Beware of Imitators: Al-Qa`ida through the Lens of its Confidential Secretary

Jun 04, 2012

“I should write a history of the jihadis in my time as I witnessed it and not as it is perceived by the West or those who disagree with us,” explains Fadil Harun regarding his motivation to publish his two-volume manuscript al-Harb `ala al-Islam: Qissat Fadil Harun (The War against Islam: the Story of Fadil Harun). The spirit driving Harun’s manuscript is to produce a corrective history of al-Qa`ida distinguishing it from jihadi groups acting in its name. He believed that unlike al-Qa`ida, many jihadi groups have deviated from the true path of jihad: they lack a sound ideological worldview and many of their operations, particularly those which involved resorting to “tatarrus” (i.e., the use of non-combatants as human shields), are in breach of what he deems to be “lawful jihad.” This report is a study of al-Qa`ida’s ideology, organizational structure, strengths and weaknesses through Harun’s lens and in light of captured battlefield documents.