Can someone please explain the sudden interest in Dr Fadl (aka Sayyid Imam)? In just the last 4 days, The_Telegraph, Haaretz, and Middle_East_Times have all published news articles on Fadl’s latest book, which came out — in November. Am I missing something here? The only coverage I’ve seen on Fadl (anywhere) during the last few months was at ForeignPolicy.com by Marc_Lynch who, like almost every Arab commentator, does not consider Fadl all that important.
Some things to consider regarding Sayyim Imam’s importance:
1) The Tanzim Al-Jihad group which both Zawahiri and Fadl headed at different points can be thought of as an extremely violent offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood. It was never Salafi. Its questionable whether Zawahiri can be described as Salafi today but there’s no doubt about Fadl. Al-Qaeda’s thinkers are mostly pure Salafis, so when Fadl, a non-Salafi, starts publishing books criticizing them, they laugh at him. Think of it this way — how much would the Head of the Protestant Church of England care about criticisms from the Catholic Bishop of Chicago?
2) Fadl was never part of Al-Qaeda. All three of the above articles say he was but this is simply wrong. Al-Qaeda was founded in February 1998. Fadl quit the Jihad group around 1994 and hasn’t been a part of any group since that point. So his criticisms are not as an insider but as someone who was never part of the movement in the first place.
UPDATE: A reader alerts us to the likely cause of this recent burst of Fadl mania: MEMRI’s summaryof Dr. Fadl’s book which was released yesterday.
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