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The New Mastermind of Jihad


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A recently freed Islamist thinker has long advocated small-scale, independent acts of anti-Western terror




Mohamed Merah, the 23-year-old Islamist gunman who hunted down three Jewish children and a rabbi after murdering three French paratroopers in Toulouse last month, didn't act alone. In his journey from the slums of Toulouse, to the local mosques, to the terrorist training camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan that he described to French police, to filming his murder of the terrified children in order to post video clips on the web, Mr. Merah was following a path marked out years earlier by the coldblooded jihadist theoretician Abu Musab al-Suri.




Barely noticed in the midst of Mr. Assad's own brutal assaults on civilians, Mr. al-Suri's release may well contribute to the emergence of more attackers like Mr. Merah in the West. "His videos are already being reuploaded. His audios, reposted," wrote Jarret Brachman, a former CIA analyst and the former director of West Point's Center for Combating Terrorism, in a blog post after the news of Mr. al-Suri's release first appeared on jihadist sites.




In a meeting of the leadership of al Qaeda held in northern Iran in 2002, as reported by Brynjar Lia of the Norwegian Defense Research Establishment, Mr. al-Suri issued a strong call for the movement to abandon its hierarchical structure or face annihilation by the West—a call that other senior jihadists ignored. He repeated his message in his magnum opus, warning that "If we insist on using these methods under the current circumstances, it is—in my opinion—like committing suicide." Now that al Qaeda has been crippled and its leadership killed or jailed, Mr. al-Suri appears to have won both the ideological and the practical battle.




Architect of Global Jihad: The Life of Al Qaeda Strategist Abu Mus'ab Al-Suri

Brynjar Lia


I read this in 08, and found it very good. I placed it on my Should Read List, because he had been captured. Now thanks to Bashar Assad, I may have to move it up onto my Must Read List.


Addendum: While I have not read A Terrorist's Call to Global Jihad: Deciphering Abu Musab al-Suri's Islamic Jihad Manifesto it looks like it might be something to look into.

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