|Salafi-Jihadi Holy Man Issues Fatwa Sanctioning Killing Of U.S. Ambassadors|
|[MEMRI] Following the September 11, 2012 killing of U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens, a number of queries were sent in to the Salafi-jihadi website Minbar Al-Tawhid Wal-Jihad (MTJ) regarding the legitimacy of this action. Answering on behalf of the website's shari'a committee, Sheikh Abu Mundhir Al-Shinqiti issued a fatwa in which he approved of the killing of the U.S. ambassador and other U.S. diplomats, and refuted religious arguments raised by some Islamic scholars against such actions.|
It should be noted that over the past two years, religious queries on MTJ have been fielded almost solely by Al-Shinqiti through various fatwas, despite the fact that the shari'a committee has numerous other members. This may be explained by the longstanding imprisonment in Jordan of MTJ founder and prominent jihadi Sheikh Abu Muhammad Al-Maqdisi.
Those who submitted the questions raised two main points: first, whether a person should be killed for an act he himself did not commit or approve (hinting at the fact that the ambassador had nothing to do with the anti-Islamic film "Innocence of s"); and second, whether an ambassador can be considered an "courier" under Islamic law, and thus be granted immunity. In addition, Al-Shinqiti was asked for advice regarding the proper response to recent events.
|Ties between Caucasus rebels and al Qaeda strengthening|
|Al Qaeda is providing the Islamist insurgency in the North Caucasus with increasing amounts of money and other forms of support, according to a report by a DC think tank. Underestimating the danger posed by the Caucasus Emirate "only increases our vulnerability to attack", said author Gordon Hahn, adding that global and U.S. national security were also under threat. |
"Al Qaeda has played an important role in proselytising jihadism and providing financial, training and personnel support to the mujahideen in Chechnya and the Caucasus," said Hahn, a senior researcher at the U.S. Monterey Institute for International Studies.
Al Qaeda's online magazine Ansar al Mujahideen began appearing in Russian last year, adding to the dozen or so Russian-language sites affiliated with the insurgency. These sites increasingly carry statements of support from top terrorists such as Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, who inspired al Qaeda in Iraq and is now imprisoned in Jordan, Hahn said in the report.
Citing Spanish police who nabbed a Moroccan man last year accused of being the webmaster of the al Qaeda magazine, Hahn said: "The website was already being used to raise money for terrorists in Chechnya as well as Afghanistan."
There has also been an increase in the number of militants killed by Russian security forces whom authorities say come directly from al Qaeda.
Hahn pointed to the arrest by Czech police of eight individuals in Prague suspected of plotting attacks in the North Caucasus as possible evidence of ties to al Qaeda. Police said the group, which included a Chechen and Dagestanis, had trained in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
He emphasised repeated calls by Doku Umarov, Russia's most wanted man, for the Caucasus Emirate to be brought into global jihad, most recently in February.
|Combating Al Qaeda Means Protecting Islam|
|By Tariq Alhomayed|
Many among us ignored Al Qaeda's infiltration of Yemen despite the continuous warnings of the threat that this poses. As soon as the US President spoke about the Al Qaeda threat in Yemen, some people began to warn against US intervention. In fact they used this to blackmail the Yemeni government and expose it, internally and externally, and to criticize the Jordanians and the Saudis because of their cooperation with the West in the war on terror in a clear case of blackmail.
The question here is: who has been harmed the most by what Al Qaeda is doing, the West or the Arabs and Muslims? Who is being subjected to harassment and suspected at the airports, Westerners or Arabs and Muslims? Who is facing difficulties in their studies and in their work, and whilst undergoing treatment or whilst on holiday, the West or the Arabs and Muslims?
It is the Arabs and Muslims, of course, who have been suffering since the outbreak of violent terrorist acts as they have become suspects and they are being harassed more and more. As a result, we must realize that the war on terror has to be our war before anyone else's war. When we wage war on Al Qaeda we are protecting ourselves and our reputation and we are protecting our children who extremists are trying to turn into time bombs. Above all, we will be protecting our religion that Al Qaeda has hijacked.
For instance, when Jordan cooperates with the West, or the Americans let us say, then they should be credited for this action. Are the Jordanians expected to wait until other violent explosions take place in their country like those that targeted their hotels, or should they wait for another Abu Musab al Zarqawi or Abu Muhammad al Maqdisi to rise from among them? The same applies to the Saudis; is Riyadh expected to remain silent in the face of intimidation and media incitement and let whoever wants to trade in the lives of our children do so, or should it wait for whoever to come out and carry out new destructive terrorist attacks in the country, or wait for a new Bin Laden or a new Abdulaziz al Muqrin to emerge?
The game of treachery and branding [others] as traitors has been revealed and it must be confronted instead of going along with it or [merely] observing it. When the state cooperates with the international community this means that the state is doing its job. States do not negotiate with or seek to please terrorists. Above all, as mentioned previously, our duty is to protect our reputation and the reputation of our innocent religion against Al Qaeda and its actions.
What we must realize is that every time we give in to intimidation and media incitement we give Al Qaeda and others more space to move about freely and, consequently, to recruit more of our children and target our stability and security, our reputation and the reputation of our religion. For that reason we say and we repeat that a serious ideological war, not a superficial war, is necessary to combat terror, its Sheikhs, its instigators, and its media. Equally, international cooperation is very important whether this is through training, [sharing] information or combating funding [of terrorism] and even cooperation in military operations.
What we want to say is that we must not give into blackmail and campaigns of incitement and suspicion. In fact we must confront these campaigns and refute them for one very simple but important reason; when we fight Al Qaeda, physically and mentally, we are defending the reputation of our religion. It is our battle first and foremost. We must realize that and not be ashamed, and we must expose the instigators and the blackmailers whether they are states, groups or even individuals.
|Olde Tyme Religion|
|Jihadist Forum Thread Discusses If and When One May Eat the Flesh of U.S. Soldiers|
|A recent thread on the Al-Falluja jihadist forum discussed the case of whether a Muslim who has nothing else to eat may kill an infidel in order to eat him. The discussion was prompted by a recently published book by Abu Muhammad Al-Maqdisi, one of the most influential jihadist sheikhs active today. |
The following is a summary of the discussion thread. (JTTM subscribers can read the full report; to subscribe to the JTTM.
"Is It Permitted To Eat The Flesh of American Soldiers?"
On June 13, 2009, a member of the Al-Falluja forum who uses the moniker "Al-Maqdisi's Student" wrote a post based on this passage [in full report] titled "Is it permitted to eat the flesh of American soldiers? A quote from the illustrious Sheikh Al-Maqdisi, may Allah preserve him." He began by recounting an exchange between the early Muslim commander Khalid b. Al-Walid and the Byzantine commander at the battle of Yarmuk (in the year 636 C.E.) The Byzantine commander said to Khalid that the Muslims had only gone out from their land due to hunger, and offered to buy them off. Khalid responded: "It was not hunger that drove us out of our land, as you say; we are a people who drink blood, and we know that there is no blood more delicious than Byzantine blood. That is why we came."
"Al-Maqdisi's Student" then cites the aforementioned passage from Al-Maqdisi's Beginner's Guide [in full report], and follows up with the words: "The mujahideen should inform their belligerent [infidel] and apostate enemies of this exceptional law so that they can bring it up and study it at their conferences on human rights, counterterrorism, and so on! Then they in turn can proclaim that our soldiers lick their lips [at the thought of] eating the flesh of their hamburger- and Pepsi-eating soldiers!"
"If We... Eat Americans, Let's Make Them Into A Gunpowder-Flavored Kabsa With Some Hors D'oeuvres Made Of Apostates"
Most of the numerous responses to the post were off-topic. Some responses, however, did take up the flesh-eating issue. "Abu Hajir Al-Muqrin" wrote: "If we are forced to eat Americans, let's make them into a gunpowder-flavored kabsa with some hors d'oeuvres made of apostates."
"Muhammad Al-Baghdadi" wrote: "But the slaughtering needs to be according to the shari'a. He then wrote "perhaps this is the best way" above stills from the Nick Berg decapitation video.
"Al-Maqdisi's Student" weighed in again towards the end of the thread and wrote: "A true story: a group of mujahideen from one of the brigades was in the mountains during the jihad against the Russians. One of them was sent off on a mission; he went and came back, but he couldn't find any of the brothers. He saw a roasted calf leg that the brothers in the brigade left for him for dinner, and he ate of it until he was full. When he went back to the main camp, the brothers saw him and offered him dinner! He said: praise Allah, I already ate! They said: Where did you find dinner? He said: You left me roasted calf leg! They said: No, no, that wasn't calf, that was the leg of a Russian infidel! He answered: No matter, it's all Islamic slaughter! (smile)"
|Leading jihadi theologian under fire for moderating views|
|In yet another fissure within radical Islamist networks, one of the world's most influential jihadi theologians is coming under fire from some former followers for allegedly moderating his views – a claim he denies. |
"Are too, are too, are too!! (Hah - I win)"
The attacks on Jordanian cleric Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, who was spiritual adviser for the late Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq, are significant because of Mr. Maqdisi's longtime stature as a revered spiritual mentor who legitimizes violence with his religious interpretations of Islamic sacred texts.
How is he more moderate than before?
For some outside experts, the bitter verbal dispute in jihadi online forums is alarming because it heralds the emergence of an even more radicalized younger generation of violent extremists. This generation, which Mr. Shishani calls "neo-Zarqawists," includes veterans of Mr. Zarqawi's jihad in Iraq. Inspired by Maqdisi, the analyst adds, they now are "coming and saying that he is too soft."
Other analysts regard the back-and-forth between Maqdisi and his critics as an indication of disarray in a jihadi movement that is past its prime. "Maqdisi is often forgotten by the Western media, but he's actually very important," says Thomas Hegghammer, a fellow in Harvard Kennedy School's international security program and moderator of jihadica.com, a blog that monitors jihadi Internet activity. The attacks on his credibility come on top of other disputes that have already caused fragmentation within the jihadi community, Mr. Hegghammer says, adding: "I think we're seeing some kind of decline. We're past the peak.... We're at just the beginning of the decline."
Does this mean the good guys are winning?
The two assessments reflect a trend: Even as Al Qaeda has become a spent organizational force, and the wider Salafi-jihadi community has been weakened by a loss of public support and by internal disputes – in large part because of the violent excesses of Zarqawi in Iraq that killed so many Muslims – a new danger has emerged in smaller, independent, and more radical groups that are inspired by jihadi ideology and devoted to violence. Zarqawi's "dream of a Salafi-Jihadist movement ... is coming to fruition with a new generation of militant youth," wrote Shishani in The Jamestown Foundation's "Terrorism Focus." And "though they are, in many cases, poorly trained and without direct contacts to al-Qaeda, this younger generation appears to be even more radical than their Jordanian predecessors."
In other words they are nastier but incompetent. How much should I worry about this trend?
Another noteworthy development, this time in Egypt, was reported by Steven Brooke in this month's CTC Sentinel, published by West Point's Combating Terrorism Center. Mr. Brooke, a Washington-based analyst, noted that while an organized jihadist movement "remains a remote possibility" for now, "a non-violent but especially stern ... brand of Salafist Islam has elbowed its way into Egypt's religious landscape." This strain of Islam rejects political engagement, which puts it in opposition to the country's largest Islamist group, the Muslim Brotherhood. Although Egypt's authoritarian government welcomes this avoidance of politics, the Salafist strain is potentially problematic because of its tendency to see other Muslims and non-Muslims as inferior, a stance that disposes some to adopt violent tactics.
Takfiris! That always ends well. Not!
"While this trend is non-violent," writes Brooke, "their rigid conception of belief, occasionally antagonistic posture toward religious minorities, and tendency to withdrawal from society" have led some observers to warn of increased "social violence."
Brooke says that many analysts had put Egyptian society's increasing conservatism in recent years "at the feet of the Muslim Brotherhood. But I think there are deeper dynamics going on.... And as America tries to figure out this Islamist dilemma, I think it's important to understand that there is a spectrum there."
|A Jihadi Fatwa on Saddam Hussein’s Death Sentence|
It took only an hour or so after the direct broadcast of Saddam Hussein’s death sentence for the supporters of global Jihad to post in the main Jihadi-Salafi forum-Al-Hesbah-a well-reasoned fatwa if to regard him a Martyr (Shahid) in Jihadi-Salafi eyes.1 The fatwa by the Jihadi-Salafi Kuwaiti Sheikh Hamed al-Ali, has been probably written before the expected sentence. Sheikh Hamed al-Ali can be viewed today as the leading living scholar of the younger generation of Jihadi-Salafiyyah in Arabia, after the death and imprisonment of some of his Saudi colleagues. He is very popular within the "Jihadi virtual community" on the Internet, and his residency in Kuwait seems to provide him some more freedom. Despite his arrest for a short while two years ago, it seems that the Kuwaiti authorities do not limit his freedom of speech, as long as he does not attack them. Only last week Al-Ali was "crowned" by one of the leading clerics of the older generation of Jihadi-Salafis-Abu Basir al-Tartousi in London. On November 1st 2006, Al-Tartousi posted on the front page of his web site an extraordinary letter in support for Al-Ali.2 In the past year, Abu Basir has regained his senior position among Jihadi-Salafi circles, after a harsh criticism over him following his positions against the suicide operations in London in July 2005, and his hinted criticism over Zarqawi’s extremist Takfiri doctrines in Iraq. The killing of Zarqawi in June 2006, the takeover by Dr. Ayman Zawahiri of directing Al-Qaeda in Iraq, and the absence of leading imprisoned scholars such as Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, Abu Qutadah, and the Saudi Suleiman al-`Alawan from the Jihadi scene, assisted Abu Basir to regain his senior position. The public "letter of decoration" to Hamed al-Ali is a kind of transferring "the torch" to the younger generation of Jihadi-Salafi clerics, whose fatwas are vital for Al-Qaeda and affiliated groups, and their supporters. Therefore, the present fatwa by Hamed al-Ali on Saddam Hussein should be regarded important, not only in reference to the Jihadi-Salafis, but also for the future relations between the various components of the Iraqi Sunni insurgency.
