Jun 10 2008

Jihadist: “Zawahiri And His Emir Bin Laden [Are] Extremely Immoral”

Published by at 8:27 pm under All General Discussions,Bin Laden/GWOT,Iraq

I know others have posted on The New Republic article by Peter Bergen and Paul Cruickshank, which came out May 23rd, but I want to add this assessment on the decline of al-Qaeda to the list of other similar articles I have been highlighting this week. With one important additional angle – how this article has proved some of what I speculated was happening within the Muslim community regarding al-Qaeda.

In the very long and detailed article the authors point to how jihadists are turning against Bin Laden and al-Qaeda. I want to note something I wrote last December, just before Christmas. Back then I predicted al-Qaeda’s rampages against Islam – simply to garner defeatist headlines in the liberal western news media – was a sign the terrorists had gone one step too far. Here are my thoughts from December 22, 2007 on what I called The Beginning of the End for al-Qaeda and the war on terror:

And that brings me to another indicator of al-Qaeda’s waning prospects in the Muslim community. It was almost a year ago I noted the fact that al-Qaeda’ attacks on Muslim Iraqis was a clear indicator something significant was happening in Iraq


It was one of those events [that] exposed the rift between al-Qaeda and their Muslim allies – pawns that had supported them. It was the line crossed that could never be uncrossed. And now we see another sign of how bad al-Qaeda is doing in the Muslim world, this time from Saudi Arabia and targeted at the heart of the Muslim [Hajj]:

I then noted the following news at the time about a foiled plot by al-Qaeda to attack the annual pilgrimage to Mecca:

Saudi security forces have arrested an Al-Qaeda-linked group of people planning to carry out terrorist attacks during the annual pilgrimage, Al-Arabiya satellite channel reported yesterday. Informed sources told the channel that the arrests took place in different cities of the Kingdom.

“The group aimed to trouble the security of the pilgrimage,” which attracted nearly three million Muslim faithful from around the world this year, the television report said. Members of the group, whose number was unknown, were arrested “three days before the start of the Haj season”, or at the end of last week, the sources told the Dubai-based channel.

To me this was a turning point like the one we saw in Anbar Province when al-Qaeda started attacking its fellow Muslims. It was a sign that a desperate al-Qaeda was trying to cower the local Muslim street into following them, to stop the disaffection of the Muslim Street to their cause. My predictions from December were thus:

How would the Muslim world react to an attack on the annual pilgrimage to Mecca? How are they going to react to the idea someone was trying to launch such an attack? This has all the signs of an act of desperation by al-Qaeda forces. A lashing out at the Muslims who failed to see the glory of Bin Laden’s way, failed to support their cause, failed to keep them from defeat. It looks like the kind of attack we saw turn the tide in Iraq – an effort to force allegiance to al-Qaeda’s cause.

But the Muslim street is Awakening to what al-Qaeda is and how they will be the first victims of its bloodlust. And so they could be turning on al-Qaeda as it once again overplays its hand and shows its true face. it will be interesting to look back and see if 2007 was the year the end of al-Qaeda had begun.

Now some not aware of my scientific background and/or the scientific method will probably confuse my referencing past predictions as an attempt to brag. But the fact is when theorizing about what events or forces are driving a system (here the ‘system’ is global Islamic extremism) one can develop proof or support for their theories by predicting an outcome not yet manifested. It is through the accurate prediction of coming observations that the underling premises of the theory are born out and supported.

So now 5 months later comes the article in The New Republic, and we see that the predictions I made in December, as part of my theory on what forces were roiling the Muslim Street, are turning out to have been correct:

In December, Al Qaeda’s campaign of violence reached new depths in the eyes of many Muslims, with a plot to launch attacks in Saudi Arabia while millions were gathered for the Hajj. Saudi security services arrested 28 Al Qaeda militants in Mecca, Medina, and Riyadh, whose targets allegedly included religious leaders critical of Al Qaeda, among them the Saudi Grand Mufti Sheikh Abd Al Aziz Al Sheikh, who responded to the plot by ruling that Al Qaeda operatives should be punished by execution, crucifixion, or exile. Plotting such attacks during the Hajj could not have been more counterproductive to Al Qaeda’s cause, says Abdullah Anas, who was making the pilgrimage to Mecca himself. “People over there … were very angry. The feeling was, how was it possible for Muslims to do that? I still can’t quite believe it myself. The mood was one of shock, real shock.”

