al qaida camel 311.
(photo credit: Associated Press)
LONDON - A former jihadist leader who spent several years with Osama bin Laden
published an open letter on Friday calling for him to end al- Qaida’s “armed
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Noman Benotman, a former senior leader of the Libyan Islamic
Fighting Group who in the 1990s spent several years with bin Laden in
Afghanistan and Sudan, published the letter through the London-based
anti-extremism think tank Quilliam Foundation.
Published in Arabic,
English and Urdu, Benotman asks his former friend and colleague to call off his
armed struggle, beginning with a unilateral six-month cease-fire to allow
al-Qaida’s leaders’ time to reconsider their direction and understanding of
“I recommend that al-Qaida announce a unilateral halt to its
military operations for a period of six months to take a step back from fighting
to study and consider the organization’s vision, approach and strategy; to
explore public opinion in Muslim communities around the world and seek the
guidance of those Islamic scholars who have rejected his approach and concept of
Jihad,” Benotman said.
“Your actions have harmed millions of innocent
Muslims and non- Muslims alike. How is this Islam or jihad? For how much longer
will al- Qaida continue to bring shame on Islam, disrupt ordinary Muslims’
lives, and be the cause of global unrest? “What has the September 11 brought to
the world except mass killings, occupations, destruction, hatred of Muslims,
humiliation of Islam, and a tighter grip on the lives of ordinary Muslims by the
authoritarian regimes that control Arab and Muslim states?” he asked.
open letter will be circulated on jihadist Web forums and through the
The missive also reveals that before 9/11, bin
Laden’s plans to launch worldwide attacks in defiance of the Taliban were
strongly opposed by individuals within al-Qaida, including Abu Muhammad
al-Zayyat, the head of al-Qaida’s security committee.
Benotman was appointed as senior analyst at Quilliam.
He heads the
foundation’s work on the de-radicalization processes in the UK and the
foundation’s outreach to current and former extremists. The former jihadist is
able to use his inside knowledge of jihadist groups and al-Qaida in his
Benotman said: “I have written this letter because I believe that
it is time to start a debate within Muslim communities about terrorism,
extremism and its effects. The news today of an American preacher planning to
burn the Koran shows the damage that al-Qaida has done to the image of Islam and
Muslims in the West.
“We also need to start a debate with bin Laden
himself. He is not a prophet, he is just a human being.
We need to begin
a debate with him, to make him change his mind.
American bombs have not
made him change his mind, but maybe our words will. Al-Qaida has been
before, but this time the criticism is coming from someone who was there
them, in Afghanistan, in the fight against the Soviet Union and
Benotman said it is time for the violence and killing to
“Also, I hope this letter will give hope to Muslim scholars and
others who are already fighting against al- Qaida. They need to know
are not alone. We, as Muslims, have to say that enough is enough, it is
the violence and killing to stop,” he declared.