Al-Ali’s fatwa reflects a forgiving attitude on one hand, and a change that took place in the Arab world on the background of the occupation of Iraq and the situation there, where stability, even a vicious one, was replaced by what is viewed by them a hopeless reality that might tear Iraq into at least three pieces. Among the first responses to the sentence we should also note that all the Islamic movements from the school of the Muslim Brotherhood condemned the sentence as well, including the less anti-American Hamas, and the Iraqi Brotherhood (the Iraqi Islamic Party), which supports the democratic process in Iraq. Al-Ali did not fully answer the question and left the Martyrdom issue to Allah to decide. However, he used a very softened tone that might sound to his Jihadi-Salafi followers as an opposition to the sentence, and a kind of defense on Saddam Hussein, who in his terms, acted according to the norms of the other Arab dictators, who were tools in the hands of the "Zionist-Crusader" plot against Islam and the Muslims.
But, the more important implications of this fatwa should be viewed on the background of the present Iraqi scene, especially among the Iraqi Sunnis. The fatwa sends a message to the non-Jihadi groups that take part in the Iraqi Sunni insurgency, that Al-Qaeda is open to cooperation with any Sunni element that is fighting the real enemy - the United States and the Shi`ah. Saddam Hussein the individual is not important and all the Jihadis can do is wishing him the mercy of Allah. He is not declared a Shahid but they do not oppose it if Allah accepts his repentance. However, he is not an enemy, an infidel, or a cruel dictator. He is just a victim of the global plot against the Muslims, who has already been punished in this world, unlike the other Arab rulers.
Just few weeks ago Al-Qaeda declared the foundation of a "Sunni Islamic independent State." For some reason, this declaration has not gained almost any notice in the Western media, which may view it as a pretentious episode. However, whoever carefully reads the Jihadi-Salafi forums in the last months, can see how keen are ALL the various Sunni Iraqi insurgent groups to use these Jihadi forums as a platform for their messages and indoctrination, regardless of their disputes, competition, or different original ideology. No matter how serious the "Islamic State" is, there seems to be a notion of more united strategy among the Sunni groups. The fatwa of Hamed al-Ali provides this notion a better chance from the side of the Jihadi-Salafis.
more at link
|Al-Qaeda after the Iraq War|
|It should be stressed that contrary to the impression given by the media and some analysts in the West concerning its so called diffuse independent networking character, al-Qa'ida began life and long continued its operations with the support of states:|
* 1980s, phase one: Activity in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the United States.
* 1990-96, phase two: To work alongside the Islamist revolutionary regime in Sudan to export revolution to Egypt, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, and Eritrea.
* 1996-2001, phase three: Operations from Afghanistan, as an ally of the Taliban government.
Even today, the organization is "state-centered" in the sense that its goal is to take power in specific Islamic states and establish a new form of authoritarian government, a caliphate. The significance of a reliable base in Muslim territory is reflected in al-Qa'ida's return to Arab land, and its attempts to destabilize at least one regime and achieve a new safe haven. Ayaman al-Zawahiri, bin Ladin's deputy, explains the importance of the quest for a "fundamentalist base": "Victory for the Islamic movements against the world alliance cannot be attained unless these movements possess an Islamic base in the heart of the Arab region." He notes that mobilizing and arming the nation will not yield tangible results until a fundamentalist state is established in the region:
The establishment of a Muslim state in the heart of the Islamic world is not an easy or close target. However, it is the hope of the Muslim nation to restore its fallen caliphate and regain its lost glory... We must not despair of the repeated strikes and calamities. We must never lay down our arms no matter how much losses or sacrifices we endure. Let us start again after every strike, even if we had to begin from scratch.
It is in this framework that we must see the concentration of al-Qa'ida's operational efforts on the Iraqi front. At the end of 2004, the US State Department assessed that the role of key Islamist groups in Iraq makes it "the central battleground in the global war on terrorism."
Since the demise of the Taliban regime and al-Qa'ida "solid base" in Afghanistan three phases can be distinguished in the operational activity of the organization and its affiliates and supporters in the Muslim world: (1) After the demise in Afghanistan, the strategy of destabilizing Muslim countries by attacks against soft targets; (2) after the fall of the Saddam Hussein regime, concentration on the Iraqi arena against the US army and the coalition forces with the hope of a victory on the 1980s Afghanistan model; (3) since the fall of 2004, an extension of the fighting to most of the Middle East, an increased effort in Europe, but the appearance of the first strategic splits in its ranks.
Al-Qa'ida is Weakened after the Demise in Afghanistan
The goal of the World Islamic Front (WIF) for the Struggle Against Jews and Crusaders proclaimed by bin Ladin on February 22, 1998 was to form an international alliance of Sunni Islamist organizations, groups, and Muslim clerics sharing a common religious/political ideology and a global strategy of Holy War (jihad). It was replaced in the spring of 2002 by a new name, or perhaps framework-Qa'idat al-Jihad (The Jihad Base)-and WIF virtually disappeared.
After the war in Afghanistan and until the Madrid bombings in March 2004, in spite of bin Ladin, al-Zawahiri, and other al-Qa'ida spokes persons' repeated threats to hit devastatingly at the heart of the United States and the Western world, all successful terrorist attacks have targeted Muslim countries (and Muslim communities such as Mombassa, Kenya). Local or regional groups affiliated with al-Qa'ida were primarily responsible for these operations. They include the Salafi factions in Tunisia and Morocco; Yemeni Islamists; or the Indonesian Jemaa Islamiyya (in fact a group led from Indonesia by Abu Bakr Bashir but with Malaysian, Philippine, and Singaporean branches striving to form a new regional Islamic state). It seems that only the suicide bombings in Saudi Arabia in May 2003 were directly related to al-Qa'ida militants. Interestingly, with the exception of Saudi Arabia, the economies of all these countries or communities (Djerba, Bali, Casablanca, Istanbul, Mombassa) are heavily dependent on tourism.
The campaign by al-Qa'ida terrorists and associates against Arab and Muslim regimes may be explained by a shift in the ideological and strategic thinking of those Islamists who now occupy the vacuum left by bin Ladin and his deputy. The targeting of the tourist infrastructures calls to mind the strategy of the Egyptian jihadist groups in the mid-1990s. One might speculate that this strategy results from the growing influence of al-Zawahiri, bin Ladin's deputy. Yet this is also the result of the decline in al-Qa'ida's operational capabilities following the quick demise in Afghanistan, the unremitting campaign of harassment against its leaders, and the capture or elimination of many of its central commanders.
On February 11, 2003, just before the US-led war in Iraq, bin Ladin distributed two audiocassettes. One addressed the Iraqi people while the other (at 53 minutes his longest to date) was directed to Arab governments and clerics. The main focus of his speech was not the United States, but rather the Arab governments and the Islamic clerics that supported them and gave them legitimacy. The conflict with these Arab governments was presented as eternal and insolvable.
Focus on the Iraqi Arena
Bin Ladin's February 2003 message to the Iraqi people sought to encourage their morale and guide them as to how they should face and defeat the incoming American invasion of their country. In an attempt to convince the Iraqis that the United States was not invincible, bin Ladin explained how he and his followers, numbering only about 300, had frustrated the American action against them at Tora Bora in Afghanistan. He stressed the importance of the Iraqi people fighting united against the Americans, irrespective of whether they were Arabs or non-Arabs (Kurds), Sunnis, or Shi'a. Religious scholars from the Islamic Research Academy at Egypt's al-Azhar university also declared on March 10, 2003 that a US attack on Iraq would require Arabs and Muslims to wage a jihad in Iraq's defense against "a new crusade that targets its land, honor, creed, and homeland."
At the height of the war, Iraqi Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan declared that Saddam Hussein's government was ready to meet the overwhelming military superiority of the United States by resorting to widespread suicide attacks against Americans and British troops "and all who support them," both inside Iraq and elsewhere in the Arab world. At a news conference on March 29, 2003 he claimed that the Iraqi soldier who killed four Americans in a suicide attack outside the holy city of Najaf was the first in a wave of Iraqis and other Arab volunteers ready to become "martyrs." Arabs outside Iraq, he said, should help "turn every country in the world into a battlefield." 
Upon the fall of Baghdad, al-Nida, al-Qa'ida's website posted a series of articles which stated that guerilla warfare was the most powerful weapon Muslims had, the best method to continue the conflict with the "Crusader Enemy." It mentioned that it was with guerilla warfare the Americans were defeated in Vietnam and the Soviets were defeated in Afghanistan, "the method that expelled the direct Crusader colonialism from most of the Muslim lands, with Algeria the most well known."
Despite American warnings Damascus permitted the passage of thousands volunteers, many of them Syrians, wishing to join the Iraqis in their war against the Americans. It started with a few dozen volunteers, mostly from the Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon. This went on until a missile from an American plane hit one of the buses of volunteers in Iraq, killing five passengers. 
Thus, the scenario for the insurgency and terrorist campaign in Iraq was built already in the weeks and possibly the months before the war, involving an "objective" coalition of ex-Ba'thists and army and intelligence officers, Iraqi Sunni Islamists delivered from Saddam's yoke, Muslim volunteers from Arab and European countries, and with the tacit support of Syria and probably Iran.
Due to some major American strategic errors and in spite of the swift and stunning US military campaign in Iraq, this scenario developed into "a continuum of violence and uncertainty": the lack of a quick Iraqi political alternative to the Saddam regime (contrary to what happened in Afghanistan), the disbanding of the regular army and police forces, and the lack of a clear planning for the immediate aftermath of the war. In the words of a known American military analyst, "the US chose a strategy whose post-conflict goals were unrealistic and impossible to achieve, and only planned for the war it wanted to fight and not for the "peace" that was certain to follow."
A short description of the Iraqi insurgency is necessary in order to understand and evaluate its use by al-Qa'ida and other global jihadist groups in order to expand the fight to the whole of the Middle East and beyond:
During the summer and fall of 2003, Iraqi insurgents emerged as effective forces with significant popular support in Arab Sunni areas, and developed a steadily more sophisticated mix of tactics. In the process, a native and foreign Islamist extremist threat also developed which deliberately tried to divide Iraq's Sunni Arabs from its Arab Shi'ites, Kurds, and other Iraqi minorities. By the fall of the 2004, this had some elements of a low-level civil war, and by June 2005, it threaten to escalate into a far more serious civil conflict.
Iraqi insurgents, terrorists, and extremists exploited the media focus on dramatic incidents with high casualties and high publicity. They created "alliances of convenience and informal networks with other groups to attack the United States, various elements of the Iraqi Interim Government and elected government, and efforts at nation building." Then insurgents increasingly focused on Iraqi government targets, as well as Iraqi military, police, and security forces and tried to prevent Sunnis from participating in the new government, and to cause growing tension and conflict between Sunnis and Shi'a, and Arabs and Kurds. By May 2005, this began to provoke Shi'a reprisals, in spite of efforts to avoid this by Shi'a leaders, contributing further to the problems in establishing a legitimate government and national forces.
Although from the beginning of the war and its immediate aftermath many Islamist groups were involved in the fighting against the US and coalition forces, the Jordanian-Palestinian terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was considered to be the most dangerous leader of the most dangerous group connected with al-Qa'ida. He was presented by the US and Western intelligence agencies as the former director of a training camp in Afghanistan and a close associate of Usama bin Ladin. He was believed to have escaped to Iraq during the US invasion. He was reportedly in Baghdad from May-July 2002 to undergo medical treatment, while establishing a network of approximately two dozen members who moved about freely throughout Baghdad for over eight months, primarily conducting transfers of money and materials. He coordinated terrorist activities in the Middle East, Western Europe, and Russia from his base in Iraq, and his connections stretched as far as Chechnya and the Pankisi Gorge in Georgia. Al-Zarqawi was considered to be the leader of the terrorist group al-Tawhid, which first gained public attention in Germany when a number of its members were arrested in that country in April 2002. Zarqawi was also presented as the leader of the Arab contingent within Ansar al-Islam linked to al-Qa'ida plots in Jordan during the millennium celebration, as well as to attempts to spread the biological agent ricin in London and possibly other places in Europe.
At some point, most likely after the occupation of Iraq in April 2003, he split from Ansar al-Islam and created his own organization, which he called al-Tawheed wal Jihad (Monotheism and Jihad). This organization first came to world attention when US citizen Nicholas Berg was beheaded in April 2004, allegedly by Zarqawi himself, and the event was videotaped and posted on Islamist websites. Al-Tawheed wal-Jihad lacked a solid base of operation, and therefore the group decided to use Fallujah as "a safe haven and a strong shield for the people of Islam-'the Republic of Al-Zarqawi.'"
The radical Sunni Islamist insurgents, like those belonging to the Zarqawi group, called also "neo-Salafis" or "Takfiries", believe they are fighting a region-wide war in Iraq to create a Sunni puritan state, a war that extends throughout the world and affects all Arab states and all of Islam. Foreign volunteers are one of the most dangerous aspects of the insurgency involved in the cruelest sectarian terrorist attacks against civilians-mostly suicide bombings, kidnappings, and beheadings. Some clerics and Islamic organizations recruit young Arabs and men from other Islamic countries for Islamist extremist organizations and then infiltrate them into Iraq through countries like Syria. There is the danger that some will probably survive and emerge as new cadres of expert terrorists building a new generation of trained radical young men and jihadists outside the country.
Zarqawi's group is composed mostly of non-Iraqi Arab volunteers who originate from countries bordering Iraq-Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Jordan, and Syria-due to the ease with which jihadists from these countries can infiltrate Iraq. According to some researchers, the multi-national nature of the two groups could also explain the alliance between Zarqawi and bin Ladin.
The successes of the Zarqawi group during the two and a half years of terrorist and guerrilla activity and the continuation of their painful strikes against the coalition forces and primarily against the officials and security forces of the new Iraqi government has attracted more and more groups and volunteers to his ranks. Although for a long time he was considered the representative of al-Qa'ida in Iraq, it was only in December 2004 that his allegiance to bin Ladin and al-Qa'ida materialized. This was due to growing strategic and tactical disagreements between the various leaders of the jihadist movements.
Expanding in the Middle East, Increased Effort in Europe, First Strategic Splits
The disagreements are a result of the need to achieve at any cost a quick visible victory in the fight against the US-Western coalition and its Arab allies and relate to three main issues: (1) With the growing strategic and political status of the Shi'a in Iraq and the potential threat they represent in the entire Gulf area, the Shi'a have been designated as the Sunni jihadist movement's main enemy. (2) The growing number of innocent Muslims killed in terrorist attacks due to the increasing violence in Iraq and Saudi Arabia, have produced negative reactions among Arab public opinion and the need to delineate tactical "red lines." (3) With the beginning of the terrorist jihadist activity in Saudi Arabia in May 2003, there has become a need to define the main struggle front-Iraq, Saudi Arabia, or possibly Egypt. The need to score a strategic victory on the Iraqi and Middle Eastern fronts, to attract greater participation of new young levees in the struggle, and solidarity from the Arab masses have also pushed the jihadist leaders to bandwagon the Palestinian intifada and to increase their operational efforts in Europe in the hope of disrupting the US coalition.
The Sunni-Shi'a Divide
From the September 2003 assassination of Ayatollah al-Hakim and to present, Zarqawi has made the utmost effort to provoke the Shi'a of Iraq to retaliate against the Sunnis and thus trigger a civil war. This strategy, reflecting the common Wahhabi doctrine, became obvious after US authorities leaked a letter written by him in January 2004. The Shi'a were described as "the most evil of mankind...the lurking snake, the crafty and malicious scorpion, the spying enemy, and the penetrating venom." Their crime was "patent polytheism, worshipping at graves, and circumambulating shrines."
Zarqawi's position contradicted bin Ladin and al-Qa'ida's views concerning the Shi'a. It should be noted that in his audio message of February 2003, bin Ladin stressed the importance of the Sunnis and Shi'a fighting united against the Americans. He even cited Hizballah's 1983 suicide bombing of the US Marine barracks in Beirut as the first "American defeat" at the hands of Islamist radicals.
The victorious image in the Arab and Muslim world achieved by the Shi'a Hizballah movement and its leader Hasan Nasrallah after the Israeli unilateral withdrawal from southern Lebanon in May 2000 and, more recently, the exchange of prisoners (including many Palestinians) between Israel and Hizballah in January 2004, created much resentment and criticism in Saudi jihadi-Salafi elements. Moreover, the presentation of Nasrallah as the "New Salah al-Din" put the role of the global vanguard of Islam played by Qa'idat al-Jihad at risk for a takeover by the Hizballah. Since the process of establishing a new government in Iraq, with a clear Shi'a majority, Salafi web sites and forums have stepped up their attacks against the Shi'a, Iran, and Shi'a doctrines.
It is interesting to note that it was bin Ladin who accepted the strategy of Zarqawi and the Saudi jihadists, recognizing the predominance of the leaders who continued the fight on the ground rather than that of the nominal leadership which was hiding somewhere in Pakistan. This process took a whole year and resulted in the nomination of Zarqawi as the "emir" of al-Qa'ida in Iraq.
Bin Ladin did not respond to Zarqawi's first letter sent to him in December 2003 (the one leaked in January 2004 by the Americans). On October 17, 2004, "with the advent of the month of Ramadan and the need for Muslims to unify ranks in the face of the enemy," Zarqawi announced that "Tawhid and Jihad Group, its prince and soldiers, have pledged allegiance to the shaykh of the mujahideen Usama bin Ladin." He changed the name of his organization from al-Tawheed wal Jihad to Tandhim Qa'idat al-Jihad fi bilad al-Rafidain (The al-Qa'ida Jihad Organization in the Land of the Two Rivers). Interestingly, the announcement mentioned that "[t]here have been contacts between Shaykh Abu Musab al-Zarqawi_with the brothers in Al-Qaida for 8 months," but "a catastrophic dispute occurred." The contacts resumed, however, and in the end, "the brothers from Al-Qaida" understood "the strategy of the Tawheed wal-Jihad Movement in Mesopotamia..." and "their hearts" were "pleased by the methods [al-Zarqawi] used."
Al-Qa'ida indeed reprinted and acknowledged the statement, responding favorably to the new development in their online magazine Mu'askar al-Battar. On December 27, 2004, bin Ladin designated "honored comrade Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi" as the "commander [Amir] of al-Qaida organization in the land of the Tigris and the Euphrates," and asked "the comrades in the organization" to obey him. In a video aired on al-Jazeera, in what appears to be a response to Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani's call on his Shi'a followers to vote en masse and decree that those who boycott the elections are "infidels," bin Ladin warned against the participation in elections: "Anyone who participates in these elections_ has committed apostasy against Allah." He also endorsed the killing of security people "in Allah's name."
However, this important issue has continued to trouble the relations between the al-Qa'ida leadership and al-Zarqawi, as evidenced in the letter sent to the latter by Ayman al-Zawahiri in July 2005. In this major document Zawahiri acknowledges "the extent of danger to Islam of the Twelve'er school of Shiism... a religious school based on excess and falsehood," and "their current reality of connivance with the Crusaders." He admits that the "collision between any state based on the model of prophecy with the Shi'a is a matter that will happen sooner or later." The question he and "mujahedeen circles" ask Zarqawi is "about the correctness of this conflict with the Shi'a at this time. Is it something that is unavoidable? Or, is it something can be put off until the force of the mujahed movement in Iraq gets stronger?"
Moreover, Zawahiri reminds Zarqawi that "more than one hundred prisoners-many of whom are from the leadership who are wanted in their countries-[are] in the custody of the Iranians." The attacks against the Shi'a in Iraq could compel "the Iranians to take counter measures." Actually, al-Qa'ida "and the Iranians need to refrain from harming each other at this time in which the Americans are targeting" them. This is indeed a new kind of real-politik on the part of al-Qa'ida leadership.
The Killing of Innocent Muslims
The jihadist fighters in Iraq were enraged when in July 2004 Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, Zarqawi's former prison mentor, posted an article on his website criticizing "blowing up cars or setting roadside explosives, by firing mortars in the streets and marketplaces, and other places where Muslims congregate." Al-Maqdisi stated that the "hands of the Jihad fighters must remain clean so that they will not be stained by the blood of those who must not be harmed even if they are rebellious and shameless," and warned against attacks on Christian churches, as this would strengthen the will of the infidels against Muslims everywhere. A year later, al-Maqdisi criticized "the extensive use of suicide operations" in which many Muslims were being killed and expressed reservations about the extensive killing of Shi'a in Iraq. Moreover, he opposed declaring the Shi'a as non-Muslims, which in effect permitted their blood.
In a 90-minute audio recording released in May 2005, Zarqawi relied on Muslim jurists to justify and legitimize the collateral killing of Muslims in the act of killing infidels, as the evil of heresy is greater than the evil of collateral killing of Muslims. In the same recording, Zarqawi announced the beheading of the chief of intelligence of the Shi'a Badr, "the brigade of perfidy, the brigade of apostasy and the brigade of agents for Jews and Crusaders." Some Islamist Saudi writers, such as Abd al-Rahman ibn Salem al-Shammari, also praised the beheading of captives. This then became one of Zarqawi's preferred tactics in his attempts to threaten and expulse the foreign presence in Iraq, and he was proudly named the "Shaykh of the Slaughterers."
In a July 2005 audiotape, Zarqawi claimed that it was a duty to wage jihad against the Shi'a, because they were apostates (murtadoon) and had formed an alliance with the Crusaders against the jihad fighters. In July 2005, Zarqawi published a third statement in which he rejected al-Maqdisi's accusations and attacked him, saying that ulama who were not participating in the jihad in Iraq had no right to criticize the actions of the fighters, thereby even serving Crusader interests.
A small number of Sunni shaykhs and organizations urged Zarqawi to withdraw his anti-Shi'a statements on the grounds that they ignite fitna (internal strife), thus serving the interests of the occupation. So did the Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq, the Mufti of Saudi Arabia, Shaykh Abd al-Aziz al-Shaykh, and the Syrian Islamist Shaykh Abd al-Mun'im Mustafa Halimah. Moreover, five "resistance organizations"-the Army of Muhammad, al-Qa'qa Brigades, the Islamic Army in Iraq, the Army of Jihad Fighters in Iraq, and the Salah al-Din Brigades-stated that "the call to kill all Shi'ites is like a fire consuming the Iraqi people, Sunnis and Shi'ites alike" and proclaimed that the resistance targeted only Iraqis "connected to the occupation."
Define the Main Struggle Front: Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Egypt?
Throughout bin Ladin's public statements and declarations runs one fundamental and predominant strategic goal: the expulsion of the American presence-both military and civilian-from Saudi Arabia and the entire Gulf region.
According to Cordesman and Obaid, Saudi Arabia only began to experience serious internal security problems when bin Ladin and al-Qa'ida actively turned against the monarchy in the mid-1990s and began to launch terrorist attacks in an effort to destroy it. However, these attacks remained sporadic until May 2003 when cells affiliated with al-Qa'ida began an active terror campaign directed both at foreigners-especially Americans-and the regime.
According to this analysis, an organization that called itself the al-Qa'ida Organization in the Arabian Peninsula set up an infrastructure that included safe houses, ammunitions depots, cells, and support networks. However, in Afghanistan there were disagreements among the leadership of al-Qa'ida regarding the timing and potential targets of attack in Saudi Arabia, and the then local leader Yousef al-Uyeri maintained that al-Qa'ida members were not yet ready for it. This group was responsible for the May 2003 attacks which indicated that al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula had become a major threat. Since the May 2003 attack, Saudi Arabia has remained a prime target for bin Ladin. 
This analysis does not explain why al-Qa'ida did not anything serious to attack its major target and the loathed Saudi royal regime until after its demise in Afghanistan. It seems more realistic to evaluate that there was a kind of unwritten agreement between the Saudi rulers and bin Ladin not to touch Saudi interests and soil. This could also explain why Saudi Arabia was one of the only three countries (with Pakistan and the UAE) that recognized the legitimacy of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, supported it financially, and maintained diplomatic relations with it until the last moment.
According to Dr. Sa'ad al-Faqih, a widely acknowledged expert on al-Qa'ida, the jihadists have abandoned their previous tactics of targeting Westerners and the security forces in Saudi Arabia and are now focusing all their attention on the royal family. They "believe that the prevailing opinion in Saudi Arabia-and probably in the wider Muslim world-is that the royal family is infidel and deserves harsh treatment_ [and they] have overcome their fear of a secular takeover in the event of the sudden downfall of the House of Saud." According to al-Faqih, it seems that in the late 1990s, bin Laden thought that if the House of Saud were removed, the country would fall into the hands of secular forces. Al-Qa'ida has reached the conclusion that, as they learned from the Iraq theater, the sudden collapse of the regime would either invite foreign interference or lead to chaos. An American invasion would therefore provide a massive recruitment opportunity for them and a certain victory. It is of interest to note that according to al-Faqih, the local Saudi leadership has made "quite a few clumsy decisions" in the recent past and "at the operational level there is now a very tenuous link between bin Laden and his advisers and the local al-Qaeda leadership in Saudi Arabia."
According to Reuven Paz, an Israeli expert on Islamist organizations, the attacks in Saudi Arabia marked an important change in the jihadist strategy and a return from the distant Afghanistan to the Arab land. This shift became even more evident after the first jihadist attacks in Sinai, on October 7, 2004, after seven years of a de facto timeout from terrorist operations conducted on Egyptian soil.
In an article written by the Saudi Abu Abbas al-Aedhi, the Sinai attack is presented as the first of several forthcoming attacks in Egypt as part of a clear strategy approved by the mujahideen in Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Egypt. The jihad in Iraq and Egypt are viewed as "the ropes to strengthen the Jihad in Arabia" The next steps should be the beginning of jihad in Yemen and Kuwait on the one hand, and the unification of the North African jihadist groups in Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Mauritania, and the Sudan, on the other hand. The main theme of al-Qa'ida's strategy, however, is to place the jihad groups in Saudi Arabia at the center, coordinating the Islamist activity with the two "branches" in Iraq and Egypt as part of this central goal. This strategy was devised among others by the late Yousef al-Uyeri, killed in June 2003 by the Saudi police. According to this analysis, al-Uyeri marks the shift of the younger generation of the dominant scholars of global jihad to Saudi hands and should be viewed as the architect of global jihad in Iraq.
Another jihadist analysis, seemingly based upon the 1601 page book on jihad by Abu Mus'ab al-Suri relates to the Sinai attacks of October 2004, the consequent Cairo (April 2005) attacks, and the Sharm al-Shaykh (July 2005) attacks. According to al-Suri the most important jihadist target in this phase must be attacks against tourists. The attacks in Sinai were, therefore, a highly successful example of this strategy, both against the Egyptian government and in terrorizing the Westerners. This also seems to be an attempt to identify new fronts in the Arab world-apart from Iraq-to conduct the struggle. Paz believes there is a high likelihood that we are facing two separate strategies and even two different competing parties of global jihad, with Zarqawi in the Iraqi arena and al-Suri stationed in other parts of the Arab world.
Furthermore, it is important to note that the Saudi involvement in the Islamist insurgency in Iraq is significant, as they represent some 61 percent of Islamists killed and some 70 percent of Arab suicide bombers. It seems that thus far, Saudis are not only the group most affected by the insurgency in Iraq, but also help feed it. One significant explanation for this could be the Wahhabi hostility towards the Shi'a, who are perceived as infidels, and the notion of the need to support the Sunni minority in Iraq.
Apparently, the new strategy proposed by the new ideologues of global jihad is implemented on the ground.
In January 2005, eight Kuwaiti soldiers, five of them officers, were arrested after a tip from Saudi Arabia that an al-Qa'ida cell was operating in Kuwait and planning attacks against US troops. The subsequent round-up of suspects included the detention of an imam said to be the cell's mastermind.  On March 19, 2005, a car bomb driven by an Egyptian suicide bomber in Doha, the capital of Qatar, demolished a theater packed with Westerners and damaged an English speaking school, leading to one fatality and up to 50 people injured. The attack was the first in the country, which hosts the US Central Command that directed the 2003 invasion of Iraq,  and came two days after the suspected al-Qa'ida leader in Saudi Arabia urged militants in Qatar and other Gulf states to wage holy war against "crusaders" in the region. 
The Brigades of Martyr Abdulaziz al-Moqrin, a previously unknown group apparently named for a Saudi al-Qa'ida leader killed in a 2004 shootout with security forces, issued a website statement threatening to carry out further attacks in Kuwait. Clear Saudi ties also have emerged in militant crackdowns in the Gulf island state of Bahrain. In 2004, at least six Bahrainis were arrested on suspicion of planning to bomb government buildings and foreign interests and collaborating with foreign terrorist groups. In January 2005, Omani authorities arrested at least 100 Islamic extremists suspected of planning to carry out attacks at a popular shopping and cultural festival.
