One of Al Qaeda's senior theologians is calling on his followers to end their military jihad and saying the attacks of September 11, 2001, were a "catastrophe for all Muslims."(via)
In a serialized manifesto written from prison in Egypt, Sayyed Imam al-Sharif is blasting Osama bin Laden for deceiving the Taliban leader, Mullah Omar, and for insulting the Prophet Muhammad by comparing the September 11 attacks to the early raids of the Ansar warriors. The lapsed jihadist even calls for the formation of a special Islamic court to try Osama bin Laden and his old comrade Ayman al-Zawahri.
The disclosures from Mr. Sharif, also known as Dr. Fadl and Abd al-Qadir ibn Abd al-Aziz, have already opened a rift at the highest levels of Al Qaeda. The group's deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, a former associate of the defecting theologian in Egypt, personally mocked him last month in a video, remarking that he was unaware Egyptian prisons had fax machines. Meanwhile, leading Western analysts are saying the defection of Mr. Sharif indicates the beginning of the end for Al Qaeda.
The director of the Homeland Security Policy Institute at George Washington University, Frank Cilluffo, said, "Here you have someone with the stature and credibility, who more or less wrote the book on jihadism and is oft cited by other jihadists, making the case against it. This is someone with the heft on legal and religious grounds to make the counter argument that we can't."
His latest texts are a renunciation of his earlier work, saying the military jihad or war against apostate states and America is futile. But the ex-jihadist also calls into question the virtue of Mr. bin Laden and Mr. Zawahri. In some ways the manifesto reads in parts like a spicy Washington memoir by an embittered former official.
Of his old associates he writes, "Bin Laden, al-Zawahri, and others fled at the beginning of the American bombing [in Afghanistan], to the point of abandoning their wives and families to be killed along with other innocent people," according to a translation provided by the Middle East Media Research Institute. It goes on, "I think that a sharia court should be established, composed of reliable scholars, to hold these people accountable for their crimes — even if in absentia — so that those who are ignorant in their religion do not repeat this futility."