Al-Qaeda suffered major setbacks, says ex-militant

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  1. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    http://arabnews.com/saudiarabia/article237677.ece

    JEDDAH: Al-Qaeda is at a loss because of a series of blows the group has received at the hands of Saudi security forces, said an ex-militant on Tuesday.

    Speaking on Tuesday on the Homomna (Our Concerns) program on Saudi TV's Channel 1, former militant Hani Al-Mulla said Al-Qaeda has suffered major setbacks and that the militants are now resorting to desperate measures.

    “The terrorists now wear women’s clothes to avoid security checks and also resort to illegal means to obtain money,” he said.

    Al-Mulla said the organization is also "intellectually distorted" and that it has deviated from Jihad to liberate countries or spread the word of God to undermining renowned scholars and considering anyone who is not with them as kafirs (or disbelievers).

    He added that the most obvious feature that characterizes terrorists is shallowness and lack of depth in understanding religion. “The grip was tightened against Al-Qaeda members to the point that they have become secluded and isolated,” he said.

    Al-Mulla said Al-Qaeda began to recruit young people between 15 and 25 years of age who are very emotional and easily moved.

    “These young people can be made to move and kill on showing them a picture of a person slain in the battlefield,” he said, describing young terrorists as disillusioned and misguided.

    He said most Saudi Al-Qaeda members were former Mujahideen who visited Afghanistan for Jihad and returned to normal lives in the Kingdom.

    “Their minds were contaminated by wrong fatwas, which turned them into terrorists willing to destroy their own country,” Al-Mulla said.

    He said those Saudi youths who fought in Afghanistan for a just cause against the Soviets later became contaminated and turned into terrorists.

    The former militant said most Al-Qaeda members were made to read a very superficial book by Salman Al-Alwan titled “Tibyan in Explaining the Shortcomings of Islam,” which brands anyone a kafir. “Al-Qaeda members have been influenced by this shallow and extremist book,” he said.
     
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  3. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    How to lose friends and alienate Muslims - The Globe and Mail
    Peter Bergen


    Will al-Qaeda eventually be condemned to what U.S. president George W. Bush once eloquently termed “history's unmarked grave of discarded lies”? To a large degree, that depends not on the West but on the Islamic world, for it is Muslims who are making the choices that are leading to the marginalization of both al-Qaeda and the ideology of “bin Ladenism” that it has spawned. Encoded in the DNA of apocalyptic jihadist groups like al-Qaeda are the seeds of their own long-term destruction because they have four crippling strategic weaknesses.

    TARGETING MUSLIMS

    First, their victims are often Muslim civilians. This is a real problem for al-Qaeda as the Koran forbids both killing civilians and fellow Muslims. From 2003, this could be seen most dramatically in Iraq, where al-Qaeda's suicide bombers killed thousands of Iraqis, many of them targeted simply because they were Shia.

    In Saudi Arabia, al-Qaeda lost a great deal of support after its campaign of attacks in 2003 that killed mostly Saudis. By 2007, Saudi society, which had once been cheerleaders for Osama bin Laden, had turned against al-Qaeda; only 10 per cent of Saudis had a favourable view of the terrorist network.

    Additionally, al-Qaeda and its affiliates had killed thousands of Muslim civilians elsewhere since 9/11, including the hundreds of ordinary Afghans killed every year by the Taliban and the scores of Jordanians massacred at a wedding at a hotel in Amman in November, 2005.

    For groups that claimed to be defending Muslims, this was not impressive. All this created a dawning recognition among Muslims that the ideological virus that had unleashed 9/11 and the terror attacks in London and Madrid was the same virus that was now also wreaking havoc in the Islamic world.

    A GRIM VISION

    Second, al-Qaeda and its allies don't offer a positive vision of the future. We know what bin Laden is against, but what's he really for? If you asked him, he would say the restoration of the caliphate. By that, he does not mean the restoration of something like the last caliphate, the Ottoman Empire, a relatively rational polity, but rather the imposition of Taliban-style theocracies stretching from Indonesia to Morocco. A silent majority of Muslims don't want that. Many Muslims admire bin Laden because he “stood up” to the West, but that doesn't mean they want to live in his grim Islamist utopia. Afghanistan under the Taliban is not an attractive model of the future for most Muslims.

    UNCOMPROMISING IDEOLOGY

    Third, the jihadist militants are incapable of turning themselves into genuine mass political movements because their ideology prevents them from making the kind of real-world compromises that would allow them to engage in normal politics. Bin Laden's principal political grievance, the large-scale U.S. military presence in Saudi Arabia, ended in 2003, yet bin Laden has never acknowledged this change. And to satisfy his political demands fully would involve stamping out all American influence in the Muslim world; destroying the state of Israel; the overthrow of every Middle Eastern regime; the rollback of India from Kashmir; the installation of Taliban regimes in Afghanistan and Pakistan; the ending of any democratic elections anywhere in the Islamic world – the list goes on and on.

    While bin Laden has enjoyed a certain amount of personal popularity in much of the Muslim world, that has not translated into mass support for al-Qaeda in the manner that Hezbollah enjoys such support in Lebanon.

    That is not surprising – there are no al-Qaeda social welfare services or schools. An al-Qaeda hospital is a grim oxymoron.

    Even al-Qaeda's leaders are aware of the problem of their lack of mass support. In the 2005 letter sent by Ayman al-Zawahiri to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, al-Qaeda's No. 2 urged the terrorist leader in Iraq to prepare for the U.S. withdrawal from the country by not making the same mistakes as the Taliban, who had alienated the masses in Afghanistan.

    TOO MANY ENEMIES

    Fourth, the militants keep adding to their list of enemies, including any Muslim who doesn't exactly share their ultrafundamentalist world view. Al-Qaeda has said it is opposed to all Middle Eastern regimes; the Shia; most Western countries; Jews and Christians; the governments of India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Russia; most news organizations; the United Nations; and international non-governmental organizations. It's very hard to think of a category of person, institution or government that al-Qaeda does not oppose. Making a world of enemies is never a winning strategy.

    In recent years, there has been a wave of criticism from within the Muslim world, much of it from militants and clerics once considered allies by al-Qaeda's leaders. To a large extent it was because al-Qaeda and affiliated groups increasingly adopted the doctrine of takfir, by which they claimed the right to decide who was a “true” Muslim, something that in mainstream Islamic theology only Allah can truly know. Al-Qaeda's Muslim critics knew what resulted from this takfiri view: First, the radicals deemed some Muslims apostates; after that, the radicals started killing them.

    Given the religio-ideological basis of al-Qaeda's jihad, the condemnation being offered by religious scholars and fighters once close to the group was arguably the most important development in stopping the spread of the group's ideology since 9/11.

    These new critics, in concert with mainstream Muslim leaders, created a powerful coalition countering al-Qaeda's ideas. Simultaneously al-Qaeda began losing significant traction with ordinary Muslims. The numbers of people having a favourable view of bin Laden or supporting suicide bombings, for instance, in the two most populous Muslim countries, Indonesia and Pakistan, dropped by at least half between 2002 and 2009.

    By the end of the second Bush term, it was clear that al-Qaeda and allied groups were losing the “war of ideas” in the Islamic world, not because America was winning that war – quite the contrary: most Muslims had a quite negative attitude toward the United States – but because Muslims themselves had largely turned against the ideology of bin Ladenism.

    From The Longest War: The Enduring Conflict between America and al-Qaeda by Peter L. Bergen © 2011. Reprinted by permission of Free Press, a Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
     

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