Tuesday, 23 April 2013

The Letters: How Al-Qaeda Failed in Mali and Somalia

Recently, two separate letters written in Arabic by Al Qaeda leaders in Mali and Somalia have surfaced. The writings paint a grim picture of the jihadist experience in both countries. The first was found in Mali, and the second is an open letter from a Somali jihadist leader to Al Qaeda supreme leader, Dr. Ayman Al-Zawahiri.
LetterThe first was discovered when reporters from the Associated Press stumbled across a collection of documents that included a letter written by Abdelmailk Droukdel, the emir of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), after that radical group was defeated in Timbuktu, Mali, by French forces. Droukdel (also known as Abu Musab Abdel Wadoud) was appointed by the late Usama Bin Laden to oversee Al Qaeda’s operations in North Africa.
The second letter is presumed to have been written by Ibrahim Haji Jama Mee’aad (Al-Afghani), who until two years ago was the deputy emir of Somalia’s Al Qaeda affiliate, Al-Shabab. The letter has appeared on several websites sympathetic to Al-Shabab and carries Al-Afghani’s nom de guerre, “Shaikh Abu Bakr Al-Zaylici.” It is an indictment of the emir of Al-Shabab, Ahmed Abdi Godane, and his brutal, secretive, “un-Islamic” and ruinous style of leadership which has had tragic repercussions on the course of jihad in Somalia.
Droukdel’s letter is a frank assessment of Al Qaeda’s brief and brutal capture of the northern part of Mali and the draconian rule that the jihadist group imposed on the people. The militants applied what they called sharia (Islamic law) by stoning adulterers, amputating the hands of thieves, whipping petty criminals, curtailing women’s activities, banning entertainment, berating and intimidating people, and destroying tombs and certain archeological sites.
In his letter, Droukdel admonished his fighters, saying that sharia was, for all practical purposes, applied too fast and in haste:  “Our previous experience showed that applying sharia this way, without taking the environment into consideration, will lead to people rejecting the religion, and engender hatred toward the mujahedeen, and will consequently lead to the failure of our experiment.” He went on to lash out at his cohorts for preventing women from going out, whipping women for not covering up, preventing children from playing, and searching people’s houses. “Your [local Al Qaeda] officials,” Droukdel commanded his followers, “need to control themselves.Continued

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