Skip to comments.Al-Sharq Al-Awsat Publishes Extracts from Al-Jihad Leader Al-Zawahiri's New Book
Posted on 12/29/2002 11:36:50 AM PST by Ranger
Al-Sharq Al-Awsat Publishes Extracts from Al-Jihad Leader Al-Zawahiri's New Book
Document Number: FBIS-NES-2001-1202 Document Date: 02 Dec 2001 Sourceline: GMP20011202000399 London Al-Sharq al-Awsat in Arabic 02 Dec 01 p 6 Language: Arabic Subslug: Part one of serialized excerpts from Egyptian Al-Jihad Organization leader Ayman al-Zawahiri's book "Knights Under the Prophet's Banner"
[FBIS Translated Text] London-Al-Sharq al-Awsat-- Al-Sharq al-Awsat has obtained a copy of a book that is regarded as the "last will" of Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri, Usama Bin Ladin's primary ally and leader of the Egyptian Al-Jihad Organization. In the book, the second most wanted man by the United States talks about important stages in his life, his "Afghan Arab" companions, and the reason why [Islamist] movements are inimical to the United States.
In the introduction to the book Al-Jihad leader says: "I have written this book for an additional reason, namely, to fulfill the duty entrusted to me towards our generation and future generations. Perhaps I will not be able to write afterwards in the midst of these worrying circumstances and changing conditions. I expect that no publisher will publish it and no distributor will distribute it."
In the book that is entitled "Knights Under the Prophet's Banner" Al-Zawahiri recounts the events of the Al-Jihad Organization's early years as he experienced them, beginning with his joining the first Al-Jihad cell in Cairo in 1966, that is, before he completed his 16th year (Al-Zawahiri was born in 1951) and then recounts subsequent events that shook the world.
The book was smuggled by an Egyptian fundamentalist called "A.S." who is a close aide of Al-Zawahiri out of an Afghan cave in the Kandahar region to the border city of Peshawar and then to London. Al-Sharq al-Awsat will publish chapters of this book as of today.
Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri, leader of the Egyptian Al-Jihad Organization who, after Usama Bin Ladin, is the second most wanted man in the world by the United States, is hiding either in a cavern or hideout in the mountains surrounding Kandahar, the spiritual capital of Taliban ruler Mullah Omar, or in a hideout somewhere near the Pakistani border. It is not unlikely that the thunder of the bombs dropped by the US aircraft that are pounding Afghanistan close to his hideout is disturbing his thoughts as he writes his next book, whose last chapters might be about to be completed. This second book is about the 11 September 2001 events and the US air strikes that have caused the death of dozens of al-Qa'ida leaders, notably Abu-Hafs al-Masri, Bin Ladin's brother-in-law and the clandestine organization's former military commander; Nasr Fahmi Nasr, Al-Jihad Organization's financial official; and Tariq Anwar, the official in charge of special operations.
In the new book that, according to fundamentalist sources in London, has not yet come out, Al-Zawahiri speaks about the Al-Jihad Organization in Egypt, the reasons for his personal emigration from Egypt, and the waging of a battle under Bin Ladin's command against the "distant enemy," a battle that has ruined everything in Afghanistan, led to the death of approximately 15 of Al-Jihad's leading figures, and dealt a blow to the Taliban.
Fundamentalist sources believe that Al-Zawahiri's next book will not be less sensational than the book "Meditations Under the Roof of the World" written by the "Arab Afghans'" primary theoretician and thinker Abu-al-Walid, an Egyptian fundamentalist wanted by the United States. He is very close to Bin Ladin and Mullah Omar.
Al-Zawahiri, who comes from a wealthy Egyptian family, joined the ranks of the opponents of the late Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat when he was only 16 [as published; when Al-Sadat became President, Al-Zawahiri was already 20, since he was born in 1951]. He was later imprisoned on the charge of involvement in Al-Sadat's assassination.
Al-Zawahiri formed a group all of his own, of which he was the leader [amir]. It included his brother Muhammad, nicknamed the Engineer, who was extradited by the United Arab Emirates to Egypt in 2000.
Prior to October 1981 [month in which Al-Sadat was assassinated] Al-Zawahiri was introduced to military intelligence officer Abbud al-Zumar, who persuaded him to join Abd-al-Salam Faraj's group. Al-Zawahiri was arrested in connection with the assassination of former President Anwar al-Sadat and spent three years in jail. In 1985 he left Egypt for Peshawar and there he succeeded in uniting the Afghan Arab groups.
