News / Middle East

Lebanese Author Redefines al-Qaida

Hazem al-Amin signs copies of his new book, "The Lonely Salafist" in Beirut. The book aims to prove that the loss of national identity among the Palestinian diaspora has been an important factor in shaping al-Qaida.
Hazem al-Amin signs copies of his new book, "The Lonely Salafist" in Beirut. The book aims to prove that the loss of national identity among the Palestinian diaspora has been an important factor in shaping al-Qaida.
Heather Murdock

A new book by Lebanese journalist Hazem al-Amin argues that a small number of fundamentalist Palestinian leaders shaped much of what is now known as al-Qaida.  The book, titled The Lonely Salafist, says Palestinians are not the largest group among al-Qaida members, but they have often been the most influential. 

Author and journalist Hazem al-Amin calls them "the orphans of Palestine."  He's talking about the second, third and fourth generation Palestinians scattered throughout the Middle East after their families were forced to flee their homes in the 1948 and 1967 Arab-Israeli wars.  Over the years, he says, many no longer truly self-identify as Palestinians.

Fewer in numbers amongst the "orphans" are Muslim fundamentalists, who have exchanged their national identity for a broader Islamic identity. The result: Palestinian militants among the diaspora are not focused on attacking Israel, but what they perceive to be regional and global enemies.  The author says behind al-Qaida's most famous leaders, you often find Palestinian mentors quietly pulling the strings.

Al-Amin says Osama bin Laden, and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the late leader of al-Qaida in Iraq, are among the well known "stars" of al-Qaida.  But, he says, their Palestinian mentors were the keys to shaping al-Qaida's modern ideology and goals.

“The Lonely Salafist,” was released early this month. Al-Qaida's strength, according to author Hazem al-Amin, is as a set of ideas, not as an organization
“The Lonely Salafist,” was released early this month. Al-Qaida's strength, according to author Hazem al-Amin, is as a set of ideas, not as an organization
The Lonely Salafist, currently only available in Arabic, profiles several Palestinian al-Qaeda leaders, including the late Abdullah Yusuf Azzam, a sheik known as "the Godfather of Jihad," who taught Osama bin Laden.  "Jihad and the rifle alone: no negotiations, no conferences, no dialogues," was his often-quoted motto.

Al-Amin says Palestinian influence in al-Qaida does not mean the organization has a Palestinian agenda because fundamentalist leaders do not identify with their homeland.

American University in Beirut political science professor and author Hilal Khashan adds that al-Qaida may claim to want to take back what is now Israel for the Palestinian people, but its actions prove otherwise. "I think Palestine is peripheral to al-Qaida," Khashan says, "How many attacks have they launched against Israel?"

Al-Amin describes modern-day al-Qaida as more of a way of thinking than an organization.  Like computer software, any militant group can take on the al-Qaeda agenda and ideology with or without any connection to established leaders.  The author argues that what is known as the central al-Qaida organization, based in the tribal regions around the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, is weak and fragmented.  Al-Qaida as a way of thinking, he says, is a powerful threat to the Western world and to Arab governments.

Khashan argues that the strength of al-Qaida is exaggerated by Western politicians.  He says the organization has a goal- to topple Arab governments and establish an Islamic state.  But, he says, that goal is "nostalgic," not realistic."

"These are hate movements, they are anti-Western, anti-government, anti-Israeli, anti-everybody," Kashan says, "So this is their primary concern.  But I don't think their activities help their objectives, which may be unachievable."

Al-Amin says The Lonely Salafist may draw criticism from people that do not believe it is possible for someone to lose their national identity.  But he says while traveling Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen and Iraq he noticed the small, but surprisingly powerful number of Palestinian leaders in al-Qaida.  The research for the book began when he wondered why al-QaIda was not focusing on Palestine.  



You May Like

Video Snowstorm Sweeps Northeastern US

'This is nothing like we feared it would be,' New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says; he had warned storm could be one of worst in city history More

Millions of Displaced Nigerians Struggle With Daily Existence

Government acknowledges over a million people displaced in 2014 due to fight against Boko Haram insurgency More

Facebook: Internal Error to Blame for Outages

Temporary outage appeared to spill over and temporarily slow or block traffic to other major Internet sites More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid