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Al-Qaeda strategist rebuts jailed militants

world Updated: Mar 03, 2008 11:35 IST
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Al-Qaeda's chief ideologue and strategist, Ayman al-Zawahri, has published a 212-page book on militant Islamic Websites slamming his former radical colleagues in Egyptian prisons for disavowing armed struggle and turning their backs against violence.

The book, released on the Websites on Sunday, is the latest salvo in an intellectual war between the ideological founders of Al-Qaeda and Islamic militancy, many of whom are have become disillusioned with the suicide bombings and attacks on civilians that have become the hallmark of the movement.

"This message that I present to the reader today is the most difficult, if not the hardest I have written in my life," al-Zawahri wrote in the introduction to "Exonerations," published by al-Sahab, Al-Qaeda's media wing.

He slammed a series of "revisions" renouncing violence published by prominent jailed Islamist thinkers, saying "it serves the interests of the Crusader-Zionist alliance with the Arab leaders to drug the mujahideen and drag them away from the confrontation."

The most recent renunciation came in 2007 from Sayed Imam, who was once a top leader in Egypt's Islamic Jihad group and an associate of al-Zawahri. Imam's writings in the 1980s laying an Islamic legal basis for violent action against "infidel" regimes were highly influential among Al-Qaeda militants. But his "revisions" argue that such violence is banned under Islamic law.

Imam followed in the footsteps of other jailed thinkers over the years from Egypt's radical groups that once fought a bloody guerrilla war against the state that resulted in over a thousand deaths and the imprisonment of tens of thousands but now condemn armed struggle.