Translating Words, Interpreting Events

The Return of Al Qaeda and Jihad

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FrontPage Magazine

With the ousting of Muhammad Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, al-Qaeda has been vindicated and the terror-jihad exonerated, in the opinion of many Islamists, that is.

Ayman Zawahiri: “Told you so.”

According to the Associated Press, in a new video, al-Qaeda leader Ayman Zawahiri “said the military coup that ousted Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi provides proof that Islamic rule cannot be established through democracy and urged the Islamist leader’s followers to abandon the ballot box in favor of armed resistance [i.e., jihad].”

In fact, in the Arabic video, Zawahiri gloats over two points that he has championed for decades despite widespread opposition: that the Brotherhood was foolish to engage in democracy and elections in the first place, and that the triumph of Islam can only be achieved through jihad.

Interestingly, these two points go back to a long but internal debate between nonviolent Islamists, like the Muslim Brotherhood, and violent jihadis, like al-Qaeda. While both groups pursue the same exact goals—a Sharia-ruling caliphate followed by the subjugation of the “infidel” world, according to Islamic teachings—they follow different strategies.  The Brotherhood has long argued that, because the Islamic world is militarily weaker than the West, now is not the time for an all-out jihad, but rather a time for infiltration and subversion, a time for taqiyya and short-lived promises.  Conversely, jihadis generally disavow pretense and diplomacy, opting for jihad alone.

Since the 1960s in Egypt, Ayman Zawahiri was an outspoken proponent of jihad (see “Ayman Zawahiri and Egypt: A Trip Through Time for a brief biography).  In the early 1990s, he wrote an entire book titled Al Hissad Al Murr, or “The Bitter Harvest,” where he argued that the Brotherhood “takes advantage of the Muslim youths’ fervor by bringing them into the fold only to store them in a refrigerator. Then, they steer their onetime passionate, Islamic zeal for jihad to conferences and elections….  And not only have the Brothers been idle from fulfilling their duty of fighting to the death, but they have gone as far as to describe the infidel governments as legitimate, and have joined ranks with them in the ignorant style of governing, that is, democracies, elections, and parliaments.”

Even so, after the terror strikes of 9/11, many became critical of al-Qaeda, whose actions were seen as setting back the Islamist agenda by creating more scrutiny and awareness in the West.  The attacks further set off the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan and gave many Arab governments—including former President Mubarak’s—free reign to suppress all Islamists. As Montasser al-Zayyat, Zawahiri’s biographer, wrote:

The poorly conceived decision to launch the attacks of September 11 created many victims of a war of which they did not choose to be a part…. Bin Laden and Zawahiri’s behavior was met with a lot of criticism from many Islamists in Egypt and abroad…. In the post-September 11 world, no countries can afford to be accused of harboring the enemies of the United States. No one ever imagined that a Western European country would extradite Islamists who live on its lands. Before that, Islamists had always thought that arriving in a European city and applying for political asylum was enough to acquire permanent resident status. After September 11, 2001, everything changed…. Even the Muslim Brotherhood was affected by the American campaign, which targeted everything Islamic.

If the West “targeted everything Islamic,” that was obviously short lived; for, from a different perspective, the post 9/11 world has proven to be the heyday of the Muslim Brotherhood.  For starters, many Islamists began to see the wisdom of the Muslim Brotherhood’s strategy of publicly renouncing violence (jihad) and appropriating Western language and paradigms in an effort to infiltrate and subvert.

And it certainly worked: the Brotherhood got what they wanted; their strategy of opting for elections and renouncing jihad, coupled with a highly sympathetic Obama administration, culminated with the Brotherhood leaving Egypt’s prisons and filling the highest posts of government, beginning with the presidency.

However, now that the Brotherhood and Morsi have been ousted, the jihadis—chief among them Zawahiri, leader of al-Qaeda—are in full “we told you so” mode, renewing the argument that Islamic Sharia can never be established through infidel democracy, but rather only through jihad, long recognized as the only way to force people—including Muslims themselves—to comply with Allah’s rule on earth.  And it’s becoming harder for nonviolent Islamists to argue otherwise, especially the now disgraced Brotherhood.

Thus, among an increasing number of Islamists, al-Qaeda’s strategy—jihad and terror—has been justified and may well return in full force.  Indeed, it’s in this context that one must understand recent news that the U.S. “ordered the unprecedented closure of embassies in 19 countries across the Middle East and Africa,” a decision sparked by Ayman Zawahiri’s recent communiques.

No doubt Western apologists will now argue that it’s in the West’s interest to support and make concessions to the Muslim Brotherhood, since the alternative will be a renewal in jihadi terror.  However, aside from the fact that such an argument is tantamount to submitting to blackmail—or that the resumption of jihad is just another reminder that al-Qaeda and the Brotherhood are two faces of the same coin—is it not better to get the ugly truth out in the open now, while the U.S. still has some power and influence, rather than later, when it will likely be even more infiltrated and handicapped?

