Saturday, June 05, 2004

Former CIA Official: U.S. May Fall Like USSR

Phil Brennan

Herb Meyer is calling for a holy war to save western civilization. But the former Reagan CIA official has a problem: Most people don’t know what it is he wants to save.
"We’ve forgotten what Western civilization is," Meyer told "We no longer teach it in the schools. If you come to the schools where I live and ask a group of high school students ‘what is Western Civilization?’ They’ll tell you it’s slavery, the oppression of women and we don’t recycle.”

But Western Civilization is not made up of our faults; all civilizations have those. Meyer contends, “It’s the rule of law, the idea of individual and economic rights, scientific inquiry - this is important stuff and our failure to teach our children what Western Civilization is may be the worst mistake we’ve ever made."

Meyer was not one just to ride into the sunset after his government service with Ronald Reagan. During the 1980s he served as Special Assistant to the Director of Central Intelligence, William J. Casey. Meyer played a key role in helping Ronald Reagan and Bill Casey win the cold war. Meyer was also one of the first analysts to predict the breakup of the Soveit empire.

Now, this former CIA analyst says it’s the U.S. and the West that may just crackup.

In fact, he has just produced a new video, "The Siege of Western Civilization," that makes his point, and explains to Americans what we need to save.

Meyer also had a distinguished career in journalism. He‘s a former associate editor of Fortune, author of several books and dozens of published essays about politics and economics.

Meyer has put together the case – sometimes in shocking detail - the continuing assault on the very underpinnings of the civilization which has produced the concepts of religious and individual freedom, economic liberty, and the rule of law which have guided mankind for centuries.

This foundation of civilization led to a flowering of art and literature, monumental scientific discoveries and a living standard unmatched in all history.

But now Meyer is worried Americans today are willing to lose it all because they have no idea of how it all came about.

He argues that there has been an assault against Western civilization.

This attack he sees as three pronged:

A new civil war fought against the existence of any moral code governing conduct

A war against the kind of population growth required to sustain a nation’s economy and the welfare of its elderly people

An attack by a brand of Islam which seeks nothing less than to subjugate the Western world.
This video is available on dvd or cassette, and is one every high school student in America and their parents should see.

Meyer tackles all three threats and explains what has to be done if Western Civilization and its incredible benefits are not to be vanquished.

"People want to be talked to seriously about the issues that confront us," Meyer explained. "They want to be talked to about the war, about our culture and about our economy. What they need more than anything else, is a way to pull it together, to connect the dots so that they have a context for following the news and for understanding what’s happening out there, and that’s what we tried to do in the video: To give them that context, to connect the dots, for them."

Population Suicide

You don’t hear much about it, but the Western world and Japan are in the process of committing population suicide – and America is not far behind.

Current birthrates in England, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and in Japan are far below what its required for a society to reproduce itself and sustain a healthy economy.

Russia is a population basket case. To reproduce itself, the birthrate must be 2.1 children per family. In Europe it’s almost half that, and in the U.S. it’s now 2.0 and headed down. In a mere 20 years, the population of some European nations and Japan will have dropped by an astonishing 30 percent.

"We seem to have forgotten what every primitive society understands: you need children," Meyer told

"They are a blessing obviously, but from a practical point of view they are consumers which an economy needs and then they grow up and become taxpayers. If you don’t have a big enough tax base you simply cannot generate the wealth to take care of the older people.

"And that’s what’s happening in Western Civilization today. We simply don’t have enough working age people to support the retired people.

"It’s the worst in Europe and Japan and we are obviously on the same trajectory. We can see what’s happening in Europe and Japan, so we have some time to deal with it."

Meyer says a second civil war is being waged against the culture of Western Civilization by hordes of neo-barbarians.

No Rules

"Back in the 1960s we just decided to throw away the rule book. We said ‘You don’t need rules anymore; everybody do whatever you want. If it feels good, do it.‘ That was a terrible mistake and we’re paying a price for it now. We expanded rights but no one wants to take responsibilities. You have to match the two. If you’re going to have more rights, you have to have more responsibility, but we want the rights without the responsibility."

And there is a worldwide war of terrorism against Western Civilization being waged by the fanatical wing of Islam.

Radical Islam Wants Us Gone

While noting that there are millions of good and decent Muslims in the world Meyer warns that "There is within Islam a radical streak and when the radicals are in charge, Islam attacks Western Civilization.

"It did that in the 7th century, it did again in the 15th and 16th centuries, and it’s doing it now in the 21st century. What we call the War on Terror, is in fact radical Islam’s third attack on Western Civilization. Terrorism is the tactic they are using."

Meyer insists, "We have to go back and understand just what it is we are fighting for. And when you understand Western Civilization then you have a very clear sense of who the enemy is, what they are attacking and why it’s worth defending."


Purported Qaeda Tape Vows Attacks on U.S. Interests

By Ghaida Ghantous

DUBAI (Reuters) - An audio tape said to be from a senior Saudi al Qaeda leader warned the militant group would carry out "fierce" attacks this year against U.S. interests and urged Muslims to avoid American civilian and military sites.

But the tape by Abdulaziz al-Muqrin, audible Tuesday through a link on the Dirasat Islamist Web site, which carries statements said to come from senior Qaeda and Taliban officials, said last week‘s suicide car bombing of a security building in the Saudi capital Riyadh was not the work of al Qaeda.

The tape was signed off by Muqrin, who is said to have recently taken over leadership of al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia, a key U.S. ally and the world‘s largest oil exporter, after the killing of former top operative Khaled Ali Ali Haj.

"The Jews, the Americans and crusaders (Christians) in general will remain the targets of our coming attacks and this year, God willing, will be fiercer and harsher for them," said the voice on the tape which was clearly audible.

"And the apostate Saudi government will be incapable of protecting their (U.S.) interests or providing security for them," said the seven-minute tape which began with Koranic verses.

It was not immediately possible to verify its authenticity but the language and style were similar to previous al Qaeda statements and the voice to that on an earlier videotape purportedly by Muqrin, also carried on Dirasat on April 18.

The latest tape warned Americans to leave the Arabian peninsula and Washington to withdraw its troops and bases from Muslim states and to end its occupation of Muslim land and its support of Israel.

"We warn Muslims to stay away from Americans and their civilian and military sites so that they will not be harmed when the infidels are targeted," the tape said.

"We reiterate our previous declared commitment of the jihad (holy war) policy of al Qaeda to target the crusaders, Jews and apostates...We will show them what we are capable of," it said.

Al Qaeda is widely blamed for the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.

The tape said Muslim leaders who allied themselves to the "American crusaders" should not expect to be spared from militant attacks.


The man hailed the Riyadh attack as long overdue to punish "apostate" Saudi rulers who allied themselves to the enemies of God, but said al Qaeda did not carry it out.

"We are not responsible for the bombing of the emergency security building in Riyadh although we believe it is an expected result of the infidel, unjust and oppressive policy of the apostates (Saudi rulers) who spread corruption and divert the country‘s resources and capabilities to the Christian-Jewish alliance," the tape said.

"The apostate leaders should not assume that they will be spared by the nation‘s honorable men who refuse to live under an infidel rule which allows what God forbids, forbids what God allows, spreads corruption and violates the legitimate rights of people enshrined by their religion."

After the Riyadh attack, a Saudi militant group, the so-called Al Haramain Brigades, said in a statement posted on the Internet that it was behind the Riyadh attack and that they were followers of bin Laden and were filling in for al Qaeda which was preoccupied fighting "crusaders."

In the attack a suicide bomber destroyed a building housing Saudi security and police, killing at least five people including a senior police officer and wounding 148 people.

Saudi Arabia blamed al Qaeda for the strike which was the first against government symbols since militants waged a series of bombings against foreign residential compounds in the kingdom last year which killed at least 50 people.

The Gulf Arab state has cracked down on militants. Muqrin previously warned Saudi security forces that they would be targeted if they continued to arrest and kill militants.


Al-Qaeda: Is the Past Prologue? Intelligence Officials Warn of Possible al-Qaeda Attacks This Summer as al-Qaeda Reinvents Itself

By JINSA analyst Jessica Altschul.

American intelligence sources have voiced new concerns that al-Qaeda members may be inside the U.S. and planning a major attack this summer. Although the Department of Homeland Security has yet to raise the national threat level from its current “yellow” status, intelligence offices have reported that recent intercepts indicate that terrorists may be planning an attack at any one of the high-profile events taking place over the next few months. The events include the Republican National Convention in New York, the Democratic National Convention in Boston, the World War II memorial dedication ceremony in Washington, D.C. on May 29, and the G-8 Summit in Sea Island, Georgia.

An FBI bulletin issued between May 17-21, 2004 urged local law enforcement officials to keep especially alert for suicide bombers and people dressed suspiciously. One counterterrorism official, told the Washington Post on condition of anonymity that al-Qaeda is planning an attack designed to kill as many people as possible, and is focusing on soft targets such as passenger trains and commercial centers. Although President Bush has said that over two-thirds of al-Qaeda’s pre-9/11 leadership has been captured or killed, CIA Director George Tenet said that that fact does not diminish the threat because many terrorist groups that previously did not work together are now combining their efforts against the U.S.

Additionally, al-Qaeda has threatened to poison drinking water in major U.S. cities. In fact, the terror network may have tried to poison an American embassy in early 2002. The Al-Majallah news magazine, published in Britain, reported that Abu Mohammed al-Ablaj, a spokesman for al-Qaeda, threatened that the group is capable of using contaminants to kill Americans in their homes with their drinking water, in the May 25, 2003 edition. “Al-Qaeda [does not rule out] using sarin gas and poisoning drinking water in U.S. and Western cities... They should not therefore rule out the possibility that we will present them with our capabilities,” al-Ablaj said. Although some U.S. Department of State officials discount the information conveyed by al-Ablaj, other officials from many U.S. agencies point out that the spokesman contacted the magazine just weeks before the Riyadh bombings, warning that al-Qaeda was about to carry out multiple attacks against the kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

“It is very difficult to covertly poison a reservoir. It would take many truckloads of poison, which would make it difficult to do secretly. That is not really a viable threat,” said one U.S. intelligence official, speaking to the Washington Times also on the condition of anonymity. The official also played down even the risk of an attack on a single office building. “It’s more feasible if they try to poison a specific building, but even then, the volume of water already going through the system would dilute whatever was introduced. It would be very difficult to kill anyone. What would happen would be that people would get sick, which would cause panic.” However, in February 2002, Italian police arrested four Moroccans in Rome believed to be al-Qaeda supporters. They were carrying nine pounds of cyanide and maps of the capital’s water supply marking the U.S. Embassy’s location.

According to Thomas Sanderson, Deputy Director of the Transnational Threats Initiative at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, waging an attack of this magnitude is not possible. “I don’t think it’s feasible at all; our water is constantly treated and tested,” he said. However, Sanderson asserted that there are ways to scare the public into believing that an attack was carried out. “They can plant materials elsewhere to create a panic. For instance, planting empty barrels that are marked ‘cyanide’ near a water supply.”

As bombings against Western targets in the Middle East and Africa since 2002 have demonstrated, al-Qaeda has hardly been dismantled. The war on Iraq has taken much of the focus away from the U.S.-led war on terrorism, and America is far from wiping out al-Qaeda and other Islamist terrorist organizations. According to U.S. intelligence reports, there are cells all over the Middle East, Africa, Southeast Asia and Europe that are being funded to carry out attacks against American and Western interests all over the world.

Since the attacks of September 11, 2001, Washington has implemented security measures designed to counter the threat of terrorist attacks. Government officials warn of an increase in attacks within the United States, or attacks on American tourists abroad. Although al-Qaeda has not always been as decentralized and widespread as it is today, even in its early years the organization never relied on a central base of command or a single leader to achieve its goals.

After bin Laden arrived in Afghanistan in 1979 and realized that the Afghans were lacking the infrastructure and manpower they needed to fight the Soviets, he and his mentor Abdullah Azzam organized a recruiting office (Maktab al-Khidamat, or MAK) to establish a program of recruitment. The two duties of the conscripts were to come to Afghanistan to fight the Soviets and preserve Islam, and to set up more recruitment offices anywhere in the world that they could. The financial burden of these initiatives was not an issue because of bin Laden’s extensive funds from his share of his family’s successful construction business. Before the beginning of 1980, thousands of volunteers trained in bin Laden’s privately run and funded boot camps in the Middle East, Southeast Asia and Africa. It has been estimated that more than 10,000 fighters received training in just one of these camps, almost half of whom came from bin Laden’s native Saudi Arabia. Thousands also came from Algeria, Egypt, Yemen, Pakistan and the Sudan.

