ISIS: STATE OF TERROR
LINKSBlogs of War
Making Sense of Jihad
Views from the Occident
American Al Qaeda Members
News, documents and analysis on violent extremism
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Awlaki, Gadahn, Truthiness And Al Qaeda's War On ScholarshipAnwar Awlaki's new video reinforces a message recently sent out by Al Qaeda Central by his fellow American, Adam Gadahn. When Islamic scholarship does not support jihad, the scholars must go.
According to a translation of Awlaki's message from Flashpoint Partners:
[T]he role of fatwas is to protect Islam and not the Americans. The role of the fatwa is to protect the Sharia principles and not the governmental principles. And the person of jurisprudence, his role is to speak the truth, and not patch for the rulers and search for them for an exit every time they fall in a ditch. So if the jurist cannot speak the truth due to being forced, then we call upon the Muslims to follow behind the Ulama who do not fear in Allah the accusation of the accusers. But those who agree with the rulers on everything and are disagreeing with the Mujahideen in everything, then those are the apostate Ulama, and be aware of them.This parallels a message from Adam Gadahn last month:
[T]he Mujahideen who have gone out to defend their religion, brothers and countries against the campaign and its agents, haven't relied on one fatwa from one Alim (learned man), but rather, have depended on numerous fatwas, and moreover, on numerous proven consensuses about the obligatory nature of Jihad on individual Muslims in a number of scenarios most or all of which have occurred not just in our day, but starting from a number of decades ago at the very least.
Both Gadahn and Awlaki are keenly focused here on discrediting Muslim voices who use religious scholarship to oppose Al Qaeda's brand of military jihad. If you count Awlaki's article on the Mardin Declaration in the most recent issue of AQAP's magazine, that's three messages in two months on this subject.
In addition to the similar messaging, both Gadahn and Awlaki released their messages in Arabic rather than English, despite the fact that both are famous mostly for their English-language content speaking to American Muslims.
Although they may be trying to expand their respective followings in the Arabic-jihadi world, I would suggest this tactic is probably an effort to make them look more credible as they go after credible scholars.
Gadahn's video also featured clips of Awlaki, although Gadahn did not refer to him by name.
So what does it all mean? Here are the possibilities:
1) Awlaki and Gadahn are reacting to the same public events (the Mardin declaration) and not coordinating their messages.
2) Awlaki and Gadahn are echoing each other's messages after seeing them posted to the Web.
3) Awlaki and Gadahn are coordinating their messaging, most likely through a third party.
Obviously, options 1 and 2 are the stronger possibilities. But as I noted previously, the insertion of Awlaki clips into Gadahn's last video was a development which could point to option 3. In this context, it's worth noting that information embedded in the video file suggests Awlaki's latest message may have been recorded as early as July.
Either way, as a journalist I know that three of anything is a trend. Al Qaeda, which once tried to market itself as a home to scholars, is now running away from scholarship in a uniquely American fashion.
There is a longstanding tradition in American politics of rejecting intellectualism, scholarship and even scientific fact in favor of gut-feelings and "truthiness." So it's also fascinating that Al Qaeda's most prominent Americans are leading the charge to dumb down jihad. Who better?
FOLLOW-UP: More Ruminations on Al Qaeda's War Against Scholarship
Views expressed on INTELWIRE are those of the author alone.
Tweets referencing this post:
"...smart, granular analysis..."ISIS: The State of Terror
"Jessica Stern and J.M. Berger's new book, "ISIS," should be required reading for every politician and policymaker... Their smart, granular analysis is a bracing antidote to both facile dismissals and wild exaggerations... a nuanced and readable account of the ideological and organizational origins of the group." -- Washington Post
More on ISIS: The State of Terror
"...a timely warning..."Jihad Joe: Americans Who Go to War in the Name of Islam:
"At a time when some politicians and pundits blur the line between Islam and terrorism, Berger, who knows this subject far better than the demagogues, sharply cautions against vilifying Muslim Americans. ... It is a timely warning from an expert who has not lost his perspective." -- New York Times
More on Jihad Joe
New Awlaki Video Released, But Not By Al Qaeda in ...
YouTube's War on Awlaki: So Far, So-So
New Awlaki Video A Work In Progress
Gadahn and Awlaki, Together At Last?
What Zach Did...
Mowing Machines And Other Circus Acts
So If We DID Kill Bin Laden, What Next?
Why Two Osama bin Laden Messages Instead Of One?
Texas Deputies Shooter Linked To Republic Of Texas...
New York Pipe Bomb Suspect Linked to Revolution Muslim
The Utility of Lone Wolves
Interview with Online Jihadist Abu Suleiman Al Nasser
A Way Forward for CVE: The Five Ds
How Terrorists Use The Internet: Just Like You
PATCON: The FBI's Secret War on the Militia Movement
Interview About Jihad With Controversial Cleric Bilal Philips
Forgeries on the Jihadist Forums
U.S. Gave Millions To Charity Linked To Al Qaeda, Anwar Awlaki
State Department Secretly Met With Followers of Blind Sheikh
State Department Put 'Political Pressure' On FBI To Deport Brother-in-Law Of Osama Bin Laden In 1995
FBI Records Reveal Details Of Nixon-Era Racial Profiling Program Targeting Arabs
Gaza Flotilla Official Was Foreign Fighter in Bosnia War
U.S. Had 'High Confidence' Of UBL Attack In June 2001
Behind the Handshake: The Rumsfeld-Saddam Meeting