Much is being made of “The Rebellion Within: An Al Qaeda mastermind questions terrorism,” by Lawrence Wright, in the June 2 issue of the New Yorker. In it, one of Al-Qaeda’s chief theorists rejects terrorism – leading to a cascade of both liberal and conservative voices rejoicing that the end of the war on terror is at hand. Read the entire article. Also of note is Walid Phares recent article also discussing the decline in terrorism but warning forcefully that failure to engage in the ideological battlefield and failure to finish the mission in Iraq will likely see a resurgence of violent terrorism.
It is well documented that Islamic terrorism is waning and suffers from declining support in the Middle East. I wrote two weeks ago on this trend in response to an article by The New Republic, cautioning that this decline in terrorism does not mean that the threat from Islamic radicalism has been abated. The shift we are seeing is a change in tactics, not goals or beliefs. Robert Spencer has written an article making many of the same points in response to an article by Lawrnce Wright in the New Yorker.
This from Robert Spencer:
Unfortunately, reality -- as is usually the case -- is not quite so comforting. Sayyid Imam al-Sharif, Dr. Fadl, the subject of Wright’s piece, is not rejecting the idea that Muslims must strive to subjugate unbelievers under the rule of Islamic law. All he is doing is advocating a change in strategy: less terrorism, more stealth jihad. This news shouldn’t make Americans go back to sleep; it should spur them to become aware of the ways in which the jihadist agenda of Islamic supremacism is advancing without guns and bombs.
In one key passage, Montasser al-Zayyat, whom Wright identifies as an “Islamist lawyer,” annoys Al-Qaeda second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahiri by asserting that “jihad did not have to be restricted to an armed approach.” This is indicative of the wishful thinking that so many have brought to their reading of Wright’s article: Zayyat didn’t say that jihad did not have to waged against infidels. All he said was that it did not have to be restricted to an armed approach. But many readers seemed to assume he was saying the former.
“Zawahiri,” says Wright, “became increasingly isolated. He understood that violence was the fuel that kept the radical Islamist organizations running; they had no future without terror.”
That may be so for some organizations. Others, such as the Muslim Brotherhood, get along just fine without violence. In fact, the Brotherhood is the key force behind the stealth jihad agenda, which aims at (in the words of a Brotherhood operative in 1991) “eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and ‘sabotaging’ its miserable house by their hands and the hands of the believers so that it is eliminated and Allah’s religion is made victorious over all other religions.”
Oh, but they’re not blowing anything up in pursuit of this goal! And since terrorism is the only aspect of the Islamic supremacist problem that is on the radar screen of most Western analysts, most assume that any non-violent Islamic groups, even those that are working to subvert the West from within, are benign moderates.
. . . After outlining various reasons why, in Fadl’s new view, today’s global jihad is illegitimate, Wright informs us that “Fadl does not condemn all jihadist activity.” In fact, Fadl says that “jihad in Afghanistan will lead to the creation of an Islamic state with the triumph of the Taliban, God willing,” and that “if it were not for the jihad in Palestine, the Jews would have crept toward the neighboring countries a long time ago.” And as for 9/11, Fadl asks, “what good is it if you destroy one of your enemy’s buildings, and he destroys one of your countries? What good is it if you kill one of his people, and he kills a thousand of yours?...That, in short, is my evaluation of 9/11.”
In other words, it was tactically stupid. Not morally wrong.
This is no rejection of jihad. It is just a change in tactics. It should make us all the more aware of, and on guard against, the stealth jihad.
Much is being made of “The Rebellion Within: An Al Qaeda mastermind questions terrorism,” by Lawrence Wright, in the June 2 issue of the New Yorker. In it, one of Al-Qaeda’s chief theorists rejects terrorism – leading to a cascade of both liberal and conservative voices rejoicing that the end of the war on terror is at hand.
Read the entire article. Also of note is Walid Phares recent article also discussing the decline in terrorism but warning forcefully that failure to engage in the ideological battlefield and failure to finish the mission in Iraq will likely see a resurgence of violent terrorism.