Al Qaeda Has Launched Campaign Against

Al-Qaeda has launched a campaign against Usama Rushdi, a former publicist in Holland for the Islamic Grouping (al-Gamaa al-Islamiyyah), he says. The Islamic Grouping was implicated in the assassination of Egyptian President Anwar el Sadat in 1981, and in the 1990s launched a series of terrorist attacks and challenges to the Egyptian government. Rushdi gained asylum in the Netherlands on the grounds that he would be persecuted for his beliefs in Egypt. He says he is now the target of three forces–the Dutch extreme Right, who wants him deported to Egypt; al-Qaeda, which is angry that he published criticisms of Usama Bin Laden; and “the outside.”

Rushdi’s newspaper, al-Mahrusa, has been accused of being a mouthpiece for Bin Ladin by the Dutch Right, but he says that it has been critical of al-Qaeda, thereby making him a target of that organization.

Rushdi represents himself as part of a reform movement within the Islamic Grouping that has broken with the blind Sheikh, Omar Abdel Rahman, and has sought a way of interpreting Islam as essentially pacifist. I append a comment I made on Rushdi at Gulf2000 earlier this year. (- Asharq al-Awsat).

Date: Fri, 25 Jan 2002 07:16:44 -0500 (EST)

To: gulf2000 list

An “Islamic indictment”

Date: Fri, 25 Jan 2002 02:22:22 -0500

From: Juan Cole

A leader of the al-Jama`ah (al-Gamaa) al-Islamiyyah in exile, Osama Rushdi, has given an interview in al-Sharq al-Awsat in which he strongly condemns the attack on the United States of September 11, appealing to the strictures of Islamic law and the principles enunciated by classical jurists like Ibn Qudama. He excoriates Ayman al-Zawahiri’s principle of “taking the battle to the enemy” and Bin Ladin’s of “praiseworthy terrorism.” He is careful to say that he does think U.S. foreign policy makes it an enemy of Islamists, and that he strongly opposed the war in Afghanistan. But he says the fault is not all on one side (sic) and that it is time for Islamists openly to reassess the movement in the light of the grievous errors that have been made.

Rushdi is wanted in Egypt (though apparently unindicted) for terrorism but is seeking asylum in the Netherlands. He is said to have been among the leaders of the organization who arranged a cease-fire with the Egyptian government after the shooting of tourists in Luxor in 1997.

The interview is on the Web at:

http://www.asharqalawsat.com/pc/

news/25,1,2002,012.html

An informative artlce about Rushdi is at:

http://www.ahram.org.eg/weekly/2001/

539/eg10.htm

It would be easy to be rather cynical about all this, as, perhaps, an attempt by a man who could easily be extradited to life imprisonment at any moment to rehabilitate himself and strengthen his asylum case in Europe.

On the other hand, I personally believe that terrorist groups like al-Gamaa al-Islamiyyah do have a powerful ideology that helps drive them to act as they do, and its ideologues are therefore not insignificant.

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