Militant Scholars and Strategists

II. Militant Scholars and Strategists

  1. Abu Musab al Suri:

Inspired by modern Jihadi Salafist scholars, al Suri became disgusted with the elite hierarchy and unsuccessful strategy of Osama bin Laden. Al Qaeda could not work because Western military forces and intelligence agencies were too strong for a small group to defeat. Al Suri called for jihad on the individual level. Simply attack a target, he said, any target anywhere in the world. This strategy will eventually result in victory. According to the SITE (2011) examination of al Suri’s 1,600-page manual, Ayman al Zawahiri said it provided a “rich river” for holy warriors.

N. W. Zackie (2013), in a scholarly examination of A Call to Global Islamic Resistance, finds that two concepts dominate al Suri’s military thinking—individual action and location. Individuals and small groups must remain isolated and secretive. Geographically, jihadists should operate in areas of the world that can sustain terrorism and guerrilla war. The work begins with a long polemical history of the Islamic world. The next section starts by analyzing the reasons the West was not crippled after 9/11 and ends with a strategy for victory. Essentially, this strategy is leaderless resistance. It covers tactics and suggests areas of the world where jihadists can be successful. Although the first part seems to be designed as a religious text, Zackie concludes that it is more of a manifesto. The second part shows that al Suri is a strategic thinker. Zackie argues that the work can be seen as a military manual, but it does more than this. It can be used to uncover the Salafi worldview. Zackie says the first section is designed to expose and convert people to militancy, get them to accept it, and then inspire them to take action. It is an exhaustive political, social, and legal treatise explaining the current plight of the Islamic world. The argument is logical within the militant puritanical strain of Islam, and it reflects common themes in religious ter- rorism. The oppressed have been victimized by the powerful, here is the evidence to prove it, this is the critical tipping point in cosmic history, it is time to strike, and the supreme deity is relying on the reader to take action. The second part contains a plan of action. Al Suri (2005) equates the struggle against the United States and its allies with “light gang warfare.” It involves urban terrorism and covert attacks, especially solo actions from wholly separate resistance cells. Jihad should take place on many fronts in all parts of the world. He states that large populated areas where movement is difficult to trace are ideal for resistance, and rugged mountainous areas provide places for concealment. Soft targets create terror, and killing anybody is justified because all non-Muslims and “heretics” are the enemy. Al Suri acknowledges that this may sound like part of the long tradition of revolutionary writings, but he concludes that Jihadi Salafists will adopt revolutionary literature and utilize its tactics.

  1. Abu Bakr Naji:

Naji justifies rule by terror arguing that ruthlessness is necessary to create the caliphate. Abu Bakr Naji’s (2006) Management of Savagery explains the unbridled violence of groups like ISIS.   He explains why it is necessary to create an Islamic state. Naji calls for organizing well-managed, functioning governing institutions. He also calls for war, merciless war, against all enemies—both internal and external. In terms of governing, Naji argues that the state must brutally conduct savage public torture and butchery against all who resist. The purpose is to frighten the enemy. It is the age-old message of terrorism. Murder victims to communicate with a larger audience. The Nazis did it secretly. Naji urges the future Islamic state to show brutal repression to the world and brag about it.

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