A study issued today by the Crown Center for Middle East Studies at Brandeis University offers a sobering look at the prospects for revisionism among radical Jihadist movements.
The paper is by Khalil Al-Anani, who is assistant to the managing editor of al-Siyassa al-Dawliya, an influential political journal in Cairo. It looks at the impact of the declaration rejecting violence by one of the leading radicals in the Arab world, known as Sayyid Imam al-Sharif, who had been a comrade of Al Qaeda's number two, Egyptian Ayman al-Zawahiri.
From his prison cell in late 2007, Sharif renounced violence as illegitimate, and rejected his own pro-violence manifestos of earlier years. Since he had been an influential proponent of jihad in Afghanistan and elsewhere, his new manifesto set off intensive debate among radical jihadists -- and raised hopes in the West that revisionists would undermine the Jihadist movement.
However, author Anani says there is little sign that younger radicals are paying much attention to an aging Islamic scholar's flip-flop, and that the various radical strands are more diffuse with the scattering of al Qaeda after 9/11. Anani notes that Zawahiri has worked aggressively to ridicule Sharif since his pronouncement, arguing that no one should take seriously Sharif's jail-cell recantation.
Anani says: "This new generation of jihadis reveals the extent to which the world is currently confronting a jihadism and an operational and intellectual system that is completely different from that address by the revisionism -- and this gap severely limits the likelihood of an effective revisionist movement."
About this blog
About James F. SmithJim Smith came home to his native Boston in 2002 to become the Boston Globe's foreign editor after spending 22 years abroad. He was previously based in Buenos Aires and Mexico City for the LA Times, and in Johannesburg, Tokyo and The Hague for the AP. In 2007 he became the Globe's national political editor, coordinating presidential campaign coverage. He is a Yale graduate, and has an MBA. He is married to Maxine Hart and has two sons, Matthew and Daniel.
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