Zawahiri Dead?

A Pashtu television station reported on July 29 that Zawahiri was killed in the same attack that killed Abu Khabab in South Waziristan. The news broke in the U.S. this afternoon via Stratfor.  CBS reported this evening that Zawahiri was badly wounded in the attack.  (See the news summary here.) Bill Riggio is right to urge that the report of Zawahiri’s death be treated with extreme caution since it is based on the word of an anonymous Pakistani official.  Pakistani intel previously lied about the death of Abu Khabab and Zawahiri. I did a thorough search of Ekhlaas and turned up nothing.  I’ll check other forums tomorrow.  By way of comparison, the news of Abu Khabab’s death surfaced on Ekhlaas only a few days after the U.S. missile strike in South Waziristan.

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Mauritania on the Horizon

Ekhlaas member moutagha asks “What is the reason that Usama mentioned Mauritania in his latest speech?” He notes that it was well after al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb attacked the Israeli embassy in Mauritania in February 2008 and after Jihadis killed four French tourists in December 2007. Although moutagha does not receive any good responses to his query, his question did remind me of something strange I noticed when reading Zawahiri’s Exoneration. In it, Zawahiri goes on at some length about the large numbers of Mauritanian scholars and seminary students who have come to visit Bin Laden and support his cause. I don’t know enough about North Africa or Jihadi-Salafism in Mauritania to understand this dynamic, so I’m left with moutagha’s question: why Mauritania? Document (Arabic): 5-29-08-ekhlaas-why-mauritania

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Important al-Qaeda Scholar Identified

In the Tabri’a (Exoneration), released a few months ago, Zawahiri mentions several clerics he admires and who continue to support al-Qaeda. One of them is an Egyptian named Abu `Amr `Abd al-Hakim Hassan, whom he describes this way: He has a long history in hijra, ribat, and jihad. He was arrested and tortured in Egypt, which he endured patiently. He graduated from the College of Commerce and then from al-Azhar’s College of Theology. His scholarly and scientific efforts are copious. Among the works he produced were the books Elucidation of the Importance of Issues Surrounding Unbelief and Faith (التبيان في أهم مسائل الكفر والإيمان) in three parts, Jihad in the Path of God: Etiquette and Rules (الجهاد في سبيل الله- آداب وأحكام) in two parts, and Guiding the Mujhadis to the Commission of the Trustworthy Prophet (هداية المجاهدين إلى وصية النبي الأمين), which is a book explaining the Prophet’s (peace

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Zawahiri vs. His Mentor

Lawrence Wright has a new article on the acrimonious debate between Zawahiri and his former mentor, Sayyid Imam. This is the most serious ideological fissure in the Jihadi movement in twenty years (since the death of `Abd Allah `Azzam) and Wright does an excellent job of tying together all the pieces of a complicated story. Document (Arabic): Guiding the Jihad (ترشيد العمل الجهادي في مصر والعالم) Document (Arabic): Exoneration (التبريئة)

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Bin Laden Message Prompts Speculation on AQ Strategy in Palestine (Part 1)

Bin Laden’s statement on May 18th has prompted several Jihadi pundits to speculate on AQ’s future strategy in the Palestinian territories. Over the next few days, I’ll post the most interesting speculation. For part one, we’ll look at a short post by Ekhlaas member Khalid al-`Asqalani. According to `Asqalani, Bin Laden has presented a complete program of action for the coming stage of the Jihadi movement, which is the liberation of Palestine. 1) Bin Laden explained that oppressive international order is in an alliance with Israel and its resources are at its disposal. 2) The apostate Arab regimes are the guardians of Israel’s security, so overthrowing these regimes will make liberating Palestine much easier. 3) The pressure of the repressive regimes causes the Islamic groups to abandon jihad on the justification that it harms the da`wa (spread of Islam). 4) Hezbollah is misleading the youth because it has duped them

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Jihadi Book Club: Kenyon Gibson’s Nest of Evil

This is a good one. Ekhlaas member Taqi al-Din posts a still from a Zawahiri video. He notices (correctly) that one of the books on Zawahiri’s shelf is Kenyon Gibson’s Awkar al-sharr (Nest of Evil), which is an Arabic translation of his book Common Sense: A Study of the Bushes, the CIA, and the Suspicions Regarding 9/11. Gibson is also the coauthor of Hemp for Victory, a noted 9/11 conspiracy buff, and a former naval intel officer. Well, at least the first two are certainly true. It is not uncommon in the Arab world for this type of literature to be carried in mainstream bookstores, along with translations of works by better-known members of the left in the U.S. like Noam Chomsky and Michael Moore. There also seems to be a stream of similar literature coming from Europe. Books like these profoundly shape Arab understanding of U.S. intentions in the

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Bin Laden Message on 60th Anniversary of Israel

Today, al-Sahab (the organization that distributes Bin Laden and Zawahiri’s messages) sent around a statement by Bin Laden on the 60th anniversary of Israel. In his address, Bin Laden stated the “Palestine question” is the chief cause of conflict between Western nations and the Muslim community. It is the ultimate reason why AQ attacked the U.S. on 9/11. On the question of a Palestinian state, Bin Laden rejects the idea of a two-state solution. Either the Palestinians rule the entire area, or the jihad will continue until it is liberated. In an interesting turn, Bin Laden identifies the struggle of the Palestinians with the struggle of the Israelites for liberation under the pharaoh, who is the ultimate symbol of tyranny in Islam. Bin Laden’s statement on Palestine comes after months of Jihadis online urging AQ to do something in the occupied territories. Zawahiri first addressed the Jihadi lobbying in his

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Abu Mus`ab Suri: Architect of Global Jihad Neglected?

Abu Ishaq al-Fahd on Ekhlaas complains that Abu Mus`ab al-Suri, one of the chief strategists in AQ’s orbit, isn’t being read by other Jihadis. This, he says, despite the fact that Ayman al-Zawahiri recently recommended his book, The Call to the Global Islamic Resistance. (The recommendation is in Zawahiri’s recent book, al-Tabri’a (The Exoneration)). If Jihadis are neglecting Suri, Western analysts sure aren’t. He has an insider’s perspective on the movement, which makes him invaluable for understanding some of its recent trends. The best treatment by far is Brynjar Lia’s new book, The Architect of Global Jihad. Abu Ishaq al-Fahd’s complaint: abu-musab-suri-work-not-read-enough

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Lebanon: In the Mouth of the Dragon

The Jihadi forums are buzzing today about the impending civil war in Lebanon, which they ominously refer to as being “in the mouth of the dragon.” There were two items of particular interest. One was advice from a Jihadi name al-Jawahir to militants in Lebanon: 5-8-08-advice-to-mujahids-in-lebanon2 He counsels his brothers to operate in secret, shun reporters, gather armor-piercing weaponry, and refuse to help either the Lebanese Army or Hezbollah. The bit about shunning reporters does not seem consistent with Zawahiri’s type of revolutionary vanguardism, which is very dependent on the media. The second item is a short post recommending that the mujahids in Lebanon read Abu Bakr Naji’s Management of Savagery (you can find my translation of it here). Naji is probably dead (I’ll save that for another post), but this is the second time his ideas have been trotted out before a Muslim civil war; Iraq was the first.

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