Former al-Qaeda spokesman criticises 'culture of killing' and 'monopoly of jihad'

Abu Ghaith went from speaking for al-Qaeda to criticising its actions. [Reuters TV]

Abu Ghaith went from speaking for al-Qaeda to criticising its actions. [Reuters TV]

  • COMMENT

    36

  • Print this article
  • increase decrease

In his first public stance since he disappeared after the war against terrorism began against al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan in response to the attacks of September 11th, 2001, former al-Qaeda spokesman Suleiman Abu Ghaith criticised his organisation's leaders without identifying them by name.

In a book titled "Twenty Guidelines on the Path of Jihad", Abu Ghaith affirmed his rejection of jihadist work as "the project of one individual using the blood of others to act out what seems correct to him".

Jassem Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, also known as "Abu Youssef", is of Kuwaiti origin. The Kuwaiti government stripped him of citizenship in 2001, after he moved to Afghanistan and appeared alongside al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden as a spokesman for the organisation.

The book was published on the website of an Egyptian Islamist known as Mustafa Hamid, author of the "Mutarid" book series and a veteran "Arab mujahid" in Afghanistan. Hamid is a known critic of bin Laden.

Abu Ghaith's book contains 20 pieces of "advice" about "jihad work", but it never addresses al-Qaeda by name, despite the fact that its author was the organisation's spokesman in 2001. Abu Ghaith also does not mention bin Laden by name nor any other leader of the organisation. But much of the "advice" seems directed toward the leaders of al-Qaeda specifically, in addition to leaders of other groups that describe their work as "jihadist".

In his book, Abu Ghaith writes, "Jihad, as I have said repeatedly, is a mission of the Umma (Islamic nation) and should not be hijacked or monopolised. Those who think that jihad means carrying arms and fighting the enemy are mistaken. This would mean that the culture of killing and destruction is what drives us, not a culture of life and building."

Abu Ghaith said that it was a mistake to believe that jihadists should not be concerned with building the state and its institutions, spreading science and knowledge, and "securing a better life for all who live with Islam and in the Islamic state".

He added that jihadists should be concerned with "drawing the real picture of jihad and bearing arms for justice and not injustice, building and not destruction, security and not fear, compassion and not punishment, consensus and not division."

Although Abu Ghaith did not specify who is "hijacking" or "monopolising" jihad, his words could be interpreted as applying to al-Qaeda, which is criticised for carrying out actions that limit the meaning of jihad to carrying weapons, offering nothing but destruction.

Addressing the "mujahids", Abu Ghaith said taking up arms is an act based on responsibility that should make fighters "fear God in shedding people's blood, and not spill blood except for rightful reasons".

Critics also accuse al-Qaeda of going overboard in shedding blood, even though the organisation denies this.

The former al-Qaeda spokesman wrote, "Today we need to stop the chaos of putting the statements of humans ahead of the words of God and the words of [the prophet Muhammad]."

He added, "There is no shame in examining our mistakes and fixing them. Indeed, this is the correct thing to do. But the shame of all shame is to see our mistakes and bury them."

Abu Ghaith said allegiance should only be given to "those whose honesty, integrity and capacity are trustworthy". Giving it to someone who does not deserve it is "treason" and those who give it will "share the responsibility for every mistake made by those it is given to or for any disaster that occurs on their account".

Here too, Abu Ghaith does not specify the identity of the leader who could lead others to "disaster" if accorded allegiance by the masses. However, observers believe it is likely he was referring to bin Laden or his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri.

Al-Hayat's Pakistan-based reporter Jamal Ismail described Abu Ghaith's book as a "rejection" of bin Laden's jihad, citing the author's line about jihad not being the "project of one person". Ismail said the book sets a "precedent that al-Qaeda and affiliated extremist groups have not seen before".

Abu Hafs the Mauritanian

Abu Ghaith's book includes an introduction by Mahfouz Ould al-Walid (Abu Hafs the Mauritanian), the former head of al-Qaeda's Sharia Committee who was among those who fled Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban regime.

Ould al-Walid is believed to be one who outwardly rejected the September 11th attacks before they occurred. His position caused a public dispute between him and al-Zawahiri.

