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The Rebellion Within
May 27, 2008 12:15 PM   Subscribe

The Rebellion Within: An Al Qaeda mastermind questions terrorism.
posted by homunculus (55 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
“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.

Such conversions are quite common in Egyptian prisons, I understand.
posted by three blind mice at 1:05 PM on May 27, 2008


Does this mean that we won?
posted by monospace at 1:06 PM on May 27, 2008


Money quote:
The most original argument in the book and the interview is Fadl’s assertion that the hijackers of 9/11 “betrayed the enemy,” because they had been given U.S. visas, which are a contract of protection. “The followers of bin Laden entered the United States with his knowledge, and on his orders double-crossed its population, killing and destroying,” Fadl continues. “The Prophet—God’s prayer and peace be upon him—said, ‘On the Day of Judgment, every double-crosser will have a banner up his anus proportionate to his treachery.’ ”
posted by nasreddin at 1:08 PM on May 27, 2008


Excellent and fascinating post, by the way.
posted by nasreddin at 1:13 PM on May 27, 2008


Metafilter: a banner up his anus proportionate to his treachery.
posted by EarBucket at 1:26 PM on May 27, 2008 [5 favorites]


“The Prophet... said, ‘On the Day of Judgment, every double-crosser will have a banner up his anus proportionate to his treachery.

I'm no Arabic scholar, but can I get a chapter and verse on that one?

It sounds very quotable.
posted by rokusan at 1:27 PM on May 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


(See?)
posted by rokusan at 1:27 PM on May 27, 2008


what is the rule in Islam for mentioning Mohammed and praising him? are there particular things a person MUST say? can a person improvise the praise? could someone, for instance, say "Mohammed - may his mayo never be left in the refrigerator for too long - once said..."

I ask in earnest. I really just don't know anything about Islam.
posted by shmegegge at 1:32 PM on May 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


Still, the core of Al Qaeda is much reduced from what it was before 9/11. An Egyptian intelligence official told me that the current membership totals less than two hundred men; American intelligence estimates range from under three hundred to more than five hundred.

So why haven't we caught these guys yet?

Meanwhile, new Al Qaeda-inspired groups, which may be only tangentially connected to the leaders, have spread, and older, more established terrorist organizations are now flying the Al Qaeda banner, outside the control of bin Laden and Zawahiri.

Oh right, because we've been too busy blowing shit up and generally validating Al Qaeda and Al Jihad's characterizations of the west, while employing similarly specious reasoning to justify our own actions.

It is interesting that we are having nearly as much difficulty in opening debate on these issues within a society that is supposed to have free debate as a core value.

Discuss.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:33 PM on May 27, 2008


Discuss.

No! DIE, INFIDEL!
posted by nasreddin at 1:36 PM on May 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


@shmegegge:

The wikipedia entry on pbuh indicates that it's not just generic praise, but a very specific blessing to ask be applied to the Prophet, and therefore you can't start freestyling it.
posted by Tomorrowful at 1:38 PM on May 27, 2008 [3 favorites]


So far, I've got this:

"Every traitor will have a banner on the Day of Resurrection and it will be said: This is the betrayer of so-and-so.” (Saheeh Al-Bukhari)"

from this site. Still working on the proportionate-to-betrayal bit and the anal component.
posted by Tomorrowful at 1:42 PM on May 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


It is interesting that we are having nearly as much difficulty in opening debate on these issues within a society that is supposed to have free debate as a core value.

Discuss.


Ok. We have absolutely no difficulty in opening debate on these issues. There is a huge, multi-million dollar, year-plus long, nationally-televised debate going on right now. At the end, you even get to vote for the person you agree with most!
posted by drjimmy11 at 1:48 PM on May 27, 2008


Tomorrowful, thank you for your hard work on the anal component.
posted by homunculus at 1:55 PM on May 27, 2008 [6 favorites]


Ok. We have absolutely no difficulty in opening debate on these issues. There is a huge, multi-million dollar, year-plus long, nationally-televised debate going on right now. At the end, you even get to vote for the person you agree with most!

So when one of the candidates makes the assertion that 1) not only have our efforts following 9/11 actually increased resentment of the US in the kind of places where movements like AL Qaeda and Al Jihad have tended to emerge and 2) foreign policy decisions made by the US in the last 50 years have directly contributed to the emergence of these groups, there won't be massive public outcry and condemnation?
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 2:08 PM on May 27, 2008


Damn it, the site keeps crashing my browsers.

the hijackers of 9/11 "betrayed the enemy," because they had been given U.S. visas, which are a contract of protection.

I find this concept fascinating; that the killing and destroying were still ok, it was the betrayal of the contract that was offensive.

How does that work? What causes a morality scale like that to be born? I understand that throughout history the concept of the traitor has been reviled, but more so than a taker of human life itself?

It seems flippant to suggest that they care more about honor that life, but that does seem to be what this statement is indicating.
posted by quin at 2:10 PM on May 27, 2008


Or do I need to re-tune the sarcasm detector again? Sometimes I get confused.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 2:10 PM on May 27, 2008


Still working on the proportionate-to-betrayal bit and the anal component.

Aw, it's so sweet when people write their own wedding vows.
posted by FelliniBlank at 2:11 PM on May 27, 2008 [8 favorites]


Thanks for the "Anus" tag. That will help me find this article later. Ensures that I'll run across it, in fact, during one of my periodic sweeps for the topic "Anus".
posted by dammitjim at 2:27 PM on May 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


I find this concept fascinating; that the killing and destroying were still ok, it was the betrayal of the contract that was offensive.

Sounds not a million miles from chivalry, to me. Bushido too, for that matter. "Rules of War", I assume, boil down to total war being bad for the economy.
posted by Leon at 2:42 PM on May 27, 2008


So why haven't we caught these guys yet?

Not to inadvertently defend the Bush "Administration" but being small is exactly what makes groups like this hard to catch.
posted by DU at 2:45 PM on May 27, 2008


Quin: As I understand it (correct me if I'm wrong people!), the host/guest relationship is very big in Islam. I recall when the Taliban were sheltering Bin Ladin, they kept saying that they couldn't possibly hand him over, as they were his hosts and he their guest. They even offered to put him on trial in their own courts - so they weren't rejecting him from the country. Now, with the US baying for blood, that was never going to wash, and perhaps it was all posturing, but I think their approach to the situation was telling.
posted by pompomtom at 2:59 PM on May 27, 2008


The Daily Show Kicks Off Counter-terrorism Week
posted by homunculus at 3:05 PM on May 27, 2008


So why haven't we caught these guys yet?

In related news -- CIA planning for al-Qaida 'succession crisis'
“The U.S. is making ‘a big and continual push’ to capture or kill al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, but his demise won't end the organization's menace, CIA Director Michael Hayden said Tuesday in an Associated Press interview.

The CIA is equally interested in those jockeying to replace bin Laden in what he predicted will be a ‘succession crisis.’

‘It will be really interesting to see how that plays out. The organization is a lot more networked than it is ruthlessly hierarchical,’ Hayden said of the group behind the 9/11 attacks on the U.S. ‘How do you pick the next overall leader?’”
posted by ericb at 3:06 PM on May 27, 2008


So why haven't we caught these guys yet?

We have caught, or killed, a lot of them. That's why their core is "much reduced".

Does this mean that we won?

No, but it's one indication that we're starting to win.
posted by Class Goat at 3:31 PM on May 27, 2008


It will be really interesting to see how that plays out. The organization is a lot more networked than it is ruthlessly hierarchical,’ Hayden said of the group behind the 9/11 attacks on the U.S. ‘How do you pick the next overall leader?’

Oh yeah, real interesting. Quite the curiosity worth observing. Kind of like a reality TV show. Survivor: Al Qaida.

Are these guys frickin' kidding me?
posted by jabberjaw at 4:04 PM on May 27, 2008


In January 1993 Mir Aimal Kasi shot five people outside CIA headquarters and fled to the same border area of Pakistan where Osama bin Laden is likely hiding. The FBI captured him in June 1997 and he was executed in November 2002. But that was a soft-on-terror Democratic administration using law enforcement techniques.

So why haven't we caught these guys yet?

Osama bin Laden is a really good hider.

Ensures that I'll run across it, in fact, during one of my periodic sweeps for the topic 'Anus'.

It'd be easier to subscribe to the Anus RSS feed.
posted by kirkaracha at 4:33 PM on May 27, 2008


"It seems flippant to suggest that they care more about honor that life, but that does seem to be what this statement is indicating."

That's been at least the stated position of any number of groups of people, including proper English gentlemen from any of the last several centuries, and quite a few groups of Americans.
posted by Naberius at 4:45 PM on May 27, 2008


...it's one indication that we're starting to win.

If Vietnam taught us one thing, it's that the metric of success is body bags.
posted by DU at 5:07 PM on May 27, 2008


Not to inadvertently defend the Bush "Administration" but being small is exactly what makes groups like this hard to catch.

Conceded, but I still feel that a lot of this wouldn't even be an issue if the CIA (and similar organizations) had spent the last 50 years acting like intelligence agencies and actually getting the fucking information. Don't try to cultivate a local insurgent movement, just get the fucking information. Don't try to overthrow a government, just put people on the ground and get the fucking information!