In the article this event is the culmination of a series of events that have been examples of the decline of al-Qaeda in the Muslim community. In my theory it is the pivot point, the event that showed the decline was already so serious and had progressed so far that the planned attack on their fellow Muslims was the public indication things had turned on al-Qaeda. To me this was not the last event in a series of decaying support – it was the point when al-Qaeda’s ruthlessness destroyed it for good, or as the authors predict:

However, encoded in the DNA of apocalyptic jihadist groups like Al Qaeda are the seeds of their own long-term destruction: Their victims are often Muslim civilians; they don’t offer a positive vision of the future (but rather the prospect of Taliban-style regimes from Morocco to Indonesia); they keep expanding their list of enemies, including any Muslim who doesn’t precisely share their world view; and they seem incapable of becoming politically successful movements because their ideology prevents them from making the real-world compromises that would allow them to engage in genuine politics.

Which means that the repudiation of Al Qaeda’s leaders by its former religious, military, and political guides will help hasten the implosion of the jihadist terrorist movement.

It may not be something that will happen in the future, it may be happening already in the shadowy and hidden world of Islamic extremism. Take the situation in the UK as example, as outlined in the article, as an indication of a potential future for al-Qaeda (verses evidence the implosion actually is happening now):

Over the last half-year, we have made several trips to London to interview militants who have defected from Al Qaeda, retired mujahedin, Muslim community leaders, and members of the security services. Most say that, when Al Qaeda’s bombs went off in London in 2005, sympathy for the terrorists evaporated.

Still, as Al Qaeda continued to target civilians for attacks, Hassan began to rethink. His employment by an artificial intelligence consulting firm also integrated him back toward mainstream British life. “It was a slow process and involved a lot of soul-searching. … Over time, I became convinced that bin Laden was dangerous and an extremist.” The July 2005 bombings in London were the clincher. “I was devastated by the attack,” he says. “My feeling was, how dare they attack my city.”

This defection of the Muslim Street in the UK from Bin Laden’s cause would be considered an indication of something on the margins, something that might happen to the core of Islam. That to me is an indication of where al-Qaeda and Islam might end up.

But the fact there is open hostilities between al-Qaeda and Islam – in the heart of Islam- is not an indication of something that might happen. It is proof a sea change has transpired as a huge schism has ruptured between Islam and Bin Laden. As I noted in my December post, this Mecca attack mirrors Anbar Province and the Sunni Awakening directly. In Anbar the open fighting between Sunni Iraqis and al-Qaeda attacks was a sign the implosion had happened, not it was going to happen. The open in-fighting between Muslims signaled al-Qaeda’s pending defeat in Iraq, not a pending backlash. By the time the attacks were news, the backlash was well underway. It took over a year for it to play out so we see the defeat of al-Qaeda in Iraq (see here for more on that), but that is what happened.

So if the global Islamic mood has already shifted towards seeing al-Qaeda as the enemy, and the Mecca attack was al-Qaeda’s reaction to their fait acompli (destruction), then al-Qaeda is dying already. It is dying because it has lost it base (ironic given al-Qaeda mean ‘the base’). It’s dying because it cannot survive without support from the major centers of Islam in the Middle East. And if it has become the enemy of Islam in these centers, as I think it has, then its global demise is not long in coming.

2 responses so far

2 Responses to “Jihadist: “Zawahiri And His Emir Bin Laden [Are] Extremely Immoral””

  1. DubiousD says:

    Have any international polling organizations done opinion surveys of Middle Easterners recently? I seem to remember somebody years ago (Pew maybe?) discovering declining support for terrorist attacks in general, but the questions didn’t cite Al Qaeda specifically.

    It would also be interesting to see what surveys would turn up in Gaza and the West Bank. Last I heard, that region boasted overwhelming support for bin Laden.

  2. kathie says:

    Good work AJ!