Abu Hafs introduced the book as one in a series of "educational" books about jihad to "set the path straight and guide the actions" of jihadists.

If proven that Abu Ghaith, through his "Twenty Guidelines" intended to direct criticism against al-Qaeda's leaders, he will be the latest "jihadist" figure to publicly criticise bin Laden and the leaders close to him, foremost among them Ayman al-Zawahiri.

One of the most prominent critics is Sayed Imam al-Sharif (Dr. Fadl), described as the "jihadists' theoretician", who sharply criticised al-Qaeda's actions in several studies published while he was in prison in Egypt.

The Libyan Islamic Fighting Group leadership also directed implicit criticisms toward al-Qaeda in a large study published last year.

ADD A COMMENT (COMMENT POLICY) * DENOTES REQUIRED FIELD

Test
  • READER COMMENTS

    عماد حكمت

    2011-1-15

    The leaders who have announced their repentance and have given up working with al-Qaeda, and who have become numerous, can be used properly, if each one of them writes his confessions and reports on the crimes of al-Qaeda in a book. Such books will be evidence and authentication of al-Qaeda’s terrorist ideas and its purpose to kill innocent civilians and distort and defame religion, as well as killing the largest number of Muslims and Christians and planting discord among religions, sects and beliefs.

    • ابواحمد

      2013-6-29

      Fantastic. Emad

  • سلام ناصر

    2011-1-15

    These books will remain a witness of history after many years, and they will not be distorted by those who may remain loyal to such terrorist organizations at that time, if they, the organizations, have lasted that long, because everyone is now working to reveal the crimes of this organization before people and to raise awareness of the seriousness of this terrorist organization and its ideas. Therefore, it has become impossible for al-Qaeda to be able to work on the dissemination of terrorist ideas in the future, under any excuse or in any circumstance.

  • مجتبى راشدي

    2011-1-15

    Books will last longer than videos and other means, because these books will be circulated among the generations, in order to expose all the lies of al-Qaeda.

  • شامل

    2011-1-13

    A lot of leaders who have worked with this terrorist organization have declared their innocence and repentance of working with al-Qaeda, and this is a good sign. We call on everyone else to do the same and give up working with this terrorist organization.

  • قاسم

    2011-1-13

    Some of those who belonged to al-Qaeda were not aware that they were going astray, that they had made great mistake and that this organization does not care about Islam. Rather, all its energies are aimed at the abuse of innocents and disrupting the unity of Muslims with what it is doing in terms of terrorist, brutal and cowardly acts. So, we saw a lot of elements that were involved under the cloak of this terrorist organization. Some of them reached senior positions in the ranks of this terrorist organization, but they came back to their senses through what they perceived of the extremist and fanatical ideology of al-Qaeda and what it is carrying out in terms of acts that are contrary to the teachings of our religion and the teachings of our Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him.

  • محمد الوادعي

    2011-1-13

    Everyone has noticed that most of the leaders who belonged to and worked with this terrorist organization have declared their repentance, have given up working with this terrorist organization, and have rejected all its terrorist and criminal acts through the visual media and the press. Some of those leaders of this terrorist organization, who have declared their innocence and repentance, have started to release volumes and books that talk about the criminal role of al-Qaeda; they expose its heinous deeds and extremist ideas and fanatical terrorist acts, which damage the unity of Islam. These pamphlets and books issued by the repentant people who were working with this criminal organization played a positive role in revealing al-Qaeda’s schemes, and also played a great role in guiding the public to reject joining such terrorist organizations or armed militias, especially young people. On this basis, we conclude that this repentance and the books published had an active role in changing the ideas of many who believed in the ideas of al-Qaeda, or at least those who sympathized with the organization, because the image was not clear before their eyes. Today, we see that these books have made the greatest impact in guiding the community to reject al-Qaeda’s terrorist and extremist ideas, which are far from any concepts of religion and humanity and peace.