Al-Zawahiri heads a list of 14 persons wanted by Egypt because of their involvement in violent attacks. The list includes Yasir Sirri, director of the Islamic Surveillance Center in London (currently detained at Britain's Peal Marsh jail on the charge of involvement in assassinating the Afghan military commander Ahmad Shah Masoud). Egyptian military courts have passed both a death sentence and a life imprisonment verdict in absentia against Sirri. Others names on the list include Adil al-Sayyid Ahmad; and Mustafa Hamzah, alias Abu-Hazim, whom Egypt accuses of planning an assassination attempt against President Husni Mubarak in Addis Ababa and who is described by certain sources as the commander of the Islamic Group's military wing. Other names include Tharwat Shihatah, Rifa'i Taha, Isam al-Ghamri, Husayn Shamit, Muhammad al-Islambuli (brother of Al-Sadat's assassin), and Adil Abd-al-Majid Abd-al-Bari (currently detained at Brixton jail southwest of London, pending a decision on a US extradition request on charges of colluding with Bin Ladin.)
Although Al-Zawahiri has appeared on numerous occasions to be al-Qa'ida's deputy leader, it appears that he is the real leader from behind a veil, and, according to a London fundamentalist "Al-Zawahiri is behind the deep-rooted hatred of the United States and the West in Bin Ladin's heart."
Despite all these circumstances, Al-Zawahiri has elected to come forward before the public in the past few weeks with a book that has been smuggled from an Afghan cave to the border city of Peshawar and then to London. In the book he recounts his personal history and tells of events, as he personally experienced them, beginning with his joining the first jihad cell in Cairo in 1966, that is before he completed his 16th year (he was born in 1951), and incidents that shook Egypt and the world, including President Al-Sadat's assassination and ending with the current events on Afghan territory. He presents his views on some controversial issues that were raised throughout his personal life journey, such as the disagreements over the manner to deal with Al-Sadat and the dispute that erupted between the pillars of the Al-Jihad and Islamic Group organizations inside the Turrah prison after the Egyptian authorities arrested their members in the wake of the viewing stand incident [reference to Al-Sadat's assassination during a military parade].
The book is divided into three sections, has the title "Knights Under the Prophet's Banner", and the substitle "Meditations on the Jihadist Movement". The title describes the contents of the book. The knights to whom he alludes are the leaders and members of the fundamentalist movements. It can be noticed that the title is a response to a name widely used in the Middle Ages to describe "the Knights of the Holy Tomb", during the Crusades in the Middle East.
Al-Zawahiri's book has 21 chapters in some of which he talks about his old colleagues, particularly Yahya Hashim, a prosecutor who persuaded Al-Zawahiri in the late 1960s to join his jihadist cell. He devotes an entire chapter to his former comrade Isam al-Qamari, an officer in the Egyptian Armed Forces' armored corps, who was killed while trying to escape from Turrah prison in the wake of Al-Sadat's assassination. Everyone who has followed the birth and development of radical Islamist movements knows about the close bonds between Al-Zawahiri and Al-Qamari.
Al-Zawahiri devotes another full chapter to the bombing of the Egyptian Embassy in Islamabad by Al-Jihad members. He devotes two chapters to those whom he describes as "the enemies of Islam, Jews and Americans."
Perhaps Al-Zawahiri has produced only a few books because he was occupied in organizational work and in rebuilding the Al-Jihad Organization after traveling to Afghanistan in the wake of the crackdown on Al-Jihad following Al-Sadat's assassination. The circumstances through which he lived in Afghanistan also did not give him time to write much.
However, the 11 September events increased his book sales in London's Islamic bookshops including his famous work "Bitter Harvest" in which he discusses the Muslim Brotherhood's relationship with the Egyptian authorities in the eras of King Faruq and Presidents Jamal Abd-al-Nasir and Anwar al-Sadat. The book contains sharp criticism of the Muslim Brotherhood's leading figures. Other books include "The Black Book", and "Allaying the Anger in the Believers' Hearts". This last book examines shari'ah rulings on "martyrdom operations."
Al-Zawahiri never failed to comment on the positions adopted by other fundamentalist movements, such as the Islamic Group that was behind a strategic turning point when it adopted a historic decision in March 1999 to halt all military operations inside and outside Egypt, in response to a peace initiative that the Islamic Group's traditional leaders presented in July 1997.
Bin Ladin's Physician [subhead]
In a special chapter called "Afghanistan: Emigration and Preparation", the Al-Jihad Organization leader talks about the causes that led fundamentalists in general, but particularly the members of Al-Jihad Organization, to join the war in Afghanistan. He also outlines the premises from which Al-Jihad members proceeded when, in cooperation with Bin Ladin, they formed "The Global Front for Fighting Jews and Crusaders" in 1998. Afterwards they directed their operations against US targets.
In the book's introduction Al-Zawahiri says: "I have written this book to fulfill a duty entrusted to me towards our generation and future generations. Perhaps I will not be able to write later on in the midst of these worrying circumstances and changing conditions."
He adds: "I have written this book although I expect no publisher to publish it or a distributor to distribute it."
For this reason, some people are looking on this book/memoirs as a "last will."
