Al-Qaeda”s Secret Emails Part Four
Al Zawahiri justifies suicide operation against the Egyptian Embassy in Pakistan and accuses Cairo ’s intelligence services of sodomizing a son of an Islamic Jihad member.
In a series of private documents obtained by Asharq Al Awsat from the house of Islamic militant leaders in London , the leader of Islamic Jihad in Egypt and ally of Osama bin Laden, Ayman al Zawahiri, outlines the political and legal guidelines of the organization. The banned group distributed these strategies to its members for examination prior to the attack on the Egyptian Embassy in Islamabad , in 1995.
In a booklet written by al Zawahiri and baring his name, distributed among a narrow circle of associates across Pakistan and Afghanistan, al Zawahiri discussed the reasons that prompted Islamic Jihad to blow up the Egyptian Embassy in the Pakistani capital, which he described as a “martyrdom operation.”
Entitled “Series of Mujadeen Publications” and numbered 11, the booklet is composed of one hundred and forty two pages. It focuses on endorsing suicide missions (referred to in the document as martyrdom operations) from a legal Islamic perspective. These operations were later carried out by al Qaeda members in the attacks on September 11.
The document examines, in a whole chapter, the legality of killing Muslims and non-believers in situations where they are together. This served as a justification of the killing of Muslims during the attacks on US cities in September 11, 2001 . Al Zawahiri justifies his position with legal and jurisprudence evidence, revealing that two men from Islamic Jihad carried out the bombing in Islamabad . In his view, they represent “a generation of Muhajedeen who has decided to sacrifice itself and its property in the name of God. This is because death and martyrdom are a weapon against tyrants and those who help them.”
According to al Zawahiri, the suicide mission against his country’s Embassy dispel the myth of “Abd al Mamur”, where individuals convince themselves they were free of responsibility as long as their crimes are in obedience of their masters. The term, the Islamic Jihad leader added, originated at the time of the Pharaohs, when the worshiped deity wasn’t Allah. It states that if an individual is obeying an order, from a Pharaoh, a President, a Minister, a member of the regime, he will not be held accountable for his actions.
Killing innocent Egyptians, al Zawahiri wrote, is morally and religious justifiable, because the staff, diplomats, and guards who perished at the Embassy in Pakistan supported the Egyptian government. His country’s authorities, he continued, had prevented the rule of Islam, imposed a secular constitution, and didn’t follow the laws of God. The government has also opened its prisons to militant Muslims, with al Zawahiri estimating the number of detainees was as high sixty thousand.
No branch of the Egyptian government was sparred attack by al Zawahari. He criticized the Minster of Information, Safwat al Sharif, the army and police forces, the justice system, the public prosecutor’s office, and the ulema (religious scholars) whom he calls “pure evil”. However, al Zawahiri reserved the bulk of his accusations to the officials in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs because, in his view, they are the ones carrying out policies that behenfit regimes opposed to Islam. They are also responsible, he continued, for pursuing Mujahedeens abroad and scheming to abduct them and arrest them; with the capture of the official spokesman of Islamic Jihad, Talat Fuad Qasem (Abu Talal al Qasimi) in Croatia being a prime example.
Islamic Jihad had discovered several cases, al Zawahiri claimed in his writings, where members of the Egyptian Intelligence Services had infiltrated the group and were engaged in deviant sexual practices with its members. This refers to a story of a young boy, the son of a senior Islamic Jihad commander when al Zawahiri and bin Laden were living in Sudan , who was recruited by Egyptian Intelligence. The boy was later sentenced to death and his father resigned from the organization.
Sources close to Islamic militant groups, in London , told us about a twenty-two page pamphlet Islamic Jihad distributed at the end of 1994. In it, al Zawahiri justifies the death sentences meted out to young boys in the organization. One of them was the son of Abu al Faraj al Masri and the other, the son of Mohammed Sharaf, a senior member in the group’s Legal and Justice Committee.
Allegedly, Intelligence officers sodomized the seventeen year old boy and videotaped the sexual acts to blackmail the youth and force him to spy on behalf of the Egyptian government and penetrate the homes of the leaders of Islamic Jihad to collect information on their codenames, their whereabouts, and which passports they were using.
