....9/11 Was a Sin; A Shari'a Court Should Be Set Up to Hold Bin Laden and Al-Zawahiri Accountable; There Are Only Two Kinds of People in Al-Qaeda – The Ignorant and Those Who Seek Worldly Gain
Over the last few weeks, Sayyed Imam Al-Sharif, one of the least public yet most important figures in the global jihad movement, has published a long-awaited new work, Wathiqat Tarshid Al-'Aml Al-Jihadi fi Misr w'Al-'Alam ("Document of Right Guidance for Jihad Activity in Egypt and the World"), in which he calls for a stop to jihad activities in the West and also to those against the ruling regimes in Muslim countries. The new book, which Imam wrote while serving a life sentence in Egypt, was published in serial form in two Arab dailies, the Kuwaiti Al-Jarida and the Egyptian Al-Masri Al-Yawm, and has been the subject of extensive discussion and polemic among Islamists and observers of Islamist movements. The document is at once a book and a formal initiative, and the majority of leaders and members of the Jihad organization in the Egyptian prisons have signed the document and promised to stop armed activities. This entire process was facilitated by the Egyptian authorities, and the document was reviewed by a commission of Al-Azhar scholars. 
The book has generated such interest due to its author's standing and importance among radical Islamists. In addition to his given name, Sayyed Imam Al-Sharif, he is also known as "Dr. Fadl" and "'Abd Al-Qader Bin 'Abd Al-'Aziz." His 1988 book on the laws of jihad, Al-'Umda fi I'dad Al-'Udda ("The Essentials of Making Ready [for Jihad]"),was used as a jihad manual in Al-Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan.  In addition, Sayyed Imam is one of Ayman Al-Zawahiri's oldest associates. In the late 1960s, when they were both in medical school at CairoUniversity, they together formed a small Islamic studies group that later developed into one of the nuclei of the Egyptian Jihad organization. In the 1980s and early 1990s, they were together in Peshawar, where they were both leading figures among the "Afghan Arabs" and in the overseas leadership of the Egyptian Jihad; Imam is usually described as Al-Zawahiri's predecessor as Emir of the organization, though he claims that he was not the Emir, but rather the organization's shari'a guide. The two broke off contact following a bitter dispute in 1994, when Sayyed Imam accused Al-Zawahiri of having gone behind his back and published a falsified and radically abridged edition of his second book, Al-Jami' fi Talab Al-'Ilm Al-Sharif ("The Compendium on Religious Study"). Nonetheless, Imam says that in the first few years of Al-Qaeda's existence they did nothing without consulting him first.
Some of the most enthusiastic supporters of Sayyed Imam's new document have been leaders of Al-Gama'a Al-Islamiyya, another Egyptian jihad group which, in 1997, began its own process of ideological revisions. These revisions eventually led to a wide-ranging reassessment of their beliefs, and they published a number of polemical tracts against Al-Qaeda. (See MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 309, "The Al-Gama'a Al-Islamiyya Cessation of Violence: An Ideological Reversal," December 22, 2006, http://memri.org/bin/articles.cgi?Page=archives&Area=ia&ID=IA30906 .) In recent interviews and statements, members of Al-Gama'a Al-Islamiyya and other like-minded individuals have given an upbeat assessment of the new book's impact, expressing the hope that Sayyed Imam's revisions would lead to something similar in Al-Qaeda itself, or perhaps to an internal split or a weakening of support for Al-Qaeda. 
Al-Zawahiri addressed the issue of Sayyed Imam's new book even before it was published, in the course of a feature-length video produced by Al-Sahab called Quwwat Al-Haqq ("The Power of Truth"). He argued that the revisions, which he calls the "retractions," were simply the product of torture in the Egyptian prisons; he said that he didn't blame their author for having broken down, but rather those outside the prisons who were enthusiastically promoting his new book. These latter he compared to gravediggers, who as soon as they hear that someone is sick, rush to him and wait eagerly for him to die so they can earn their living by burying him.
This line of defense has since been taken up by other Al-Qaeda spokesmen and supporters.The most vocal of these is Hani Al-Siba'i, an Egyptian Islamist living in London, who appears frequently on the Arab satellite stations and in the press. He also heads the Al-MaqrezeCenter for Historical Studies, and runs the website http://www.almaqreze.net.