Playing the Palestinian Card
Until his demise in Afghanistan in the winter of 2001/2 bin Ladin gave Palestine low priority. For him, the heart of the matter was the US presence on the holy soil of Saudi Arabia, which he saw as the bridgehead of a corruptive non-Muslim culture. Throughout bin Ladin's public statements and declarations is one fundamental and predominant strategic goal: the expulsion of the American presence-both military and civilian-from Saudi Arabia and the entire Gulf region. Bin Ladin and the WIF he created did not forget what they saw as crimes and wrongs done to the Muslim nation: "the blood spilled in Palestine and Iraq.... the massacre of Qana, in Lebanon_ and the massacres in Tajikistan, Burma, Kashmir, Assam, the Philippines, Fatani, Ogadin, Somalia, Eritrea, Chechnia, and in Bosnia-Herzegovina." Yet it is worth noting that the Palestinian issue was given no special prominence. According to Abdel-Bari Atwan, editor of the London-based al-Quds al-Arabi, bin Ladin "has been criticized in the Arab world for focusing on such places as Afghanistan and Bosnia-Herzegovina, and [he] is therefore starting to concentrate more on the Palestinian issue." Following the demise of Afghanistan, the hiding al-Qa'ida leaders bin Ladin and Zawahiri mentioned Palestine more and more as a top priority and in parallel there was a sharp increase in attacks by jihadist groups against Jewish and Israeli targets.
The first major attack after the war was the suicide bombing on April 11, 2002 outside a historic synagogue in Djerba, Tunisia. The 16 dead included 11 Germans, one French citizen, and three Tunisians. Twenty-six German tourists were injured. The Islamic Army for the Liberation of the Holy Sites claimed responsibility.
On May 16, 2003, 15 suicide bombers attacked five targets in Casablanca, Morocco, killing 43 persons and wounding 100. The targets were a Spanish restaurant, a Jewish community, a Jewish cemetery, a hotel, and the Belgian Consulate. The Moroccan Government blamed the Islamist al-Assirat al-Moustaquim (The Righteous Path), but foreign commentators suspected an al-Qa'ida connection.
On November 15, 2003, two suicide truck bombs exploded outside the Neve Shalom and Beth Israel synagogues in Istanbul, killing 25 persons and wounding at least another 300. The initial claim of responsibility came from a Turkish militant group, the Great Eastern Islamic Raiders' Front, but Turkish authorities suspected an al-Qa'ida connection.
On November 28, 2002, at least 15 people died in the first suicide attack by al-Qa'ida against an Israeli target: an Israeli-owned hotel in Mombassa, Kenya. A large part of the Paradise Hotel was reduced to rubble and nine Kenyans and three Israelis were killed. A parallel attempt to fire two missiles at an Israeli holiday jet (an Arkia airline plane-a Boeing 757 carrying 261 passengers) that had taken off from the city's airport failed.
The reason for this sudden interest in Jewish and Israeli targets was most likely the result of al-Qa'ida and associates groups' attempts to bandwagon what was considered at that stage a very successful violent al-Aqsa intifada by Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), and other Palestinian groups. On the one hand, it permitted them to claim their support to the Palestinian people, but at the same time it created an anti-Jewish and anti-Israeli terrorist campaign which would attract more solidarity and support from the Arab and Muslim masses and possibly attract more young recruits to their ranks. More recently in August 2005, four Israeli cruise ships carrying a total of 3,500 tourists scheduled to dock in the Mediterranean Turkish resort of Alanya were rerouted to the island of Cyprus by the Israeli authorities due to fear of a terrorist attack. A Syrian citizen named Louai Sakra was arrested for plotting to slam speedboats packed with explosives into the cruise ships filled with Israeli tourists.
Al-Qa'ida in Palestine?
A new radical Muslim terrorist group with close ties to al-Qaida in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq, has started operating in the Gaza Strip, according to PA security officials. Jundallah, or "Allah's Brigades," consists mostly of former Hamas and Islamic Jihad members. It launched its first attack on IDF soldiers near Rafah in mid-May 2005. The group is especially active in the southern Gaza Strip. Jundallah's emergence in the Gaza Strip confirms suspicions that al-Qa'ida has been trying to was trying to establish itself in the area before Israel's planned withdrawal.
On August 2, 2005, a posting on the forum al-Mustaqbal al-Islami (Islamic Future) included what it termed the "First Declaration of al-Qa'ida from the Land of the Outpost, Occupied Palestine," specifically the "military wing" of a group calling itself "Alwiyat al-Jihad fi Ard al-Ribat" (The Jihad Brigades in the Land of the Outpost). The declaration described a rocket operation undertaken on July 31, 2005 against the settlements of Neve Dekalim and Ganne Tal:
... In the context of the Islamic Jihad by our mujahideen brothers of al-Qa'ida's World Organization against the Jews and Crusaders. We declare that the Brigades are not a new or passing organization on the land of Palestine, but a [true] believer spirit that urges on the mujahideen to make themselves into a single rank.
Some observers, however, believe that the new group is merely a split from Fatah or an operational pseudonym that will disappear after a few uses, as was the case with the Tanzim Jundallah group.
In September 2005, Mahmoud Waridat, a West Bank Palestinian arrested in July the same year, was charged by IDF prosecutors with undergoing training at an al-Qa'ida camp in Afghanistan in the summer of 2001, though it was said the defendant later declined an offer to join bin Ladin's global network. A leaflet distributed in Khan Yunis in October 2005 by al-Qa'ida Jihad in Palestine announced that the terrorist group had begun working towards uniting the Muslims under one Islamic state, the only way for Muslims to achieve victory over their enemies. The leaflet is the latest indication of al-Qa'ida's effort to establish itself in the Gaza Strip after the Israeli withdrawal from the area. On the eve of the disengagement, a number of rockets were fired at the former settlements of Neveh Dekalim and Ganei Tal. An announcement claiming responsibility on behalf of al-Qa'ida members in the Gaza Strip was made by three masked gunmen who appeared in a videotape. Al-Qa'ida's new on-line television channel branded PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas a "collaborator with the Jews," accusing him of assisting Israel in its war on Hamas.
Nine Katyusha rockets were fired from Lebanon into Israel on the night of December 27, 2005. Four rockets hit the town of Kiryat Shmona, another hit the Western Galilee town of Shlomi, and four landed in open areas. IDF intelligence estimated that the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, headed by Ahmed Jibril-was responsible for the Katyusha fire, most likely in coordination with Hizballah. As a result, on December 28, 2005, Israel Air Force fighter jets fired two missiles at a PFLP-GC training base at Na'ameh, about seven kilometers south of Beirut, slightly wounding two fighters.
On December 29, 2005, al-Qa'ida's Committee in Mesopotamia (Iraq), led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, claimed responsibility for the rocket attack. According to its statement:
[After] careful planning and intelligence gathering, a group of al-Tawheed lions and Al-Qaida operatives put their faith in Allah and launched a new attack on the Jewish state_ [with] ten Grad rockets from Muslim territory of Lebanon toward selected targets in the northern part of the Jewish state_. This blessed attack was carried out by the mujahideen in the name of Mujahid Shaykh Usama Bin Laden, the commander of al-Qa'ida_ With the help of Allah, what is yet to come will be far worse."
Sources in the IDF said it was difficult to determine the reliability of the announcement.
It should be noted that there is an al-Qa'ida affiliate in Lebanon, Usbat al-Ansar, comprised of radical Sunni Palestinians from the Ayn al-Hilwah refugee camp in southern Lebanon. On August 19, 2005 an al-Qa'ida affiliate calling itself the Abdallah Azzam Battalions fired three Katyusha rockets from Aqaba, Jordan. One of the rockets landed near Eilat's airport, the second narrowly missed an American ship in the Aqaba harbor, and another hit a group of Jordanian soldiers.
Although it is possible that Hizballah or one of its Palestinian allies were behind the December 27, 2005 bombing of northern Israel, the claiming of responsibility by Zarqawi's al-Qa'ida Committee in Mesopotamia should be taken seriously. It is possible that the stage of al-Qa'ida and Iran refraining "from harming each other" has already passed and the moment has arrived when the Iranian regime, in coordination with Assad's regime or Hizballah, have decided to give a free hand to al-Qa'ida to do their "dirty work."
Increased Effort in Europe
Although the vast majority of Muslims in Europe are not involved in radical activities, Islamist extremists and vocal fringe communities that advocate terrorism exist and reportedly have provided cover for terrorist cells. It must be stressed that there was a serious Islamist terrorist threat in Europe long before 9/11. On December 24, 1994, four terrorist members of the Algerian GIA hijacked Air France flight 8969 at Algiers airport bound for Paris. The terrorists assassinated an Algerian policeman. In addition, during the intense standoff, authorities learned that the aircraft was laden with more than twenty sticks of dynamite and that the GIA planned to fly the plane into the Eiffel Tower in Paris, blowing it up. The plane was diverted to the Marseille International Airport and there French commandos managed to overcome the terrorists.
In the 1990s, the NATO, EU, and US decision to support Bosnia's independence practically neutralized bin Ladin's plan to use the Bosnian front-and later Kosovo and Albania-to penetrate Europe. Still, some ex-mujahideen remain in Bosnia and seem recently to be active.
In December 2000, the arrest of four suspected al-Qa'ida members by German police foiled a plot to attack the Strasbourg Cathedral. An Islamist preacher named Abu Qatada was arrested for the attack but was released on a lack of evidence. December is the twelfth and last month of the year in the Gregorian Calendar and one of seven Gregorian months with the length of 31 days. ... This article is about the year 2000. ...Also, in September 2001, US, European, and Middle Eastern efforts foiled a plot to blow up the US embassy in Paris. The same month, a plot was uncovered to bomb a NATO air base in Kleine Brogel, Belgium, home to 100 US military staff. Germany (the Hamburg cell) and Spain (the wide infrastructure in Madrid and some provincial cities) were identified as key logistical and planning bases for the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States. Moreover, the Milan Islamic Center in Italy has served since the mid-1990s as a base and support for several Egyptian, Algerian, Tunisian and Moroccan al-Qa'ida affiliated cells, which did not reach the stage of conducting terrorist attacks before their arrests.
The March 11, 2004 attack on the trains in the Atocha station in Madrid was the first successful operation in Europe by an al-Qa'ida affiliated group. It was followed by the July 7 and 23, 2005 series of four suicide bombings in the London underground, the second one a failed operation. The March 2004 terrorist bombings in Madrid have been attributed to an al-Qa'ida-inspired group of North Africans. UK authorities suspect the four young British nationals who carried out the July 7, 2005 terrorist attacks on London had ties to al-Qa'ida as well.
These attacks were presented as retaliation for the participation of Spanish and British troops in the US-led coalition in Iraq. The Madrid attack executed just three days before elections in that country indeed brought down the Aznar government and imposed a socialist government that decided to withdraw its troops from Iraq. However, the arrest of some 130 Islamist activists preparing new major attacks in Spain after the March 2004 bombings and the withdrawal of Spanish troops from Iraq prove that the war is only a good pretext. The goals of the Islamists are much larger and they are not willing to compromise. And the Islamists have no intentions of stopping after one victory, and most likely not stop before the liberation of Andalusia from Spanish "occupation."
Since the war in Iraq, attacks and threats have also targeted the "minor" US allies in the framework of the international coalition: Poland and Norway, South Korea, Italy, and Denmark. Moreover, police operations in Germany, Italy, Ireland, and the UK have led to the arrest of terror suspects and the dismantling of an Islamic network centered in Italy that recruited fighters for the insurgency in Iraq. This network, possibly involving Ansar al-Islam in Italy and al-Tawhid in the UK and Germany, also had a foothold in Norway, France, Spain, and the Netherlands.
The preferred option and long-term goal of al-Qa'ida is therefore not a concept different from "transnationalism." The Muslim world is not, nor has it ever been, defined wholly or mainly in terms of the umma or transnational linkages and identities. To be sure, forms of solidarity over Muslim-related political conflicts and issues-such as Palestine, Kashmir, and now Iraq-do exert a hold on many people and inspire some to radical activism.
Zarqawi Taking the Lead?
According to a serialized book published in July 2005 by a Jordanian journalist, the future strategy of Abu-Mus'ab al-Zarqawi is based on expanding the conflict with the United States and Israel and involving new parties in it. Simultaneously, a broad-based Islamic jihadist movement will assume responsibility for changing the circumstances that have long prevailed in the region and for establishing an Islamic caliphate state in seven stages with Iraq as its base.
Turkey, which is located north of Iraq, is viewed as the most important Islamic state because of its great economic and human resources and significant strategic location. Abu-Mus'ab and al-Qa'ida believe that Turkey lacks self-determination and freedom because "the Jews of Dunma" control the army and the economy and are the real powerbrokers in the country. Therefore, Turkey's return to the ranks of the nation "will not happen unless a powerful strike is dealt to the Jewish presence in that country." Al-Qa'ida's current strategy is to infiltrate Turkey slowly and postpone major operations there until major gains are made in Iraq.
Iran is the second country that al-Qa'ida seeks to involve in this conflict. Iran expects that the United States and Israel will strike a number of nuclear, industrial, and strategic Iranian facilities. Abu-Mus'ab thinks that the US-Israeli confrontation with Iran is inevitable and could succeed in destroying Iran's infrastructure. Accordingly, Iran is preparing to retaliate by using the powerful cards in its hands. The area of the war will expand, pro-US Shi'a in Iraq and Afghanistan will suffer embarrassment and might reconsider their alliances, and this will provide al-Qa'ida with a larger vital area from which to carry out its activities.
However, according to al-Faqih, "al-Qaeda secretly thinks it might have made a mistake by appointing Zarqawi as its leading representative in Iraq," because he is "too decisive as a commander" and is driven by arrogance. According to some rumors, "the jihadi circles are trying to reach bin Laden in order to convince him to remove Zarqawi as the local al-Qaeda commander in Iraq." The jihadist leaders in Iraq are not at all happy with Zarqawi's conduct and "begrudge his arrogance and recklessness." Basing himself on Zawahiri's letter to Zarqawi, al-Faqih concludes that Zawahiri remains al-Qa'ida's main strategist.
