Review of 'The Exposure of the Exoneration' by Dr Fadl

Osama bin Laden, right, listens as his top deputy Ayman al-Zawahri speaks at an undisclosed location in this image from an undated videotape broadcast by Al-Jazeera TV on April 15, 2002. (AP Photo/Al-Jazeera/APTN)

Osama bin Laden, right, listens as his top deputy Ayman al-Zawahri speaks at an undisclosed location in this image from an undated videotape broadcast by Al-Jazeera TV on April 15, 2002. (AP Photo/Al-Jazeera/APTN)

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When imagining the preferred weaponry of the 21st century jihadist terrorist, the pen might not be the first thing that comes to mind, particularly given the preference that some Al-Qaeda adherents have demonstrated for the sword. But recently, Lawrence Wright reported on a battle of words between Sayyid Imam al-Sharif (a.k.a. Dr Fadl), one of the most important theorists of violent Islamism, and Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden’s chief collaborator.

The feud intensified in the autumn of 2007, when Fadl, the author of a canonical encyclopaedia of violent jihad, released a new work, “Rationalizing Jihad in Egypt and the World”. Writing from an Egyptian prison cell, Fadl denounced Al-Qaeda’s indiscriminate murder of innocents and lashed out at his former friend Zawahiri. Fadl was particularly incensed by edits that Zawahiri had made to his encyclopaedia without consulting him.

“I do not know anyone in the history of Islam prior to Ayman al-Zawahiri who engaged in such lying, cheating, forgery, and betrayal of trust by transgressing against someone else’s book”, Fadl raged.

Zawahiri responded to Fadl’s accusations by publishing, on the Internet, a new book of his own. In “The Exoneration”, Zawahiri dismissed Fadl as a tool of the Zionist-Crusader cabal and said that his imprisoned foe was now writing “in the spirit of the a minister of the interior.”

Now Fadl is back with a new work, “The Exposure of the Exoneration”, whose serial publication in an Egyptian newspaper concluded in late February. In it, Fadl intensifies his personal attacks on Zawahiri. Among other things, Fadl claims that bin Laden so mistrusts Zawahiri that Zawahiri did not learn about Al-Qaeda’s plans for 9/11 until after the attacks had already taken place.

But considering the buzz that was generated by his last book, Fadl’s new effort has not met with much enthusiasm in Islamist circles.

“This is embarrassing for Imam”, said Kamal Habib, a prominent former member of Egyptian Islamic Jihad who had previously praised Fadl’s attempts at reconsidering violence. “I don’t think he realizes what it does to his image.”

Read Lawrence Wright's full article at: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2008/06/02/080602fa_fact_wright

[New Yorker, Agence France-Presse (AFP)]

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