Revisions revisited: Fizazi joins the choir
I recently wrote about the phenomenon of Jihadi “revisions”, or reappraisals of violence as a method. Radical Egyptian and Saudi clerics have caused quite a stir among their followers after emerging as changed men from prison, criticizing bin Ladin and al-Qaida and suggesting that armed Jihad is not the way to go. Last time around, imprisoned leaders from the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group joined the caravan.
Now, another Maghrebi preacher, Moroccan cleric Mohamed el-Fizazi, has sent a letter from jail, where he condemns the recent spate of al-Qaida threats against Germany (where he lived for a period of his life).
A major name in Moroccan militant islamism, Fizazi is locked up on a 30 year jail term for his alleged role in the Casablanca attacks in 2003 (although he denies having had anything to do with it). In his letter, Fizazi notes that Germany — and presumably European countries in general — offer work, asylum and sanctuary for immigrant Muslims and allow them to live religious lives there. He concludes that it would be a criminal act to breach the law after such hospitality has been extended and actively accepted, in the form of visa applications etc. This clearly echoes the reasoning of Sayyed Imam el-Sharif, the former chief ideologue of el-Jihad el-Islami.
Fizazi also notes that while it is true that Germany is occupying Muslims in Afghanistan and aids the Israeli repression of Palestinians — two wars which he like virtually all Islamists (and many non-Islamists) views as legit defensive Jihads — such activity should be protested peacefully, not with attacks inside Europe. He eventually grows so enamoured with Germany that, at the end, he can’t contain himself: “The German chancellor is great!” he blurts out, in what must be the least expected statement of a Jihadi ideologue in many years. So, that’s where we’re at: Bin Ladin replaced by Sheikha Merkel as idol of the Salafi hardcore in Morocco — got to hurt!
Is it a major development in Jihadism writ large? Not really. But another straw to the camel’s back? Hopefully.