Monday, September 17, 2007

Former ally attacks Bin Laden

Saudi preacher Salman al-Awda was up until the early 90s one of the big names in the so-called Islamist-awakening opposition to the Saudi regime. This was a movement that denounced the Saudi regime for deviating from the principles of Islam, and particularly for permitting the basing of American troops on the holy land. Those including Bin Laden who became activist jihadis starting with the Afghanistan resistance were strongly influenced by this school in their early orientation. Al-Awda has toned down his criticism of the Saudi regime in recent years, and has criticized certain actions by the jihadis, for instance he criticized the Khobar Towers bombing. (You can find a good summary of the movement, including Awda's place in it, by International Crisis Group, Mideast Report # 31, here). In other words, when Yahya al-Libi referred in his recent video lecture to those he accuses of conniving with the Saudi regime and working to "isolate the jihadis from the ummah", Al-Awda was no doubt close to the top of the list of people he had in mind. But until now al-Awda had not gone so far as to criticize the jihadi project as a whole or to denounce Bin Laden by name.

All of which is by way of background to something Al-Quds al-Arabi put on its front page this morning, headed: "Former Saudi regime opponent criticizes Bin Laden". The article says
A former Saudi islamist opposition person attacked for the first time the leader of the AlQaeda organization Osama bin Laden, who recently renewed his challenge to the United States on the occasion of the sixth anniversary of the attacks of September 11.

In a message to Osama bin Laden published on the website Islam al-Yaum, Sheikh Salman bin Fahd al-Awda, the fundamentalist preacher who was arrested in 1994 for his religious and political activism, questioned bin Laden: "How much blood has been shed and how many innocents and old people and children have been killed and displaced in the name of AlQaeda? Do you take lightly the fact you will be meeting your god bearing this burden? And who bears the responsibility for all the youth and the young girls in the prime of their life and of their passions who have embarked on paths of which they do not understand the outcome. Perhaps they were deceived, and lost their way in the labyrinth of which there is no end.

What have we gained from the destruction of an entire people as happened in Iraq and Afghanistan? Who benefits from the attempts to turn Morocco, Algeria, Saudi Arabia and other places into panic-stricken countries where people can have no confidence...
It goes on, but you get the picture. These passages were also quoted in a short piece on yesterday, with the same news-hook, which is that here we have one of the iconic figures of the modern Saudi Islamic-awakening movement, criticizing, not just particular mistakes and excesses of the jihadis, but rather attacking the project in its entirety, and attacking Bin Laden by name.

Just to review the chronology, what is happening is that AlQaeda via Bin Laden and Al-Libi, and no doubt others, are re-affirming the hard-line approach that says all are enemies who are not adherents of the pure jihadi method, and on the ground in Iraq this is reflected in the declaraction of war by Al-Baghdadi, naming a number of the domestic Iraqi-resistance groups by name. And at the same time, on the other side, there seems to be a stepped-up ideological attack against these people, something that was implict as background in the defensive tone of Al-Libi's lecture, and that here in the attack by Al-Awda is a little more visible.

AlQaeda clearly feels itself under the gun ideologically, and I think this is important background to understanding the outbreak of open warfare between the ISI and domestic Iraqi-resistance groups.


Anonymous Alison said...

As you pointed out in your May 9 post, Badger, this Abu Omar Al-Baghdadi character, Emir of the so-called ISI, has longstanding ties with the Saudi Intelligence Services. A

And as you observed in your review of Salah Al-Mukhtar’s article on April 18, which I cited in my comment on your September 16 post, he also matches Al-Mukhtar’s description of a Takfiri mole - namely a nobody who rose to prominence with covert American aid with the aim of destroying the Resistance from within.

7:11 AM  
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7:34 AM  
Anonymous gj said...

Re the planting of "moles" - wasn't this "agent-provocateur" tactic employed by the Algerian Govt to defeat the Islamic Salvation Front in the 1990s? And wasn't the ISF also a Sunni salafist group who was trained in Afghanistan like AlQ? Interesting parallels.

5:02 PM  

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