Friday, July 27, 2007

Paths to Jihad

From The Guardian.

In a prison cell south of Cairo a repentant Egyptian terrorist leader is putting the finishing touches to a remarkable recantation that undermines the Muslim theological basis for violent jihad and is set to generate furious controversy among former comrades still fighting with al-Qaida.

Sayid Imam al-Sharif, 57, was the founder and first emir (commander) of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad organisation, whose supporters assassinated President Anwar Sadat in 1981 and later teamed up with Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan in the war against the Soviet occupation.

The Egyptian rehabilitation programme is very extensive and even involves clerics from al-Azhar, the fount of mainstream jurisprudence in the Sunni world. It sounds like it is well-focussed.

"If you want to rob these people of their cover you have to take away their legitimacy," says Ashraf Mohsin, an Egyptian diplomat dealing with counter-terrorism. "The way to deprive them of their ability to recruit is to attack the message. If you take Islam out of the message all that is left is criminality."

It should be underlined, however, that this is a conversion 'within' Islam. They make theological arguments, based on verses of the Koran and the Haddith, not ethical arguments that we would recognise.

Their authors are neither secular nor liberal: their self-criticism includes observations that the wrong path to jihad benefits only the Jews, the US and Egypt's Christian minority.

The implication is that there is a better "path to jihad".

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