Written by Chris Floyd
Sunday, 29 July 2007
An important development has been taking place in the real “war” on terror — not the profit-making, fear-and-domination machine of the Bush Administration’s devising, but the genuine struggle to quell the violence of Islamist extremism. Yet despite the great potential of this breakthrough, an overwhelming majority of Americans have never heard of it. Certainly it has not been featured — or even mentioned — by the corporate press and government PR engines in the United States. And why not? Because it is a breakthrough toward peace — and peace, as we all know, is not boffo box office.
Last week, the Guardian’s Ian Black reported on “a remarkable recantation” by one of the founding figures of the modern jihadist movement, Sayid Imam al-Sharif. A former comrade-in-arms of Ayman al-Zawahiri — al Qaeda’s own Dick Cheney, the “deputy” who actually runs the gang — Sharif was the mastermind behind the Islamists’ first great “spectacular”: the 1981 assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. Now Sharif, imprisoned in Egypt, is finishing a new book “that undermines the Muslim theological basis for violent jihad” and is already creating fissures throughout the Islamist movement, the Guardian reports.
Sharif is now repudiating the very jihadist methods that his group, Islamic Jihad, helped pioneer, instead citing the Quranic precept, “Fight in the cause of God those who fight you, but do not transgress the limits; for God loveth not transgressors.” In a letter from prison indicating his new line, Sharif declared: “We are prohibited from committing aggression, even if the enemies of Islam do that,” reports Asharq Alawsat, the London-based Arabic daily. “Armed operations [are] wrong, counterproductive, and must cease.”
Sharif’s earlier work, “Basic Principles in Making Preparations for Jihad,” is considered “the jihadist movements’ constitution and all researchers use it as a reference. It lays down the rules of jurisprudence for combat operations for all jihadist groups. Al-Qaeda regards the book as its guide for combat,” says Asharq Alawsa. And while hundreds of jihadis have embraced his new principles, Sharif’s old colleagues in al Qaeda have been stung into a response, the Guardian reports.
Zawahiri has tried to pre-empt Sharif’s book, releasing a video debunking Sharif’s “conversion” as the product of Egypt’s notorious torture cells (where Zawahiri himself was tortured.) The CIA has also had a crack at Sharif since his capture in Yemen in 2004. But as the Guardian reports:
“…Egyptian and western experts, government officials and former jihadis agree that Sharif’s shift is both genuine and highly significant.
“People will say things to stop being tortured, but this is the result of a long process of reflection and debate,” insists Muntasir al-Zayyat, a lawyer jailed for Islamic Jihad membership in the 1980s. “When the book comes out there will be a furious reaction from Zawahiri and the global jihadi movement. It is clear that Sayid Imam will call a halt to killing operations in Egypt and abroad.”
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