Monday, December 17, 2007

Al Qaeda Associate Renounces Third Jihad

In his posting here on 21st October Dr Sam Holliday, director of the Armiger Cromwell Center in "Effectively Communicating Jihad: a spade is a spade" reported that Sayyid Imam al-Sharif, one of the least public yet most important figures in the Third global Jihad, would shortly be making a public renunciation. This has now been the case. This morning Dr Holliday drew our attention to the article on the Middle East Media Research Institute MEMRI's Special Dispatch No. 1785:

"Major Jihadi Cleric and Author of Al-Qaeda's Shari'a Guide to Jihad: 9/11Was a Sin; A Shari'a Court Should Be Set Up to Hold Bin Laden and Al-Zawahiri Accountable; There Are Only Two Kinds of People in Al-Qaeda – The Ignorant and Those Who Seek Worldly Gain"
The new book, which Sayyed Imam al-Sharif wrote while serving a life sentence in Egypt, was published in serial form in two Arab dailies, the Kuwaiti Al-Jarida and the Egyptian Al-Masri Al-Yawm and is since subject of fierce debate among Islamists and observers of Islamist movements.

The accusation that the refutation was coerced is a no brainer. Nevertheless, the document that is at once a book and a formal initiative, has been signed by the majority of leaders and members of the hirabahist organization in the Egyptian prisons. For what it is worth, they have promised to stop armed activities.

The entire process was facilitated by the Egyptian authorities, and the document was reviewed by a commission of Al-Azhar scholars. Al-Sharif founded the Egyptian Islamic Jihad; he was with Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan fighting the Soviet Union. He is a medical doctor and a former associate of Al Qaeda's Number Two, Ayman al-Zawahiri, another Egyptian doctor.
Caption: Pascal Sebah (1823-1886) - Al Azhar Mosque
Al-Zawahiri denounced Sayyed Imam's new book even before it was published, calling the retractors gravediggers. This line has also since been taken by other Al-Qaeda spokesmen and supporters, the most vocal of whom is Hani Al-Siba'i, an Egyptian Islamist living in London, who appears frequently on the Arab satellite stations and in the press.

In the coming weeks and months, MEMRI will be providing full coverage of Sayyed Imam's new book and the reactions to it. By way of introduction the current dispatch provides excerpts from the first two segments of a six-part interview granted by Sayyed Imam to the Al-Hayat daily.

In the interview he deals at length with the 9/11 attacks, his relationship with Al-Zawahiri, and the emergence of Al-Qaeda. He describes the 9/11 attacks as betrayal and perfidy; Al-Zawahiri as a charlatan prone to betraying his friends, bin Laden as lacking a solid religious education, and Al-Qaeda as an organization without a shari'a authority and without a moral compass.

Throughout his life, Sayyed Imam has shied away from the media, and this is the first time that he has spoken openly to the press about these topics. Riveting stuff ... read it all ... >>>


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