  • ابو محمد

    2011-1-10

    The criminality of al-Qaeda is indescribable and cannot be described in books or articles. The problem is that there is no human way to describe the savagery of the members al-Qaeda, who try to lead people to thinking that their works are based on religion, which certainly has nothing to do with them and their filthy acts. There is no religion in the world that can give those [offensive] the right to commit such barbaric, cruel and unjust acts. There is no doubt that those who were fooled into joining al-Qaeda and its repentant former members recognized the savagery and tyranny of this horrible terrorist organization, and can help the people that al-Qaeda tries to fool into taking this destructive road, which is the road of injustice, bloodshed and barbarism.

  • شوكت ذياب

    2011-1-9

    Those naïve and foolish people, who were deceived by Al-Qaeda and its thought before repenting when they realized the criminality of Al-Qaeda and its followers and supporters, should be required to expose this dangerous terrorist thought, which does not just target a certain group, but all the sects and groups of human society worldwide. This terrorist group lives and feeds on injustice and killing people. Fie on this terrorist thought and on those who follow it blindly until the Day of Judgment, because they transform their bodies into fire that burns the innocents.

  • حيدر غنيم

    2011-1-8

    Special security apparatuses can make use of the memoirs written by those who have abandoned their extremist views and declared their repentance. This is because these books and memoirs contain information which represents almost the chief element in the arrest of the widespread networks of these organizations, thus limiting the scope of their terrorist work and besieging them, to arrest them and rid society and people of their evil, in order for people to live in peace and safety.

  • رحيم غالب

    2011-1-8

    Some states which have certain interests pay money and provide weapons and explosives to achieve their goals of creating a state of horror and instability in the countries of the region. A group of those who were manipulated by ill-intentioned people with filthy interests had an awakening of the conscience, as they declared their repentance for committing and inciting terrorist actions. They abandoned their previous opinions, which had been based on extremism, violence and criminal acts which terrorize the people, and they confessed to working with terrorist gangs, asking for a chance to be forgiven and reintegrated into society once more. This way, those young people could be restored to their society, in order to become useful and good agents in building the society, instead of destroying it and demolishing its pillars.

  • حسني الكوتي

    2011-1-8

    Some of the ex-leaders of Al-Qaeda, who repented after the crimes they committed, have authored books on their work in terrorist organizations, where they documented their memoirs about their previous actions, when they terrorized people inhumanely, as they believed in the theory based on assaulting people and taking their lives, their money, and raping them shamefully. This is in addition to the actions of murder and destruction, which have come to threaten all of humanity, because they are characterized by violence and the illegitimate use of force. These actions claim the lives of many members of society, and stir up chaos in affected countries. Those who commit them forget their humane role in peaceful coexistence and forget that they should stop murdering citizens and destroying countries and civilizations through criminal actions.

  • عمر صبار

    2011-1-7

    Al-Qaeda may be linked to some regional countries somehow, and these countries have interests and goals that they want to achieve, so they support this organization to implement their agenda, which is rejected by the international law.

  • ام الهمام الانصارية

    2011-1-6

    O God! Give victory to the mujahidin and protect sheikh Osama bin Laden, Dr. Ayman Al-Zawahiri, and all the jihadist leaders worldwide. It is strange that Muslims, whose honor and lives are being violated by the infidels, apostates, and their agents from among the Arab leaders, took no action or even said a word to protest; quite the contrary, they accept this humiliation and they only speak to criticize whoever tries to defend them. We must stop believing the untruthful media. Please, enroll my name among the guards of the borders of Islam, and allow me to wash my sins with blood. O God! Calm my eye by seeing the mujahidin and the state of Islam. O God! Help me to join Al-Qaeda. Amen.

  • وعبدالله

    2011-1-6

    O people! Hold on!! Cursing and swearing at each other will not benefit any party. We have to contain this organization with good books like this, because fair criticism is constructive. We have to help this man to adhere to the right path. As for Al-Qaeda, it is responsible for all the innocent souls that it has killed. However, we are not judges at the gates of paradise or hell, to say that anyone will go to either of them. We have to correct mistakes, help the repentant people, and guide our youth to protect them from both fanaticism and corruption. We are a moderate nation and we must avoid both extremism and negligence. We must preserve our religion and ask God to guide us on the right path.

  • انا مصرى مسلم حزين على كل هذا

    2011-1-5

    In the name of God, the Most Merciful, the ever Merciful. I am so sad and I sympathize with every Christian person. I ask God the Almighty to forgive the sins of the Christians who died, and I ask Him to provide the Copts with patience. I seek God’s help against all those who are behind this cowardly massacre. May God be the witness to what I say. Peace be upon you. May God help you…

  • محمود

    2011-1-2

    Your words are not trustworthy.

  • 2011-1-2

    By God, Islam is innocent of those devils. God is sufficient for me and He is the best Disposer of affairs.

  • 2011-1-1

    We ask God to guide everyone to the right way.

  • 2011-1-1

    O God, destroy their houses. O God, take revenge on those assassin terrorists! They are savage animals. They adhere to no religion. They do not worship God. O God, take revenge on those infidels!

  • لطفي بحر

    2010-12-31

    If the news reported by this man is true, he would be like a prisoner or one who was coerced to say what he said. His confession could not be acknowledged or considered, because he made it when he was under the threat of captivity and torture. I hope that you publish my comments, as you published the comments of those people who curse the freedom fighters and their Sheikh, the ascetic freedom fighter and billionaire, Usama Bin Ladin.

  • كمال الناصر

    2010-12-30

    Terrorist acts will come to an end one day, since they are cowardly and reflect violence and terrorism. In addition, terrorists became afraid of the Iraqi state forces, which were tracking them down in order to bring them down. This was, actually, their ultimate end, which is the end of every criminal murderer. One day, he will be arrested by the Iraqi army and killed, because the justice of God on earth dictates that “the murderer shall be killed.” Therefore, they must document all events, so people will know how these terrorists were manipulated and directed. They must also document that they have repented from carrying out terrorist acts which aimed to kill the innocent, and committed them simply because they were ordered to do so and denied the right to object. Such leaders have to write about how they became leaders in al-Qaeda, how they began to recruit people and the youth in particular, and how they supplied them with weapons and money to carry out their criminal terrorist acts. In fact, the latter incite violence and shedding the blood of the innocent, which were murdered as a result of criminal acts. Eventually, they have to finish by declaring their repentance from carrying out filthy acts, which brought them down after they had discovered the grim truth about them.

  • حكيم عبدالله

    2010-12-30

    A group of repentant al-Qaeda leaders have written about their criminality and their cowardly terrorist operations in order to provide a lesson for whoever joins or thinks of belonging to such violent terrorist groups. These ex-leaders have to write about all the details of their acts, in order to inform the people and explain to them how they implicated some people in the name of Islam and Jihad. In fact, they made them believe that their acts were right and related to jihad. However, after they discovered the reality of their acts, they felt great regret, because of the criminal acts which they had carried out against people, namely murder, bombing, slaughter, kidnapping and rape. They have also brought sectarianism into Iraq, by sowing dissension among people, religions and sects. Thus, they have to document this, in order to convey their criminal ideology at that time, so that people will be aware of their ideology and terrorist plans and methods. These ex-leaders have to explain how they were lured into such terrorist acts and were victims of violence and criminality. Indeed, they have harmed people terribly who witnessed the terrorist acts, which claimed the lives of many innocent citizens, including women, children, the elderly and the youth who were assassinated. The latter means killing in order to enjoy torturing and shedding people’s blood mercilessly. They were influenced by major forces called the terrorist al-Qaeda, which even murders its own members, if they ever discover the truth and want to leave the organization.

  • منير

    2010-12-30

    I believe that it would be a great help if the former leaders of Al-Qaeda, who announced their repentance, wrote books to remain as living documented evidence of what happened and what is happening, as well as the crimes that were committed by the dirty terrorist organization of Al-Qaeda. In this case, the witness would be from the house of Al-Qaeda. These books will condemn this terrorist organization forever at the hands of those who worked in it, to block the way against any attempt to forge the history at any time. Meanwhile, these books will protect our future generations and keep them away from such organizations if they resurface at any time in the future, even if this is very unlikely to happen.