After the Soviet Union abandoned the conflict in Afghanistan, many of the Muslim fighters returned to their home countries steeped in bin Laden’s brand of militant Islamic fundamentalism. They used their training and their contacts with senior members of Al-Qaeda to form terrorist cells in their own countries. They recruited new members and began to wage battle with secular governments or systems of government that did not live up to the shari’a system of Islamic law. A branch was even set up in the United States, called al-Khifa (“The Struggle”). However, not all governments were opposed to the existence of such groups in their countries. For instance, in the Sudan, the government gave these veterans jobs, funded their training camps and appointed some of them to high government positions. Other Muslim fighters, barred from returning to their home countries, sought to fight for al-Qaeda in other lands. It was these fighters who became involved in terrorist groups in most Muslim countries from Egypt to Malaysia. In addition to the new training camps in Arab countries, most of the original camps in Afghanistan continued to operate, exporting Islamic mercenaries to conflicts the entire world over.

In the late 1980s, bin Laden split with Azzam (Azzam wanted to focus on Afghanistan; bin Laden wanted to broaden the struggle to the whole of the Middle East and eventually throughout the world) and in 1988 bin Laden formed Al-Qaeda. When his Saudi citizenship was revoked in 1994 for “irresponsible behavior,” bin Laden relocated to Sudan and started many business endeavors there, including a bank, a construction company, a sunflower plantation, a factory and an import-export operation. Much of his private income is generated from these holdings. Even after he was asked to leave Sudan in 1996 as a result of improving Sudan-U.S. relations (he promptly returned to Afghanistan), however, these businesses remained successful and continue to provide income and logistics for al-Qaeda.

In February 1998, bin Laden and his partner Ayman al-Zawahiri formed an umbrella organization called “The Islamic Front for the Struggle Against the Jews and the Crusaders” (Al-Jabhah al-Islamiyyah al-Alamiyyah li-Qital al-Yahud wal Salibiyyin). It is a network of Islamist extremist organizations that share the goal of establishing shari’a in state governments worldwide and create “true” Islamic societies to replace the societies that claim to be Islamic but fall short of the criteria established in strict shari’a law. Additional goals include expelling all American and other foreign troops from the Middle East and taking back the Holy Land of Palestine from the Jewish people. They all use methods of terrorism to accomplish these goals; including assassinations, kidnappings and suicide bombings. Targets include political leaders deemed corrupt or anti-Islam, Jews, and Western tourists. Some of the better-known groups that are part of this network are the Egyptian al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya and the Egyptian al-Jihad, founded by al-Zawahiri. Al-Qaeda helps to link and provide financial, logistical and technical support for these groups.

When bin Laden formed The Islamic Front for the Struggle Against the Jews and the Crusaders, Al-Qaeda became even more decentralized and grew in size to the large number of members it claims today. Al-Qaeda truly lives up to its name (“The Base”); it serves as the connection between extremist Muslim terrorist organizations and organizes the transfer of funds from followers in the Middle East, Europe, Asia, and North America to the different groups to be used for terrorist activities.

The War on Terrorism
One reason the “War on Terrorism” may not prove as effective as the U.S. government hopes is because some of the areas with the highest recruitment rates are not in the Middle East, where the military campaign is focused, but in Europe, in countries like Britain, France and Germany. Britain has a long record of taking in political refugees and non-cooperation with foreign governments on issues of extradition. For example, in 1981, a radical Islamic cleric named Abu Hamza al-Masri arrived in London, after losing both hands and an eye in the Soviet-Afghan War. He won British citizenship four years later and is now famous worldwide for preaching jihad at the Finsbury Park mosque in north London. Although al-Masri has lived in London in relative peace for the last 23 years, he was arrested on May 27, 2004 and is currently fighting deportation out of Britain. CNN reported that the U.S. has secretly been working with the UK to facilitate the extradition process for weeks and has charged al-Masri with providing material support to terrorists and aiding a kidnapping. Another example of British unwillingness to provide support is when French officials were turned down by Britain for the extradition of Algerian-based GIA members who were responsible for a series of bombings in Paris in the 1990s.

Hamburg, Germany is another major base for terrorist activity in Europe. Almost 15 percent of the city’s population is composed of foreign expatriates. Foreign students do not pay university tuition in Germany making the guise of the perpetual student the perfect cover. Many of the September 11 hijackers had lived in Hamburg, including 9/11 leader Mohammed Atta. Currently several men known to be a part of the Hamburg al-Qaeda cell are named in outstanding arrest warrants.

According to CSIS’s Sanderson, terrorist cells in Europe are thriving. “Because of immigration policies, Europe is a haven for escapees from oppressive countries,” he said. It is almost impossible to differentiate between political refugees and terrorists who are coming from the same countries. “These European cells are strong, and you can’t always tell who is a moderate and who is fundamentalist and therefore more likely to join a terrorist cell.”

The March 11, 2004 Madrid train bombings illustrate Sanderson’s point. Days after the attacks, which killed 191, a videotape was discovered that featured a man identifying himself as Abu Dujan al-Afghani, al-Qaeda’s military spokesman. In the video, he claimed that al-Qaeda was responsible for the bombings: “We declare our responsibility for what happened in Madrid exactly two-and-a-half years after the attacks on New York and Washington,” the statement began. Al-Afghani’s name was not known to European intelligence services.

Tactics and the Future
It is not in al-Qaeda’s agenda to establish an Islamic state in the U.S., but through the assassination of political leaders and economic destabilization, al-Qaeda members hope that the United States will pull its forces out of territories in the Middle East, enabling them to establish hard-line Islamic theocracies there.

According to Daniel Pipes, author and the executive director and founder of the Middle East Forum, the amount of Islamist-sponsored terrorism in the U.S. is sure to increase dramatically in the next few years. Pipes asserted that with each successful attempt, Islamists would continue to believe that the U.S. is weakening and will be further demoralized. “I think that the U.S. is going to be more and more determined and therefore be ready to combat these attacks,” said Pipes. He also said that the main problem with which American officials must grapple is not Islamic fundamentalists coming in from the Middle East and Europe, but monitoring the extremists who already live in the U.S., “utilizing American resources against us.”

Since September 11, 2001, much information about al-Qaeda has been discovered and published; will their tactics change because of this flood of information about their training camps and strategies? It appears that al-Qaeda might be shifting its focus from hijackings to well-planned assassinations of world leaders and Western diplomats, as well as bombings of “soft targets.” There is much evidence of this shift in strategy. In October 2002, U.S. Diplomat Laurence Foley, a senior administrative officer with the U.S. Agency for International Development, was killed outside his home in Amman, Jordan. The two killers were captured and confessed to being members of al-Qaeda. The men had received a down payment of $18,000, part of a promised $50,000 for carrying out the assassination.

In early January 2003, a police raid on a London apartment discovered quantities of the deadly poison ricin. This poison was named specifically in al-Qaeda documents discovered in Afghanistan as useful for assassinations. Al-Qaeda pursues a strategy of assassinating political figures with the expectation that their replacements in countries like Afghanistan and Pakistan will be more open to al-Qaeda’s goals. Within the past few years, al-Qaeda has attempted to kill then-Philippine president Fidel Ramos, former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri.

On May 22, 2004, an al-Qaeda satellite group headed by Zarqawi claimed responsibility for a bombing in Baghdad outside the home of Deputy Interior Minister Abdul-Jabbar Youssef al-Sheikhli. Though the minister survived with only minor injuries, four others were killed. Just days before, the same group claimed credit for the May 17, 2004 bombing that killed Iraqi Governing Council President Izzadine Saleem. Both men were members of the Shiite Muslim Dawa Party.

Another fairly new focus for al-Qaeda is economic targets. In late 2002, the group attacked a French oil tanker off Yemen. After 9/11, bin Laden gloated that he had cost America’s economy at least $1.4 trillion and realized that tourism and the economy is central to American morale during the recent War on Iraq and the War on Terrorism. According to Peter Bergen, CNN Terrorism Analyst and author of Holy War, Inc.: Inside the Secret World of Osama Bin Laden, this shift in tactics makes the war on terrorism even more global, because there are Western businesses all over the world, not just in America and Europe. These overseas contracts may begin to see the effects of al-Qaeda and other groups like it.

Matthew Levitt, Senior Fellow in Terrorism Studies at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), does not agree that al-Qaeda has changed its tactics at all. “I think al-Qaeda has been extremely flexible in its methods and tactics,” he said. “Al-Qaeda has always had a wide range of targets and tactics. For instance, they used to target members of the Saudi royal family, but when those targets proved too difficult, they were satisfied with softer targets, like the Western housing complexes [in Saudi Arabia].”

Many scenarios involved raids on buildings with large numbers of occupants. This is suggestive of attacks on schools or office buildings. Every exercise that involved prisoners ended in the execution of the prisoners. In these situations, none of the trainees escaped or fled after they executed the prisoners; they plan to kill the hostages and die in place. Because of the nature of these attack scenarios, it is evident that the objective of al-Qaeda training is to plan for attacks with many casualties using only small groups of personnel and limited weaponry.

Analysis of past al-Qaeda attacks, as well as information from eyewitnesses and investigators, reveal that the kind of attacks for which the U.S. must prepare follow specific patterns. First, al-Qaeda targets places with a high density of civilians, such as office buildings, schools, or shopping centers. These targets are most likely economic or social centers outside the U.S. that are mainly for Americans or Europeans (such as the compounds bombed in Riyadh and the commuter trains in Madrid), but in the future, such targets inside U.S. borders cannot be ruled out. Secondly, al-Qaeda operatives use small arms and explosives; the chance that another attack with the dimensions of the 9/11 hijackings is small. Thirdly, all the attacks are well planned and organized down to every detail. Lastly and more importantly, the tapes indicate that al-Qaeda members expect to die in the course of an attack, and they always kill any hostages they have seized.

Much of al-Qaeda’s training is now focused on urban targets, such as the recent bombings of foreign worker compounds in Riyadh. After reviewing 64 training videotapes found in a house where bin Laden had reportedly stayed, analysts noted that al-Qaeda had built a replica of a Western-style city on a hillside in eastern Afghanistan using canvas and stone. The trainees were instructed on how to enter buildings from multiple breach points and destroy simulated office buildings, bridges and houses. The tapes also include step-by-step instructions on how to use a surface-to-air missile as well as small arms and improvised explosives. Hostage-taking situations and assassination simulations were also practiced.

Al-Qaeda may be shifting its tactics for another reason, as well. In a January 2003 speech at the Brookings Institution, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Richard B. Myers, USAF asserted that al-Qaeda, along with remnants of the Taliban, have changed their tactics to adapt to the strategies of the U.S.-led campaigns in the Middle East. Examples of these shifts include Taliban leaders discontinuing their use of convoys and sport utility vehicles and switching to donkeys and motorcycles instead. Also, they have begun to travel alone, so as not to draw the interest of Allied surveillance.

Al-Qaeda members have also learned to discern the sound of the propeller-driven AC-130 gunships, according to a Field Artillery magazine interview with Maj. Gen. Franklin L. Hagenbeck, who led U.S. forces in Afghanistan. At the beginning of the war in Afghanistan, these “flying battleships” were extremely successful in attacks on Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters. However, since then, the terrorists immediately disperse and “go to ground” as soon as the sound of the AC-130 is heard.

There has been more adaptation, however, to the U.S. forces’ strategy. After al-Qaeda members realized America’s technical ability to monitor voice communications, they have greatly reduced their time on telephones and radios. In the summer of 2002, the U.S. military found a large cache of new satellite phones - completely unused - possibly indicating that al-Qaeda members have found alternate ways of communicating. It has also been reported that al-Qaeda members have paid teenaged Afghans to act as spies; the young men wait outside known U.S. special-operations bases in eastern Afghanistan and notify al-Qaeda officials when patrols leave the compound.

Although the terrorist network may have been weakened over the past three years of U.S.-led counter-terrorism activity and the most recent operations in Afghanistan, al-Qaeda is still active. A U.S. official told CNN “there is a surprising level of al-Qaeda communication, and we are learning a lot more about al-Qaeda and the potential links to cells out there that we didn’t know previously existed.”

