Monday, July 17, 2006

Abu Musab al-Suri: An Islamist 'Trotsky'?

Leon Trotsky (1879-1940)
(Image from Wikipedia)

The jihadist theoretician al-Suri, about whom I've recently become aware, seems rather a complex individual, even contradictory.

In Craig Whitlock's article of May 23, 2006 in the Washington Post, "Architect of New War on the West: Writings Lay OutPost-9/11 Strategy of Isolated Cells Joined in Jihad," we find this depiction (page 2):
"He's very intelligent and powerful in making his arguments," said an Arab dissident who knew Nasar well and also spoke on condition of anonymity. "But he is also a very difficult man. His tough attitude created many, many enemies for him, even in jihadi circles."

With his pale white skin and red hair, Nasar physically blended into British society more easily than many Islamic fundamentalists. But he sometimes struggled to reconcile his beliefs with his surroundings.
Whitlock gives a couple of examples (page 3):
For instance, friends said, he was well educated on the finer points of Western classical music and enjoyed talking at dinner parties about composers. But he refused to actually listen to the music, for religious reasons. And while he rejected the authority of secular institutions, he once filed a libel lawsuit in a British court against the Arabic-language newspaper al-Hayat.
I can add my own of al-Suri's contradictions. According to Dr. Brynjar Lia: "The al-Qaida Strategist Abu Mus'ab al-Suri: A Profile" (pdf, page 18):
[al-Suri] defines a long list of targets to be found in most any Western or Arab city. Despite the wide definition of legitimate targets, al-Suri strongly cautions against operations in which many ordinary Muslims, or non-hostile non-Muslims, are killed. Such attacks will play into the hands of the Crusaders [i.e., Western military forces] and undermine efforts at mobilising the Islamic umma [i.e., worldwide Muslim community] behind the jihadist call.
Yet, al-Suri also expressed harsh views (Whitlock, page 3) after the 9/11 attacks:
[al-Suri's] theories of war also called for the most deadly weapons possible. In Afghanistan, he worked with al-Qaeda leaders to train fighters in the use of "poisons and chemicals" at two camps near Jalalabad and Kabul, according to the State Department. After the Sept. 11 hijackings, Nasar [i.e., al-Suri] praised the attacks. But he said a better plan would have been to load the hijacked airplanes with weapons of mass destruction.

"Let the American people -- those who voted for killing, destruction, the looting of other nations' wealth, megalomania and the desire to control others -- be contaminated with radiation," he wrote. "We apologize for the radioactive fallout," he declared sarcastically.

Perhaps he later had second thoughts when the American reaction was to go on the offensive, invade Afghanistan, destroy al-Qaeda's bases there, depose the Taliban, and begin hunting down Islamist terrorists worldwide.

Abu Musab al-Suri reminds me of the Marxist Leon Trotsky, a brilliant strategic thinker who combined his ruthless, focused revolutionary views and practice with a broad, even sympathetic knowledge of Western history and culture, unlike many of the Russian Bolsheviks with whom he aligned himself.

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At 3:59 AM, Blogger Saur♥Kraut said...

I'd say he's a typical Muslim opportunist with little true beliefs. "And while he rejected the authority of secular institutions, he once filed a libel lawsuit in a British court against the Arabic-language newspaper al-Hayat"... How convenient.

At 5:15 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

You think that maybe he secretly listened to all those classical composers whom he so liked to talk about?

Jeffery Hodges

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