[lit-ideas] The Rebellion Within

  • From: Brian <cabrian@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Thu, 29 May 2008 16:36:00 -0500

Lawrence Wright, author of *The Looming Tower*, has a new article out in The
New Yorker<http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2008/06/02/080602fa_fact_wright>.
In it he describes the rejection of terrorism by one of the former leaders
of Egypt's Al Jihad and a huge influence on the intellectual underpinnings
of *al-haraka al-jihadiyya* ("the Jihadi Movement").

From the piece:

Last May, a fax arrived at the London office of the Arabic newspaper *Asharq
> Al Awsat* from a shadowy figure in the radical Islamist movement who went
> by many names. Born Sayyid Imam al-Sharif, he was the former leader of the
> Egyptian terrorist group Al Jihad, and known to those in the underground
> mainly as Dr. Fadl. Members of Al Jihad became part of the original core of
> Al Qaeda; among them was Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden's chief
> lieutenant. Fadl was one of the first members of Al Qaeda's top council.
> Twenty years ago, he wrote two of the most important books in modern
> Islamist discourse; Al Qaeda used them to indoctrinate recruits and justify
> killing. Now Fadl was announcing a new book, rejecting Al Qaeda's violence.
> "We are prohibited from committing aggression, even if the enemies of Islam
> do that," Fadl wrote in his fax, which was sent from Tora Prison, in Egypt.
> Fadl's fax confirmed rumors that imprisoned leaders of Al Jihad were part of
> a trend in which former terrorists renounced violence. His defection posed a
> terrible threat to the radical Islamists, because he directly challenged
> their authority. "There is a form of obedience that is greater than the
> obedience accorded to any leader, namely, obedience to God and His
> Messenger," Fadl wrote, claiming that hundreds of Egyptian jihadists from
> various factions had endorsed his position.

In the Militant Ideology Atlas
<http://www.ctc.usma.edu/atlas/default.asp>that I posted some time ago
Dr. Fadl is tied for 5th in most cited modern
authors and only one living Jihadi author has been cited more.  Wright

On a recent trip to Cairo, I met with Gamal Sultan, an Islamist writer and a
> publisher there. He said of Fadl, "Nobody can challenge the legitimacy of
> this person. His writings could have far-reaching effects not only in Egypt
> but on leaders outside it." Usama Ayub, a former member of Egypt's Islamist
> community, who is now the director of the Islamic Center in Münster,
> Germany, told me, "A lot of people base their work on Fadl's writings, so
> he's very important. When Dr. Fadl speaks, everyone should listen."

The importance of this could be far-reaching.  Peter Wehner has been writing
about "how the tide within the Islamic world is turning against jihadism" at
Commentary magazine's blog Contentions and has a reaction to the Wright
essay here <http://www.commentarymagazine.com/blogs/index.php/wehner/8141>.


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