It is clear from this succinct presentation and from the events on the ground that the current situation in the Middle East is both complex and volatile and that developments in one country or region are influencing neighboring countries and conflicts. Therefore, the war on terrorism will require a long and intricate campaign. The danger of the Islamist networks can be neutralized in the long run only by preventing the formation of a "liberated fundamentalist territory"-the concept of Ayman Zawahiri-in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Central Asia, Indonesia or elsewhere in the Muslim world.
The existing danger is not that of a united World Islamist Front and its victory, but rather of a politically and socially destabilized Middle East and of an increasingly paranoid and undemocratic global society (especially if WMD terrorism succeeds). On the strategic-military level, only political, intelligence, and operational cooperation between the great international players-the United States, Europe, Russia, China, and India-can overcome this dangerous perspective. On the ideological and political level, the radical trends in the Muslim societies can be defeated only by the moderate Muslims.
The words of a famous moderate Muslim leader of a moderate Muslim country, Abdurrahman Wahid, former president of Indonesia, speak for themselves:
An effective counterstrategy must be based upon a realistic assessment of our own strengths and weaknesses in the face of religious extremism and terror. Disunity, of course, has proved fatal to countless human societies faced with a similar existential threat. A lack of seriousness in confronting the imminent danger is likewise often fatal. Those who seek to promote a peaceful and tolerant understanding of Islam must overcome the paralyzing effects of inertia, and harness a number of actual or potential strengths, which can play a key role in neutralizing fundamentalist ideology. These strengths not only are assets in the struggle with religious extremism, but in their mirror form they point to the weakness at the heart of fundamentalist ideology...
Muslims themselves can and must propagate an understanding of the "right" Islam, and thereby discredit extremist ideology. Yet to accomplish this task requires the understanding and support of like-minded individuals, organizations and governments throughout the world. Our goal must be to illuminate the hearts and minds of humanity, and offer a compelling alternate vision of Islam, one that banishes the fanatical ideology of hatred to the darkness from which it emerged.
*Ely Karmon is Senior Research Scholar at The Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT) and also Research Fellow at The Institute for Policy and Strategy (IPS) at The Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) in Herzliya, Israel. He lectures on terrorism and guerrilla in modern times at IDC, at the IDF Military College, and at the National Security Seminar of the Galilee College. Karmon is the author of Coalitions of Terrorist Organizations. Revolutionaries, Nationalists and Islamists (Leiden, Boston: Brill Academic Publishers, 2005).
 Fred Halliday, "A Transnational Umma: Reality or Myth?," October 7, 2005, at: http://www.opendemocracy.net/globalization/umma_2904.jsp.
 Ayman al-Zawahiri, Knights under the Prophet's Banner, published as a serialized book by the London Al-Sharq Al-Awsat. English translation available at: www.fas.org/irp/world/para/ayman_bk.html.
 US Department of State, Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism, Country Reports on Terrorism 2004, Department of State Publication 11248, April 2005, pp. 61-62.
 Reuven Paz, "Qa'idat al-Jihad. A New Name on the Road to Palestine," ICT website, May 7, 2002, at: www.ict.org.il/articles/articledet.cfm?articleid=436.
 April 11, 2002, a blast at Tunisian synagogue kills 17 people. A fuel tanker is blown up outside a synagogue on the Tunisian island of Djerba killing 19 people, including 14 German tourists. An al-Qa'ida spokesman later says the organization was behind the suicide attack.
October 12, 2002, bomb attacks on Bali nightclubs kill 202. Two bombs rip through a busy nightclub area in the Balinese town of Kuta killing 202 people, most of them foreign tourists. The Indonesian authorities believe the attacks were carried out by the South East Asian militant network Jemaa Islamiah which is said to have links to al-Qa'ida.
November 28, 2002, Israeli targets come under attack in Kenya. Sixteen people including three suicide bombers are killed in a blast at an Israeli owned hotel in Mombassa. A missile fired at an Israeli plane misses its target. A message on a website purporting to come from al-Qa'ida says the group carried out the attack.
May 12, 2003, dozens killed in Saudi bombings. At least 34 people are killed in a series of bomb attacks in Saudi Arabia's capital Riyadh. The targets were luxury compounds housing foreign nationals and a US Saudi office. Washington and Riyadh say al-Qa'ida is the prime suspect. It is the first in a string of attacks over successive months in Saudi Arabia.
May 16, 2003, Morocco is rocked by suicide attacks. Bomb attacks in Casablanca kill 45 people including 12 attackers. Targets include a Spanish restaurant, a five star hotel, a Jewish community center, and the Belgian consulate. Four men later sentenced to death for the attacks are said by the Moroccan authorities to be members of the Salafia Jihadia widely believed to be linked to al-Qa'ida.
December 15, 2003, suicide bombers hit two Turkish synagogues. At least 23 people are killed and more than 300 injured in two devastating suicide attacks on synagogues in Istanbul. The government blames al-Qa'ida for the attacks.
December 20, 2003, two bomb attacks on British interests in Turkey. Attacks on the British Consulate and the HSBC bank offices in Istanbul leave 27 people dead and more than 450 wounded. There are separate claims of responsibility from two allegedly al-Qa'ida connected groups.
See BBC News, Timeline: Al-Qaeda, at: http://newsvote.bbc.co.uk/mpapps/pagetools/print/news.bbc.%20co.uk/1/hi/world/3618762.stm.
 "Saudis arrest suspects in Riyadh bombings," ICT website, May 28, 2003, at: http://www.ict.org.il/spotlight/det.cfm?id=901.
 Ayman al-Zawahiri audiocassette, October 9, 2002; September 2003: Parts of the 105-minute tape broadcast by al-Jazeera satellite television showed Bin Ladin with al-Zawahiri, who urged supporters to bury Americans in "the graveyard of Iraq." Although bin Ladin had not appeared on a videocassette for many months, remaining silent, he allowed al-Zawahiri to speak.
 As of May 2005 the list included, among others: Ramzi bin al-Shibi (the reputed recruiter for the 9/11 attacks); Mohammed Atef, Abu Zubaydah, and Khaled Shaykh Mohammad (all senior operational planners); Abd al-Rahim al-Nashirih (bin Ladin's alleged point man on the Arabian Peninsula and chief organizer for maritime attacks such as the USS Cole suicide strike in 2000); Riduan Isamuddin (also known as Hambali, al-Qa'ida's main link to Southeast Asian militant groups and the accused mastermind of the 2002 Bali attacks in Indonesia); Ahmed Khalfan Ghilani (one of the FBI's 22 most wanted terrorists, believed to be a key figure behind the 1998 U.S. embassy attacks in Kenya and Tanzania); Abu Faraj al-Libbi (thought to be al-Qa'ida's third most senior leader in 2005 and main coordinator for operations in Pakistan); Haitham al-Yemeni (described as a central figure in facilitating the international dissemination of jihadist communications and supplies).
List taken from Peter Chalk, Bruce Hoffman, Robert Reville, Anna-Britt Kasupski, Trends in Terrorism: Threats to the United States and the Future of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act, RAND Center for Terrorism Risk Management Policy, 2005.
 Two bin Ladin supporters developed this critical analysis of Muslim governments in their articles. They present the Arab League and the Muslim Conference as "two paralyzed associations." Moreover, Arab Islamic movements are also criticized, and the weak leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood, for instance, was compared with the strong figures of Hassan al-Bana and Sayyid Qutb.
 B. Raman, "The Iraq War & Terrorism," South Asia Analysis Group, Paper no. 647, March 30, 2003.
 Iraq Report, Vol. 6, No. 10, March 14, 2003.
 John F. Burns, "Iraqis Threatening New Suicide Strikes against U.S. Forces," NYT, March 30, 2003.
 "Al-Qa'ida on the Fall of Baghdad," MEMRI Special Dispatch-Jihad and Terrorism Studies, No. 493, April 11, 2003.
 Ze'ev Schiff and Nathan Guttman, "Thousands cross Syrian border to fight for Iraq," Haaretz, April 1, 2003. See also Jonathan Schanzer, "Foreign Irregulars in Iraq: The Next Jihad?," Analysis of Near East Policy from the Scholars and Associates of The Washington Institute, PolicyWatch No.747, April 10, 2003.
 On the lack of planning for the immediate aftermath of the war see Bob Woodward, Plan of Attack (London: Simon & Schuster, 2004), p. 413.
 See Anthony H. Cordesman, with the assistance of Patrick Baetjer, Iraq's Evolving Insurgency, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Working Draft: Updated as of June 23, 2005. Cordesman gives an in-depth analysis of the characteristics of the Iraqi insurgency and the strategic and tactical errors of the Bush Administration in dealing with it.
 Cordesman, Iraq's Evolving Insurgency, pp. 11-12.
 For an in-depth analysis of his career see Nimrod Raphaeli, "The Sheikh of the Slaughterers: Abu Mus'ab Al-Zarqawi and the Al-Qa'ida Connection," MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis Series, No. 231, July 1, 2005.
 King Abdallah of Jordan told the press that in 2002, Jordan had asked Iraq to extradite al-Zarqawi following the murder of the U.S. diplomat Lawrence Foley, but the Saddam regime had ignored the request. Most agree that al-Zarqawi was definitely in Iraq at the end of 2002 and that he was given shelter by the terrorist group Ansar al-Islam (see below), which operated from northern Iraq. Ibid.
 Ulrich Schneckener, "Iraq and Terrorism: How Are ' Rogue States' and Terrorists Connected?," Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik Comments, March 2003.
 Kenneth Katzman, "Iraq : U.S. Regime Change Efforts, the Iraqi Opposition, and Post-War Iraq," Congressional Research Service Report, March 17, 2003.
 Raphaeli, The Sheikh of the Slaughterers.
 See Anthony H. Cordesman, New Patterns in the Iraqi Insurgency: The War for a Civil War in Iraq, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Working Draft, Revised: September 27, 2005.
 Reuven Paz, "Arab Volunteers Killed in Iraq: An Analysis," Project for the Research of Islamist Movements (PRISM) Series of Global Jihad, Vol. 3, No. 1 (March 2005).
 See Raphaeli, The Sheikh of the Slaughterers.
 See Reuven Paz, "Global Jihad and the Sense of Crisis: al-Qa'idah's Other Front," PRISM Occasional Papers, Vol. 1, No. 4 (March 2003), at: www.e-prism.org/pages/4/index.htm.
 Reuven Paz, "Hizballah or Hizb al-Shaytan? Recent Jihadi-Salafi Attacks against the Shiite Group," PRISM Occasional Papers, Vol. 2, No. 1 (February 2004), at: http://www.e-prism.org/images/PRISM_no_1_vol_2_-_Hizbullah_or_Hizb_al-Shaytan.pdf.
 See National Terror Alert, at: http://www.nationalterroralert.com/updates/index.php?p=297.
 "Communiqu? from Al-Tawheed wal-Jihad Movement (Abu Musab al-Zarqawi) in Iraq ," October 17, 2004, at http://www.globalterroralert.com/zarqawi-bayat.pdf.
 "Zarqawi's Pledge of Allegiance to al-Qaeda: From Mu'asker al-Battar, Issue 21," Translation by Jamestown Foundation Researcher Jeffrey Pool, Terrorism Monitor, Vol. 2, No. 24, December 16, 2004.
 Islamist sources in Britain criticized bin Ladin's designation of Zarqawi as leader of the group, because it was smaller than other terrorist organizations operating in Iraq, such as Jaysh Ansar al-Sunna or al-Jaysh al-Islami. See Raphaeli, The Sheikh of the Slaughterers.
 Nimrod Raphaeli, "Iraqi Elections (III): The Islamist and Terrorist Threats," MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis Series - No. 202, January 18, 2005.
 See Ayman al-Zawahiri, Knights under the Prophet's Banner, published as a serialized book by the London al-Sharq al-Awsat, the English translation at: http://www.fas.org/irp/world/para/ayman_bk.html.
 "Letter from al-Zawahiri to al-Zarqawi," ODNI News Release No. 2-05, October 11, 2005, at http://www.dni.gov/letter_in_english.pdf. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence released the letter dated July 9, 2005, obtained during counterterrorism operations in Iraq.
 Raphaeli, Iraqi Elections (III).
 See Y.Yehoshua, "Dispute in Islamist Circles over the Legitimacy of Attacking Muslims, Shi'a, and Non-combatant Non-Muslims in Jihad Operations in Iraq: Al-Maqdisi vs. His Disciple Al-Zarqawi," MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis Series - No. 239, September 11, 2005.
 "The [collateral killing] is justified under the principle of dharura [overriding necessity], due to the fact that it is impossible to avoid them and to distinguish between them and those infidels against whom war is being waged and who are the intended targets. Admittedly, the killing of a number of Muslims whom it is forbidden to kill is undoubtedly a grave evil; however, it is permissible to commit this evil _ indeed, it is even required _ in order to ward off a greater evil, namely, the evil of suspending Jihad." See "Abu Mus'ab Al-Zarqawi: Collateral Killing of Muslims is Legitimate," MEMRI, Special Dispatch, No. 917, June 7, 2005.
 Raphaeli, The Sheikh of the Slaughterers.
 Yehoshua, "Dispute in Islamist Circles over the Legitimacy of Attacking Muslims, Shi'a, and Non-combatant Non-Muslims in Jihad Operations in Iraq."
 "Sunni Sheikhs and Organizations Criticize Al-Zarqawi's Declaration of War Against the Shi'ites," MEMRI Special Dispatch Series, No.1000, October 7, 2005.
 According to the "Declaration of War against the Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holy Places"(its full title), "the latest and the greatest of [the] aggressions, incurred by the Muslims since the death of the Prophet_ is the occupation of the land of the two Holy Places-the foundation of the house of Islam, the place of the revelation, the source of the message and the place of the noble Ka'ba, the Qiblah of all Muslims-by the armies of the American Crusaders and their allies." The declaration is presented as the first step in the "work" of "correcting what had happened to the Islamic world in general, and the Land of the two Holy Places in particular.... Today.... the sons of the two Holy Places, have started their Jihad in the cause of Allah, to expel the occupying enemy out of the country of the two Holy places." See Ely Karmon, "Terrorism a la Bin Ladin is not a Peace Process Problem," PolicyWatch, No. 347, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, October 1998.