A third category of responses is that of independent jihadists. The most important of these to date has been Abu Basir Al-Tartusi, a prominent radical sheikh. Unlike Al-Qaeda, he does not believe that Sayyed Imam was forced to write his new book, and he offers his reasons for believing that it was written out of conviction. Also unlike Al-Qaeda, he undertakes a refutation of the central arguments in the book, and pillories Sayyed Imam for employing what are, in his opinion, weak proofs to try to stop the jihad. He accuses Sayyed Imam of going from extreme to extreme, noting that in the past both he himself and Al-Zarqawi's erstwhile mentor, Sheikh Abu Muhammad Al-Maqdisi, had criticized Sayyed Imam for being too radical and too quick to declare other Muslims apostates.  (For more on Abu Basir Al-Tartusi, see MEMRI Special Report No. 40, "Expatriate Syrian Salafi Sheikh Al-Tartusi Comes Out Against Suicide Attacks," February 10, 2006, http://memri.org/bin/articles.cgi?Page=archives&Area=sr&ID=SR4006.)
It should be noted that Sayyed Imam's revisions are less far-reaching than those of Al-Gama'a Al-Islamiyya. He does not clearly state that he no longer considers the current rulers of Muslim countries to be apostates; the reason he forbids fighting them is primarily that this jihad has little or no chance of success, and thus does more harm than good. He has also not renounced his previous writings, and claims that they were merely misunderstood. He is much clearer on other topics, like the shari'a prohibition on killing Western tourists, civilians in Western countries, and so on. The question of what precisely the document says and does not say is a complex one that will be taken up in future reports.
In the coming weeks and months, MEMRI will be providing full coverage of Sayyed Imam's new book and the reactions to it. By way of introduction, the following are excerpts from the first two segments of a six-part interview granted by Sayyed Imam to the Al-Hayat daily. In the interview, he deals at length with the 9/11 attacks, his relationship with Al-Zawahiri, and the emergence of Al-Qaeda. He describes the 9/11 attacks as betrayal and perfidy; Al-Zawahiri as a charlatan prone to betraying his friends, bin Laden as lacking a solid religious education, and Al-Qaeda as an organization without a shari'a authority and without a moral compass.
Throughout his life, Sayyed Imam has shied away from the media, and this is the first time that he has spoken openly to the press about these topics.
"Bin Laden and His Followers Lied to… [Mullah] Muhammad Omar and Betrayed Him"
Q: "What is your evaluation of the events of September , 2001?"
A: "The events of September , 2001, were betrayal of a friend and perfidy toward the enemy on the part of Al-Qaeda, and they were a catastrophe for the Muslims. All of these are traits of hypocrisy, and cardinal sins whose perpetrators are considered iniquitous - and whoever approves of their action shares their sin.
"This was betrayal of a friend, because bin Laden took the oath of allegiance to Mullah Muhammad Omar, leader of the Taliban, [and recognized him] as Commander of the Faithful in the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. [Bin Laden] lived under his protection, and [Mullah] Muhammad Omar refused to hand over bin Laden to anyone.
"More than once [Mullah] Muhammad Omar ordered [bin Laden] not to clash with America, saying that he didn't have the capabilities for this, especially since Afghanistan and its people were the ones who paid the price for bin Laden's bombings in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam in 1998.
"Bin Laden and his followers lied to their Emir [Mullah] Muhammad Omar, betrayed him, violated [their] oath of allegiance to him, and carried out the events of 9/11 behind his back after having plotted them for more than two years in his country, Afghanistan, after Khalid Sheikh [Muhammad] suggested the idea to bin Laden. The Prophet said, 'Whoever defies [a ruler] has no excuse when he meets Allah'…"
"The Followers of Bin Laden Entered America… and Acted Perfidiously Toward Its People"
"This was perfidy towards the enemy, because they entered America with a visa, which is a contract of protection. There is no dispute about this among the scholars - even… [if someone] forges the signature of the residents of [the Abode of] War, and they believe it to be authentic, and then he enters their land, he is forbidden to betray them in anything - their lives, their honor, their property, without any distinction between combatants (military) and non-combatants (civilians) among the residents of [the Abode of] War, as long as he remains in their country…
"The followers of bin Laden entered America with his knowledge and by his order, and they acted perfidiously towards its people, and killed and destroyed… Then they called their treachery and their perfidy a 'raid' in order to compare their actions to the Prophet's raids. To tie their perfidy and treachery to the Prophet is to diminish him and to mock him, and the punishment for diminishing the worth of the Prophet is well-known to Muslims; Qadi 'Iyyad mentioned it in Al-Shifa, and Ibn Taymiyya in Al-Sarim Al-Maslul."