Al Zawahiri states in the pamphlet that videotaping the sexual attacks on Ahmad, the son of a leader from Alexandria , and Musab, the son of Abu al Faraj, aimed at controlling the boys so they would follow orders from the Intelligence Services.
The sources also revealed that the Egyptian security services, operating in Sudan , ere aware al Zawahiri was living in the country. They hadn’t believed the lies that Islamic Jihad propagated about a leadership meeting in Switzerland , in 1993. Instead, the Interior Minister at the time, Hassan al Alfi, was informed of the movements of members inside Egypt and abroad. For its part, the group didn’t believe the extent of government penetration which was most damaging to its leadership.
An Egyptian Islamist who was close to the group at the time said that Islamic Jihad found out much later that government spies had rented a house directly opposite al Zawahiri’s residence in Khartoum. He added that the collaboration between the two youths, Musab and Ahmad, and the Egyptian government led to the arrest of a senior commander in an Arab country who was taken to Cairo after being detained for fifrty days. This success came after Musab sifted through his father’s, Abu Al Faraj, belongings and photocopied important documents. Musab was also able to obtain details about forged passports members of Islamic Jihad were using to travel he passed on to the authorities.
In the end, the Egyptian Islamist said, it was Sudan ’s Intelligence services that discovered Musab was a mole after following him and seeing him make contact with Egyptian officials. They duly informed the leadership of Islamic Jihad and advised them to give the boy a second chance after he repents.
After he was caught, Musab was tried in front of Islamic Jihad’s Legal Committee. The source in London told us of a videotape documenting the trial. In it, Musab is questioned about the bag of explosives found on him, by Tariq Anwar, an al Qaeda operational planner, and Mohammed Salah, finance and media official in al Qaeda, both killed in US airstrikes on Khost, in Afghanistan . Musab was supposed to place the explosives in the room where the groups’ Shura Council (consultative council) would be meeting in Khartoum .
In the videotape, Musab confesses to working for the Egyptian government and reveals the details of his relationship with the security forces. He is then sentenced to death. The sentence given to the young men was contrary to the recommendations of the Sudanese government. It signaled an end to the strategic alliance between the organization and the authorities in Khartoum who accused al Zawahiry of being “a state within a state”.
According to a source present at the meeting with the security forces close to the Islamist leader Dr. Hassan al Turbai, now imprisoned in Sudan, al Zawahiri responded, “We apply the law, first, to ourselves. If not, how can we apply it to others?” This led Khartoum to order members of the group to leave the country immediately. As a result, the leadership split up between Yemen , Jordan , and Afghanistan .
With regard to the attack on the embassy in Pakistan , al Zawahiri discussed the repercussions on the bombing in the document obtained by Asharq Al Awsat. He affirmed that Islamic Jihad had acted legally, given that the embassy was spying on “Afghan Arabs” (Arabs who traveled to Afghanistan to fight the Soviet invasion and embark on jihad or religious struggle). “We know who they are and will not be long until they will be brought to account”, he wrote.
As such, the bombing in Islamabad , was “a response to the Egyptian authorities who had claimed that militant activity has stopped with the Mujahedeen failing and fleeing abroad.” For al Zawahiri, this was a laughable statement. He added that militant fighters would not wait for directives from anyone and are already selecting targets.
He referred to the Khan al Khalili bombing in 1996 and the subsequent imprisonment of Egyptian militant Abd al Majid Abdel Bari , accused of carrying it out. This was proof, he added, of the existence of Mujahedeen inside Egypt .
In addition, Al Zawahiri addressed his followers, telling them to persevere and never give up their faith, by repeating the story of the people of the ditch, when believers had willingly accepted to sacrifice their lives by being burnt to death in the pits of fire instead of turning away from the faith. He also cited verses from the Quran and gave reasons why “martyrdom” operations are approved of in Islamic Law.
