“We promise to be good. Heres 420 pages of how good we promise to be.”
Guardian… Libyan Islamist fighters who once tried to assassinate Muammar Gadaffi are about to publicly spurn violence in a move that is intended to weaken al-Qaida by undermining the religious rationale for waging jihad against Muslim regimes and killing innocent civilians.
Behind bars in Tripoli’s Abusalim prison the top leaders of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group have written a 420-page book which Arab and western governments hope will strike a new blow in the ideological war against Osama bin Laden.
The move is doubly significant because Libyans have long played a key role in al-Qaida. The brother of one key bin Laden aide and Islamic scholar, Abu Yahya al-Libi, is one of the authors of the LIFG recantation document, entitled Corrective Studies in Understanding Jihad.
It is to be published in Arabic later this month after leading Muslim clerics, including Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi, approved the text.
The Libyan exercise is similar to one in Egypt in 2007 when an influential imprisoned jihadi thinker, Sayid Imam al-Sharif, published a book “revising” the concept of “takfir” – allowing “apostates” to be killed.
That was bitterly attacked by Ayman al-Zawahiri, Bin Laden’s Egyptian deputy. It prompted widespread questioning on Islamist websites of al-Qaida’s targeting of Iraqi Shia and other ordinary Muslims.
“This book will have an even bigger impact,” predicted Noman Benothman, a former LIFG member who fought in Afghanistan.
“It will cause a lot of problems for al-Qaida in Algeria and elsewhere. The point is to dismantle the infrastructure of violence in jihadi ideology.”
Western governments praise Libya these days as a valuable ally fighting al-Qaida and especially for its knowledge of the Sahel – where its borders meet those of Algeria, Niger and Chad. Libya’s intelligence services work with the CIA and MI6 and other western agencies that were once their bitter enemies.
Libya captured and handed over to Algeria the al-Qaida operator Omar al-Sayfi, “the Bin Laden of the Sahara”. The US has handed over Libyan jihadis who had been held in Guantánamo Bay.