Skip to comments.REVIEW: INSIDE AL QAEDA: How I infiltrated the World’s deadliest terrorist organisation.
Posted on 02/21/2004 9:11:13 AM PST by Valin
REVIEW: INSIDE AL QAEDA: How I infiltrated the Worlds deadliest terrorist organisation. By Mohamed Sifaoui. Granta Books, London. 2003. Published in France as Mes Freres Assassins by Le Cherche Midi 2003.
Background: February 1996. A sun- drenched spring day in Algiers. A van packed with 300 kg of TNT weaves slowly through the downtown traffic and stops outside Soir dAlgerie newspaper office as Mohamed Sifaoui steps onto the pavement outside the building. His colleague wants to share a joke.
In a flash the office explodes into flames and the air plumes with black smoke and is reduced to a pile of rubble, ashes and dust. Thirty passers-by are dead and in the debris are the bodies of two of his colleagues. Pausing to hear the joke saved his life.
February 2000. Sifaoui is now living in Paris working as a journalist, writer and documentary maker. Covering the trial of two Islamic fundamentalists in Paris he meets Islamic terrorist Karim Bouta [Bourti] a member of the Algerian terrorist group, the GSPC, The Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat, which has pledged to Al Qaeda. Bouta is also covering the trials-for operational reasons.
Inside Al Qaeda revolves from that simple twist of fate. In diary form it describes Sifaoius successful penetration of an Al Qaeda cell in Paris from October 2002 to January 2003. The author, an Algerian born Muslim with a common linguistic and cultural background to the terrorists, was able to create a successful legend and developed the operational skills to recruit Bouta the key Paris-based Islamic recruiter, fund raiser for international jihad and the keeper of the safe house keys, as an access agent.
What do we learn? From an operational perspective the book offers valuable insights into Islamic terrorist tradecraft but the real value of the book is the authors phenomenological insights into the terrorists consciousness - a consciousness formed by taqiya.
Taqiya: Islamic deception and disinformation
The terrorists Sifaoui meets are immersed in taqiya. Taqiya informs their worldview and their tradecraft and most importantly their relations with non-Muslims. Taqiya permits hypocrisy and elevates it into a virtue.
The author provides a detailed example of taqiya:
He [Boutri] displayed a hypocrisy which knew no bounds . Islamists often use dissimulation; one of their slogans is war is a ruse .
We asked him a question about the risk of a terrorist attack on France Karim tried to reassure us: he told us there was no risk to France. A few minutes later we asked:
Were you serious when you claimed that Bin Laden didnt intend to strike France? Do you think he will or not?
Oh yes, of course he will. Do you think he is just fooling around? Shall I let you hear the latest recording by the Sheikh [OBL] broadcast on Al Jazeera?
So that was all for the camera just now? Now I can tell when you are telling the truth and when you are lying.
He laughed: Ah, good! You know when I am telling the truth and when I m lying youve worked me out . He laughed again.
Karim was once again demonstrating his double-speak . What he actually believed was always the exact opposite of what he reserved for the infidels. The double speak, takiya, is what the Islamists call it, is a technique to use in times of jihad with the enemy.
The whole way through the film we made with him he unfailingly engaged in this double-speak. The first discourse was intended for me, and captured what was really in his heart, allowing a fascist, war-mongering hate-filled side to appear, in which a negation of other people was constant. The second, intended for the infidels, was smoothed out with tolerance, understanding and respect. Karim didnt infringe the rules followed by Islamists the world over whether they are self proclaimed moderates or radicals. They all employ manipulation and twin-track language. It is what they call taqiya.
Karim was demonstrating once again his double-speak, an activity at which he excelled. What he actually believed was the exact opposite of what he reserved for the infidels. The double-speak, taqiya as the Islamists call it, is a technique used in times of jihad with the enemy. Never divulging your intentions or what you really think to a non-Muslim is the rule for all fundamentalists. Thats how organisations or individuals which draw their doctrine from hard core fundamentalism obligingly allow themselves to be labelled with the qualified moderate by naive Westerners who judge them exclusively by what they say . This western naivety has allowed fundamentalist to pass themselves off as respectable characters.
Terrorist television: Al Jazeera
The author recounts meeting Boutri and listens carefully as he recounts the role of Al Jazeera:
Its time for us to take action. Karim told me.
Take action? But are we supposed to do that?
Of course, the Sheikh [OBL] has given the order'.
What? Are you in touch with Bin Laden?
No. Im not in touch with him but in the last recording of his which appeared on Al Jazeera he asked us to take action. And Karim began to explain, in fact to decode the latest message from Bin Laden these recordings also serve to serve the functions of sending messages to cells which identify with Al Qaedas struggle.
This information made me feel dizzy. Karim was apparently deciphering for me a semi-coded message from Osama bin Laden. He didnt stop there but supported his claim by citing concrete examples.
Walking with the terrorist Karim the author is greeted by the father of one of the victims of a recent terrorist attack.
That man lost his daughter, I said, searching his eyes for any hint of an emotion.
Who gives a damn about his daughter? he responded with terrible coldness. Anyway shes not even worth a prayer because shes an infidel.
On another occasion:
You can help us in another way if you want.
If you have information on prominent Algerians dont hesitate to tell me.
Why? I replied, still keeping up with my naiveté.
With a fixed grin which was telling in itself, Karim gave me a response which sent a chill down my spine.
Why do you think? To get rid of them.
A chilling current runs through his text. American Islamic leaders may claim that Islam is a peaceful religion. Perhaps moderate Islam is a contrast concept - but this book implicitly raises questions relating to the so-called moderate Islam.
Is moderate Islam an operational artefact another example of taqiya - in the same frame as the blackmail pseudo-concept of the Arab Street? Is Islam a notional religion or a power seeking political ideology in the name of religion? Is it a form of fascism? Is Islam a new or old form of anti-Semitism? Does the hatred of Israel by Arab regimes and throughout the Middle East reflect the Prophets teaching which existed hundreds of years prior to the foundation of the State of Israel? Are the so-called fundamentalists the real Muslims?
Inside Al Qaeda by Mohamed Sifaoui is essential reading for an existential and operational understanding of Al Qaeda and Islamic terrorism. This book of 154 pages could save lives and should not be merely read - but studied. We are indebted to the author - a man of honour and distinction.
Taqiya - a word to remember.
These people are cold-blooded killers, murdering for Allah.
There is no reasoning with them. None. Let's just get on with business ourselves and stop pretending there is.
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