Al Qaeda at war with itself


Al-Qaida is at war. And not just against the West, but with itself, says Lawrence Wright, author of The Looming Tower, the definitive account of the terrorist organization and the road leading up to the attacks of Sept. 11.

"It's very profound in the radical edge of it," says Wright, who explores the ideological rift for an article in next week's New Yorker magazine. "Before, moderate Muslims have spoken out against violence in the name of Islam, but now radicals are doing the same thing. And what's fascinating is that they're attacking on two grounds: One is that [violence is] not practical because it hasn't achieved their purposes. And secondly, it's sinful. It is placing the souls of the people who commit this violence in great jeopardy."

Wright tells NPR's Guy Raz that the two players behind the rift are Ayman Al-Zawahiri, al-Qaida's No. 2 man, and Sayyed Imam Al-Sharif, also known as Dr. Fadl. Sharif, who wrote al-Qaida's manual for jihad training, recently released a manifesto refuting those principles.

The fact that al-Qaida's architect has changed his mind, Wright says, makes violence "harder to justify using that kind of thinking."

He says al-Qaida is unraveling in some respects.


Wright says they are clearly losing in Iraq and losing the war of ideas around the world. I really liked his book The Looming Tower.

It gives the history of radical Islam and bin Laden's role along with Zawahiri's in spreading the hate. Wright's message is very slowly seeping into the discourse on the war, but Democrats are reluctant to acknowledge the truth, because they would have to give President Bush credit and also admit that they have been wrong about Iraq for over a year.

It is time that they pay a political price for their opposition to winning in Iraq.

Wright has a long piece in the New Yorker giving more details on the unraveling of al Qaeda and the players responsible for it. It covers 14 internet pages and is rich in the details of al Qaeda's organization.


  1. When two liberal publications both published articles premised on our enemy's falling apart, I see a trend. Of course both see the internal disintegration resulting from something other than the pressure put on them by the US war.

    I think there's no further to look than the fact that Wright's book got published. Both publications explored it rather uncritically, as they are hoping that it is true that AQ is disintegrating.

    One also does not need to look any further than this year's State Department's publication to see that the book's premise is shaky at best.

    "Al-Qa’ida (AQ) and associated networks remained the greatest terrorist threat to the United States and its partners in 2007. It has reconstituted some of its pre-9/11 operational capabilities through the exploitation of Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), replacement of captured or killed operational lieutenants, and the restoration of some central control by its top leadership, in particular Ayman al-Zawahiri."

    The data show that terrorist attacks in 2007 were the same as in 2006 - about 14,500, which is up more than 3000 since 2005. over 70,000 people are killed, injured or kidnapped as a result of terrorist attacks - regrettably a stable number over the past few years.

    Al-Qaeda's response to its jailed critics was caustic and efficient: "Do they now have fax machines in Egyptian jail cells? I wonder if they're connected to the same line as the electric-shock machines.".

    It's not only westerners that take statements given under torture with a grain of salt...


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