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In September 2007, on the sixth anniversary of 9/11, a bespectacled Saudi cleric settled into his chair at MBC, an Arab satellite channel, to discuss al-Qaeda. His presence immediately stirred the attention of viewers who recognised Salman al-Awdah as one of Osama bin Laden's longtime mentors. What he said in that interview shocked al-Qaeda and its supporters.

"How much blood has been spilled? How many innocent children, women, and old people have been killed [...] in the name of al-Qaeda?" he asked. Reading an open letter to "brother Osama", he dissociated himself from al-Qaeda. It came just four months after another of al-Qaeda's chief ideologues, an imam called Dr Fadl, expressed similar views in a letter sent to Arab newspapers from his jail cell in Egypt.

This public spat between al-Qaeda's leaders quickly fuelled suggestions that the movement was imploding under the weight of internal dissent. They prompted author Peter Bergen, who interviewed bin Laden in 1997, to label these developments as "the unravelling" of al-Qaeda. Lawrence Wright, who also profiled Dr Fadl for the New Yorker this year, was similarly confident that his letter would deal a fatal blow to the movement, branding Fadl an al-Qaeda apostate.

But that optimism belies the terror group's history and ignores circumstances that first gave rise to it almost 20 years ago, suggesting that al-Qaeda is likely to emerge from this storm unscathed. Perhaps the best illustration of this is the story of a hugely-influential Islamist militant named Abdullah Azzam.

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undhimmified
November 5th, 2008
9:11 PM
Jihad has many dimensions and fronts, not merely those of a military, terrorist nature. There is legal jihad (lawsuits in Western courts to prevent literature being published or disseminated which is critical of Islam); political jihad (the ongoing steamrollering through the United Nations and the EU by the Organisation of Islamic Conference's attempts to silence freedom of speech by presenting criticism of Islam as 'injurious to peace' and religious intolerance in societies because it occasions hurt feelings and violent protest from 'offended' Moslems); economic jihad (Sharia-compliant financial institutions, through which Sharia as the Moslem order of life becomes more pervasive and violent jihad is financed); educational jihad (everything from restricting the teaching of Islam at universities to Moslems-only to large-scale 'donations' to universities to set up Islamic study centres); religious jihad (da'wa with its false 'inter-faith' gatherings of Moslems using taqiyya against dhimmified non-Moslems) and, of course, social jihad (with its unceasing demands for acquiescence to and accommodation with Sharia by non-Moslems). If we continue to delude ourselves with the notion that jihad is simply a tactic of violence, rather than a means of wholesale dominance and destruction of other societies, jurisprudences and civilisations, we will wake up one day and find ourselves in full dhimmitude, paying the jizya, or quite dead.

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