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

Mali's Female Basketball Players Rebound After Islamist Occupation

Islamist extremists ruled northern Mali for most of 2012, imposing strict Sharia law, and now some 18 months later, the region is slowly getting back on its feet More

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

Many Chinese-made products go unsold, for now, with numerous Vietnamese consumers still angry over recent dispute More

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies 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.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid