoting this evening’s program Sana’at al-Mawt, its weekly documentary series on jihadism, to al-Maqdisi and his critics. News about the upcoming

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More Fitna in Cyberspace: Mihdar vs al-Maqdisi

Is another chapter in the history of cyber-jihadi infighting about to be written these days? The latest controversy is a series of attacks by the webforum Madad al-Suyuf on Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, perhaps the most influential salafi-jihadi clerics alive. That the cyber-Jihadis quarrel with one another should come as no surprise. Despite calls for unity and brotherly counseling, jihadi writers frequently fight it out in the open.  In fact, inter-jihadi quarrels seem to have become more common and less ‘brotherly’ in tone in recent years. As for al-Maqdisi himself, most of you will recall his open letter of advice to al-Zarqawi in mid-2005, which earned him a stern reply from his former disciple and many enemies among al-Zarqawi’s numerous buddies. More recently, people have suspected that al-Maqdisi is being pressured to follow in the footsteps Sayyid Imam Sharif and other revisionists. Will, Joas and others have already covered these accusations

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Maqdisi Blasts Hamas

Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, the leading Jihadi scholar in Jordan (and worldwide for that matter), has issued a statement on his website regarding Gaza.  In short: Hamas has let down the Muslim community and needs to step out of the way and allow the Jihadis there and abroad to take over the fight against Israel.  Maqdisi is particularly enraged by Hamas’ recent crackdown on the Army of Islam.  Here’s a summary of the highlights: If not for tyrranical rulers and their armies, Muslims would be flocking across their countries’ borders to Gaza now on a jihad. We’re not surprised by the failure of our feckless rulers.  We’re surprised by the leaders of Hamas, who spurn the Taliban, Jihadi clerics, and true monotheists [eg Army of Islam] while praising the Shia and its leaders [eg Hezbollah and Iran] and even secular governments that plot against Islam. Some might say this is the

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Maqdisi Response To Abu Rumman Article

Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi has released a statement on his website, Tawhed.ws, in which he responds to the questions of one of his followers about the Abu Rumman article I referenced yesterday.  Maqdisi denies being a revisionist but he is also clear that he is not an extremist and that he is trying to regain control of the dragon he unleased in his earlier writings.   In his statement, Maqdisi finally names his main nemesis, the brother-in-law of Zarqawi’s wife.  I haven’t seen Abu Qudama’s book yet but I’ll try to track it down. Here’s a summary: Question 1: Abu Rumman says you are shunning Zarqawi’s supporters.  Is it possible to consider this part of the “revisions,” as he says? Those of us who signed the statement are not dissociating ourselves from the brothers.  We are talking about a small group of ignorant people who haven’t studied at all, were not

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Maqdisi’s High-Wire Act

On December 4, Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi–Zarqawi’s former mentor and one of the world’s most influential Jihadi ideologues–spoke briefly to the al-Ansar Paltalk chat group.  In his brief remarks, Maqdisi appears to distance himself from the Jihadi revisionists: For you and me I prescribe the fear of God, working for the sake of this religion, and being its helpers in the time before the victory (al-fath).  God, powerful and mighty, says: “Those of you who spent and fought before the victory are not equal (to those who didn’t); you are greater in rank than those who spent and fought afterwards” (Q 57:10).  Today, brothers and friends, you see the nations assailing us and there is no doubt that we are like the Companions of the Prophet (PBUP) before the victory.  I beseech God to hasten the victory for the people of Islam and the people of monotheism.   Action for the sake of

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Maqdisi’s Moderation

Several days ago, I wondered why Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi–Zarqawi’s mentor and one of the most influential Jihadi ideologues alive–was being criticized or defended from criticism on the forums.  And last week, I speculated as to the reason his site, Tawhed.ws, has been allowed to go back up. We now have part of the answer.  According to members of several forums, a statement is circulating in Jordan that renounces takfirism, especially as exercised by a small group from the city of Zarqa’ (Zarqawi’s hometown).  One of the signatories of the statement is Maqdisi.   If Maqdisi signed the statement, it’s big news seeing as he’s the father of modern takfirism (excessively excommunicating other Muslims).  It also represents a further repudiation of Zarqawi (he had already broken with him over his harsh tactics in Iraq).  Although the statement is far short of the revisions of Sayyid Imam, it’s a step down the road

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Maqdisi Composes Elegy for Zarqawi

Zarqawi’s spiritual mentor, Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, composed an elegy for his deceased disciple soon after his death.  Although the two fell out over Zarqawi’s brutal tactics in Iraq, Maqdisi still has a soft spot for him.  The elegy, “The Dove Cried and the Swords Wept,” is recited by Maqdisi and has been released online for the first time via the Shumukh forum. For those of you that don’t know Maqdisi, he rated as the most-cited Jihadi alive in the study I conducted for West Point. Document (Arabic): 9-20-08-shamikh-abu-muhammad-maqdisi-elegy-for-zarqawi

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‘O Mujahideen in the West’: Interview with Hurras al-Tawheed

Within Jihadi propaganda, terrorism in the West against ‘the crusaders’ or ‘the infidels’ features prominently. The AQAP-produced magazine Inspire specialized in calling for action and advising al-Qaida supporters on how to attack in addition to providing religious justification. The latest issue of Inspire was published in summer 2017, and since then a string of new magazines and supporter organizations calling for terrorist attacks has emerged. One such example is the Wolves of Manhattan magazine that has so far published three issues.  In February 2022, another new magazine started to be shared on encrypted platforms carrying the title ‘O Mujahideen in the West’. Until now, the group behind the magazine, Hurras al-Tawheed, has published six issues and a Ramadan special issue. Initially, the magazine did not stand out for its calls for jihad in the West. What really caught my attention was how it positioned itself within the Jihadi current and its way of communicating.

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Jihadi Schadenfreude Over al-Nahdah in Tunisia

On July 25, President Qays Sa‘id of Tunisia dismissed Prime Minister Hisham al-Mishishi and suspended the activities of the Assembly of the Representatives of the People by invoking emergency powers under Article 80 of the Tunisian Constitution. The rationale was an out-of-control Covid crisis, continuing economic problems, and political dysfunction within the al-Nahdah-led parliament. Some analysts in the West have called Sa‘id’s maneuver an autogolpe, while many Tunisians locally, according to polling data, have backed Sa‘id’s move. It would not be a crisis, however, if the jihadi talking heads did not weigh in. It is important to note that jihadi activity in Tunisia has been on a decline in recent years due to counterterrorism and military efforts locally against al-Qaeda (AQ) and the Islamic State (IS), as well as the waning fortunes of foreign fighting endeavors in Iraq, Libya, and Syria as IS lost territory. Nevertheless, it is worth considering

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