A Shari'a Court Should be Established to Hold Bin Laden and Al-Zawahiri Accountable
Q: "What was the extent of the impact of these events on the situation of Muslims in the world?"
A: "It was a catastrophe for the Muslims. [Al-Qaeda] ignited strife that found its way into every home, and they were the cause of the imprisonment of thousands of Muslims in the prisons of various countries. They caused the death of tens of thousands of Muslims - Arabs, Afghans, Pakistanis, and others. The Taliban's Islamic Emirate was destroyed, and Al-Qaeda was destroyed. They were the direct cause of the American occupation of Afghanistan and other heavy losses which there is not enough time to mention here. They bear the responsibility for all of this."
Q: "What is your opinion on the way in which bin Laden and Al-Zawahiri have managed the war against the Americans?"
A: "Bin Laden, Al-Zawahiri, and others fled at the beginning of the American bombing [in Afghanistan], to the point of abandoning their wives and families to be killed along with other innocent people.
"I think that a shari'a court should be established, composed of reliable scholars, to hold these people accountable for their crimes - even if in absentia - so that those who are ignorant in their religion do not repeat this futility.
"The Taliban used to punish a woman who left her house with her face uncovered - so how could the leaders of Al-Qaeda not be held accountable - they who caused the destruction of their country, the spilling of their blood, the destruction of their houses, whose children were orphaned and wives widowed - all of this in disobedience to their Emir?..."
"Many Ignorant People Admired Al-Qaeda's Actions Due to Their Lack of Knowledge in the Shari'a"
Q: "But some Islamists still praise what happened, despite the consequences."
A: "Many ignorant people admired Al-Qaeda's actions due to their lack of knowledge in the shari'a and their lack of knowledge concerning the conditions [required] for actions [to be permitted] and their true shari'a definitions.
"The peoples are ruled by emotions and think with their ears and not with their minds - that is, they admire what they hear without considering its true nature in their minds.
"What induces people to do this is their hatred for America. They don't see any good from it. Al-Qaeda plays on this chord just like Saddam Hussein, Ahmadinejad, and others do. America always supports Israel. Even [America's foreign] aid, the common people don't notice it, since it is either old weapons that America gets rid of to provide work for its factories, or old stocks of wheat it wants to get rid of, or birth control pills. This is American [foreign] aid - that is, America aids itself.
"People hate America, and the Islamist movements feel the hatred and the impotence, and they applaud anyone who locks horns with America, whether it's bin Laden, Ahmadinejad, or Saddam. Ramming America has become the shortest road to fame and leadership among the Arabs and Muslims. But what good is it if you destroy one of your enemy's buildings, and he destroys one of your countries? What good is it if you kill one of his people, and he kills a thousand of your people?... That, in short, is my evaluation of 9/11." 
From Egypt to Pakistan and Back
Q: "When your document Tarshid Al-Jihad fi Misr w'Al-'Alam [sic] was published, there were contradictory accounts concerning your true relation with the Jihad organization, and whether the organization was first founded in Egypt, or in Pakistan after you arrived there in 1983 - and even some of the personal information about you was contradictory."
A: "… My name is Sayyed Imam Bin 'Abd Al-'Aziz Al-Sharif, and my pedigree on both sides goes back to the Prophet's family, according to what is established by our family tree. I was born on August 8, 1950 / 22 Shawal, 1369h. in Bani Suweif, south of Cairo. I was raised in a conservative family, and I learned from my father, may Allah have mercy on him, to be strict in religious observance and diligent in study. I stuck to this throughout my life.
"After I finished my primary school and middle school studies in Bani Suweif, I enrolled in the model secondary boarding school for exceptional students in 'Ain Shams in Cairo in 1965. I was one of the first-[ranked] in the Republic - number 13 - in the public schools in 1968. Then I enrolled in the Faculty of Medicine at Cairo University, and I graduated among the first[-ranked] in 1974. I was given a position in the surgery department of the same faculty, [which is called] Qasr Al-Ainy, and I learned the profession of surgery from the most brilliant surgeons in Egypt.
"I stood accused in the Great Jihad Case in 1981 (the assassination of President Anwar Al-Sadat), so I was forced to leave [Egypt] in 1982. I worked for a short time in the Emirates, and then traveled to [offer] medical services in the Afghan jihad, [which I did] for 10 years, from 1983 up to 1993, when Pakistan banished the Arab mujahideen. I went to Sudan for a few months, and then to Yemen in 1994, where I worked as a surgeon until I was arrested there on October 28, 2001, in the aftermath of 9/11. Then Yemen extradited me to Egypt on February 20, 2004, and since then I have been imprisoned in Egypt."
Q: "What about your strict religious observance? Did it lead you to the Islamist groups?"
A: "I have been strict in religious observance since I was little, by Allah's grace, and by dint of my upbringing in the family. That's as for the personal level. As for my interest in Islam as a general system, this began with the Muslim Brotherhood trial of 1965; I increased my Islamic studies, and from them I understood that Islam is a general system for everything in life, and not just personal rites of worship.
"I didn't meet anyone from the Muslim Brotherhood, as they were imprisoned, and I didn't study any of their books for a number of years, as they were forbidden. One book lead me to another, and one library to another, until [I had read a great amount].
"Only the first[-ranked] middle school students enrolled in the [high] school for exceptional students, and in this school I learned the scientific method of study, [using] more than one source in the library. This method was beneficial to me in my study of the shari'a, where I would learn one single topic from a number of sources in order to sum it up and uncover its mysteries. I would go to some sheikhs each time to use my understanding to verify what I had read, and sometimes to ask for explanations."
Q: "You didn't join any group or organization during this period?"
A: "I realized from my shari'a study that the implementation of the Islamic shari'a was the path to making things right in the country, and the Muslims' history testifies to this. I didn't join any existing Islamic group or society, since I saw in [all of] their programs either shortcomings and deficiencies or else errors and corruption…"
Ayman Al-Zawahiri is a Charlatan Who Testified Against His Companions in the 1981 Jihad Case
Q: "How did your relationship with Ayman Al-Zawahiri begin?"
A: "I became acquainted with Ayman Al-Zawahiri in 1968, when he was a fellow student at the faculty of medicine. We used to debate with other fellow students on various Islamic subjects.
"I knew from another student that Ayman was part of an Islamic group that had gone through some schisms, but he didn't approach me about joining the group until 1977. He presented himself as having been delegated by this group to invite me [to join]. I asked him whether their group had shari'a scholars. He said yes. I asked to meet with them in order to discuss with them a few matters relating to this. He kept dragging me on and meeting with me [himself] at assigned times, at different workplaces and residences.
"The issue of my joining their group remained conditional on my meeting their sheikhs. I only discovered after the Jihad case of 1981 that Ayman was a charlatan who used secrecy as a pretext. I discovered that he himself was the Emir of this group, and that they didn't have any sheikhs, and that he was the cause of his companions' arrest, and that he testified against them."
Q: "If that was your opinion of Al-Zawahiri, then how did you work with him?"
A: "I had old ties of friendship from [our] days on the university campus with the pharmacist, Dr. Amin Al-Dumeiri, and I was surprised [to see], in 1979, Ayman Al-Zawahiri visiting him frequently at his pharmacy. I said to Al-Dumeiri that if Ayman invites you [to join] an Islamic group, don't consider my comradeship with Ayman as vouching for this, since he is the only thing I know about this group…
"The [Egyptian] security services considered me to be in an organization with Ayman because of some services I performed for him. I helped him out of consideration for our comradeship and friendship, and not out of considerations relating to an organization. I [also] helped others, out of Islamic considerations. For example, when Sheikh Omar 'Abd Al-Rahman was wanted for arrest after September 15, 1981, I transported him in my own private car from Al-Fayyum to a hideout in Giza. From there he went to his sister's house in Al-Omraniya, where he was arrested."
The Egyptian Jihad Group in Pakistan
Q: "When you were accused in the Sadat assassination case, which is known as 'The Great Jihad Case,' you were a fugitive and were tried in absentia. You left for Pakistan. Why was the Jihad [organization] founded there, despite your position regarding Al-Zawahiri?"
A: "I came to Pakistan in 1983. In 1984 I was acquitted in absentia in the Great Jihad Case. Al-Zawahiri didn't come to Pakistan until 1986.
"He talked to me about forming a group for jihad in Egypt with the aim of implementing the shari'a. I refused, and said to him: 'This matter requires thorough shari'a study. It is not as simple as you imagine.'
