"Evil is powerless if the good are unafraid" - Ronald Reagan

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Saudi Mufti Criticizes Al-Qaeda


In an interview with the Saudi daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, Saudi Mufti Sheikh Abd Al-'Aziz Aal Al-Sheikh criticized Al-Qaeda, saying that it was sowing anarchy in the Muslim ummah and was serving the enemies of the ummah.

He also noted that the organization's discourse was based on killing, extortion, and anarchy in the Islamic world.

Intellectual turbulence continues within the salafist community over Al Qaeda's indescriminant killings, extortion, and anarchy it pursues.

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Al Qaeda's brutality alienates Iraqis

From Stuff.com.

From the slaughter of children to edicts against suggestively shaped vegetables, al Qaeda's brutality and its imposition of severe Islamic laws have been crucial to its decline in Iraq.

Its enforcement of a severe form of Sunni Islam in areas it controlled made everyday life miserable, sapping support among the people for its campaign against US and Iraqi forces.

"I saw them slaughter a nine-year old boy like a sheep because his family didn't pledge allegiance to them," said Sheikh Hameed al-Hayyes, an influential Sunni tribal leader from the former al Qaeda stronghold of Anbar province in Iraq's west.

Al Qaeda has worn out their welcome in Iraq due to their brutality. As I have stated before, Al Qaeda wears out their welcome wherever they house themselves due to their extremist ideology. Most folks just want the chance to earn a decent living for their family in a safe and secure environment. Iraqis, for the most part, now have this chance and this security. Another reason Al Qaeda wore out their welcome in Iraq so quickly is noted below.

Until the overthrow of former President Saddam Hussein in 2003 Iraq was largely secular in outlook. Iraqis of different sects and ethnicities intermarried, women would dress in jeans and T-shirts and Baghdad was packed with bars and discos.

Most Iraqis are Shi'ites, a Muslim denomination that al Qaeda's Sunnis consider heretical. The country is also home to Christians and members of other faiths, and al Qaeda has targeted Kurds even though many are Sunni Muslims.

Iraq has always been a generally secular country, deep with tribal tradition and influence. This situation is true of much of the muslim world and is a weakness for Al Qaeda which US strategy must pursue.

As we see in Iraq, Al Qaeda is extremely brutal. This brutality can only be defeated by a strong military presence which hunts down and destroys Al Qaeda cells and leaders. The surged helped Iraqis break the back of Al Qaeda in Iraq. Iraq is a lesson for Pakistan, Afghanistan, and other countries where Al Qaeda hangs it hat. Al Qaeda cannot be negotiated with. It cannot be cajoled. It must be hunted endlessly and destroyed. Just as it has been hunted and destroyed in Iraq, it must be hunted and destroyed in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

This new form of battle, namely an Islamic Insurgency, will be around for some time to come as it gains strength in this area, but loses it in that area. By putting a democracy in the heart of the Middle East, the US is providing all Islamic countries a beacon of freedom and democracy to emulate. Al Qaeda's defeat in Iraq is significant and a major setback for Al Qaeda, and other Islamic extremist organizations the world over. This extremist ideology must be fought by the free flow of information, not by weapons and Soldiers. Weapons and Soldiers can defeat Al Qaeda in a region, but only people freely conversing can destroy the core of Al Qaeda or other extremist organizations.

The US military did the right thing to unseat Saddam. It allowed Iraq to freely chose a way ahead for their country and their culture. Al Qaeda attempted to interfere with this free choice, as did Sadr's militia. Both have lost to the free flow of information and democracy.

The Iraqi model for destruction of a tyrant and subsequent defeat of an extremist insurgency is a model for all people who wish to be part of a free and democratic state in the future. Afghanistan is following this example. Pakistan is just starting to follow this model.

The old saying, "Freedom is not free" is just as true today as it has been in times past. Freedom and democracy must be defended, at times violently. Tyrants, whether in charge of a country, like Saddam, or a movement, like Bin Laden, must be destroyed. Democracy must be defended, sometimes with one's life. Only then, can democracy grow and flourish to benefit a people or a nation. Iraq is truly the model to defeat a tyranny and to grow a democracy.

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Freedom and Democracy

MEMRI has translated excerpts from Syrian sheikh 'Abd Al-Mun'im Mustafa Halima, who is also known as Abu Baseer Al-Tartousi, from his article, "On the Jihad in Iraq" posted on his website on 23 NOvember 2007.

In the article, he condemned the ease with which Sunni jihad groups accuse one another of heresy and collaboration with the enemy, and he wrote that these groups ultimately reach the point of killing one another, thus violating the strict prohibition in Islam against spilling Muslim blood. Al-Tartousi called on the jihad groups in Iraq to join ranks and to base their activity on the principle of shura (consultation) - thus implicitly criticizing Al-Qaeda's attempts to impose its control on other jihad movements. At the same time, he unequivocally condemned those collaborating with the Americans, stating that nothing could justify such an act. Finally, he warned against the phenomenon of blind admiration for certain contemporary jihad leaders, which has spread in certain circles. This admiration, he said, causes them to direct "ideological and psychological terrorism" at any cleric or preacher who gives them advice that they dislike or that they deem offensive to the object of their admiration. (emphasis added)

Al-Tartousi discusses three points (highlighted above) which has caused the jihad in Iraq to suffer.

1. Exaggerate the Sins of Rival Groups

"The worst and most dangerous [mistake] is to accuse other [Muslims] of heresy on the basis of conjecture, suspicions, probabilities, and unfounded notions [based on one's] interpretation [of the facts]."

2. Use of force to settle disagreement among Jihad Groups

"If one group disdains the principle of shura and imposes itself and its decisions on another, the result is inevitably mutual strife, war, division and the unlawful spilling of blood. This is happening today, and it is [precisely] what the enemy wants..."

3. Blindly following extremists

Lately, we have [indeed] observed in a number of people the phenomenon of zealously following certain contemporary jihadi [figures], to the extent that they reject any criticism or advice [regarding these figures], or any claim that [their mentors] are making a mistake. Anyone who offers such advice... is immediately considered suspect and accused of treason... even if he has an [impeccable] reputation for expertise, knowledge and jihad...

These mistakes are exactly the mistakes made by Al Qaeda in Iraq. They continue to be made as Al Qaeda in Iraq targets awakening members, most notable, Sheikh Risha in Al Anbar who started the Anbar Awakening. Al Qaeda is continuing to target CLC and Awakening leaders which will further alienate them from the population.

The two things I find interesting about this article are:

1. It contradictory nature. Al-Tartousi, and Bin Laden before him are eseentially telling a lion to quit being a lion. Do not exaggerate the sins of rival groups. Do not use force against rival individuals or groups. Do not blindly follow extremists. However, this is what Bin Laden preaches for Al Qaeda preaches and what Al Qaeda in Iraq executes on a daily basis. It is precisely why they have alienated the population of Iraq and are why they have lost the active and tacit support of the populous in Iraq, which is essential for a successful insurgency.

Side Note: What is interesting about any government, leader, or ruler, whether elected or not, is they need at least the tacit approval of the population. This tacit support can be gained by military force to prevent tacit approval from becoming active disapproval. Otherwise, they would be overthrown. This fact is as true now as it was in feudal societies in the ancient world.

2.The fixes suggested are being done by Awakening groups, but they are denounced in this article as heresy. The fix for exaggerating the sins of rival groups is to "sit down with the enemy and negotiate with him, or even [sign] a hudna or reconciliation agreement" This is precisely what Awakening groups in Iraq are doing with the Iraqi government. Instead of using force against rival groups, jihad forces must unify and execute a shura. The unity government that is being established in Iraq is an example of this principle as is the recently passed reconciliation law. I presume the problem with this shura or consultation which is happening is that it is based on a popularly elected democracy. Instead of blindly following extremists, one should seek spiritual leadership. Rival groups are seeking spiritual advice, most notably from Sistani who has been visited by both Sunnis and Shiites leaders alike for his guidance in Iraqi matters.

If I was a jihad fighter, I would be thoroughly confused by the contradictions being espoused by Al-Tartousi and in the earlier speech by Bin Laden. I presume this is precisely why fighters for Al Qaeda in Iraq are becoming disenchanted and disillusioned. It is also presumably why Iraqis are flocking to Awakening groups and CLCs and seeking reconciliation with the Iraqi government. Moving to these groups is perfectly in line with what is being stated by both of these individuals.

The problem both of these individuals have is the freely elected democracy in Iraq, the fact that this freely elected democracy has a Shiite majority, and possibly the most important, is this freely elected democracy was created by an infidel, the United States. The reason this freely elected democracy will prevail over Al Qaeda is precisely that it upholds the Muslim principles of shura (consultation) and hudna (reconciliation) and is enforcing the sharia (higher religious law) regardless of how Al-Tartousi attempts to twist the facts.

The problem is Iraq is not extreme enough which brings us to the third contradiction expoused by Al-Tartousi. Without stating it himself, Al-Tartousi's major issue is expressed several times above. He and Bin Laden do not like the freely elected democracy being established in Iraq.

Freedom and democracy is what they fear most. Freedom and democracy is what Bin Laden attacked and attempted to destroy on 9/11. Freedom and democracy is why they made Iraq their central front of terror. Freedom and democracy is why Al Qaeda went to Lebanon immediately after Hamas was elected. Freedom and democracy is why he and the Taliban assassinated Bhutto. Freedom and democracy is why he and the Taliban have brought the battle back to Pakistan.

An individual's desire for freedom and democracy is why evil groups, such as Al Qaeda, will ultimately fail. Freedom and democracy is why they haved failed in Iraq. Freedom and democracy is why they are failing in Afghanistan. Freedom and democracy is why they will ultimately fail in Pakistan.

Freedom and democracy will solve the Israel-Palestinian crisis as soon as the Palestinians realize three things.

1. Do not exaggerate the sins of rival groups.

2. Do not use force against rival individuals or groups.

3. Do not blindly follow extremists.

Thank you Al-Tartousi. You have put all these issues completely in perspective.

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