According to Jonathan Schanzer, an expert in radical Islamic movements at WINEP, al-Qaeda has always targeted economic interests, such as in 1993 when al-Qaeda first attacked the World Trade Center. “Look at how the U.S. responded to 9/11. We have demonstrated that the economy is our ‘soft underbelly,’ and al-Qaeda has picked up on that,” he said. “It’s possible that they are now using that against us.”

Perhaps another reason for these strategic changes that al-Qaeda is undergoing is because they have become so decentralized in the past three years. Al-Qaeda was never completely dependent on one single leader, but now more than ever the separate cells seem to be planning and executing their own attacks. In an interview with NBC news on March 5, 2003, Peter Bergen emphasized this point. “They [al-Qaeda] have done a franchised operation. You’re seeing various organizations around the world that have some links of one kind or another to al-Qaeda, but they’re beginning to function fairly independently. So I think this franchise idea is an important one.”

Bergen mentions that there is also a base for recruitment and training online. Websites such as and provide basic explosives training and manuals for anyone who wants to learn. It is difficult to shut down these sites because they reappear in different spots on the web everyday, often linked to a website that has nothing to do with the subject. “They move around, these things will stay up for two days. It will get taken down for one reason or another and they find somewhere else to put it up. So it’s very hard to track,” Bergen told NBC.

Since the beginning of Operation Enduring Freedom, over two-thirds of the original al-Qaeda leadership has been apprehended or killed. The remainder of the top leaders are most likely deep in hiding from coalition forces and are probably not easily able to communicate with their followers. According to the February 13, 2004 issue of The Christian Science Monitor, a senior intelligence official said that a new leadership has had to emerge to replace the older generation. “What you are looking at is a second or third generation, but it’s a successor generation. In an insurgency, which I think this is, you always have succession planning in order to survive. You always expect to lose leaders because you are fighting a more powerful opponent.” Some of these emerging leaders include:

Abu Musab Zarqawi, a Jordanian suspected of coordinating the early 2004 bombings in Baghdad. Zarqawi’s involvement with al-Qaeda began in the early 1980s, when he was approximately 20. He came back to Jordan in 1992 and served time in prison for plotting to overthrow the monarchy. In February 2004, the U.S. government raised the reward for his capture to $10 million. U.S. intelligence officials have determined that Zarqawi was the militant in the recent video recording of Nicholas Berg being decapitated.

Abu Walid, a Saudi Arabian suspected of leading the Chechen rebel movement, according to Russian and U.S. intelligence sources. He may have been behind a suicide bombing in a Moscow subway station in February 2004 that killed approximately 40 people. He is also known to have been in Afghanistan and trained in explosives. In April 2004, Walid’s brother, Abdullah al-Saeed al-Ghamdi, told the al-Arabiya television station that Walid had been killed in Chechnya. There is no conclusive evidence of his death.

Abdul Aziz Al-Muqrin, a Saudi Arabian suspected to have been the architect of the May and November 2003 suicide bombings in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in which 53 people died. Al-Muqrin is known to have traveled to Afghanistan for training before joining the war in Bosnia; he also spent some time in a Saudi prison. He has frequently issued statements warning Muslims to stay away from U.S. military and civilian cites in the Middle East. Al-Qaeda may also be undergoing the transformation from “group” to “movement.” Because of sustained efforts to eradicate al-Qaeda from Afghanistan, the group has converted itself to a movement within many groups, all coordinating al-Qaeda-style attacks against sites in Southeast Asia, Iraq and its border regions, Yemen and the Horn of Africa and along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. The main groups carrying out the attacks are the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat in Algeria, Al Ansar Mujahideen in Chechnya, Hizb-I-Islami, Islamic Movement of the Taliban, and Jemaah Islamiah.
According to Rohan Gunaratna, author of “Al-Qaeda Adapts to Disruption” in the February 2004 edition of Jane’s Intelligence Review, much of al-Qaeda’s “center of gravity” has shifted to its associate groups. Gunaratna claims that Hizb-I-Islami, the Taliban and al-Qaeda have been trying to establish Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP) as a base of operations, planning attacks on Coalition Forces in Afghanistan from there. In addition, al-Qaeda has developed “significant infrastructure” in the Horn of Africa, including Somalia, and uses its resources there to stage attacks in Africa and the Gulf. Al-Qaeda is also extremely present in Iran and Pakistan, and the main problem in those countries is the fact that the group is met with varying response.

There has also been increasing evidence that al-Qaeda is working closely with Ansar al-Islam, the group suspected of recent bombings in Iraq. The simultaneous suicide bombings in Irbil, Iraq that claimed 110 lives were illustrative of typical Ansar al-Islam attacks, which use bomb vests and frequently strike at holiday celebrations. According to Karim Sinjari, the regional government’s interior minister, many are convinced that the two groups are now merging more than ever. “We are seeing a combination of al-Qaeda and Ansar al-Islam in Iraq,” Sinjari told reporters in February 2004. “They are one now.”

Coalition forces are dealing with an extremely deadly combination of enemies. Militants who left various extremist Islamic political parties materialized Ansar al-Islam shortly before September 11, 2001; the first strike the group carried out was immediately after the attacks on New York and the Pentagon. Members of Ansar al-Islam abducted 42 Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) peshmerga soldiers (Iraqi Kurds), massacred them, and posted photographs of their mutilated bodies on the Internet. Al-Qaeda is supplying money, equipment and men experienced with explosives to Ansar al-Islam, but most importantly, al-Qaeda supplies “martyrs.” “They are having to supply the suicide bombers because Iraqis and Kurds are not ready to commit suicide,” said Sarkawt Hasan, director of security in Sulaymaniya, a northern Iraqi city dominated by the PUK. Hasan told reporters that Ansar al-Islam’s past attempts at suicide bombing have been met with failure when the young men have decided not to detonate their explosives vests.

Riyadh and Morocco bombings
Most international intelligence officials have concluded that al-Qaeda is responsible for the bombings in Riyadh on the nights of May 12 and November 8, 2003. Much of the strategy used is significant to tactics used by al-Qaeda in the past. The fact that the terrorists carried out three simultaneous attacks is characteristic of al-Qaeda, as well as the fact that the attacks were places that housed Westerners. According to, there was intelligence pinpointing Saudi Arabia as a likely target for al-Qaeda operatives in the weeks before the attacks, and on May 8, 2003, an al-Qaeda explosives cache was found in a house in very close proximity to one of the bombed sites. Saudi investigators also believe that al-Qaeda operatives carried out the attacks, and they have detained four people they believe to be linked to al-Qaeda who were connected to the bombings.

In a CNN interview on May 14, 2003, Bergen also asserted that he would be very surprised if the attacks in Riyadh were found to have been carried out by a group other than al-Qaeda. “I mean, we’re looking at multiple attacks by suicidal attackers, you know, against high-value targets. That is an absolute hallmark of al-Qaeda, whether it was attacking two U.S. embassies simultaneously in Africa in 1998, or attacking the multiple targets it was trying to attack on 9/11.” Bergen also mentioned possible reasons for the targets - “American or Western civilian targets in Saudi Arabia are, of course, softer targets, they are less well defended, and that’s one of the reasons that we saw the attacks, because they’re easier to do.”

In addition, Saudi authorities are investigating suspected illegal arms sales by members of the country’s national guard to al-Qaeda operatives in the country. In a May 6, 2003 raid on an al-Qaeda safe house, Saudi officials found weapons such as automatic rifles that were missing from Saudi Arabian armories. Saudi officials claim that a small number of officers in the National Guard had been involved in illicit gun sales for years and had been selling weapons to anyone willing to pay prices well above market value. The officials emphasized that there was no ideological motive at work in this case, and that the only objective for the suspected officers was money.

There is more speculation about the possible collusion between al-Qaeda and Saudi Arabia. In a May 13, 2003 interview with CNN, Bergen emphasized the notion that although 15 of the suicide bombers who participated in 9/11 were from Saudi Arabia, there have been no extraditions from that country. Pakistani officials have extradited people who were part of the 9/11 plot, and in Germany suspects have been tried in court for being involved in 9/11. “But,” Bergen said, “none of this has happened in Saudi Arabia...isn’t it kind of odd?” In addition, it has been reported that the largest number of prisoners in Guantanamo Bay are also Saudis. “It is obvious that Saudis play a very important role in this organization [al-Qaeda],” Bergen said.

Many U.S. and Moroccan officials believe that al-Qaeda operatives are also responsible for the simultaneous bombings in Casablanca on May 16, 2003 that left 41 dead and over 100 injured. The Moroccan government is currently detaining 27 men who they believe are connected with the bombings. The men arrested were picked up around several different locations around Morocco, and were all Moroccan nationals aged between 18 and 22. A security guard claims that two would-be bombers tried to enter the Hotel Farah on Friday night. The first man stabbed and killed a security guard then proceeded into the lobby where he detonated his bomb, killing himself and a baggage handler and incapacitated the second would-be bomber. This man was captured by hotel guards and handed over to the police. He wore a belt lined with explosives as well as a backpack filled with them. The other sites attacked were a Spanish social club, a Jewish cemetery, a Jewish community center, and the Belgian Consulate.

Although there has been no formal claim of responsibility for the bombings, a U.S. counterterrorism official said there is a strong suspicion that al-Qaeda is behind the series of attacks. The coordinated nature of the strikes as well as the tactics used both point to al-Qaeda. Also, in the past few weeks, U.S. and British intelligence officials have warned of possible al-Qaeda attacks in Africa. Osama bin Laden has threatened Morocco specifically in the past, and spoken of overthrowing the Moroccan government, which he considers too “pro-American.” In an audiotape made public in February 2003, a man officials believe to be bin Laden called on Muslims to “break free from the slavery of these tyrannic and apostate regimes, which is enslaved by America, in order to establish the rule of Allah on Earth. Among regions ready for liberation are Jordan, Morocco, Nigeria, the country of the two shrines [Saudi Arabia], Yemen and Pakistan.”

There is a possibility, however, that the people carried out these attacks have some affiliation with al-Qaeda, but are not necessarily members of the group. According to Sanderson, who has served as a government defense analyst and consultant with the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency, there are many terrorists conducting attacks who have some connection with al-Qaeda but may not be members of the organization. “These groups may have members who have passed through al-Qaeda training camps at some point, but are not directly connected to al-Qaeda,” he said. “However, I would be willing to bet it was al-Qaeda.”

Trouble raising money could be in the offing for al-Qaeda if it continues to kill Muslims. Because wealthy Muslims form a large percentage of the support base of militant groups such as al-Qaeda, some say it is not believed to be in the group’s best interest to orchestrate attacks that kill other Muslims as “collateral damage,” such as the recent bombings in Riyadh and Morocco. However, according to Matthew Levitt, there is not much of a risk of alienating their Muslim support base, even if many Muslims are killed in al-Qaeda attacks. “Al-Qaeda members believe that those actions are justified because of the greater cause. They make statements in advance of their attacks, and they do not target the average Muslim, but Muslims, Jews and Westerners alike who participate in what they consider to be ‘lewd acts,’ such as going to dance clubs and bars.”

There has been a backlash in some countries already, with similar groups that alienate much of their support base, according to Schanzer. He offered two examples of countries in which this has happened already - Algeria, with the Armed Islamic Group (GIA), and Egypt, with al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya. “The GIA was responsible for the deaths of thousands of Algerian civilians. There was a [public] backlash that led to the creation of a different group (the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat) that claims to only seek out military targets,” Schanzer said. “The same thing happened after the Luxor massacre in Egypt - a backlash against radical groups.”

The future - what to expect
The Washington Times reported March 4, 2003 that terrorists linked to al-Qaeda have targeted U.S. military facilities in Pearl Harbor. In April 2002 and in early March 2003, U.S. officials received intelligence reports about the threat in Hawaii that coincided with reports of the planning of a major attack by al-Qaeda. Intelligence officials believe that al-Qaeda was targeting Pearl Harbor because of its symbolic value and because its military facilities are open from the air. Officials also said that hijacked airliners would be flown into submarines or ships docked in Pearl Harbor. As of early March, there were 30 Navy and Coast Guard warships stationed in the harbor, including 18 nuclear submarines, five destroyers and two frigates. The Times also reported that Hickam Air Force Base, located near the Honolulu airport, was also another al-Qaeda target.