  • رشيد فاروق

    2010-12-30

    Such books will implant hatred for violence, destruction, and bloodshed in every one of our children and youth in the future, and they would protect them from being deceived into falling into these traps and claws of such groups that promote the criminal and terrorist acts.

  • طارق علي

    2010-12-30

    It is important for the repentant leaders of al-Qaeda to document their biographies that include everything that they have witnessed and experienced when they were working with this infidel organization, because they will benefit the current and the coming generations. These books will expose all the thoughts of terrorism and its crimes, as well as its attempts to spread disunity, and the terrorist takfiri thought.

  • ابو علاء

    2010-12-29

    It is good and important to see the repentance of those who belong to al-Qaeda and the declaration of their withdrawal from that bloody terrorist organization. But repentance alone is not enough to atone for the sins committed by them and they must become a part of the front combating terrorism. They must fight terrorism, according to their ability. I think that documenting the acts of this terrorist organization by publishing these words in books will denounce terrorism and reveal the truth about it, and this will be the best way for those who have repented to fight al-Qaeda. I think that those repentant leaders know a lot of things that could certainly expose al-Qaeda and show it naked before all those who have been deceived. I remember I watched a program in which a repentant who had served as a mufti in Anbar within the al-Qaeda terrorist organization had provided serious and real confessions about the activities of al-Qaeda in Anbar when he was working with them. These confessions and facts affected me and a lot of Iraqi people, and it convinced us beyond any doubt that al-Qaeda is just a despicable criminal gang that does not belong to religion and does not fight for it, as alleged by the leaders of terror. Such books will expose al-Qaeda and weaken the intellectual and media influence of al-Qaeda, because the people who write the books are not theorists or analysts, politicians or journalists; they are members and former leaders of the criminal organization; they learned the way of truth, and they are now fighting sincerely with the honest people against al-Qaeda and terrorism in Iraq.

  • حازم فهد

    2010-12-29

    The government has to work to help those who have repented with the writing of these books, by facilitating the tasks of printing, publishing and distribution in large quantities in the market, to ensure that these confessions and facts are available to everyone, to let them know that al-Qaeda is the most dangerous terrorist organization on earth, and that it wants to undermine the unity of Iraq and its people in every way possible. I think that such books will be in great demand, not only in Iraq, but also in many other places.

  • marsol

    2010-12-29

    Our Islamic religion prohibits any violation against the innocents! So, what about the crimes of the Americans against the Muslims worldwide, as they killed children, women and elders?!

  • فداك ابي وامي ونفسي يا رسول الله

    2010-12-29

    Who is this nobody to criticize jihad and the mujahidin? O God! Give victory to the mujahidin everywhere.

  • غزة

    2010-12-28

    This applies not only to al-Qaeda, but also to Hamas in Gaza, because they have profaned the blood of our people in place of the Jews. Tell them that they will be humiliated, because the Prophet, peace be upon him, said that any people that abandons jihad will be humiliated. Unfortunately, many people were deceived by this movement, which used religion as a cover, while religion has nothing to do with them.

  • ميدو

    2010-12-28

    I would like to say that Osama bin Laden is the stupidest Arab man in the world, just like his comrades, who have nothing to do with Islam or religion. Rather, their religion is unknown and they are like insects that hide in the mountains, no more.

  • 2010-12-27

    I ask God to curse whoever curses a Muslim or considers him a non-Muslim without justification. May God curse the infidels, the hypocrites and those who fight Islam.

  • عبدالغفار

    2010-12-25

    Terrorism has become an international phenomenon from which all countries without exception suffer, due to its wide spread almost everywhere on earth.

  • 2010-12-17

    May God curse the dirty terrorist organization al-Qaeda and its leader, Osama bin Laden, until the Day of Judgment.

  • جهاد النفس

    2010-12-17

    This organization speaks in the name of Islam, but Islam has nothing to do with al-Qaeda or its cowardly acts until the Day of Judgment. Our true religion is more sublime than to have anything to do with the dirty terrorist organization Al-Qaeda. Islam forbids illegal bloodshed and the violation of honor. Does Al-Qaeda abide by the teachings of our tolerant religion, so it can be part of it?