The Deceptive Ways of al-Qaida

Monday, 17 Oct 2011 09:59 AM

By Tawfik Hamid

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In the latest issue of al-Qaida's Inspire magazine, American al-Qaida propagandist Samir Khan criticized anti-Muslim counterterrorism trainers in the United States.

Khan wrote: "Because the West was ardent to point out the mujahidin's attachment to Islam as extreme, portraying them as "fundamentalists," Muslims throughout the world asked: Wait, are they not then concluding that a good practicing Muslim is their fundamentalist enemy?"

For Khan, one of the experts behind al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula's (AQAP) English-language propaganda efforts, having Americans arguing that "al-Qaida = Islam" is a great concept.

Not only is that message precisely what al-Qaida's been arguing themselves for years, but the more the U.S. government behaves as if there really is a "stealth jihad" or "creeping Shariah" taking hold across America, the more alienated that Muslims in this country will feel and, therefore, find validity in al-Qaida's message.

From AQAP's perspective, al-Qaida has no better friend in the United States than those American counterterrorism trainers and activists who advance al-Qaida's arguments for them.

First of all, we need to ask ourselves if we should believe that the al-Qaida terrorists who enjoy beheading innocents would ever tell us what is truly beneficial to them.

We have the full right to mistrust the information they release to us as it is unlikely that they will tell us the truth about what harms them — so that we can do it or inform us about what benefit them — so that we avoid doing it.

Second; what is interesting about the al-Qaida approach in this case is that they are using a very primitive old tactic that we used to use when we were children in the Middle East. This tactic is to show your opponent that what he is doing to annoy you is actually beneficial for you. In this case the opponent is likely to stop what he is doing — which is actually what you want to achieve.

There is little doubt that al-Qaida ideology and support can flourish in more religiously devout Islamic societies. Criticism of Islam can make many Muslims question the violent teaching and can weaken the Islamization process itself.

The al-Qaida tactic is that if they showed that criticism of Islam is hurting them, it is likely that the U.S. government will increase such forms of counterterrorism training (which is the opposite of what al-Qaida wants to achieve).

On the contrary, the best way for al-Qaida to stop the training is to say that it is beneficial for their cause. In this case it is possible that some U.S. government officials and media personnel will jump to stop such training –which is exactly what al-Qaida wants to achieve.

The above only illustrates how al-Qaida uses deception tactics to influence decisions in the United States and does not mean in any way that the current training about Islam and radical Islam may occasionally have some defects and that it needs to be evaluated.

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