Both al-Qaeda’s tactics and leadership have changed dramatically since September 11, 2001, from military and commercial targets to civilian “soft” ones. But this does not imply that the terrorists are slowing down or shying away from American targets - in fact, al-Qaeda’s recruitment operations remain intact in Saudi Arabia, Yemen, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, according to German intelligence officials. Although al-Qaeda was always somewhat decentralized, now more than ever are local cells acting autonomously instead of waiting for orders from a central command. According to Newsweek on May 19, 2003, the FBI suspects that al-Qaeda members have been carrying out major intelligence research on American power stations, dams, transportation and bridges. This research is going on simultaneously with attacks in the Middle East and Africa, as well as suspected plotting in other areas of the world.


The Mode of Operation of Hizb ut Tahrir in an Open Society

From ICT

Michael Whine
Communications Director of the Community Security Trust and Director of Defence and Group Relations at the Board of Deputies of British Jews.

Hizb ut Tahrir is different to other Islamist groups active in Europe and the US. It has an appeal, particularly to the intellectual, in a manner that transcends the stark appeal of the global jihad movement and its affiliates, or other Islamist or revivalist movements.

In a BBC TV Newsnight item on Hizb ut Tahrir in August 2003, a former senior member, Yamin Zakaria, stated:

They had a very profound analysis of why the Islamic world is in such an abysmal state, how it declined and most importantly how we can elevate ourselves from this position, and break free. The group was not allied to any political regime, it was not operating on the basis of personal or financial motivation, it didn’t have a sectarian approach. So it had a very open approach. As long as you are a Muslim and are committed to its beliefs, and its causes, you are welcome to join the party. [1]

Hizb ut Tahrir involves itself less in the generalised Islamist campaigns of other groups. Its overriding belief in the resurrection of the caliphate means that all other struggles and campaigns are generally subordinated. For this it is continuously criticised by other groups.

Its members do not engage in the political processes of the countries in which they live, and this has likewise led to public and private criticism of them, at least in the UK, by other Islamist groups who see it as part of their mission to press Islamist demands. In recent years groups such as the Muslim Public Affairs Campaign (MPAC), the Muslim Brotherhood - linked Muslim Association of Britain and the Islamic Party of Britain have voiced such criticism.[2]

The influences of the late Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin el-Husseini, and the post war leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood on the Hizb ut Tahrir founders ensures its worldview is Manichean and premised partly on conspiracy theory. All world events are seen through a prism in which the ‘ unbelievers ‘ are out to destroy Islam. Like them it holds that there is a line of continuity between historical and contemporary events with no allowance for the vagaries of history or circumstance.

What does Hizb ut Tahrir actually work towards and for?

Its leaders and members continually stress that Hizb ut Tahrir is a ‘political party whose politics is Islam’ and that it seeks to create a dialogue with the West on capitalism and its ills, and to present Islam as an ideological alternative. The aim of the party however is to work only through the Islamic world in order to bring it back to the Islamic way of life that flourished under the Caliphate. It’s not democratic: the resurrected Caliphate would be led by a non hereditary absolute leader whose appointment would be based his knowledge of Islam and his leadership powers.

It is also evangelical and seeks converts, and some of its prominent leaders in Europe have been converts, such as the Canadian Jamal Harwood.

Hizb ut Tahrir continuously states that it disavows violence; that it considers the armed struggle to be forbidden by the Shariah, but it uses the language of violent jihad.

It leaders admit to contacts with the Taliban but deny any contact with Al Qaeda, and indeed have publicly rejected Al Qaeda’s use of force.[3]

There is clearly a lack of consistency: Hizb ut Tahrir believes that when it has achieved critical mass in any theatre where it is operating it will have to overthrow the state by means of a coup. Generally states don’t roll over and submit, so violence figures somewhere in its strategy, but is generally left unexplored.

Hizb ut Tahrir is opportunistic and believes in vanguardism: on a range of issues it has been the first to promote concern and has taken the lead in campaigning. But it has then, more frequently than not, dropped out of the campaign and left the issues to others. In other words it has raised Muslim concerns; has raised public consciousness and created a potential recruitment pool.

It subordinates and ignores general Islamist concerns unless they represent a direct challenge to Hizb ut Tahrir or aids its opportunism.

Modus Operandi

Hizb ut Tahrir leaders state the model for its mode of operation in the West is that of the Prophet Mohammad’s seizure of Mecca. There he sought to influence a small proportion of the citizens so that when he launched his assault he had a cadre of helpers.

Hizb ut Tahrir believes that it has to build cadres while engaging society in what it calls intellectual and political debate. By a collective interaction with society it aims to create awareness of Hizb ut Tahrir ideology, moving on to a consolidation of progress by soliciting support of strategically powerful groups in society (with the help of those it has penetrated). Only then is it ready to implement Islam via the resurrection of the Caliphate.

In Britain, Hizb ut Tahrir appears to have gone through three distinct phases in its evolution. It came to public notice with its call to hijack aeroplanes containing Israelis and Jews and then embarked on a series of public confrontations, under the founding leadership of the Syrian expatriate and former Syrian Brotherhood member, Omar Bakri Fostock, known as Omar Bakri Mohammed, and another Syrian expatriate Farid Kassim. These included well publicised large scale conferences at Wembley Conference Centre and Trafalgar Square. It has sought to coerce moderate Muslim students into joining and has intimidated Sikh, Hindu and Jewish students. Ultimately this brought it publicity and considerable notoriety, and eventually led to its banning by the National Union of Students and by those universities where it was active. The Committee of Vice Chancellors and Principals (now Universities UK), the umbrella body for universities in Britain, was eventually persuaded to issue a guidance booklet to universities in which it condemned religious extremism and coercion.[4]

The publicity and notoriety, were enhanced by the screening of Jon Ronson’s TV documentary ‘The Tottenham Ayatollah ‘ which showed Mohammed to be a buffoon, and one who was held in low esteem by other Islamist leaders as a consequence of his bragging, and because he had invited a TV camera crew to a clandestine meeting of Islamist leaders in Britain.[5] Some of them were later to emerge as jihadi recruiters. All this led in the end to the dismissal of Mohammed who left to found Al Muhajiroun, with the Saudi expatriate Mohammed al Massari. This followed the visit to London of a special envoy sent by the Hizb ut Tahrir leadership in Jordan. Muhammed took with him the majority of the members.

He was replaced by Fuad Husayn in February 1996, and Hizb ut Tahrir thereafter embarked on a period of semi-clandestine recruitment and re-growth, not emerging back into the limelight until the campaign against the government of Uzbekistan and the campaign for Farhad Uzmanov, a Hizb ut Tahrir activist allegedly murdered by the Uzbek regime, during 2002. In early 2003 it began its campaign against war against Iraq. At this the focus of the Hizb ut Tahrir protestors was not on supporting Iraq, or against the war in general (which was the line of the Stop the War Coalition) but on criticism of the Arab states for assisting the US.[6]

The third period has been that under the leadership of Dr Imran Waheed, a Birmingham-based psychiatrist, Dr Abdul Wahid, and others. Hizb ut Tahrir now operates at two levels: clandestinely, recruiting mostly among students, and to a small extent on the street (but not as much as previously); and via its communications modes, such as its web – based journal Khilafah and its communiqués. It has also, but only during the past eighteen months or so, returned to street activity, via pickets and demonstrations.

Command and Control

Much like the clandestine Marxist Leninist groups on which it is partly modelled Hizb ut Tahrir exercises strict centralised command and control, which is manifest through its system of recruitment and communications.

Hizb ut Tahrir operates in the manner of a cult. Now that it is barred from many mosques its main vehicle for recruitment is via Islamic or Study Circles. These meet at members’ homes or community centres and generally involve five or so aspirant members meeting regularly under the supervision of an experienced member. An indoctrination period usually lasts for up to two years, at which point the member is accepted into the organisation.

Although its members are secretive, Hizb ut Tahrir leaders deny this. Senior members’ and correspondents’ email addresses are listed in Khilafah, and Waheed and other leaders actively seek media interviews.

In the Newsnight item, a student active in the Islamic society at Kingston University talked about a Hizb ut Tahrir activist, Rizwan Khaliq, who was not a student at the university. Khaliq nevertheless visited the campus almost daily to recruit students. The interviewer asked the former head of the Islamic society what their relationship was, and he answered that it is one of tolerance: neither interfered with each other. When asked why he did not denounce Khaliq to the university authorities, knowing that Hizb ut Tahrir is banned, he responded that they would not inform on a fellow Muslim to the Kafir.

The university authorities issued a statement that they had no knowledge of Khaliq’s activities.[7]

There is evidence of Khaliq’s attempting to recruit in other universities clandestinely, and where moderate Muslim students see no need to speak out or are either unwilling or frightened of informing.

Where it does venture out into the open, for example to book rooms or to hold meetings Hizb ut Tahrir frequently uses false names, among them: The Islamic Society, the Islamic Front, the International Islamic Front, the Islamic Forum Against Communism, Al Khilafah Publications, the Young Liberating Party, Asian Youth (Waltham Forest), the 1924 Committee, the Muslim Media Forum (University College London), Muslim Current Affairs Society (Leeds University), the New World Society (Nottingham and Sheffield universities).

Hizb ut Tahrir uses the Internet for promotion of its ideology, and email and face-to-face meetings for command and control.

Communiqués and press releases published by the group are all published in the same format and with the same type of wording. The Danish police investigation into the affiliate noted that the Danish website wasn’t only being hosted from London but that it was being run from London and that it was registered to the Hizb ut Tahrir mailing address in London, which is that of the British affiliate. The address is that of a commercial post restante, and in fact is the second post restante they have used, having changed to the current one a year or so ago.

All the communiqués are published from London. Thus for example press releases published in June and July 2003 by the Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Sudanese and British affiliates were all in the same format, style and layout. The first three dealt with the suppression of Hizb ut Tahrir affiliates in those countries.[8]

Communiqués published last June by the Turkish affiliate and on behalf of the Russian affiliate following arrests of Hizb ut Tahrir members in these countries are again in the same format and style.[9]

In November 2002 the German authorities, who had long had Hizb ut Tahrir members under surveillance, raided twenty-five buildings across the country but made no arrests. Interestingly, the Interior Minster Otto Schily, stated that they had not been able to to find recognizable organisational structures. He stated that: ‘We have to assume that essentially they have their organisational base abroad.’[1]0

The UK is undoubtedly where the command and control centre is, even if the international leadership is elsewhere.


Initially, Hizb ut Tahrir sought to recruit only among students. Its leaflets were first distributed in the UK, and the rest of Europe to the best of our knowledge, at Imperial College London University. That may have been a deliberate strategic target for the group, or it may just have been a reflection of where its membership was located. Imperial College is one of the foremost institutes for scientific learning in Britain, on a par for example with Cambridge. It then spread to Queen Mary College and thereafter to Birmingham, both located in areas with large Muslim populations. Thereafter it embarked on a campaign of recruiting students elsewhere and Muslim youth on the streets and its members appeared to spend much of their time leafleting.

In an interesting posting to an Islamist - discussion group last September and reproduced by MPACUK, an anonymous correspondent writes on ‘Why I left Hizb ut Tahrir.’ He stated: ‘All I seemed to be doing was pamphleteering and daubing walls with posters and memorising the odd ayat of the Quran to pull out on unsuspecting Muslims to prove my point.’

In a note of cynicism he concluded that:

If you don’t want the establishment of the Islamic state then the best way is to join up with one of these two groups. ….. In closing I am thankful to Hizb ut Tahrir for at least awakening me to my deen even though they did very little to nurture it. I have had a few friends “burn out ” from Hizb ut Tahrir and go back completely to their jahiliyya state and this can be blamed on no one else but Hizb ut Tahrir who will be questioned on That Day.[11]

Hizb ut Tahrir came to public notice again in April 1988 when it’s activists inserted a leaflet inside copies of the Arabic language journal Al Fajr which at that time was distributed freely outside the Central London Mosque. The leaflet, in English, was entitled ‘The Islamic Rule on Hijacking Aeroplanes’ and was written by the then leader Abdul Qadeem Zallum. In it he claimed that the hijacking of planes was forbidden in Islamic law unless the plane contained Israelis or Jews, in which case there was an obligation to hijack the plane and kill the Jews.[12]

Other leaflets followed and were given out on the streets or on university campuses. They included one entitled ‘the only place is the battlefield between the Muslims and the Jews’ and another entitled ‘Peace with Israel – a crime against Islam.’

It has been Hizb ut Tahrir’s publicly stated policies on Hindus, Sikhs and particularly Jews that as much as anything else has brought them criticism and into conflict with law enforcement.

In January 1994 two Hizb ut Tahrir members were arrested for distributing the ‘Peace with Israel – A Crime against Islam’ leaflet. The leaflet advertised a meeting to be held at University College London and was referred to the Attorney General on the grounds that it incited hatred and was illegal. The Attorney General, whose consent is required for prosecutions under the law against incitement, declined to prosecute but the university authorities cancelled the meeting. It took place however at another college of London University, the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) where the Hizb ut Tahrir speaker stated:

‘Let’s be open about this – the Quran does not mention Zionists, it mentions Jews. They are our enemy and insha’allah (with the help of Allah) we will finish them’.

In January 2001 the German authorities also banned Hizb ut Tahrir on the basis that it was ‘active in universities with anti-Semitic slogans and was inciting hatred against Jews and had called for the destruction of the state of Israel’ under legislation that allows for the proscription of foreign-based extremist groups.

Interestingly, Schily also stated that Hizb ut Tahrir in Germany had sought contact with the far right and that leading neo-Nazis had attended a Hizb ut Tahrir meeting held by the group at the Technical University in Berlin in October 2002.13 There are other examples of meetings between Hizb ut Tahrir and the far right, but this is not the norm.

It was also noted that the German leader Shaker Asssem had lectured at the Islamic study group founded by Mohamed Atta at the Technical University in Hamburg during the summer of 2001.[14]

In November 2002 members’ homes were again raided, causing the group to issue a denial that it was seeking violence, but noting that the banning would not stop its activities.

In 2002 Danish Hizb ut Tahrir produced a ‘hit list’ of fifteen to twenty leading members of Denmark’s Jewish community. In November 2002 Fadi Abdel Latif, the leader of the Danish branch was convicted of incitement to racial hatred and sentenced to sixty days in prison after the group circulated a leaflet urging people to ‘Kill them, kill the Jews wherever you find them’. The group was subsequently banned.[15]

The Dutch government is also now said to be considering a ban.[16]

Last November the German police arrested a group of North Africans linked to European – based terror cells. One of those arrested, Abderazek Mahdjoub (aka Mahjub Abderrazak), was picked up in Hamburg and is allegedly linked to the Ansar al Islam network, reportedly told his interrogators that there had been a meeting of Hizb ut Tahrir European leaders in Poland. There they had taken the decision to completely change and to build a new organisation that concerns itself ‘with the national territory and with the international territory but we need highly trained people at every level’

It is alleged that he stated that Hizb ut Tahrir has ‘Albanians, Swiss, British…It is enough that they be of a high cultural level. In Germany we have interpreters and interpreters that translate books ; we have also in communications, also in Austria; the important thing is that their faith in Islam be sincere.’

When questioned about the situation in Germany, Mahdjoub replied ‘I cannot complain. There are 10 of us; we are taking an interest in Belgium, Spain, The Netherlands, Turkey and Egypt, Italy and France, but the nerve centre is still London…….Shaykh Adlen has given a great deal of money; as I told you this plan has no need of any further comments or words.’[17]

Unlike the violent jihadist groups Hizb ut Tahrir does not now recruit on the streets or in the prisons. It is worth noting that an attempt to recruit among Birmingham street gangs involved in the local drugs scene and prostitution failed due, it was thought, to the recruits inability to properly comprehend and promote the intellectual ideology.18 A way to assess which way an Islamist group may be moving is to look at its recruitment policies. Is it like Al Qaeda recruiting the disenchanted from the streets or in the prisons? Hizb ut Tahrir went someway down that road but has now reverted to recruiting in the universities.

Look at the backgrounds of its leaders and known members

Hizb ut Tahrir is not a populist movement like the Muslim Brotherhood or other Islamist movements. It is elitist and its clear strategy since the accession of Waheed to the leadership has been to recruit among elites. In fact its message can only appeal to elites, and that is why it tended to fail when it tried to recruit on the streets.

A high proportion of its declared membership are medical doctors or other professionals. The line up of speakers at a recent public event, the sixth national conference held in Birmingham in August 2003, under the banner of ‘British or Muslim?’ included:

Dr Abdul Salaam, a married dentist in general practice from Chicago and former follower of Elijah Mohammed and Malcolm X, who left their successor Louis Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam fifteen years ago.
Waleed Gubbara a sales and marketing director married with two children.
Taji Mustafa an IT engineer who is married with three children and who was a co-founder of a major independent Islamic day school.
Kamal Abu Zahra an Arabic translator with graduate and post graduate degrees who is married with three children.
Shaban ul-Haqq, an IT project manager with graduate and post graduate degrees in computing.[19]

By advertising the professional and family backgrounds of the speakers it is clear that they are aiming to attract similar people: mature professionals with families.

The meeting held at the prestigious National Indoor Arena in Birmingham would have been expensive to book and likewise suggests that they are focussed on a different class of potential recruits and members than previously. The local press reports that the meeting attracted 7000 participants and that Imran Waheed and the main speaker Abdul Salaam used the opportunity to ‘dissuade Muslims from taking up arms against Israel arguing that that they do not advocate the ‘indiscriminate killing of Jews’, but rather the seizure of power through peaceful means. However a senior member of the group Sajjad Khan also stated that ‘there needs to be an international Islamic army, from Muslim states, across the world, to take back the state of Israel and even go into Iraq to wrest control of the region from the US.’[20]

To appeal to established people Hizb ut Tahrir now also promotes a more progressive line on family issues than other Islamists and one which is designed to appeal to educated elites. They are, for instance, against arranged and intra-family marriages.

Their literature differs markedly from that produced during the time of Omar Bakri Mohammed. It is high quality and sometimes expensively produced literature, published in full colour. The regular web-based journal Khilafah is well designed with high resolution scanned images. This is intended to be attractive to the class of prospective converts they seek.

However, the move towards more web-based printing also avoids involvement with the external world, and potential exposure.


That Hizb ut Tahrir is subversive is obvious: the strategy and activities are aimed at influencing and subverting society and leading elements within it.

In the UK, at least, it appears to have aimed for the professional classes although these are the only members who are declared. It is not yet known what other areas of society they may have infiltrated, but as their message is so different and indeed nuanced from other Islamist groups, it is unlikely that they will have made much progress.

Despite their use of jihadi terminology and the fact that they play a part in radicalising Muslim youth there is no evidence that Hizb ut Tahrir is involved in or encourages terrorism in Western Europe, or that it is moving towards terrorism. There have been no reports that members have joined or become involved in Al Qaeda or the global jihad movement. Hizb ut Tahrir members are not thought to have joined the Taliban, nor is it believed that any are being held at Camp Xray.

Likewise, Hizb ut Tahrir is not mentioned in connection with al Tawhid or Ansar al Islam, nor any of the other wahabi or salafi terror groups.

However, members did go to Bosnia during the mid 1990’s and indeed Ahmed Sheikh Omar is thought to have been a Hizb ut Tahrir member when he went to Bosnia via the Convoy of Mercy. But any terrorist recruitment appears to have been done there, or in Afghanistan rather than in the UK.

In Germany it was initially banned because it is antisemitic and because it represented a subversive threat to democracy, and the German constitution and laws enacted since 9/11 allow for the proscription of those that threaten the integrity of the state.

It was banned in Denmark because it published a document which threatened the country’s Jewish leadership, and the same appears to be the case in Holland.

In Britain the UK law does not allow for the possibility of banning subversive organisations: only those that aid or abet terrorism, so a ban is unlikely.

While Hizb ut Tahrir’s views are so extreme it is unlikely that it will ever achieve mass popularity, and they will continue to be criticised by other Muslim groups, even those that are Islamist.

In a totalitarian society, where there is no political opposition, Hizb ut Tahrir will seek to occupy the vacuum thus left. It will thereby be seen as both subversive and possibly terrorist. However it seems unlikely, on the evidence, that it would engage in terrorism, and there is no credible evidence that this has been the case in Uzbekistan or Egypt.

In reality Hizb ut Tahrir represents a long-term threat of subversion. It is a gradualist ideology and although it has generally failed to confront the reality of its ultimate aim, that of the violent overthrow of the established order, its elitist recruitment policies are unlikely to allow it to achieve its mission.



Hizb ut-Tahrir, Newsnight, BBC News, 27 August 2003,, downloaded 2 September 2003
See for example, The Hand of Hizb in the UK writes to MPAC, email from, 17 January 2003, American Elections and Hizb ut-Tahrir , Dr M Amir Ali, MSA News, 2 November 2000, or How to Stop the War Decisively (Answering Hizb ut-Tahrir) Yamin Zakaria (ex-member of Hizb ut Tahrir) and Dr Mohammad al-Massari (ex-member of Hizb ut Tahrir), The Revival, 7 February 2003,
Iraq’s Sunni Muslim group confirms Taleban contacts, denies Al-Qa’idah links, Al-Hayat, London in Arabic, 7 February 2004, source BBC Monitoring.
Extremism and intolerance on campus, Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals of the Universities of the United Kingdom, July 1998.
The Tottenham Ayatollah, Channel 4 TV, 8 April 1997

Rulers of Muslims Stand up to the West – Support the Muslims of Iraq, Close Your Waterways, Airspace and Ground Bases, 15 March 2003
Newsnight. Press release, To suppress Hizb ut-Tahrir’s stance on Kashmir, its member has been abducted, Naveed Butt, 22 June 2003,
See for example: Press release – arrests, Ali Sa’eed Ali (Abul-Hasan), The official spokesman of Hizb ut-Tahrir, Sudan 9 July 2003,, downloaded 10 July 2003; Hizb ut-Tahrir Bangladesh, 20 June 2003,; Political analysis - Sharon’s visit to Britain, 16 July 2003,, downloaded 17 July 2003
O Muslims in Turkey!, Communiqué, uploaded 11 June 2003; Communiqué from Hizb ut-Tahrir, uploaded 22 June 2003,, downloaded 23 June 2003
Germany Bans Islamic Group Accused of Anti-Semitism, Associated Press, 15 January 2003
Why I left Hizb ut-Tahrir,, downloaded 18 September 2003
The Islamic Rule in Hijacking Aeroplanes, 8 April 1988, insert with Al-Fajr, no.12 April 1988
Peter Finn, Germany Bans Islamic Group, Washington Post Foreign Service, 10 January 2003; Germany Bans Islamic Group Accused of Anti-Semitism. Associated Press, 15 January 2003
Peter Finn
Danish Muslim jailed, Jewish Chronicle, 8 November 2002
Private sources
Private sources
Conversation with West Midlands Police, 30 October 1996
Conference Schedule, British or Muslim?, national conference organised by Hizb ut Tahrir, 22 August 2003,
Emma Pinch, Muslim leader’s mission of peace, Birmingham Post, 25 August 2003

Riding the Jehadi Tiger

By Praveen Swami
New Delhi Chief of Bureau, Frontline magazine, and also writes for its sister publication, The Hindu
From Southeast Asia Terrorism Portal

Terror, like chickens, comes home to roost. Arrests made earlier this month near Baghdad have blown the lid off links between the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Islamist groups fighting the United States military in Iraq: evidence that ought to cause at least some embarrassment to USA's South Asia establishment, currently in the throes of a grand détente with Pakistan. Part of the deal seems to have been to give Pakistan's military considerable freedom to continue its support to officially-authorised jehadis. If nothing else, the Iraq arrests illustrate the profound unwillingness of the US' counter-terror czars to learn that riding the jehadi tiger is a profoundly dangerous occupation.

In March - and possibly even earlier - United States forces detained Pakistani national Dilshad Ahmad and four others in Baghdad. Details of these detentions, and of the LeT's activities in Iraq, are hazy. However, Ahmad, a long-time Lashkar operative from the Bahawalpur area of the province of Punjab, had played a key role in the Lashkar's trans-Line of Control (LoC) operations, serving between 1997 and 2001 as the organisation's commander for the forward camps from where infiltrating groups of terrorists are launched into Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) with Pakistani military support. Ahmad is believed to have made at least six secret visits to Lashkar groups operating in J&K during this period. He also authored several articles on the now-defunct Lashkar website, one describing in particularly macabre terms the merits of severing Indian soldiers' limbs from their bodies.

