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

    US Lawmakers Vow to Continue Immigrant Program for Afghan Interpreters

    Congressional inaction threatens funding for effort which began in 2008 and has allowed more than 20,000 interpreters, their family members to immigrate to US

    Brexit's Impact on Russia Stirs Concern

    Some analysts see Brexit aiding Putin's plans to destabilize European politics; others note that an economically unstable Europe is not in Moscow's interests

    US to Train Cambodian Government on Combating Cybercrime

    Concerns raised over drafting of law, as critics fear cybercrime regulations could be used to restrict freedom of expression and stifle political dissent

    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.
    Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roari
    X
    June 28, 2016 10:33 AM
    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora