April 16, 2006

FUN WHILE IT LASTED:

Keeping Al-Qaeda in His Grip: Al-Zawahiri Presses Ideology, Deepens Rifts Among Islamic Radicals (Craig Whitlock, 4/16/06, Washington Post)

In January 2003, one of the two most wanted men in the world couldn't contain his frustration. From a hiding place probably somewhere in South Asia, he tapped out two lengthy e-mails to a fellow Egyptian who'd been criticizing him in public.

"I beg you, don't stop the Muslim souls who trust your opinions from joining the jihad against the Americans," wrote Ayman al-Zawahiri, deputy leader of al-Qaeda. He fired off the message even though it risked exposing him.

"Let's put it this way: Tensions had been building up between us for a long time," explained the e-mail's recipient, Montasser el-Zayat, a Cairo lawyer who shared a prison cell with Zawahiri in the 1980s and provided this account. "He always thinks he is right, even if he is alone."

Since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Zawahiri has broadcast his views to the world relentlessly. Despite a $25 million price on his head, he has published memoirs, given interviews and recorded a dozen speeches that find their way to the Internet and television. Video of a speech was posted Thursday on a Web site.

Zawahiri's visibility, eclipsing Osama bin Laden's, reminds al-Qaeda's enemies that the network is capable of more attacks. But a closer look at his speeches and writings, and interviews with several longtime associates in radical Islamic circles, suggest another motive: fear of losing his ideological grip over a revolutionary movement he has nurtured for 40 years.


The eclipse of bin Ladsen is presumably a function of OBL being killed at Tora Bora, while the reminder pales in comparison to their inability to strike in Italy during its recent election. Add in the way the remainder of movement is crumbling and it seems clear we're in the mop up phase of the WoT.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 16, 2006 8:01 AM
Comments

Happy Easter to all the Judds!

Posted by: Steve at April 16, 2006 8:26 AM
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