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  • Doger Trader

    OBAMA administration is almost like a muslim brotherhood branch. it behaves as if it totally unaware who r the MB.
    thank for interesting article.

  • MJ

    Al-Qaeda leader says Egypt coup proof that Islamic rule cannot come through democracy Maamoun Youssef, Associated Press | 13/08/03 | Last Updated: 13/08/03

    Alas History Dictates Islam Can and Has.

    A Terror conversion message can be just as effectively delivered in the streets (al Qaeda, Boko Haram, Hezbollah, Mahdi, Muslim Brotherhood,Taliban, etc preferred option) or via a ‘Democratic’ ballot box. A ballot box which thereafter is, as in Iran and elsewhere, no longer ‘Democratic’.

    The key word here is ‘through’. Public policy makers in so called ‘Free’ societies please note. The Egyptian military clearly knew what ‘through’ meant for ‘real’ Age of Enlightenment Democracy.

    Indonesia, Malaysia, Iran,…. the list goes on Democracy subverted to fascist constructs. Once power is achieved as with the Nazi it is possible – just 49%-50%plus required to subject both Other and women.

    Allowing Islam anywhere near the Government levers of power is death to Democracy and any notion of the separation of State from Religion.

    “From this mosque the Muslim Brotherhood is running its campaign to reinstate Mohammed Morsi, who was sacked from the presidency by the army on July 3.

    One preacher tells the crowd: “The ruler of the country is Allah – don’t obey anyone else.”

    He then leads a chant: “Islam will come back and the Koran will rule the nation.”

    “War room doors swing open as Islamists plot their fight for Egypt” BY:JOHN LYONS, MIDDLE EAST CORRESPONDENT From: The Australian August 01, 2013 12:00AM

    Islamic definition of Democracy = “the Koran will rule the nation.”

    Age of Enlightenment definition of Democracy = “all citizens participating equally will rule the nation.” – inclusive of women.

    Democracy is a form of government in which all eligible citizens participate equally—either directly or through elected representatives—in the proposal, development, and creation of laws. It encompasses social, economic and cultural conditions that enable the free and equal practice of political self-determination.

    Secularism is the principle of separation of government institutions, and the persons mandated to represent the State, from religious institutions and religious dignitaries.

    Secularism = Democracy If the government is free from religious institutions and religious dignitaries direction.

    Are the following true?
    Islam=religious institutions and religious dignitaries direction?

    Islam=”social, economic and cultural conditions that enable the free and equal practice of political self-determination” AND “all eligible citizens participate equally—either directly or through elected representatives—in the proposal, development, and creation of laws”?

    Given Islamic definition of Democracy=”the Koran will rule the nation.” which necessarily excludes Other (as we see in Iran for every so called election), subjects women and mergers religion with the State to govern.

    Islam can neither inform a Secular State or a Democratic State.

    The great danger of fascists constructs such as Islam, Nazi etc is that Democracy is a means to an end and not an end in itself as the Al-Qaeda leader says ‘through’. Once the 49%-50%+ is gained, unless as in Egypt an outside force such as the Nation’s Military intervenes, all is lost as the fascist construct realigns the political institutions in its own image. This happened in Germany why do Western Countries still believe somehow in time and space they are immune?

    This was clearly happening in Egypt, one could see exactly the same thing happening to the art culture in Egypt as happened in Germany in the 1930s under the Nazi, as well as in other areas of public policy. Once the military is subverted as in Germany in the 1930′s, as the Islamists in Egypt were attempting to do, there would have been no institution capable of protecting the Egyptian citizens.

    All Nation Governments who believe in ‘Freedom’ as defined by the Age of Enlightenment need to acknowledge publicly the above and fully support the military overthrow of the Islamist regime in Egypt.

    Public Policy makers in the West have to understand encouraging a political fascist construct, religious or secular, diametrically opposed to the very existence of your core ethics is not a good. And will in time and space as Tony Blair clearly stated has and does all round the world as on this very day, as it has from the seventh century, Islam informs ‘major schism’.

    Hezbollah, Taliban, Boko Haram along with similar Muslim entities under different names since the seventh century are all mere historical pimples caused by the same pathology

  • aebe

    The Presidunce , his Secretaries of State , the entire of Congress must have known , and understood that islam and democracy are not compatible . And yet , the islamists , the very creatures that will be pointing their weapons at America , are the ones being supported by the O’Bummer administration , with the tacit compliance of Congress .
    Past time to march on Washington , do what can be done peaceably to shut down the government .
    Validate your 2nd Amendment Rights . Carry