Attempting to further drum up support amongst his followers, al Zawahiri recounts the actions of militant leader Ibrahim Salamah during the battle of Al Jamaliyah on 23rd October 1981 , when Issam al Qamari, an active officer in the Egyptian Army at the time, Nabil Salamah, and Nabil al Naim, fought with the authorities. When a hand grenade fell from Salamah’s hand, with its safety pin already pulled. The latter threw himself into the path of the exploding device and was killed instantly, saving his friends. This heroic act was celebrated by al Zarqawi who described those killed in the operation as “the Knights of Islam”.
In a telephone conversation with “Asharq Al Awsat”, Hani al Sabai, an Egyptian Islamist lawyer and Director of Al Maqrizi Center for Historical Studies, in London , said books such as the ones written by al Zawahiri had a variety of aims. Islamic Jihad sought to encourage awareness of its objectives amongst the young and ensure intellectual unity in its rank and file.
Al Sabai adds that one of the most prominent books published by Islamic Jihad is “Al Umdah fi Idad al Uddah” (The main issues in the preparation of equipment) written by Dr. Abdel Aziz bin Abdel Salam, also known as Dr. Sayyid Fadl, a surgeon and the former leader of Islamic Jihad, until his resignation in 1993. He is considered one of the most prominent founders of Islamic Jihad because of his seminal book, “Talab al Ilm al Sharif” (the noble quest for knowledge). The book, in two volumes is regarded by Al Sabai as the ultimate introduction to the path of the organization.
Fadl had resigned from the leadership of Islamic Jihad in 1993 in Pakistan, after the Egyptian authorities arrested, at random, more than a thousand militants in a series of raids after the attacks on then Interior Minister Hassan al Alfi in August and the Prime Minister Atif Sidqi in November, claimed by the “Vanguards of the Islamic Conquest”, an offshoot of the organization. Sources in London disclosed that Dr. Fadl is am imam, rela name Al Sayyid Imama Abd Al Aziz. He was living in Yemen until the authorities in Sanaa handed him over to Cairo where he is currently in prison. Fadl didn’t believe in fighting the authorities because this will cause the movement to lose young members.
One of Islamic Jihad’s most prominent legal scholars, the Imam believed in educating sympathizers within the Egyptian Army until it was time for confrontation, without needing to clash violently with state institutions. After resigning, Dr. Fadl returned to writing books on legal and jurisprudence matters in Pakistan before moving to Yemen .
Below is a list of some of the books published by Islamic Jihad.
1- “Kashf al Zur wa al Buhtan” (Revealing the lies and untruths) where the organization responds to the religious scholars of Al Azhar in 1989 (The Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs), such as Sheikh Mohammed Metwalli Sharawi, Sheikh Sayyid Tantawi, and Dr. Al Tayyid al Najjar.
2- “Nash al Umma Fi Adam Jawaz Dukhul Majlis al Ummah” (Guidance to the Nation to Refrain from Entering the National Assembly), advises Muslims in Egypt to refrain from nominating themselves to Parliament.
3- “Al Hisad al Murr” (The Bitter Harvest), written by al Zawahri attacks the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt .
4- Two other books that stand out because of their provocative subjects are “Al Hadi fi Sabil al Rashad fi Maalim al Jihad” (The Guide to the Path of Reason in the Traits of the Jihad) and “Hukum al Dimuqratiyah wa Bayan Akhta al Ikhwan al Shariyah” (The Rule of Democracy and the Announcement on the Muslim Brotherhood’s Legal Mistakes).
5- “Al Hiwar Ma al Tawaghit Maqburat al Dawah wa al Duah” (A Discussion with Tyrants Represents Death for the Islamic Call and its Preachers).
6- “Al Sirriyah fi al Amal al Islami” (The Secrecy in Islamic Action) which presents the principles Islamist militant members need to abide by.
7- A provocative discussion by al Zawahiri entitled “Kalimat Haqq” (Words of the Law).
8- “Fursan That Riyyat al Nabi” (Kinights under the Banner of the Prophet) where Zawahiri devotes a chapter to Issam al Qamari who escaped from Turrah Prison.
9- A specialist book on business investments in Egypt .
Dr. al Sabai told Asharq Al Awsat “Despite everything that has happened , Dr. al Zawahiri will continue to be one of the figures head of the jihadist movement and of its most senior intellectuals. He will be respected by those who agree with him and those who do not, due to his piousness, his austerity, and his personality.”