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) regards Ayman al-Zawahiri as Bin Ladin's right-hand man and the mastermind of the bombing of the US embassies in Nairobi (Kenya) and Dar el Salam (Tanzania) in August 1998. Ayman al-Zawahiri and his brother Muhammad (the Engineer) headed the list of suspects in the "returnees from Albania" case before a Cairo military court in April 1999. Al-Zawahiri received a death in sentence in absentia in that case. There were also other Islamists on the list of suspects in that case who had come from several Arab capitals and from Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, and Albania.
According to fundamentalist sources in London, Al-Zawahiri apparently filled a vacuum in Bin Ladin's life to the point that when he was arrested in Cairo in 1996, Bin Ladin paid the bail to have him released. Later the two left together for Afghanistan where they apparently planned the bombing of the two US embassies in Nairobi and Dar el Salam in 1998.
In the book "Knights Under the Prophet's Banner," Al-Zawahiri discusses the religious opinion [fatwa] pertaining to the killing of Americans, which contravenes the principles of Islamic shari'ah and also contradicts the strategy and traditions of Al-Jihad Organization itself that argue that (fighting the near enemy is better than fighting the distant enemy). That strategy is the main pillar of Al-Jihad's ideology as outlined in the book "The Unfulfilled Duty" by Muhammad Abd-al-Salam Faraj, an electrical engineer, who was executed in the Al-Sadat assassination case.
Fundamentalist sources maintain that "Al-Zawahiri's signing of the statement of 'The Global Front for Fighting Jews and Crusaders' in February 1998 was an ill-omened act for Al-Jihad Organization because it caused the rapid downfall of the most prominent leaders of the group who were residing abroad, and members of the group who were living in other Arab countries were extradited to Egypt.
The fundamentalists say that Al-Zawahiri's signing of that famous statement caused the US authorities to escalate their efforts against the group's members in Europe. (The US authorities are now asking for the extradition of two Al-Jihad leaders who are held in Brixton jail, Adil Abd-al-Majid Abd-al-Bari and former Egyptian artillery officer Ibrahim Idrus. Both of them are waiting for the House of Lords' ruling on their extradition to the United States along with another suspect, Khalid al-Fawwaz)
The fundamentalist sources add that the US authorities' pursuit of the organization's leaders after the bombings of the Nairobi and Dar el Salam embassies in August 1998 led to the collapse of the organization's secret bases in Western capitals. Several of the organization's most prominent leaders were arrested in Albania and deported to Egypt in connection with the "returnees from Albania" case. What made the organization's ordeal worse was the unexpected appearance of prominent Al-Jihad figure Ahmad Salamah Mabruk, Al-Zawahiri's right-hand man, at the Huckstep Military Court north of Cairo, against whom an earlier death sentence had been passed in absentia. During the new trial Mabruk revealed damaging information about the group's leaders.
A Look Back to the Past [subhead]
In a prologue to the first section of the book that carries the title "A Look Back to the Past", Al-Zawahiri says: It is important to me at first to answer three questions about this book. Who wrote it? Why did he write it? For Whom did he write it?
About himself as the author, Al-Zawahiri says: "It is a man who professes to have a connection with the mujahidin and to have forged a bond with them. He hopes to spend whatever is left of his life in serving the cause of Islam in its ferocious war against the tyrants of the new Crusade. He wrote it while being a wanted man, a fugitive."
Why did he write this book? Why at this particular time? What benefit will it bring to the reader? What can it add to the large flood of daily books? The answer is: This book was written in an attempt to revive the Muslim nation's awareness of its role and duty, its importance, and the duties that it needs to perform. The book also explains the extent of the new Crusaders' enmity to the Muslim nation and this nation's need to see the dividing line between its enemies and loyal subjects.
Al-Zawahiri adds: "We need to admit that successful attempts have been made to infiltrate our ranks, that these attempts have attracted some of our prominent names, and our enemies have added them to the crowds that serve their purposes, including the writers of falsehoods, those who exploit principles for personal gain, and those who sell their fatwas [religious rulings] as commodities."
In the book's introduction Al-Zawahiri explores the 11 September events and the subsequent air strikes against Afghanistan by saying: "This book has been written as a warning to the forces of evil that lie in wait for this nation. We tell them: The nation is drawing closer every day to its victory over you and is about to inflict its rightful punishment [qasas] on you step by step; your battle against this nation is destined to lead to inevitable defeat for yourselves, and all your efforts are no more than an attempt to delay this nation's victory, not to prevent it."
Al-Zawahiri describes this stage as "the stage of the global battle, now that the forces of the disbelievers have united against the mujahidin."
He adds: "The battle today cannot be fought on a regional level without taking into account the global hostility towards us."
He declares: "In writing this book, I have sought to explain some of the features of the currently raging epic battle, and to alert the readers to the hidden and open enemies, their wolves and their foxes, so that they can be on their guard against the brigands who wish to rob them."