A close associate of Zaki-ur-Rahman Lakhvi, the second-in-command in the Lashkar military hierarchy, Ahmad long had a key role in shaping the organisation's ideological and military agenda: a fact that raises obvious questions about his work in Iraq. In 1998, he addressed a major LeT conference in Muridke, arguing for the need to extend the organisation's activities outside J&K. Ahmad is believed to have played a key role in building the infrastructure for the dozens of Lashkar cells, which have since carried out bombings in several major Indian cities. At least four other Lashkar operatives are known to have been arrested in the intelligence-led operation that ended in Ahmad's arrest, but nothing else is publicly available on their intentions or origins. US officials had kept a tight lid on news of the arrests until it was first reported in The Hindu on April 1.

For the US, the arrests are a potentially embarrassing election-time reminder that the LeT, proscribed by all major western capitals including Washington, continues to operate freely in Pakistan. In January, as politicians across the sub-continent prepared for the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Summit in Islamabad, Pakistan took stern measures to put a lid on the LeT's anti-India polemic. The Lashkar's web-site was shut down, and its overall political and religious chief, Hafiz Mohammad Saeed was barred from addressing a rally in the town of Multan. Soon after SAARC, however, the restraints on the Lashkar were lifted. In February, Saeed was allowed to travel to Islamabad to attend the funeral prayers organised by Pakistani bureaucrat-businessman Zahoor Ahmad Awan, whose son, a Lashkar operative, was killed by Indian troops. Saeed told the assembly that the fighting in Jammu and Kashmir was "the greatest jehad in the entire history of Islam."

As important, the Lashkar has again been given considerable freedom to continue building its military infrastructure. In the build-up to the Eid festival in March, the organisation, now operating under the new label of the Jamaat-ud-Dawa, was reported to have raised Rs. 780 million from the sale of hides of sacrificial animals donated by followers. The Lashkar proclaimed, through advertisements and announcements by loyal clerics, that the proceeds would be used for the "Mujahideen who have sacrificed their lives for Islam" and for "the parents, widows and children of martyrs who waged jehad in Kashmir and Afghanistan." Although this activity seems in express violation of the Pakistan Government's ban on raising funds for jehad-related activities, no real action appears to have been taken against those involved. Two Lashkar cadres were briefly detained in Karachi during the fundraising drive, a purely token gesture.

Such activity has serious consequences for India. Police authorities in New Delhi recently arrested three members of a Lashkar squad tasked to attack the Indira Gandhi International Airport. The organisation has also been active in targeted attacks on candidates involved in the ongoing Parliamentary elections in J&K, and have issued warnings to voters not to exercise their franchise. According to police officials in J&K, a little over half of all terrorist acts in the State are now committed by the organisation. This escalating military activity is part of a pattern. Pakistan formally banned the LeT in the wake of the 2001-2002 'near-war' with India, but soon allowed the organisation to resume operations under a new label, the Jamaat-ud-Dawa. The Jamaat-ud-Dawa is on a terrorism watch-list in Pakistan, but publicly collects funds and recruits cadre for its operations.

In other words, Pakistan seems willing to temporarily close the terror tap - cross-border infiltration is at an all time low, and violence levels in J&K have fallen significantly. But it is becoming clear that the country's military establishment isn't willing to seal the pipeline that feeds terror just yet. Washington's tolerance seems to be driven by Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf's claims that he cannot take on the entire religious right without provoking a major backlash. As a result, Pakistan's military establishment has been able to keep the infrastructure of anti-India terrorism intact. It is worth noting that this infrastructure has, historically, imposed great costs on the US. General Zia-ul-Haq's diversion of Afghan war equipment for jehadis in J&K helped build the LeT in the first place, as well as allied jehadi groups now active against Coalition Forces in Afghanistan.

Jehadi groups seem to have largely respected the unspoken US-Pakistan deal - a romance that obviously cannot speak its name - this time around. Although Lashkar cadre were in the past believed to have fought in northern Afghanistan and Chechnya, no similar global activity was noticed in Iraq until the recent arrests. The Lashkar's house journal, Majallah ad Dawa, has been relatively restrained in its criticism of the US occupation of Iraq. In the current issue of the magazine, Saeed calls on believers to "never to make friends with Jews and Christians," but there is no express call for jehad directed at the US. By contrast, Majallah ad Dawa's position on India is more aggressive. One article claims that Indian Muslims have come to realise that "without migration and jehad there is no future"; another, in a recent issue, asks Pakistani school-children to join the jehad and advises them on how to identity Indian soldiers to be attacked.

The lessons seem fairly obvious to anyone who doesn't work in the President George Bush's Administration. "As long as someone has a gun in his hand," says a senior Indian military official, "he decides when he wants to use it, not you. If someone is walking around with a gun, and you want to stop him from using it, the only really sure-fire solution is to take it away."


Friday, June 04, 2004

The Greatest Foreign Policy Blunder EVER

Readers of this blog and cannot help but be aware of the real threat America faces in a world polarized by extreme religious ideology. The stakes are enormously high. Even though, as I have opined before, there is no genuine threat to the existence of the United States--I reiterate my point that terrorists do not have the ability to destroy the greatest nation on earth--the real threat is to the way of life you and especially your children can look forward to.

Have we reached and passed the zenith of American civilization? Think about that a moment. Have we passed the point in history where the citizens of this country have experienced their greatest "freedom" (you know, "freedom"--the word that Bush keeps throwing around when he has nothing meaningful to say)? Have we reached the place where the next generation can no longer look forward to greater prosperity, protection of civil liberties, personal safety, freedom to travel, and the so-called American dream? Are we now to look forward to the contempt of our former allies and the "privilege" of being a nation despised by nearly the entire rest of the world? And how did we get here?

In the wake of the death and destruction we suffered from the terrorist attacks of 9/11, we had the WORLD with us. We had a virtual blank check (support, cooperation, empathy) to pursue Al Qaeda and Islamist extremism in every part of the world. Even Islamic nations dared not oppose us (at least publicly). Had we pursued the real enemy with the cooperation of the civilized nations of the earth, we would be in a very different place. But we didn't. Correction: the Bush Administration did not.

Setting aside the rancor some us feel (yes--me) about our perception of lying, cronyism, and extreme domestic policies, the crime of the Bush Administration which no one should forgive--Democrat, Republican, Naderite, or Communist for that matter--is the squandering of the resources this nation needs to deal with the dire and very real threat posed by intolerant religious ideology.

Jihad supported by oil money will take away your freedom, your sense of security, and, even your children's chance to live in the kind of nation their grandparents took for granted. Your kids will use national ID cards and biometric security to prove who they are day in and day out. Boarding an airplane will forever be an exercise in frustration and, to a certain extent, humiliation. Metal detectors, baggage scanners, bomb-sniffing dogs, heavily armed police, travel restrictions, and fear will be part of your kids every day life. Let me make this clear--I do NOT blame the Bush Administration for the threat posed by Al Qaeda and Islamist Jihadists. I blame them for making it all worse--much worse.

As your kids pay and pay and pay for a nation divided between the extremely wealthy who won't pay taxes and the poor who can't pay taxes, they will look back with longing on the days of peace and comfort in America. The half a trillion dollars (and more) that George Bush and Dick Cheney and Ron Dumsfeld have dumped into a hole in the desert called Iraq will avail us nothing--in fact, less than nothing. Stop listening to politicians and ideologues who paint pictures of the rise of American culture in the Middle East. You know better. They will throw bullets and bombs at us for generations--not flowers. For their hatred measures time in centuries, not months or years.

We have killed and maimed thousands in yet another generation of Arabs and Muslims in pursuit of the man who tried to killed George Bush's "daddy" and we have enabled western oil companies to complete their critical pipelines from the Caspian to the Persian Gulf and from Syria to Turkey. But you and your children will pay. And pay and pay. You will pay for the arrogance and hubris of men of privilege with no sense of accountability. You will never again live in a nation that can proudly proclaim that we are the good guys.

Bush and his gang have taken two very precious ideals away from me (and you). I was always so very proud to look up at Old Glory and know that we stood for courage and sacrifice and self-determination. I grew up with great pride knowing that the USA never invaded another country--we became involved to help our friends or turn away an invader. And we never became our enemy because we were afraid. And now we have.

The Islamic jihadists operate outside international law and outside accepted standards of human rights and human decency. For that we rightly condemn them. For their crimes against humanity we rightly pursue them. When we catch them we rightly prosecute and punish them. That's because we are the good guys--we behave with courage and dignity even when--no, especially when we are afraid. But the cowards in the Bush Administration are so afraid of Al Qaeda and their ideological brethren that they have tried to justify our adandonment of our most important principles--and in so doing they have forever destroyed the part of the United States of America that always made me proud. Because they are afraid of terrorists, they have caused this great nation to abandon international law, they have declared people as non-human or sub-human so that they can imprison them without charge and interrogate them in ways that violate international law, they have made us into what we rightly despise in others. And for that, no American should ever forgive them.

Our creation of the prison at Gitmo and the invasion of Iraq are now the lipstick on the collar of American history. We have cheated on our beloved principles and we have been caught. There is no going back. We can stop, we can change our ways, and we can promise never to do it again. But the trust has been broken and my homeland been stained forever by the arrogant blunders of these stupid, gutless cowards.

You've read it here before--read it again:

The invasion of Iraq in 2003 will be recognized as the greatest single foreign policy blunder in the history of these United States.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Living next door to Abu Hamza

Living next door to Abu Hamza
By Daniel Johnson

From The Daily Telegraph (London)
(Filed: 28/05/2004);sessionid=GYGXDVHJ43P3FQFIQMGSM5OAVCBQWJVC?xml=/opinion/2004/05/28/do2802.xml&sSheet=/opinion/2004/05/28/ixopinion.html

Early yesterday morning, I was woken to the sound of vehicles and voices outside. At 4am our street in Shepherd's Bush, west London, is normally as quiet as a country churchyard, save for blackbirds, amorous tomcats and the occasional bark of an urban fox. Bleary-eyed, I peeped through the curtain. In the lamplight, I saw three policemen outside our house. The street was cordoned off.

Half-asleep as I was, my old reporter's instincts were aroused. We aren't used to dawn raids in my street, and I hope we never shall be. So, in pyjamas, slippers and dressing gown, I went out into the rain, clutching an umbrella, and asked the policeman in charge: "Excuse me, officer, but would you mind telling me what's going on?"

The reply was polite, but firm. "Very sorry, sir, but at the present time I'm not at liberty to say. There will be a statement later." Pointing to a handful of photographers lurking in the shadows, he explained: "The press is already here."

Behind him, I could see several large police vans clustered outside a particular house. There must have been dozens of police inside.

Feeling faintly ridiculous, I stuttered superfluously: "I live here, you see."

"I can assure you, sir, that there is no danger to you or your family," the officer replied.

My first thought was: they've come to arrest Abu Hamza. Ever since the police had searched his home, 50 yards up the street, about five years ago, we had been aware that the charismatic cleric was our neighbour.

Not that he has ever offered the hook of friendship to us. He keeps himself to himself, as they say, and his privacy has always been respected. One Christmas, before we knew who he was, the children sang carols outside his door. They were sent packing.

Every time we organise a Neighbourhood Watch meeting, Abu Hamza gets his invitation through the letter-box, like everybody else. Oddly enough, he never turns up.

Indeed, over the years, we have never seen the great sheikh in the street, and even his eight children are rarely sighted. Some friends claimed that he had moved away.

That was wishful thinking. If the obtrusively unobtrusive individuals often to be found in their cars doing nothing in particular in our neighbourhood were not plain clothes detectives keeping an eye on Abu Hamza, then the Met was not doing its job properly.

The policeman's assurance that our families were not in any danger was, in one sense, obviously true. Whatever terrorist activities Abu Hamza is accused of by the Americans, whatever may have gone on in the Finsbury Park mosque before he was evicted from it last year, to live in the immediate vicinity of the Hamza household does not pose any special risk.

Indeed, if my assumption that he has been under observation for a long time is correct, then we may even have been unwittingly enjoying a level of security that most Londoners can probably only envy.

Yet the moment one reflects on the whole business, it does, of course, become profoundly disturbing. There is, I suppose, something surreal about the fact that I, associate editor of The Daily Telegraph and father of four, find myself living almost next door to an Islamist imam who is now accused of 11 separate terrorist offences, including hostagetaking in Yemen and setting up a terrorist training camp in Oregon.

Whether or not he is ever extradited to America, Abu Hamza not only preaches jihad, but claims to have practised it in Afghanistan, where he lost an eye and both hands. That is the country we live in, for better or worse. My street, like Britain as a whole, is a clash of civilisations in miniature.