Not only would we be more able to respond to situations like the one we're in now, but we'd be less likely to be in them in the first place.

(of course really the last 50 years of American politics would have had to be entirely different as well, so we're really just back to where we started)
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 5:15 PM on May 27, 2008


Class Goat writes "That's why their core is 'much reduced'."

If you think there's a 'core' to this whole thing, their (and our) propaganda is working. On you.

To paraphrase Stewart, after our war on terror is over we're going after that bastard ennui.
posted by mullingitover at 5:19 PM on May 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


Back on topic, it would be fantastic if the jihadis renounced violence and in the future raised awareness for their causes by throwing kickass underground raves. If the muslims can do with electronic music what they've done with graphic art, I'd convert.
posted by mullingitover at 5:46 PM on May 27, 2008


No, if anything we'll get a new breed of Muslim straightedge hardcore. Which would actually kind of kick ass. At least more than regular straightedge hardcore.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 5:57 PM on May 27, 2008


We have caught, or killed, a lot of them. That's why their core is "much reduced".
posted by Class Goat at 3:31 PM on May 27


Any word on the orphans, widowers, and widows of the war against the country that wasn't involved in 9/11 (hint: it is Iraq)? You think they might be willing to take the place of dead terrorists?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 6:26 PM on May 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


Interesting post and very informative. What I can gather, Al Qaeda membership is dwindling. Is the decrease of members, a result of philosophical change of heart, the killing of its followers or the decrees of a reformed mastermind?

My perspective on this article is not to trust, but be receptive to conciliatory oratory and verify, however the murders of innocents must be brought to justice and punished. This includes both sides of the conflict.
posted by brickman at 6:27 PM on May 27, 2008


Is the decrease of members, a result of philosophical change of heart, the killing of its followers or the decrees of a reformed mastermind?

They think they're losing because of ill-conceived strategy and tactics.
posted by Class Goat at 6:46 PM on May 27, 2008


Thanks for the article Class Goat.
posted by brickman at 6:51 PM on May 27, 2008


Voila — muslim hardcore.
posted by nebulawindphone at 6:56 PM on May 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


Former anti-terror czar Clarke: Staying in Iraq 'helps Al-Qaeda'
posted by homunculus at 7:34 PM on May 27, 2008


See also: The Unraveling. (Article in TNR on similar themes: former major Al Qaeda figures are rethinking their views, and popular opinion among Muslims, in the Middle East and the West, is shifting against terrorism.)
posted by Slithy_Tove at 7:59 PM on May 27, 2008


‘How do you pick the next overall leader?’”

I think the more interesting question is how do you pick off the next overall leader.
posted by caddis at 8:50 PM on May 27, 2008


I came across the article separately and was pleased (okay, a tiny bit disappointed) to see that it'd already made its way here. Anyway, I thought it was fascinating.

There are a couple of parts that, if you take them at face value anyway, almost seem to validate parts of the GWoT, at least in a sort of backhanded, accidental way.

The driving force behind the renunciation of violence on the part of some Islamists seems to be pragmatic: they tried it, it didn't work, so now they're admitting maybe it wasn't such a smart idea and are considering that maybe non-violent approaches are worth a try. The theological arguments on both sides seem to be mostly backfilling from conclusions already reached: in Zawahiri’s case, that terrorism is necessary in order to succeed; in Fadl's, that it's counterproductive.

It's not clear to me that this latter conclusion would have been as obvious, if the U.S. hadn't taken such an uncompromising, arguably disproportionate, line in response to politically-motivated violence. The U.S. policy — de facto if not de jure — seems to be based on the Israeli one: the damage dealt, no matter how trivial, gets dealt back a hundred-fold to the most convenient target. It's not the sort of policy that is ever going to make one well-loved, in fact it's almost certain to ensure that we're despised, but it does seem to have the effect of proving the futility of terroristic violence if your goal is to get the U.S. out of your neighborhood.

Assuming you accept that the geopolitical goal of the 9/11 attacks (insofar as there was one — how much it might have been motivated by internal politics seems like an open question) was to motivate the U.S. to stop interfering in the Middle East, propping up puppet regimes and assisting Israel, it was a dismal failure. The U.S. is now deeply embroiled and probably will be for generations, and the result has been the creation of the one thing worse than a puppet government: outright occupation.

So, bizarrely, I think it's possible that through sheer ineptitude, the U.S. response might have actually helped the Islamist movement away from violence and towards political methods, although it did so by making itself only more hated, rather than less.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:08 AM on May 28, 2008


Optimus Chyme:
Any word on the orphans, widowers, and widows of the war against the country that wasn't involved in 9/11 (hint: it is Iraq)? You think they might be willing to take the place of dead terrorists?
No, stupid, there isn't much evidence that moderates are easily converted to radicals, and moderates love our harsh reprisals. You sound like you're blaming America, like Jeremiah Wright and Ron Paul and those America-haters always talking about South America. Don't you know they are jealous of our prosperity and hate our freedoms? I can't believe that the very next day after Memorial Day you would slur those brave boys and girls dying in the sand this very minute for the rights you take for granted.

You act like these people have some kind of right to kill Americans. They are not soldiers, they are insurgents and there is a huge difference. In fact they don't have the right to come out of their houses in civilian clothes and shoot at us if we want to bomb their town or detain some scruffy-looking towelheads or have a battle there.

I just saw Red Dawn and I feel inspired by our strong military tradition in this country. You should watch it. Those are some red blooded American boys and girls right there. And consider that the willingness to defend America is what made China always think twice about ever ever attacking us. But you slander our soldiers. You should be ashamed of yourself.
posted by vsync at 2:37 AM on May 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


Wow, that banner-in-the-anus money quote could've come right out of a Tarantino film.
posted by creasy boy at 3:28 AM on May 28, 2008


[quote]
I just saw Red Dawn and I feel inspired by our strong military tradition in this country. You should watch it. Those are some red blooded American boys and girls right there. And consider that the willingness to defend America is what made China always think twice about ever ever attacking us. But you slander our soldiers. You should be ashamed of yourself.[/quote]

You know, I'm really not sure if this is satirical or honest. The rest of the comment seems real, if bombastic - but then he cites Red Dawn as an example of strong American military tradition, and right after insisting that insurgencies by folks in civvies are not allowed.
posted by Tomorrowful at 7:08 AM on May 28, 2008


How does that work? What causes a morality scale like that to be born? I understand that throughout history the concept of the traitor has been reviled, but more so than a taker of human life itself?

I guess it's not so much about treason but about hospitality. Hospitality is one of the most sacred duties in the Arab world. Up to the point where you are supposed to help your enemy when he asks for shelter at your house. Vice versa you are categorically bound to your duties as a guest, even if your host is your enemy.

This supposedly stems from the time when life was mostly nomadic, and in the desert the only thing that could potentially save you might be some strangers, and trust in both parties was the only thing that could make this work.

The concept is, of course, just as open to interpretation as any other passage from the Koran, the Bible, or other religious text.
posted by uncle harold at 7:20 AM on May 28, 2008


You know, I'm really not sure if this is satirical or honest.

I think it's satirical. Either way, it's hilarious!
posted by homunculus at 9:08 AM on May 28, 2008


vsync: "No, stupid, there isn't much evidence that moderates are easily converted to radicals, and moderates love our harsh reprisals."

I think you meant that sarcastically, but I don't see any evidence (either in the link to paulsc's comment, or just generally) that there's really much "radicalization" of moderates going on. It's sort of a bogeyman that gets tossed around, but from the limited stuff I've read that's actually written by Muslims, it doesn't seem to be how things work in practice.

In particular, the essay that's the subject of this whole discussion seems to support the theory that people seem to mostly only change their views in degrees -- from violent to simply radical-but-nonviolent, or radical to moderate, or moderate to liberal, but rarely more than one step (say, moderate to violent).

And what's more, the driving forces behind violent radicalism seem to be essentially pragmatic: they have a goal, and violence is seen as means of achieving that goal. If we can demonstrate conclusively to all concerned that violence isn't a productive means towards the end they desire, it would logically follow -- and it seems to be the case, if the essay is in any way representative of the radical Islamist movement -- that they would turn to avenues besides violence as a means to their ultimate end.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:24 PM on May 28, 2008


It's definitely satirical. But I had to look twice to make sure.
posted by JHarris at 1:22 PM on May 28, 2008


ABC, FBI Punk'd by Terror 'Fan Video'
posted by homunculus at 2:56 PM on May 28, 2008


Qaeda Civil War 'Wishful Thinking,' Says Ex-Spook
posted by homunculus at 12:24 PM on May 29, 2008


Iran, Al Qaeda in Talks?
posted by homunculus at 6:33 PM on May 30, 2008


Female Terrorists Want Equal Rights
posted by homunculus at 1:03 PM on June 2, 2008


Is Terrorism Disappearing?
posted by homunculus at 12:06 PM on June 4, 2008


Al Qaeda Issues "Request For Proposals"
posted by homunculus at 4:31 PM on June 6, 2008


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