Al-Zawahiri gives the following description of the caders of the fundamentalist organizations, perhaps with particular emphasis on the Arab Afghans: "They possess a quality that their enemies cannot hope to acquire. They are the people who most eloquently bear witness to their God's power, Who has given them a strength drawn from His Own strength, until they have turned from a scattered few who possess little and know little, into a power that is feared and that threatens the stability of the new world order."
Al-Zawahiri adds: "I have also written this book to perform my duty to our generation and the generations that will follow. Perhaps I will not be able to write more amid all these worrying circumstances and changing conditions that remind me of Al-Mutanabbi's [famous Arab poet] words: A stranger without friends in every town he visits; whenever the need becomes greater, the number of those who can help grows smaller."
To Whom Did Al-Zawahiri Write the Book? [subhead]
As to the audience to whom he wrote the book, Al-Zawahiri says: "I wrote this book so that it will be read by two kinds of people. The first is the intellectual group, the mujahidin group. For this reason I have sought to write it in a clear, simple style and avoided the methods and inferences of specialists."
He adds that he "could not gather enough documentation necessary for this kind of analytical writing because of the lack of stability in Afghanistan." He points out that "furthermore, the author possesses only his testimony which he cannot provide in detail because many of its characters are still in the midst of battle, and many of its events are still interacting in the field."
Towards the end of the book's introduction, Al-Zawahiri describes himself as "an emigrant fugitive, who gives his backing to other emigrants and mujahidin; he strengthens their resolve, and reminds them of God's bountiful mercy."
The Al-Jihad leader says that the name "Arab Afghans" is a tendentious description because these mujahidin have never been solely Arab, but mujahidin from all parts of the Islamic world, though the Arabs have been a distinctive element in this group."
He adds: "These young men have revived a religious duty of which the nation had long been deprived, by fighting in Afghanistan, Kashmir, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Chechnya."
He remarks: "In the training camps and on the battlefronts against the Russians, the Muslim youths developed a broad awareness and a fuller realization of the conspiracy that is being weaved. They developed an understanding based on shari'ah of the enemies of Islam, the renegades, and their collaborators."
He continues: "Of course the world order was not going to accept the existence of this growing phenomenon of Arab Afghans that is rebellious against it and a threat to its existence, especially after Western and, later, communist occupation made continuous efforts over an entire century to subjugate the Muslim nations with regulations, laws, forged elections, states of emergency, and immigration and naturalization laws."
He points out that the reaction to the Arab Afghans began with their expulsion from Pakistan in the early 1990s and reached its peak in 1992.
Al-Zawahiri says: "It is an irony of fate that Pakistan's secular government expelled to an unknown destination the very persons who had defended its borders. On the Afghan side of the Torkham border crossing between Pakistan and Afghanistan stands a cemetery that contains the remains of more than 100 Arab mujahidin from Afghanistan. It stands as a witness to the Pakistani Government's attitude to those who defended its borders against the communist threat."
Al-Zahahiri says: "Now the Arab Afghans have become dispersed throughout the world. Some are refugees, some immigrants, some living in hiding, some captives, some dead, some carrying arms to defend yet another Muslim front, and some have despaired and are trying to return to a normal life after seeing the enemies' viciousness and the ferocity with which they pursue the mujahidin."
He adds: "The Arab and Western media are responsible for distorting the image of the Arab Afghans by portraying them as obssessed half-mad people who have rebelled against the United States that once trained and financed them. This lie was repeated more frequently after the Arab Afghans returned to Afghanistan for the second time in the mid-1990s in the wake of the bombing of the US embassies in Nairobi and Dar el Salam."
According to the leader of the Egyptian Al-Jihad Organization, the purpose of the distortion campaign against the Arab Afghans is clear and obvious, namely, the wish of the United States to deprive the Muslim nation of the honor of heroism and to pretend to be saying: Those whom you consider heroes are actually my creation and my mercenaries who rebelled against me when I stopped backing them."
Al-Zawahiri says: "This lie is self-contradictory. If the Arab Afghans are a US creation, why did the United States seek to expel them over a period of two years?"
He adds: "The truth that everyone should learn is that the United States did not give one penny in aid to the mujahidin."
He quotes the declaration of his primary ally Bin Ladin: "The financial aid to the Afghans from popular Arab sources amounted to $200 million in 10 years."
Al-Zawahiri explains: "If the Arab Afghans are the mercenaries of the United States who have now rebelled against it, why is the United States unable to buy them back now? Would not buying them be more economical and less costly than the security and prevention budget that it is paying to defend itself now?"
[Description of Source: London Al-Sharq al-Awsat in Arabic -- Influential Saudi-owned London daily providing independent coverage of Arab and international issues; editorials reflect official Saudi views on foreign policy.]