Despite the Home Secretary's best efforts, Abu Hamza still has British citizenship and continues to enjoy the protection afforded by the British legal system. The fact that he has remained at liberty is a testimony to the almost impossibly high standards of proof required by our courts before they will incarcerate even a man who is alleged to have declared war on everything Britain has ever stood for.

On the way to school yesterday, my two youngest children, aged nine and six, quizzed me on what would now happen to "Mr Hook", which gave me an opportunity to explain the rule of law. Their generation has grown up without religious or racial prejudice. They love their neighbours. But are they too innocent for a world in which that love might prove fatal?

I am ready to defend the right of Abu Hamza to a fair trial. Am I, though, prepared to defend his right to incite young Muslims to join al-Qa'eda's global jihad against the Judaeo-Christian West - if that is indeed what he has done? No: he has no such right, and nor does anybody else. Abu Hamza can be my neighbour or my enemy: he cannot expect to be both.

"Your family is not in danger." Though strictly true, this reassurance does not reassure me at all. The threat from al-Qa'eda is so all-encompassing that it justifies extraordinary measures. Surveillance and denunciation, the knock on the door in the small hours, indefinite detention without trial: all these are methods that we once associated with police states. But they have been forced upon us by the most urgent of necessities.

I happened to come across a poem by Siegfried Sassoon yesterday that articulates this necessity. The scene is a deserted National Gallery after what would now be called a WMD attack on London. Published in The Spectator in 1933, the year Hitler came to power, it is called Premonition.

A gas-proof ghost, I climbed the stair
To find how priceless paintings fare
When corpses, chemically killed,
Lie hunched and twisted in the stilled
Disaster of Trafalgar Square…

Sassoon's premonition, though unfulfilled in his lifetime, now has a horrid topicality. We are witnessing the end of our island idyll.

I am glad that my family slept soundly through yesterday's arrest. Lying awake, however, I could not help wondering whether, in our lifetimes, we shall ever rest easy in our beds again. The horrors of New York, Bali and Madrid have yet to be replicated here. But, with neighbours like Abu Hamza, who needs external enemies? Are we at last awakening from what George Orwell called "the deep, deep sleep of England"? If not, we shall soon be roused by a living nightmare.


Stealth Islamist: Khaled Abou El Fad

by Daniel Pipes
Middle East Quarterly
Spring 2004

Which Muslims in the West support Islamism, which do not?

Those who have Al-Qaeda connections or deal in terrorism are relatively easy to classify, once they are found out. The state has ways to investigate and punish illegal activities. In September 2003, for example, Tarsi Allonym, a star reporter for the Al-Jazeera television network, was arrested in Spain on charges of belonging to Al-Qaeda.[1] In the United States, Abdurahman Alamoudi, "a well-heeled advocate who had represented American Muslims in White House meetings,"[2] was arrested on terrorism-related charges.

But what about individuals who apparently break no laws but promote an Islamist agenda in a legal fashion, sometimes from within the heart of the establishment? One case is that of the renowned Swiss-French intellectual Tariq Ramadan, hailed by some as a moderate—a man who has stayed within the law but is believed by some to have Al-Qaeda connections.[3] Another is Bashir Nafi, who teaches at the University of London but in February 2003 was indicted at a U.S. District Court in Florida as someone who "supported numerous violent terrorist activities associated with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad."[4]

Then there is the case of Khaled Medhat Abou El Fadl. Born in 1963, he is a professor of law at the University of California in Los Angeles, visiting professor of law at Yale Law School, President George W. Bush's appointee to the Commission on International Religious Freedom, a consultant to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, an expert state witness on major cases, an advisor to major law firms, and a writer for prestigious publications.[5] As this listing of his achievements suggests, Abou El Fadl has a reputation as a "Muslim moderate." Here are a few of his exuberant press clippings:

The Boston Globe: Abou El Fadl is "a moderate voice urging Muslims in the United States and elsewhere to speak out against radical elements of Islam."[6]
The Jerusalem Post: one of the few Muslims who "take a stand despite the [personal] risks" in favor of a "pluralistic, tolerant and non-violent Islam."[7]
Los Angeles Daily News: "a leading critic of Islamic radicalism."[8]
Los Angeles Times: a "longtime champion of human rights."[9]
National Review: "one of the most formidable weapons in the battle against Islamic fundamentalism."[10]
The New Republic: a heroic moderate who announces, "There may need to be sacrificial lambs. I'm going to play this role and speak my conscience."[11]
To judge from Abou El Fadl's press, he is a path-breaking and fearless antidote to extremism. But there is a body of other evidence suggesting that he is something other than the "moderate voice" his admirers believe or hope him to be.

Wahhabi Menace
Abou El Fadl's signature issue, the one that has most established his reputation as a moderate, involves his outspoken opposition to the Saudi regime. But one can be an Islamist, and even a radical one, and also take a stand against Wahhabism. Ayatollah Khomeini, and indeed the entire school of Shi‘ite radicalism, provides a dramatic example of this pattern. After a confrontation with Saudi security forces during the pilgrimage to Mecca in 1987, which left hundreds of Iranians dead, Khomeini raged against "these vile and ungodly Wahhabis, [who] are like daggers which have always pierced the heart of the Muslims from the back."[12]

Abou El Fadl, another such anti-Wahhabi Islamist, fits into an Egyptian tradition, currently called the "New Islamists," that is outspokenly critical of Wahhabism. Sheikh Muhammad al-Ghazali (1917-96)), a leading New Islamist, remains one of Abou El Fadl's chief intellectual influences. Although Ghazali had earlier taken refuge in Saudi Arabia, he felt free to criticize the dominant interpretation of Islam there, especially as concerns women. He also wrote a book in 1989 that accused the Wahhabis of a fanaticism that harms the reputation of Islam. Raymond William Baker recounts how Ghazali "directly attacked Saudi religious scholars, whom he charged with mistaking the backward, inherited customs of the Arabian Peninsula for Islam and its revelation and then arrogantly seeking to impose their limited understanding on others."[13] The Muslim Public Affairs Council of Los Angeles, with which Abou El Fadl was once closely affiliated, has a generally New Islamist outlook; it explicitly "rejects many of the ideas espoused by the doctrine of Wahhabism."[14]

Despite Abou El Fadl's general antipathy toward Wahhabi and Saudis, he nevertheless has offered excuses for them. The Wahhabis, he says, "do not seek to dominate—to attain supremacy in the world … They are more than happy living within the boundaries of Saudi Arabia."[15] This statement ignores the Saudi regime's policy since the 1960s of spending billions of dollars to spread the Wahhabi ideology abroad, precisely in an effort to dominate.[16] Abou El Fadl declares there has been "no examination" of the extent to which objectionable materials are found in Saudi-funded religious schools and mosques outside the kingdom, calling for congressional hearings to learn more about this.[17] But the U.S. government has already closed down several Saudi-funded institutions in the United States, such as the Institute of Islamic and Arabic Sciences in America.[18] As Stephen Schwartz, author of The Two Faces of Islam, notes, "There is no doubt about official Saudi funding of Wahhabism, and there is little or no need for further expenditure of federal funds holding hearings on it."[19]

Finally, Abou El Fadl has been known to place his talents at the service of Saudi-funded terrorists. In November 1995, for example, he provided sworn testimony in an "Affidavit in Support of Application for Bail" for Mousa Muhammed Abu Marzook, a top Hamas official, assuring the court that, "pursuant to Islamic law," Abu Marzook was obligated to abide by any bail agreement he would reach with the U.S. government.[20]

Shari‘a Paramount
In common with other Islamists, Abou El Fadl wants Muslims to live by Islamic law (the Shari‘a), the law that among other things endorses slavery, execution for apostasy, and the repression of women, and treats non-Muslims as second-class citizens. "Shariah and Islam are inseparable," he has written, "and one cannot be without the other." In a revealing passage, he confesses that his "primary loyalty, after God, is to the Shariah."[21] Given that Islamic law is Abou El Fadl's academic specialty, this profound allegiance to its goals has great significance and provides a key to his outlook.

To make Islamic law more appealing, he blurs or conceals some of its unpleasant realities. Consider the sensitive issues of adultery, jihad, and relations with non-Muslims.

Adultery: A Nigerian woman, Amina Lawal, was convicted of adultery and sentenced to death by stoning in March 2002. When asked about this case by talk-show host Oprah Winfrey, Abou El Fadl replied that the Nigerian authorities had made a mistake because "The punishment for adultery is really a symbolic punishment. It's a punishment that is designed to make a point about how bad this crime is."[22] This is nonsense, for the punishment of adultery is brutal, deadly, and real. It has been applied repeatedly in recent years, notably in Iran and in Afghanistan under the Taliban. It is deceitful to pretend that Islamic law's hudud punishments (prescribed in the Qur'an) are merely symbolic.

Jihad: Abou El Fadl hides the historic meaning of this term (i.e., the expansion of Muslim-ruled territories primarily through the use of force) and instead variously defines it as "the struggle waged to cleanse oneself from the vices of the heart" or "to strive hard or struggle in pursuit of a just cause."[23] In a sleight of hand, he substitutes his own Qur'anic reading of this word, blithely discarding a millennium of interpretation by Muslim scholars and rulers.[24] Using his definition, he concludes that jihad is "a good thing." More ominously, he denounces those who "carelessly dump on jihad,"[25] accusing them of "prejudicial, dangerous talk" reminiscent (so he wrote) of Nazi preparations for the Holocaust.[26]

Jizya: Abou El Fadl treats in like fashion the jizya tax, a discriminatory and humiliating poll tax imposed exclusively on non-Muslims by their Muslim rulers. He renders it into something historically quite unrecognizable—"money collected by the Islamic polity from non-Muslims in return for the protection from the Islamic state."[27] Again, this is deception to excuse a discriminatory practice.

Andrew Bostom of Brown University concludes from a close reading of Abou El Fadl's work on jihad and jizya that his omission of evidence, "combined with an excessive reliance on sacralized, whitewashed historiography, refutes the prevailing notion that El Fadl is engaged in a sincere effort to instill fundamental change in Islam."[28]

Abou El Fadl's efforts on behalf of Shari‘a go further. As the academic reviewer for the "Origins of Islamic Law" unit put out by the Constitutional Rights Foundation, he is at least associated with, if not the author of, an analysis that forwards a new amendment to the U.S. Constitution, enabling Shari‘a-like blasphemy laws to encroach on traditional U.S. notions of freedom of religion. The proposed amendment reads: "The First Amendment shall not be interpreted to protect blasphemous speech. States shall be free to enact anti-blasphemy laws as long as they prohibit offensive speech against all religions."[29]

Islamist Prejudices
Abou El Fadl harbors the Islamist's typical hostility toward the West, blaming it for whatever ails Islam and Muslims. Islamist terrorism, for example, he deems "part of the historical legacy of colonialism and not the legacy of Islamic law."[30] By holding that "Islamic civilization has been wiped out by an aggressive and racist European civilization,"[31] he in one swoop exculpates Muslims for everything they do.