"At this point in time, I was expanding my shari'a study with the help of some Afghan sheikhs who were expert in hadith. Al-Zawahiri insisted on the importance of taking advantage of the Afghan jihad and on the importance of bringing in youth from Egypt to take part in it. I told him: 'There is nothing wrong with that, but I don't want to be involved with them, neither in management nor in [providing for their] upkeep.'
"He asked me to take on a shari'a role with them. I agreed, as I [already] did this for other Arab youth. Little by little they grew in number, and so did their problems. In my role as their teacher in shari'a, their problems started coming to me, after Al-Zawahiri ran away from solving them - despite my having laid down the condition to him from the beginning - [in a meeting where] no one was present but me and him - that I did not want to be involved with the brothers and their problems.
"I asked to hold a meeting with them in 1991, and I said to them: 'Don't occupy me with your problems. If you do, I'll break off ties with you.' Al-Zawahiri said: 'Your presence among us has removed an awkward difficulty from us, since Al-Gama'a Al-Islamiyya are saying that they have a scholar - Sheikh Omar 'Abd Al-Rahman - [and we don't]. You are someone everyone acknowledges is learned.' At the same meeting, Majdi Kamal said: 'You know, Doctor, that if you break off your ties with the brothers, they will split up into groups.'
"Then after a year, in 1992, the brothers asked to meet with me. They presented me with the question of their carrying out fighting operations in Egypt like Al-Gama'a Al-Islamiyya was doing, since people were reproaching them on account of this. I said to them: 'We fought jihad in Afghanistan, and we trained many, both those we know and those we don't know, and we taught them beneficial shari'a studies, and no one else has done this like us. As for fighting in Egypt, it will bring no benefit, and will entail great damage. As for Al-Gama'a Al-Islamiyya, it can only arrive at a dead end.'
"I advised the brothers to devote more effort to matters of da'wa [preaching, outreach]. Majdi Kamal said to me: 'The time for speaking has come to an end. The time for action is here.' I warned them against speaking to me about this again, and I made a firm decision to break off my ties with them after their matters in Pakistan were taken care of. This was in mid-1993."
"For Years after the Launching of Al-Qaeda, They Would Do Nothing Without Consulting Me"
Q: "But everyone knows that you were the first Emir of the Jihad group…"
A: "The security agencies considered my relation to the brothers to be one of organization head, but the truth is that it was one of shari'a guidance. I thought that occupying [myself] with shari'a studies, and writing on them, were more important than organizations, since organizations, and even states, pass away, but shari'a studies remain and benefit the Muslims.
"Throughout my relations with the brothers in the Jihad, I made them train everyone who wanted training and help everyone who was in need of them, [including] those who did not have an organizational tie to them. They would give something to live on to those who were not from the organization. When the brothers in Al-Gama'a Al-Islamiyya complained of what had happened to their brothers in the Ain Shams neighborhood in Cairo, I asked Ayman [Al-Zawahiri] to help them, and he gave Rifa'i Taha a large sum.
"For years after the launching of Al-Qaeda, they would do nothing without consulting me. Does that make me their Emir, or part of the organization? I always say that the brotherhood of Islam is a shari'a obligation, and it is greater than organizations."
"I Don't Know of Anyone in Islamic History Having Committed Such Deceit, Fraud, Falsification, and Betrayal of Trust… Before Ayman Al-Zawahiri"
Q: "How did the dispute develop between yourself and the Jihad group, and with Ayman Al-Zawahiri in particular?"
A: "There were two reasons for this. The first was their determination to carry out fighting operations in Egypt. [They decided on this] in 1992, as I mentioned earlier, and I rejected this. I repeated my disapproval and rejection of what they were doing when I came to Sudan in late 1993.
"They [also] came to this conclusion and announced the cessation of operations in Egypt in 1995, but unfortunately only after failed, bloody confrontations [that were carried out] for the sake of ostentation and fame, and just to imitate Al-Gama'a Al-Islamiyya. They stopped after their brothers fell in droves to the gallows and the prisons.
"The second [reason] was that they [the Jihad organization] perverted my book Al-Jami' fi Talab Al-'Ilm Al-Sharif. Ayman Al-Zawahiri was the one who did this, by himself, but the entire group held their peace about what he did, and [thus] they share his sin.
"My relations with Al-Zawahiri were normal until I left Sudan in mid-1994. It was he that greeted me at Khartoum airport when I came to Sudan in late 1993, and it was he that saw me off at the same airport when I left in mid-1994. I didn't write Al-Jami' until after I had cut ties with them in 1993, and I finished it before I left Sudan in 1994.