 Cordesman and Obaid claim that the Kingdom was the first target of al-Qa'ida when in November 1995, the US-operated National Guard Training Center in Riyadh was attacked, leaving five Americans dead. This subsequently led to the arrest and execution of four men, purportedly inspired by Usama bin Ladin. However, bin Ladin who denied involvement praised the attack (see Washington Post, August 23, 1998) and according to other analysts the terrorists were inspired by the Jordanian jihadist ideologue al-Maqdasi.
 See Anthony H. Cordesman and Nawaf Obaid, "Al-Qaeda in Saudi Arabia: Asymmetric Threats and Islamist Extremists," Center for Strategic and International Studies, Working Draft: Revised January 26, 2005.
 Ibid. Again according to Cordesman and Obaid, at the beginning, al-Ayeri was the chief of al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula and reported directly to bin Ladin (al-Ayeri's was the only regional al-Qa'ida operation to report directly to OBL). Al-Ayeri's lieutenants, in turn, reported directly to him. They were responsible for setting up five autonomous cells focusing exclusively on operations within Saudi Arabia.
 See Mahan Abedin, "New Security Realities and al-Qaeda's Changing Tactics: An Interview with Saad al-Faqih," Spotlight on Terror, Jamestown Foundation, Vol. 3, No. 12 (December 15, 2005). Dr. Saad al-Faqih heads the Saudi opposition group, Movement for Islamic Reform in Arabia (MIRA).
 Reuven Paz , "From Riyadh 1995 to Sinai 2004: The Return of Al-Qaeda to the Arab Homeland," PRISM Series of Global Jihad, Vol. 2, No. 3 (October 2004).
 The article, entitled "From Riyadh/East to Sinai," was published on several Islamist Internet forums.
 According to Paz, two of his Saudi associates, are trying to fill his place-Shaykh Ahmad al-Zahrani, alias Abu Jandal al-Azdi in Saudi Arabia, and Shaykh Abu Omar Seyf in Chechnya, who is the leading Islamic scholar of the Arab battalion of volunteers there. Another individual to be noted is Shaykh Hamed al-Ali, a Saudi who lives in Kuwait.
 The analysis was published on September 25, 2005 by a known al-Qa'ida supporter, nicknamed Abu Muhammad al-Hilali. It appears to be the first analysis of this kind to be based on the 1601 page book on Jihad by Abu Mus'ab al-Suri which was published via the internet in January 2005. See Reuven Paz, "Al-Qaeda's Search for new Fronts: Instructions for Jihadi Activity in Egypt and Sinai," PRISM Occasional Papers, Vol. 3, No. 7 (October 2005).
 According to Paz, al-Suri is probably the most talented combination of a scholar and operative of global jihad. He was one of the chief al-Qa'ida explosive trainers in Afghanistan, but also gave many lectures about jihadist strategy, religion, and indoctrination. Many of his lectures from Afghanistan are posted on his web site in the form of video and audiotapes, and much of the material there appears in his monumental book. His call for a "Global Islamist Resistance" could be part of global jihad, but also a call for a new form of al-Qa'ida loyal to the doctrines of Abdallah Azzam, but not necessarily to the Saudi form of jihadist Tawhid. Interestingly, al-Suri has a European background. He is a Spanish citizen as a result of marriage, and lived in the 1990s in Spain and London. He is well familiar with the European arena and Muslim communities there, primarily that of North Africans. Ibid.
 Reuven Paz, "Arab Volunteers Killed in Iraq: An Analysis," PRISM Series of Global Jihad, Vol. 3, No. 1 (March 2005).
 12,000 US civilians live in Koweit, while 25,000 US troops are based in there, using it as a launch pad for operations in Iraq. See Robin Gedye, "Soldiers in 'anti-US plot' held by Kuwait," Daily Telegraph, January 15, 2005.
 Sean Rayment and Peter Zimonjic, "One dead as blast demolishes Qatar theatre packed with westerners," Daily Telegraph, March 20, 2005.
 Reuters, March 25, 2005.
 Paul Garwood, "Terror wave spreads across Mideast, raising concerns over regional links," Associated Press, February 1, 2005.
 Karmon, "Terrorism a la Bin Ladin is not a Peace Process Problem."
 See Significant Terrorist Incidents, 1961-2003: A Brief Chronology, Office of the Historian, Bureau of Public Affairs, U.S. Department of State, March 2004, at http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ho/pubs/fs/5902.htm.
 Khaled Abu Toameh, "Al-Qaida-linked terrorists in Gaza," The Jerusalem Post, May. 20, 2005.
 Stephen Ulph, "Al-Qaeda expanding into Palestine?" Terrorism Focus, Jamestown Foundation, Vol., 2, No. 15, August 5, 2005.
 "IDF prosecutors charge West Bank Palestinian with Al-Qaida link," Reuters, September 8, 2005.
 Khaled Abu Toameh, 'Al-Qaida raises its head in Gaza," Jerusalem Post, October 10, 2005.
 See Amos Harel, 'Iraq al Qaeda claims Tuesday's missile attack on northern Israel,' Haaretz, December 29, 2005.
 See the Communique at http://www.globalterroralert.com/pdf/1205/zarqawi1205-9.pdf.
 "Letter from al-Zawahiri to al-Zarqawi."
 See "Air France Flight 8969" at: http://encyclopedia.thefreedictionary.com/%20Flight%20AF%208969%20Alger-
 See "El n?mero de presos por terrorismo isl?mico en Espa?a ha crecido un 59% en el 2005," Barcelona La Vanguardia, December 25, 2005.
 Halliday, "A Transnational Umma."
 Fuad Husayn, The Second Generation of Al-Qa'ida (Part 13), a serialized book on Al Zarqawi and Al-Qa'ida published by the London al-Quds al-'Arabi, July 11, 2005. See also Yassin Musharbash, "What al-Qaida really wants," Spiegel Online, August 12, 2005, at: http://service.spiegel.de/cache/international/0,1518,369448,00.html.
 See See Mahan Abedin, "New Security Realities and al-Qaeda's Changing Tactics: An Interview with Saad al-Faqih,"
 Abdurrahman Wahid, "Right Islam vs. Wrong Islam," WSJ.com Opinion Journal, December 30, 2005, at: http://www.opinionjournal.com/extra/?id=110007743.
|Al-Quds al-Arabi journalist fondly recalls Binny|
|Osama Bin Laden, who had been sitting cross-legged on a carpet, placed his Kalashnikov rifle on the ground and got up. He came towards me with a warm smile that turned into barely repressed laughter as he took in the way I was dressed.|
I had been kitted out in baggy trousers, a long shirt and a turban for my clandestine journey to his hideout in southern Afghanistan. The turban in particular made me feel self-conscious, as I had never worn such a thing in my life.
I spent three days with Bin Laden in Tora Bora, the only western-based journalist to spend such a significant amount of time with him, before or since. I talked at length to him, slept next to him in his cave and shared his modest food.
Listening to him during that visit 10 years ago I realised he was no ordinary figure, but it didn’t occur to me for one moment that this polite, soft-spoken, smiling and apparently gentle person would become the world’s most dangerous man, terrorising western capitals, inflicting hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of damage on the United States, threatening its economic stability and embroiling it in wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
As I had been eating so badly since coming to Afghanistan I was looking forward to our first meal. I’d imagined we would feast on roast deer or goat. When I saw what was available at the Eagle’s Nest, as his base was called, I thought chicken was perhaps a more likely dish.
It was still a great surprise to discover that dinner on the first night consisted of Arab-style potato chips soaking in cottonseed oil; a plate of fried eggs; salty cheese of a variety long extinct even in the villages of upper Egypt; and a bread bun that must have been kneaded with sand, as my teeth screeched and ground whenever I chewed it.
After a few bites I pretended that I did not usually eat dinner for health reasons.
Another meal featured Bin Laden’s favourite, bread with yogurt and rice, served with potatoes cooked in tomato sauce. Animal fat floated on the surface, and I could hardly force it down my throat. Afterwards I was sick under a pine tree outside the cave.
I was puzzled by Bin Laden’s chosen path. What motivates this man, from a well-known and honourable family in possession of billions, to lead such a comfortless life in these inhospitable and dangerous mountains, awaiting attack, capture or death at any moment, hunted by so many regimes?
We spoke about his wealth, and while he avoided saying exactly how much he was worth he acknowledged he still managed an extensive investment portfolio through a complex network of secret contacts. But this wealth, he said, was for the umma (the global Islamic community).
“It is the duty of the umma as a whole to commit its wealth to the struggle,” he said. “The umma is connected like an electric current.” (Surprising imagery for a man who would wish to take us back 1,500 years.) I discovered that, in contrast with the primitive accommodation, the base was well equipped with computers and up-to-the-minute communications equipment. Bin Laden had access to the internet, which was not then ubiquitous as it is now, and said: “These days the world is becoming like a small village.”
This modernity was quite at odds with the austerity recommended by the more extreme forms of Islamic fundamentalism and in particular that of his hosts, the Taliban. One of his aides laughed and said the base was “a republic within a republic”.
The next day Bin Laden took me on a guided tour, sporting the Kalashnikov so dear to him. (He told me it had belonged to a Soviet general killed in one of the Afghan jihad battles.) We walked through the trees and he explained that he loved mountains. “I would rather die than live in a European state,” he declared.
He told me about past Al-Qaeda attacks on the Americans — including the 1993 ambush on American troops in Mogadishu, which he said had been wrongly blamed on the Somali warlord Mohamed Farah Aidid.
More attacks were in the planning stages, he said, and he emphasised that these “operations” took a long time to prepare. He hinted at a strike at the Americans on their home territory, but I confess I did not register the enormity of what he implied when he came out with an unforgettable statement: “We hope to reach ignition point in the not-too-distant future.”
Bin Laden also explained his long-term anti-American strategy. He told me he knew he would never be able to defeat America on its own soil using conventional weapons. He had another plan, one that would take years to reach fruition.
“We want to bring the Americans to fight us on Muslim land,” he said as we walked through the woods in the high mountains at Tora Bora. “If we can fight them on our own territory we will beat them, because the battle will be on our terms in a land they neither know nor understand.”
We are witnessing part of that plan now, in the battlefields of Iraq, which has become a breeding ground for the most ruthless and militant Al-Qaeda fighters we have seen. In the process we are discovering the new face of Al-Qaeda, as a movement involved in bloody sectarian strife against fellow Muslims.
PARADOXICALLY, the strike on American home territory in September 2001 was a setback to Bin Laden’s long-term plan. Al-Qaeda lost support among more moderate Muslims, who sympathised with the victims. It lost its safe haven and training camps in Afghanistan. And, crucially, there was dissent within the movement itself.
Some inner-circle Al-Qaeda members left as a result of what they considered to be a catastrophic decision, according to Abu Qatada, a radical cleric believed to be Al-Qaeda’s spiritual leader in Europe. (He is currently fighting a deportation order in Britain.) They predicted the US would respond with unparalleled ferocity.
Abu Qatada told me that the September 11 attacks were also opposed by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who in 2001 was still a relatively obscure Jordanian associate of Al-Qaeda. Zarqawi was soon to shoot into the limelight as the central figure in this story. For, two years on, the arrival of 150,000 US troops in Iraq in March 2003 created exactly the turning point in Al-Qaeda’s history that Bin Laden had dreamt of.
Iraq is in many ways a better base for Al-Qaeda than Afghanistan. It provides an Arabic-speaking environment and culture. Geographically it is the heart of the region. In Islamic terms it is as important as Saudi Arabia and Palestine.
Furthermore, Al-Qaeda’s supporters in Iraq are the minority Sunni Arabs who have been marginalised by the aftermath of the occupation, isolated from the state institutions in a rather humiliating manner, and are eager for revenge and the resumption of power.
With chilling beheadings, Zarqawi rapidly emerged as the most ferocious insurgent chieftain — though he only became the official leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq after a long wrangle with Bin Laden over attacks on the Shi’ite majority.
Militarily, Al-Qaeda has since been increasingly hardline and ruthless in Iraq, demonstrating indifference to “collateral damage”. Zarqawi has long been waging an anti-Shi’ite campaign with the express intention of fomenting the sectarian strife we are now witnessing.
Last Wednesday’s bombing of the Shi’ite golden mosque at Samarra was in all probability the work of Al-Qaeda in Iraq. The Shi’ite majority have most to gain from maintaining stability, but by bombing their most sacred shrine Zarqawi has finally unleashed the threat of civil war. Previous attacks had failed to provoke the retaliatory Shi’ite violence that has claimed more than 130 — mostly Sunni — lives since the mosque attack.
Zarqawi’s rationale is threefold.
First, civil war will prevent the Sunni minority from joining the current political process. He has denounced democracy as heretical on the grounds that it makes man obedient to man instead of Allah.
Second, civil war will unseat the “heretic” Shi’ite leaders, render the country ungovernable and ensure the failure of the US project.
Third, Zarqawi is mindful of the huge reserves of Sunni military support in neighbouring countries — both on a national level and among the individual mujaheddin pouring into Iraq to aid their beleaguered brethren struggling against the Iran-backed Shi’ite militias.
Civil war in Iraq could rapidly spread through the region. Many Sunni leaders are already unnerved by the growing influence of Iran in Iraqi internal affairs, and sectarian tensions have been brewing in several countries including Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Lebanon.
Zarqawi’s language towards the Shi’ites is vitriolic. In a letter to Bin Laden dated June 15 2004 he describes them as “the lurking serpent”, claiming that “they can inflict more damage on the umma than the Americans”.
He elaborates: “These are people who have added to their heresy and atheism with political cunning and a burning zeal to seize upon the crisis of governance and the balance of power in the state . . . whose new lines they are trying to establish through their political organisations in collaboration with their secret allies, the Americans . . . they have been a sect of treachery and betrayal through all history and all ages.”
Initially Bin Laden was opposed to attacks on Shi’ites and urged Zarqawi to avoid civilian deaths. Zarqawi baldly states in his letter that if Bin Laden will not endorse an anti-Shi’ite campaign, he will not join Al-Qaeda.
Bin Laden apparently changed his mind. Any doubts he might have had about the legitimacy of targeting Shi’ite Muslims or the collateral deaths of Iraqi citizens have since been swept away in the relentless flood of bloody attacks unleashed by his latest ally.
HOW did Zarqawi become such a powerful and pivotal figure? He is a former street thug from a ghetto in the Jordanian city of Zarqa, 15 miles northeast of Amman. He was nicknamed “the Green Man” because of his tattoos. His real name is Ahmad Fadil al-Khalayilah — “Zarqawi” simply means “the one from Zarqa”.
The turnaround in his character seems to have happened towards the end of the 1980s, when he developed an interest in radical Islam — perhaps through contact with Palestinian refugees living near his home — and set off for the anti-Soviet war in Afghanistan.
There he fell under the spell of a Palestinian religious scholar known as Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi. Back in Jordan following the Afghan wars, both men were jailed after Jordanian police found them in possession of weapons.
Zarqawi became a prison Islamist leader, meting out violent punishments to anyone who dared disobey him. He gathered a following of hundreds of the most hardened criminals in Jordan.
Many sources testify to Zarqawi’s physical and mental resilience. He lost all his toenails under torture and endured 8˝ months of solitary confinement.
Released under an amnesty in 1999, he resurfaced in Afghanistan, where he led his own movement, separate from Al-Qaeda. He fled with his men in late 2001 to avoid the American reprisals for September 11.
To understand what happened next, and to see how this obscure figure has emerged to such prominence, we have to look at the strange world of pre-invasion Iraq.
In enclaves in the Kurdish north, close to the Turkish and Iranian borders and beyond Saddam Hussein’s jurisdiction, several Sunni organisations opposed to Saddam’s secular regime had set up base. Jordanian contacts in one of these, Ansar al-Islam (Supporters of Islam), smoothed the way for Zarqawi to establish his own camp.
Ansar al-Islam is an important footnote to the invasion of Iraq. Much has been made of a possible connection between it and Al-Qaeda in the course of US intelligence efforts to link Saddam Hussein and Bin Laden.
I met its leader, Mullah Krekar, in Oslo last year and he vigorously denied Al-Qaeda had helped it in any way. He said he had personally asked Bin Laden for financial help and had been turned down. (It must be added that many sources dispute this was their last meeting.)
Like Zarqawi, many Arabs fleeing American retaliation in Afghanistan after 9/11 found refuge with Ansar al-Islam. But then came an unexpected development. According to Dr Muhammad al-Masari, a Saudi specialist on Al-Qaeda’s ideology, Saddam established contact with the “Afghan Arabs” as early as 2001, believing he would be targeted by the US once the Taliban was routed.
In this version, disputed by other commentators, Saddam funded Al-Qaeda operatives to move into Iraq with the proviso that they would not undermine his regime. Sources close to the Ba’ath regime have told me that Saddam also used to send messengers to buy small plots of land from farmers in Sunni areas. In the middle of the night soldiers would bury arms and money caches for later use by the resistance.
According to Masari, Saddam saw that Islam would be key to a cohesive resistance in the event of invasion. Iraqi army commanders were ordered to become practising Muslims and to adopt the language and spirit of the jihadis.
On arrival in Iraq, Al-Qaeda operatives were put in touch with these commanders, who later facilitated the distribution of arms and money from Saddam’s caches.
Most commentators agree that Al-Qaeda was present in Iraq before the US invasion. The question is for how long and to what extent. What is known is that Zarqawi took a direct role in Al-Qaeda’s infiltration. In March 2003 — it is not clear whether this was before or after the invasion began — he met Al-Qaeda’s military strategist, an Egyptian called Muhammad Ibrahim Makkawi, and agreed to assist Al-Qaeda operatives entering Iraq.
Makkawi is a shadowy figure. Little is known about him except that he used to be a war strategies expert in the Egyptian army. His greater strategy for Al-Qaeda, revealed on a jihadist website, is to “expand the (Iraqi) conflict throughout the region and engage the US in a long war of attrition . . . create a jihad Triangle of Horror starting in Aghanistan, running through Iran and southern Iraq then via southern Turkey and south Lebanon to Syria”.
With his new role as Al-Qaeda facilitator Zarqawi rapidly gained importance. Newly arrived Arab recruits were dependent on him for contacts and local knowledge, and — as the anti-American insurgency developed after the invasion — he provided the intelligence for co-ordinated attacks that were instantly more effective than random independent operations. As a result he effectively became the emir of the foreign jihadis in Iraq.
I believe that his aim was to drag the Shi’ites into a civil war. His choice of provocative targets bears this out: he was almost certainly behind the massacre of 185 Shi’ite pilgrims who were killed in Karbala and Baghdad in March 2004.
Zarqawi was in negotiations with the Al-Qaeda leadership for nearly a year before they finally announced an alliance and created “Al-Qaeda in the Land of the Two Rivers” (Iraq) in 2004. Already established as a formidable leader, he waited to negotiate from a position of strength over his insistence on an anti-Shi’ite campaign.
Perhaps he would have preferred to usurp Bin Laden as leader of Al-Qaeda, but he had the strategic sense to realise this was not going to be possible and therefore decided to submit. He needed Bin Laden’s blessing and the Al-Qaeda name to bring him thousands of new recruits from all over the world (not just from Arab countries).
Al-Qaeda needed him, too. At the time of the new alliance its fortunes were lagging. The attacks on Afghanistan and increased security measures the world over had seen its numbers dwindle; its 2003 attacks in Saudi Arabia had hit its popularity in the kingdom.
A new presence in Iraq, especially with such a high-profile, magnetic (if terrifying) leader as Zarqawi, promised a new lease on life. The Al-Qaeda leadership was not to be disappointed.
Zarqawi’s agenda was to prove even more radical than that of the Al-Qaeda leadership; in May 2005, firmly under the Al-Qaeda banner, Zarqawi declared that “collateral killing” of Muslims was justified under “overriding necessity”. He brought a new level of psychological terror to operations with his ferocious reputation.
In July last year his old spiritual mentor, Maqdisi — still in jail in Jordan — questioned Zarqawi’s attacks on civilians, especially women and children, and his targeting of Shi’ites. Zarqawi responded with an internet posting asserting that “al-Maqdisi is being lured into the path of Satan”.
WHAT of the future? Bin Laden remains unchallenged as Al-Qaeda’s spiritual leader, but his fugitive status has created a vacancy for an overall military commander. This will almost certainly be filled by Zarqawi: a recent communiqué from Al-Qaeda in the Land of the Two Rivers referred to him as the “most likely emir of the organisation in the Middle East and North Africa”.
Here I would like to introduce just one more name. When I first walked alone into Bin Laden’s dimly lit cave 10 years ago, a man was there to meet me; I was astonished to recognise him as a red-bearded Syrian writer I knew quite well from London, Omar Abdel Hakim, also known as Abu Musab al-Suri, a specialist on jihad and Islam.
We spoke for a few moments and I learnt that he had left Spain, where he had both citizenship and a wife, to join Al-Qaeda. Later he was to join the Taliban, and became its leader Mullah Omar’s media adviser. “Come,” he said, leading the way into another cave. “The sheikh is waiting for you.”
I heard from him again in 1998 when he gave me a detailed account by telephone of an angry confrontation between Mullah Omar and a Saudi delegation, which asked the Taliban leader to cede Bin Laden to the United States because he was a terrorist.
The visitors, led by Prince Turki of Saudi intelligence, flew to Kandahar in a private jet. They were heatedly ordered to leave by Omar, who was enraged by their request that a Muslim government would seek to deliver a fellow Muslim to an “infidel state”.
Suri was one of the key figures who, like Zarqawi, opposed the 9/ll attacks. They have since become close collaborators. The Syrian is said to be an Al-Qaeda recruiter.
Zarqawi has maintained connections in Europe for many years, and these are nurtured by Suri, who is believed to control several Al-Qaeda groups in the West. Both men are suspected of involvement in the attacks on Madrid and London claimed by “Al-Qaeda in Europe”.
The new generation of Al-Qaeda leaders is in place – with Zarqawi and the Suri among them – and the organisation has become even more hardline as a result. The new ruthlessness about relentless violence directed at a wide range of targets in Iraq is clearly designed to shock and terrorise their enemies. But Iraq has now become a platform from which to launch international operations.
Al-Qaeda is not only attempting to destabilise the western world, but the whole of the stagnated Middle East.
|Terror Networks & Islam|
|Zarqawi's strategy exposes a divide among jihadis|
|Abu Musab al-Zarqawiâ€™s terrorist network in Iraq attacks a broad range of targets, but his assault on the Shiite community has been particularly focused and devastating. Although Zarqawi swore an oath of allegiance to Osama bin Laden in October 2004, his targeting of Shiite civilians contradicts the strategy of al-Qaedaâ€™s original leadership. A letter from al-Qaedaâ€™s putative second in command, Ayman al-Zawahiri, dated June 2005 and released by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence earlier this month, questions the political wisdom of terrorizing the Shiite community. But although Zawahiriâ€™s objection received the most media attention, Zarqawiâ€™s tactics had already garnered criticism and sparked a debate within jihadist circles. Zarqawiâ€™s insistence on targeting Muslim civilians has created a divide within the Sunni resistance movement and may be alienating his public support base.|
Groups linked to al-Qaeda continue to target Shiites in isolated attacks, but since the early 1990s, bin Laden has urged tactical and logistical cooperation among like-minded Shiite and Sunni groups. Iran and Hizballah have frequently assisted al-Qaeda operatives. Hezbollah and al-Qaeda have overlapping contacts in South America, Africa, and the Middle East, and have cooperated in fundraising and training. Iran has provided financial support to al-Qaeda operatives, facilitated the travel of several of the September 11 hijackers, provided safe haven to al-Qaeda operatives including bin Ladenâ€™s son Saad, and may have assisted in the 1996 bombing of Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia.
Despite his anti-Shiite rhetoric and terror campaign, Zarqawi has also availed himself of Iranian support. He has traveled through Iran essentially unmolested; key leaders of his group sought refuge in Iran during the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003; and senior military and intelligence officials in the United States and Britain believe that Iran provides explosives and other support for Zarqawiâ€™s terrorist network.
On September 14, Zarqawi issued an audiotape declaring â€śtotal warâ€ť on the Shiite population in Iraq, announcing ex post facto a strategy he began to enact more than a year earlier. His letter to the al-Qaeda leadership in Afghanistan, published by the State Department in February 2004, already articulated his intention to attack Shiites with the aim of igniting a sectarian conflict. Zarqawi was certain the United States would withdraw quickly from Iraq, but wrote that Shiite militia members already dominated the new Iraqi army, putting his group on the defensive. The situation was dire enough in Zarqawiâ€™s analysis that he was willing to risk a strategic break with bin Laden and Zawahiri. He wrote, â€śIf you agree with us on [targeting Shiites] . . .we will be your readied soldiers. . . . If things appear otherwise to you, we are brothers, and the disagreement will not spoil our friendship.â€ť In December 2004, bin Laden issued an audio statement recognizing Zarqawi as a key al-Qaeda leader.
One of the most brutal attacks on the Shiite community in Iraq followed closely on the publication of Zarqawiâ€™s February 2004 letter. On March 2, 2004, Zarqawiâ€™s group staged a series of bomb attacks on Shiites celebrating the Ashura holiday, killing at least 185 people. Since then, Zarqawiâ€™s group has perpetrated a campaign of assassinations, kidnappings, and bomb attacks against Shiite civilians, including a suicide bomb attack on a Shiite mosque this July that killed ninety-eight people, and a suicide truck bomb attack targeting Shiite workers this August that killed more than one hundred.
Though Zarqawi justifies targeting Shiite civilians on religious grounds, arguing that they are â€śapostates,â€ť politics, rather than religion, motivates his assault on the Shiite community. He posted his September 14 declaration of war soon after the September counterterrorist raids on Tal Afar, in which five thousand Iraqi troops from the New Iraqi Armyâ€™s Third Division killed 156 terrorists and captured 246 others. It is almost impossible to obtain accurate information about the ethnic and religious composition of Iraqâ€™s army; however, Iraqâ€™s Shiite majority and the terroristsâ€™ efforts to discourage Sunni enlistment mean that Shiite soldiers almost certainly led the Tal Afar offensive. To Zarqawi, the raids must have confirmed his suspicion, articulated in his 2004 letter, that the Shiites had seized the strategic initiative and now dominated the â€śsecurity situationâ€ť in Iraq. This helps explain why he broadened his groupâ€™s mandate from attacking Shiites involved in direct assistance to the U.S. occupation, to targeting Shiites generally in a â€śtotalâ€ť conflict.
In an October 6, 2005, speech to the National Endowment for Democracy, President George W. Bush said, â€śWith every random bombing and with every funeral of a child, it becomes more clear that the extremists are not patriots or resistance fightersâ€”they are murderers at war with the Iraqi people.â€ť Interestingly, Sunni clerics who support the resistance have begun to criticize Zarqawiâ€™s tactics on similar grounds.
Zarqawiâ€™s Jordanian mentor, Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, first questioned Zarqawiâ€™s targeting of Shiite civilians in a statement posted on his website (www.almaqdese.com) in July 2004, and again in media interviews in July 2005. Maqdisi criticized Zarqawi on religious and political grounds. First, Maqdisi rejected Zarqawiâ€™s classification of Shiites as nonbelievers, telling the satellite network Al-Jazeera that he did not consider ordinary Shiites as non-Muslims, and therefore it was â€śforbidden to equate the ordinary Shiite with the American in warfare.â€ť Maqdisi then argued that attacking civilians and places of worship tarnished the reputation of the resistance. Zawahiriâ€™s letter expressed the same concern that such tactics would alienate supporters, writing to Zarqawi that attacking Shiite civilians â€świll not be acceptable to the Muslim populace however much you have tried to explain it.â€ť
After Zarqawiâ€™s September declaration of war on the Shiite community, other proresistance Sunni groups condemned his tactics. One representative of an Iraqi Salafist group, Sheikh Zakariyah Mohammad Isa al-Tamimi of the Higher Committee for Dawa, Guidance, and Fatwa, noted that Zarqawi lacked the religious qualifications to interpret Islamic law. However, like Zawahiri, most critics question Zarqawiâ€™s approach from a political, rather than a religious, standpoint. In Iraq, the Association of Muslim Scholars and several insurgent groups, including the Islamic Army in Iraq, issued public statements rejecting the targeting of Shiites because the attacks â€śdamage the image of the jihad [and] jeopardize the success of the . . . resistance.â€ť Critics from abroad include the mufti of Saudi Arabia, who said in a statement published by Al-Hayyat that the effort to ignite a sectarian conflict in Iraq â€śfulfills the goals of the enemies who plot against Muslims.â€ť
The general public in the Middle East may share the Sunni clericsâ€™ reservations. A spring 2005 poll taken by the Pew Global Attitudes Project 5 showed that support for suicide bombings had dropped precipitously in key Muslim countries, including Lebanon, Turkey, and Morocco. Pew conducted the poll in May 2005, prior to the summerâ€™s intense suicide bombing campaign in Iraq, which suggests that support for suicide bombings against civilians may now be even lower.
Zarqawiâ€™s communiquĂ©s in response to criticism indicate that he will not change his tactics. But as the Bush administration revamps its public diplomacy efforts in the Middle East, this divide in the proresistance Sunni community provides an opportunity to emphasize the common interest in limiting terrorism. Bush has made the point before that Muslims suffer the most from terrorism in the Middle East, but ongoing debate in jihadist circles and evidence of waning public support for suicide attacks suggest that the point may finally be taking root with the target audience.
|Saudi Columnist: Jihadist Salafist Ideology is Like Nazism|
|"Why Aren't We Fighting the Religious Scholars, Theoreticians, and Preachers of Terrorism like Criminals, Murderers, and Robbers?" |
Saudi columnist Muhammad bin 'Abd Al-Latif Aal Al-Sheikh published two articles in the Saudi daily Al-Jazirah, in which he attacked the ideology of the Al-Salafiyya Al-Jihadiyya movement. He said that the ideology of this movement was similar to, or even worse than, the Nazi ideology, and that it should be dealt accordingly.
After the ruin, destruction, and bloodshed that Nazism brought upon mankind, [and since] the number of its victims reached tens of millions, the world arose to fight against this murderous ideology, and all steps were taken â€“ on the ideological, cultural, and political levels â€“ to prevent this ideology from spreading anew. The question arises of why, in light of the similarity between these two ideologies, we haven't learned a lesson from this human experience, and why we are not fighting against the foundations of [Al-Salafiyya Al-Jihadiyya] â€“ its religious scholars, its theoreticians, and its preachers â€“ just as we deal with criminals, murderers, and robbers?
|Al-Hayat Inquiry into the city of Al-Zarqaa|
|EFL. The whole article is worth reading|
Al-Zarqaa Sent the Most Youths to Wage Jihad in Iraq
According to the inquiry, "Al-Zarqaa, located near the Al-Ruseifah Palestinian refugee camp, is the capital of the Salafi Jihad movement in Jordan, and the place from which it emerged. Abu Mus'ab Al-Zarqawi grew up in one of its neighborhoods, and from there set out for the Jihad in Afghanistan, and then for the Jihad in Iraq." Likewise, the cities of Al-Zarqaa, Al-Ruseifah, and Al-Salt are "the Jordanian cities that sent the most youths to fight in Iraqâ€¦ The well-known Al-Zarqaa residents who were killed in Iraq were supporters of Al-Zarqawi, Abd Al-Hadi Daghlas, Yassin Jarrad, and Yazan Nabil Jarada. This is in addition to the dozens [from Al-Zarqaa] who were martyred before, in Afghanistan."
Al-Zarqaa Residents Figure Prominently at Herat Camp, Afghanistan
"It appears that it was at the Herat camp [in Afghanistan] that Abu Mus'ab Al-Zarqawi became the field commander of the groups [of Jihad fighters]. This is also the camp that the Jihad fighters from Al-Zarqaa have mentioned repeatedly throughout the history of their movement. Anyone who follows the Salafi Jihad stream agrees that the Herat camp in Afghanistan is a major episode in the building of Abu Mus'ab Al-Zarqawi's organization in Iraq today. Al-Zarqawi founded this organization in 1999, when he went to Afghanistan. The nucleus of the camp consisted mostly of those from the city of Al-Zarqaa, such as Abd Al-Hadi Daghlas, a Palestinian who was recently killed in Iraq; Khaled Al-Arouri, currently being held in Iran; and Yassin Jarrad, the father of Al-Zarqawi's second wife and the one who, according to the Jihad fighters in Al-Zarqaa, carried out the [September 2003] suicide attack that caused the death of Muhammad Bakr Al-Hakim and the deaths of dozens of Iraqis in the city of Najaf.
Al-Zarqawi's Organization: Made Up of Extremist Palestinian Sheikhs Who Emigrated from Kuwait to Jordan
The inquiry noted that following Iraq's invasion of Kuwait and the 1991 Gulf War, 250,000 Palestinians emigrated from Kuwait to Jordan. This phenomenon was called "those who returned from Kuwait." The inquiry stated: "According to calculations by Jordanian experts and researchers, some 160,000 of these displaced persons came only to Al-Zarqaa. The experts noticed a connection between their return and the flourishing of the Salafi Jihad trend in Jordan, particularly in Al-Zarqaa." According to the inquiry, the phenomenon of "the returnees from Kuwait" was perceived by many in Jordan as "a turning point in social change." The Jordan Center for Research at the University of Jordan conducted a survey on the matter and found that beginning in 1993, "the youth [in Jordan] became more conservative than the youth of preceding generations, and a large percentage of them supported polygamy and gave priority to educating boys rather than educating girls."
Among the returnees from Kuwait were "a number of people belonging to the Jihad stream, and at their head Sheikh Abu Muhammad Al-Maqdisi, [whose real name is] Issam Muhammad Taher Al-Burqawi. [He is] a Palestinian who lived in Kuwait, who later became the spiritual teacher of this stream in Jordan, and in 1989 became Abu Mus'ab Al-Zarqawi's teacher. "[Al-Maqdisi] went from Kuwait to Afghanistan with the Palestinian sheikh Omar Mahmoud Abu Omar, known by the nickname Abu Qatadah. When Al-Maqdisi returned to Kuwait and then to Jordan, Abu Qatadah found refuge in London. [But] these two figures became the main source of authority of the Salafi Jihad ideology in Jordanâ€¦Also among the returnees from Kuwait was Abu Anas Al-Shami, the jurisprudence authority of Al-Zarqawi's organization, who was killed several months ago in Baghdad, as well as Abu Qutaybah, senior military official in the Al-Qa'ida organizationâ€¦These and others, with Abu Mus'ab [Al-Zarqawi] at their head, constituted the nucleus of the Salafi Jihad movement. They met in the mid-1990s at one of the mosques in the Ma'ssoum neighborhood in the city of Al-Zarqaa."
Working Together: Abu Muhammad Al-Maqdisi and Al-Zarqawi
The inquiry also examined the relationship between Abu Muhammad Al-Maqdisi, currently behind bars in Jordan, and Abu Mus'ab Al-Zarqawi: "Abu Muhammad Al-Maqdisi arrived in Jordan as an immigrant from Kuwait in 1991. At that time, he was known only amongst the Salafi Jihad circles, particularly among a few hundred Jordanians who had heard about him or met him in Afghanistan where he had gone [to wage] Jihad. The Afghan Palestinians and Jordanians — among them Abu Mus'ab Al-Zarqawi — constituted the nucleus of the stream that Al-Maqdisi had begun to organize. The Jordanian Jihadis spoke of this period as 'the beginning of the Da'wa [Islamic propagation],' and they described Al-Maqdisi's rounds starting from his home in the Al-Ruseifah camp next to Al-Zarqaa. He would visit their homes in the various Jordanian cities, usually joined by Abu Mus'ab Al-Zarqawiâ€¦.According to the inquiry, after Jordan signed the peace agreement with Israel in 1994, "the Salafi Jihad movement was being nourished by a new wellspringâ€¦The most prominent of the clandestine organizations established in Jordan was perhaps the Bayat Al-Imam organization, founded by Al-Maqdisi and Al-Zarqawi. Some time after the establishment of [this organization], the Jordanian security apparatuses uncovered weapons and explosives in the possession of Al-Maqdisi and Al-Zarqawi, and both were imprisoned until 1999. During the period of their incarceration, the two managed to organize a not inconsiderable number of activistsâ€¦ In their activity among the prisoners, the two relied on Abu Mus'ab's strong-arm tactics and his familiarity with the world of the criminals amongst whom he had lived in his youth.
The inquiry related that "[a man called] Abu Othman said that Abu Muhammad [Al-Maqdisi]'s personality was kind and good, and non-confrontational, while Abu Mus'ab [Al-Zarqawi] showed strength and toughness in the prison. Abu Othman added that the tribal personality of Abu Mus'ab [Al-Zarqawi] made it possible for him to obtain oaths of allegiance from others within the prison, and that he was confrontational. The youths surrounding him in prison were actual Jihad fighters, and thus they rejected the command of Abu Muhammad Al-Maqdisi, preferring Abu Mus'ab [Al-Zarqawi] because of his strength and determination. They thought that if [Al-Zarqawi] was [their] imam, Abu Muhammad Al-Maqdisi would have spare time for engaging in independent judicial ruling [ Ijtihad ] and [religious] study."
|The new ideologues of al-Qaeda|
The Salafist-Jihadist groups of Qaidat al-Jihad and its affiliated groups, who adhere to and practice the worldview of global Jihad, have been ideologically developed by doctrines derived from a combination between the Egyptian Jihad, Saudi neo-Tawhid, and the globalization of Jihad, espoused by the Palestinian Dr. Abdallah Azzam in Afghanistan. Following the death of Azzam in November 1989, and the end of the anti-Soviet campaign of Jihad in Afghanistan, a younger generation of ideologues took its place. This new generation took over in two waves. First, alongside the rise of the Taliban and the Islamist conflicts in the Balkans in the first half of the 1990s; later on, alongside the organized terrorism of Qaidat al-Jihad since the mid-1990s. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has contributed to global Jihad not only through the Palestinian Abdallah Azzam, but also through two of his most important Palestinian successors â€“ Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi in Jordan, and Omar Abu Qatadah in London. An important additional development to note here was the gradual drying of the Jihadist ideological sources in Egypt. Sayyed Qutb, Sheikh Omar Abd al-Rahman, or Abd al-Qader Abd al-Aziz, are mentioned from time to time. Yet, it seems that only Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri, Bin Ladenâ€™s deputy, kept his place in the first row of these ideologues, despite his lack of an official Islamic education. No younger or new generation of Egyptian Islamist ideologues or scholars, exists that could influence or contribute to the present developments of Global Jihad.
This reality left the door open for a large group of younger Saudi Islamists eager to assume an increasingly growing important role in developing the present and future trend of Salafist Jihad. Many of them were students and disciples of the older groups of Wahhabi clerics and scholars, who could not come to terms with the American presence on Saudi soil. In recent years they radicalized their positions and began backing up the positions of Qaidat al-Jihad, including political violence against the United States, Western culture, and in recent years the Saudi royal regime, while providing Islamic legitimacy for these actions. The severe conflict between the younger generation of the Saudi Islamist opposition and the Saudi clerics of the Islamic Wahhabi establishment, which developed alongside the rise of Qaidat al-Jihad, turned into an open one following the death in 1999 of Sheikh Abd al-Aziz Ibn Baz. For many years Sheikh Ibn Baz, who managed to block the rise of the rivalry into the open, had been respected by various groups within the Wahhabi movement. The battle is to some extent fought on the Internet, at least on the part of the opposition and has also produced books and articles through which the opposition is attempting to sharpen its ideological weapons and tactics. An interesting large book was recently circulated on the Internet, primarily through one of the most important web sites of the Jihadi Salafiyyah, Manbar al-Tawhid wal-Jihad, of the Palestinian/Jordanian scholar Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi. The book is entitled Osama bin Laden: Mujaddid al-Zaman wa-qahir al-Amrikan (Bin Laden: The Reformer of our Times and Defeater of the Americans), by the Saudi scholar Abu Jandal al-Azdi. In 460 pages this book raises Bin Laden to a new level of a reformer or reviver, attributes that in modern Islamic history have been bestowed only on very few scholars, such as Hasan al-Bana the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, or Abu al-Ala al-Mawdudi in India and Pakistan. The use of this term with regard to Bin Laden is significant to his followers, since it functions as part of a growing personality cult around al-Qaidaâ€™s leader. Not even Sayyid Qutb, who might have deserved this title from the followers of the Egyptian Jihad, has enjoyed this title. Bin Laden, who is neither a cleric nor an Islamic scholar at all, enjoys this admiration at least by his Saudi sympathizers.
To consolidate the indoctrination of Global Jihad by new generation of scholars, Qaidat al-Jihad has recently attempted to resume its official web site, Al-Neda, which had been closed since April 2003. The web site represents an institute called The Center for Islamic Studies and Research, and is widely considered, both by observers and supporters of Qaidat al-Jihad, to be its official organ. In early June 2003, the Saudi security forces managed to kill a young Saudi cleric by the name of Sheikh Yousef al-Ayyeri. He was killed during the campaign against Saudi extremist Islamist elements, suspected in connections to the suicide bombings in Riyadh on 12 May 2003, in which 16 scholars and operatives have been killed and dozens have been arrested so far. Following the killing of Al-Ayyeri, followers of Al-Qaida started to publish much information about him, and he thus became known as â€śthe man behind Al-Neda.â€ť Furthermore, thousands of Islamist youngsters now admire him as the scholar who wrote many of the unsigned articles published by Al-Neda.
The political circumstances and unrest that have been developed in Saudi Arabia in recent years, and especially in the past six months, have given an opportunity to the most radical Saudi Islamists not only to stand in the front line of Global Jihad, but to lead a violent and open struggle against a regime that in the past decade preferred to plant its head in the sand. Saudi financing, which directly or indirectly has poured billions of dollars to Islamists all over the world has irrigated a new generation of the most radical form of Jihadists to appear thus far. Another phenomenon to note here is the fact that unlike the former generation of Saudi radical Islamists, whose roots were either in the Southern part of Arabia bordering Yemen, or the Western region of the Hijaz, the new generation comes from the heart of Wahhabism Najd. These are not people from the margins of the Kingdomâ€™s society, where opposition to the Wahhabis existed for many years. The younger generation comes from the Wahhabi homeland, and some of them from respected families or clans.