Nor is the problem restricted to the colonial past. In the United States, he finds, the "demonization of Muslims is well-camouflaged"[32] and he cites unnamed and unspecified "plots and conspiracies" against Muslims.[33] Along with the Islamist organizations,[34] Abou El Fadl after 9/11 falsely issued alarmist predictions about "an explosion of hate crimes against Muslim and Arab Americans, both by police and by ordinary citizens."[35] (Federal Bureau of Investigation statistics showed 481 reported anti-Islamic hate crime incidents listed in 2001 and 155 in 2002; 2003 figures are not yet available.)[36]

Abou El Fadl, like all Islamists, objects to analyses of Islam that use such terms as "militant Islam," even calling use of this term "ideological ravings."[37] And like all Islamists, he relentlessly disparages true Muslim liberals and freethinkers such as Salman Rushdie and Taslima Nasrin for promoting what he calls "secular fundamentalism."[38] Ibn Warraq is (the pseudonym of) an ex-Muslim who has written scholarly works critical of the Qur'an, the life of Muhammad, and the Islamic religion. Asked about him, Abou El Fadl describes Ibn Warraq's work as nothing but propaganda and wrongly dismisses his work as derivative: "If you already know what Islamophobes and Orientalists believe, this author has nothing original to add."[39]

Along these same lines, Abou El Fadl shows the typical Islamist's bias against non-Muslims. In early 2003, shortly after President Bush appointed Noah Feldman, a New York University law professor, to serve as legal advisor to the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq, Abou El Fadl expressed rage to a Boston-area seminar on "Islam and Democracy" that a Jew should be selected for this task.[40]

Terror and Denial
Abou El Fadl promotes the standard Islamist line exonerating Muslims from responsibility for terrorism. He testified to the 9/11 commission in December 2003 that "Statistically, after the attacks of 9/11, Muslim and Arab terrorism was responsible for 2 percent of the sum total of terrorist incidents taking place in the United States."[41] This statement runs wildly contrary to common sense and every analysis. Specifically, Robert Leiken surveyed 212 suspected and convicted terrorists implicated in North America and Western Europe between the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993 and December 2003. He found that "86 percent were Muslim immigrants, the remainder being mainly converts [to Islam] (8 percent) and African American Muslims."[42]

Further to exonerate the American Muslim population, Abou El Fadl claimed before the commission that terrorists in most cases are "outsiders … on the margins of American-Muslim society."[43] In fact, the record shows that in most cases of jihadi violence on U.S. soil, the terrorists come from within the bosom of the American Muslim community.[44]

Having dissociated Muslims from terrorism, Abou El Fadl then railed against U.S. counterterrorism measures. He characterized the overdue steps taken post-9/11 (such as the use of secret evidence and heightened surveillance) as the government having "turned against" American Muslims.[45]

Given his similarity of viewpoint with the Islamists, it comes as little surprise to find that Abou El Fadl maintains cordial relations with two of the most extreme Islamist institutions in the United States:

Holy Land Foundation: The Holy Land Foundation (HLF), an Islamic "charitable" organization, was closed down in December 2001 on grounds that it was collecting money "used to support the Hamas terror organization."[46] Abou El Fadl had contributed funds to it and publicly defended HLF, lauding its professional accountability and documentation.[47] In common with a bevy of Islamist groups, he portrayed its shuttering as evidence of "the systematic undermining of Muslim civil liberties" in the United States.[48]

Council on American-Islamic Relations: CAIR is the (Saudi-funded)[49] attack-dog of Islamist institutions in the United States, well known for intimidating those who disagree with it,[50] for apologizing for Osama bin Laden,[51] for employing three persons subsequently arrested on terrorism-related charges,[52] and for declaring its intent to make Islam "dominant" in the United States.[53] CAIR is criticized by other Muslim organizations, such as the Islamic Supreme Council of America[54] and[55]

But Abou El Fadl lavishes praise on CAIR's "civility and grace," appreciates its "important role," and thanks it "for setting an example" for all Muslims. He presents himself as thoroughly in tune with CAIR's sense of victimhood, its resentments against American society, and its goal of promoting militant Islam. "Our voice," he wrote to CAIR, "must be loud, resounding, and even deafening." He declares himself "in brotherhood" with CAIR, gushes over its "admirable work," and promotes it as a "shining example" of Muslim leadership. He requests CAIR's help on the basis that he and it share opponents; expresses a hope that CAIR's influence will spread on university campuses; and invokes blessings on it ("May God aid you in your efforts and amply reward you for standing in justice and truth").[56] Abou El Fadl even helps CAIR fundraising efforts.[57]

This is not to say that Abou El Fadl approves of everything American Islamist organizations do. His "biggest problem" with them, he has said, has to do with their lack of "intellectual grounding" in Islamic tradition. His criticism concerns their lack of sophistication and cultural depth, not their goals. He laments that

among American Muslim organizations, the intellectual and moral grounding—not just in the Islamic texts but in the pluralities of the Islamic tradition—is woefully, woefully absent. There has not been a serious movement among these organizations to create educational institutions that would attempt a critical understanding of the tradition they claim to represent. There are practically no such institutions, or even attempts to preserve the knowledge of Islamic law. These organizations remain activist, with a lot of energy but without direction.[58]

Islamist Nonetheless
Ultimately, Abou El Fadl is engaged in developing a more sophisticated way of presenting militant Islam. He is working toward the same goals as are more brazenly Islamist groups like CAIR, but he takes care to present his views in a more acceptable fashion.[59] In some cases, this leads to differences between him and them. As a fêted favorite of the establishment, he must distance himself from some of their particularly unacceptable positions (for example, he condemns suicide bombings against Israeli civilians). This is admittedly better than silence, but it hardly signals moderation. With rare exceptions, Khaled Abou El Fadl's differences with the overt Islamists are those of style, not substance.

Some Muslim observers have come to this same conclusion. Haroon Siddiqui of The Toronto Star writes that Abou El Fadl "does not fit the mould of a ‘moderate' taking on ‘militants.'"[60] Muqtedar Khan of the Brookings Institution finds it "scary" that Abou El Fadl wants the Shari‘a to be central in Muslim life.[61]

The case of Abou El Fadl points to the challenge of how to discern Islamists who present themselves as moderates. This is still possible to do with Abou El Fadl, who has left a long paper trail; it is harder with those who keep their opinions to themselves.[62] In either case, the key is old-fashioned elbow grease: reading, listening, and watching. There is no substitute for research. It needs to be done by White House staffers, district attorneys, university search committees, journalists, Jewish defense agencies, and churches. Failing proper research, Islamists will push their way through Western institutions and ultimately subvert them.

[1] El Mundo (Madrid), Sept. 18, 2003.
[2] The Washington Post, Dec. 1, 2003.
[3] Le Parisien, Nov. 13, 2003.
[4] Attorney General, "Indictments," Feb. 20, 2003, at
[5] For his self-description, see
[6] The Boston Globe, Nov. 30, 2002.
[7] The Jerusalem Post, Sept. 13, 2002.
[8] Los Angeles Daily News, Aug. 14, 2003.
[9] Los Angeles Times, Aug. 14, 2003. It also praises his "unflinching scholarship" that breaks "intellectual ground with bold social critiques," Dec. 29, 2000.
[10] Rod Dreher, "Inside Islam: A Brave Muslim Speaks," National Review Online, Jan. 8, 2002, at
[11] Franklin Foer, "Moral Hazard," The New Republic, Nov. 18, 2002.
[12] Quoted in Martin Kramer, "Tragedy in Mecca," Orbis, Spring 1988, p. 245.
[13] Raymond William Baker, Islam without Fear: Egypt and the New Islamists (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2003), pp. 97-8.
[14] Muslim Public Affairs Council, A Review of U.S. Counterterrorism Policy (n.p, 2003), p. 5, fn. 13.
[15] "The Gil Elan Show," KKOL (1300 AM, Seattle), Dec. 22, 2002, on tape.
[16] Dore Gold, Hatred's Kingdom: How Saudi Arabia Supports the New Global Terrorism (Washington: Regnery, 2003), esp. chap. 8.
[17] The Wall Street Journal, Nov. 10, 2003.
[18] Ibid., Dec. 3, 2003.
[19] Ibid., Nov. 18, 2003.
[20] United States District Court, Southern District of New York, Nov. 16, 1995.
[21] "Dr. Abou El Fadl's Response to CAIR," July 20, 2002, at
[22] The Oprah Winfrey Show, Oct. 4, 2002, transcript.
[23] Khaled Abou El Fadl, The Place of Tolerance in Islam (Boston: Beacon Books, 2002), p. 19.
[24] Khaled Abou El Fadl, "Peaceful Jihad," in Michael Wolfe, ed., Taking Back Islam: American Muslims Reclaim Their Faith (n.p.: Rodale, 2002), pp. 37-8.
[25] Larry Witham, "Muslims See Wordplay as Swordplay in Terrorism War," The Washington Times, July 24, 2002.
[26] Zachary Block, "One Man's War on Terror," Brown Alumni Magazine Online, Nov./Dec. 2002, at
[27] Abou El Fadl, The Place of Tolerance, p. 21.
[28] Andrew G. Bostom, "Khaled Abou El Fadl: Reformer or Revisionist?", May 2003, at
[29] Constitutional Rights Foundation, "Blasphemy! Salman Rushdie and Freedom of Expression," at
[30] Los Angeles Times, Aug. 22, 2002.
[31] "What Became of Tolerant Islam?" Los Angeles Times, Sept. 14, 2001.
[32] The Toronto Star, Nov. 24, 2002.
[33] "Dr. Abou El Fadl's Response to CAIR," July 20, 2002, at
[34] For example, the Council on American-Islamic Relations issued a pamphlet, Guilt by Association, in July 2003 that made these points at greater length.
[35] "What Became of Tolerant Islam?" Los Angeles Times, Sept. 14, 2001.
[36] CNN, "Hate Crimes Decrease in 2002," Nov. 12, 2003, at
[37] "‘Human Rights' Must Include Tolerance," Los Angeles Times, Aug. 12, 1997.
[38] Los Angeles Times, Sept. 18, 1994.
[39] The Boston Globe, Aug. 17, 2003.
[40] Personal communication from Ray Freed, Dec. 2, 2003. Abou El Fadl did not reply to the author's repeated queries for comment on this matter.
[41] "Statement of Khaled Medhat Abou El Fadl to the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States," Dec. 8, 2003, at Abou El Fadl did not reply to the author's repeated queries for a source for the 2 percent figure.
[42] Robert S. Leiken, Bearers of Global Jihad? Immigration and National Security after 9/11 (Washington, D.C.: Nixon Center, 2004), p. 6.
[43] "Statement of Khaled Medhat Abou El Fadl," at
[44] For a detailed look at this phenomenon, see the case of Rashid Baz, examined in Uriel Heilman, "Murder on the Brooklyn Bridge," Middle East Quarterly, Summer 2001, especially the section on "Community Support," pp. 29-37. Other cases that exemplify this pattern include these incidents: July 1980: an Iranian dissident killed in the Washington, D.C. area; Jan. 1990: an Egyptian freethinker killed in Tucson, Arizona; Nov. 1990: a Jewish leader killed in New York; Jan. 1993: two CIA staff killed outside agency headquarters in Langley, Virginia; Feb. 1993: 6 people killed at the World Trade Center; Feb. 1997: a Danish tourist killed on the Empire State building; July 2002: an employee and a traveler on El Al killed at Los Angeles International Airport; Aug. 2003: an American killed by his former Saudi friend in Houston.
[45] "Statement of Khaled Medhat Abou El Fadl," at
[46] "Remarks by the President on Financial Fight against Terror," White House news release, Dec. 4, 2001, at
[47] Los Angeles Times, Dec. 7, 2001.
[48] "Dr. Abou El Fadl's Response to CAIR," July 20, 2002, at
[49] Daniel Pipes, "CAIR's Saudi Masters," weblog entry, June 5, 2003, at
[50] Daniel Pipes, "An American Rushdie?" The Jerusalem Post, July 4, 2001.
[51] Council on American-Islamic Relations-Southern California Action Alert, "CAIR Demands Removal of Billboard Stereotyping Muslims," Oct. 28, 1998.
[52] Daniel Pipes, "CAIR's Legal Tribulations," weblog entry, June 27, 2003, at
[53] Speech given by Omar M. Ahmad on July 2, 1998, reported in San Ramon Valley Herald, July 4, 1998.
[54] Jake Tapper, "Islam's Flawed Spokesmen,", Sept. 26, 2001, at
[55] Ahmed Nassef, "Listen to Muslim Silent Majority in US," The Christian Science Monitor, Apr. 21, 2004, at
[56] "Dr. Abou El Fadl's Response to CAIR," July 20, 2002, at
[57] Council on American-Islamic Relations, "Fundraising Dinner in the Defense Fund of Ahmad Adnan Chaudhry," press release, Feb. 10, 2001.
[58] Khaled Abou El Fadl, Sohail Hashmi, Qamar-ul Huda, and Zainab Al-Suwaij, "Islam and the Prospects for Democracy," Center Conversations, Ethics and Public Policy Center, Oct. 20, 2003, at
[59] For a premier example of this, see his apologetic for Islam being democratic: Khaled Abou El Fadl, "Islam and the Challenge of Democracy," Boston Review, Apr.-May 2003, at This issue of Boston Review has been reprinted as Khaled Abou El Fadl et al., Islam and the Challenge of Democracy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004).
[60] The Toronto Star, Nov. 21, 2002.
[61] Muqtedar Khan, "The Priority of Politics," The Boston Review, Apr.-May, 2003, at
[62] I have listed a series of questions that can help to discern moderates at "Do You Believe in Modernity?" The Jerusalem Post, Nov. 26, 2003.


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