"I left them a copy of it when I left for Yemen, so they could learn from it and study it, and so that they could sell it and earn money from it, if they wanted to help the families. Al-Zawahiri told me that 'this book is a victory from Allah,' and they announced that it would be published in a magazine they put out in London called Kitab Al-'Ilm. At times they described me as 'Mufti of the Mujahideen in the world,' and at times as 'the fighting mufti and the mujahid sheikh 'Abd Al-Qader Bin 'Abd Al-'Aziz.'
"After I arrived in Yemen and was practicing medicine, I learned from one of the brothers that the Jihad group had altered my book Al-Jami', struck things out of it, and changed the name of the book to Al-Hadi ila Sabil Al-Rashad. They [also] said that their Shari'a Council had confirmed it [to be correct].
"I asked the brother who had typed the book into the computer and had arrived in Yemen to work, and he informed me that Al-Zawahiri and he alone was the one who did all of these perversions [to the book], because he had found in the book criticism of the Islamist movements that I had written [based on] the reality of having lived with them.
"I don't know of anyone in Islamic history having committed such deceit, fraud, falsification, and betrayal of trust with such hostility to someone else's book, and perverted it - no one before Ayman Al-Zawahiri. When one of the righteous forefathers saw something he considered an error in someone else's book, he would write a rebuttal…
"Aggression towards someone else's book, and the perversion of it, like Al-Zawahiri did, is something that is done only by bandits and people who have no morals and no character. I wrote a communiqué deploring what he had done.
"Neither Al-Zawahiri nor his Shari'a Council have the competence to examine or correct books on shari'a - even with the permission of the author - and they don't have anyone capable of writing a single page without an error in jurisprudence…"
"Ayman Al-Zawahiri Was Entirely Dependent On Me"
Q: "You didn't answer my question concerning your position on Al-Zawahiri. Is it personal or objective?"
A: "The dispute is objective. Ayman Al-Zawahiri was entirely dependent on me, in matters of instruction, professional matters, shari'a matters, and at times [even] personal matters.
"He had a contract to work as a surgeon with the Kuwaiti [Red] Crescent Hospital in Peshawar in 1986. He had never been trained in surgery, and had never done a surgery internship in any hospital. He had received a theoretical MA in surgery by studying what I had written, and he had worked a bit in Saudi Arabia as a general physician, and when he enlisted he worked in anesthesia.
"When he got the job at the Kuwaiti [Red] Crescent Hospital he asked me to be at his side and teach him [how to perform] operations. I taught him until he started to stand on his own two feet. If I hadn't done this, he would have been exposed [as a disgrace], since he had taken a contract for a profession that he had never practiced."
"Ayman Al-Zawahiri and His Emir, Bin Laden… [Are] Extremely Immoral; I Have Spoken About This So As To Warn the Youth Against Them"
"[Al-Zawahiri] was in love with the media and visibility. I wrote works on shari'a and pamphlets, and he would put his name on them, so that I would give him a push [in the realms of] shari'a and the media.
"Al-Zawahiri dealt ungraciously with all of this. He was ungrateful for the kindness [I had shown him] and did not thank [me] for it. He bit the hand that I had extended to him in kindness. [This was] deceit, fraud, betrayal of trust, falsehood, and gangsterism.
"This nature remained in him, up to the point where he and his companions in Al-Qaeda bit the hand of Mullah Muhammad Omar, who had hosted them and protected them in Afghanistan, and who ordered them not to enter into a confrontation with America…
"This is part of the truth about Ayman Al-Zawahiri and his Emir, bin Laden - without falsification and without the media deceit that their followers shower on the two of them. [They are] extremely immoral. I have spoken about this in order to warn the youth against them - youth who are seduced by them, and don't know them..."
Four Stages in the Development of Al-Qaeda
Q: "…How did the tie begin between the Jihad and Al-Qaeda?"
A: "When I came to Peshawar in 1983, there were only about the number of Arabs as the number of fingers on two hands. Then came Sheikh 'Abdallah 'Azzam, and he founded the Office for Mujahideen Services in late 1984. There were more and more calls for Arab participation in the Afghan jihad, and the Arab presence gradually grew. The Jihad [group] was launched before Al-Qaeda.
"Al-Qaeda went through four stages: The first stage was that of the camp and the front, in late 1987. Bin Laden would raise funds from Saudi Arabia and give them to the Afghan leaders and to Sheikh ['Abdallah] 'Azzam. Some of the youth complained to bin Laden about irregularities in the Office for [Mujahideen] Services, and bin Laden decided to launch something independently of Sheikh 'Azzam.
"He started with a training camp and a combat front in the Jaji region in Afghanistan, near the border with Pakistan. Cadres from the Jihad group helped him in this and, thanks to their high level of military skills, youth started flocking to them, and as a result the number of training camps increased.
"The second stage was the stage of the organization, in 1989, when the number of youth of various nationalities increased, though most of them were from Saudi Arabia and Yemen. Bin Laden started asking them to give an oath of allegiance to himself as Emir of the jihad, and Al-Qaeda was transformed from a camp and a front into an organization.
"The third stage was that of the 'sifting' of the organization. In 1990 some of those who were knowledgeable in Islamic activity and who had given the oath of allegiance to bin Laden noticed that he was rapidly changing his goals and plans, from the Afghan jihad to throwing his weight into the jihad in southern Yemen, before the end of the Afghan jihad, an attempted assassination against Mohammed Zahir Shah (the former king of Afghanistan) in Italy, and preparations for participation in the second Gulf War against Iraq when it occupied Kuwait.
"Some of his followers demanded that Al-Qaeda should have a program (a constitution) that would define the principles of its existence and its goals, and on the basis of which bin Laden would receive the oath of allegiance from the youth.
"bin Laden refused to be bound by any program, in order to give himself the freedom to behave with his followers however he wanted. He banished those who had demanded a program, and from that time on, unfortunately, the only people who have followed Bin Laden have been one of two [kinds of] people: people who are ignorant in their religion, or people who seek gain in this world.
"Everyone was obligated to blind obedience - and if they didn't [blindly obey] their fate was known. Whoever opposed [bin Laden] was banished. It came about that the majority of his followers were the youngest of the youth from Saudi Arabia and Yemen, who were motivated more by Islamic sentiment than by guiding shari'a rules. There were also non-Arabs, from Asia and Europe, whose understanding of religion was limited and who were motivated by sentiment, and especially those of them who were new converts to Islam and hadn't studied their religion.
"The fourth stage was the stage of global confrontation, [which began] in 1993 in Sudan, when bin Laden revealed his desire to enter into conflict with the international powers, and America in particular.
"Some of his followers abandoned him, even some of his relatives and in-laws. His declaration of the Global Front for Fighting Jews and Crusaders in 1998 was just a summing up of what he had begun to prepare since 1993 by observing American and European targets that he could strike at in various parts of the world."
Q: "Does this mean that the Egyptians should be credited with founding Al-Qaeda?"
A: "Members of the Jihad group are the ones who founded Al-Qaeda, managed it, and tried to steer bin Laden in the right direction and keep to a minimum his slip-ups in shari'a.
"Then I cut my ties with everyone in 1993, when I saw that most of them were following their own desires. Allah said (Koran 28:50): 'Who is farther astray than he who follows his own desires without guidance from Allah? Allah does not guide unjust people.'
"This is the reason that I say that the only program, ideology, ideologue, and mufti that Al-Qaeda has is what bin Laden thinks right, according to his personal opinion, and whoever opposes [him] is banished. It was this path that led to the events of 9/11. The job of those who remained with bin Laden was to find justifications for his errors and views by using dubious shari'a arguments, with which they [then] dupe the ignorant…" 
 See Al-Hayat (London), August 30, 2007 and Al-Misriyyun (Egypt), September 15, 2007.
 One of the reasons for writing the book was to answer questions Sayyed Imam was asked by trainees in the camps in Afghanistan. See Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), May 19, 2006.
 See for instance Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), November 19, 2007; Al-Misriyyun (Egypt), November 19, 2007; Al-Jarida (Kuwait), December 3, 2007.
 http://www.abubaseer.bizland.com, November 29, 2007.
 Al-Hayat (London), December 9, 2007.
 Al-Hayat (London), December 8, 2007.
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In: Iraq, Afghanistan, News
Tags: Al Qaeda, Cleric, Islam, Shari'a, Sayyed Imam Al-Sharif, Bin Laden, Al-Zawahiri, Al-Sahab, Quwwat Al-Haqq, Egypt, Al-MaqrezeCenter for Historical Studies, Abu Basir Al-Tartusi, Sheikh Abu Muhammad Al-Maqdisi, Al-Zarqawi,
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