Al-Qaeda's Internal Debate

Al-Qaeda's Internal Debate

Frank Gardner

Could Osama Bin Laden's erstwhile comrades be responsible for bringing about the collapse of al-Qaeda?

The BBC's security correspondent, Frank Gardner OBE, talks to former allies of Bin Laden, who are now working to turn Islamist sentiment against al-Qaeda, and examines how the war of ideas within the Jihadi movement is becoming as important as the military frontline.

As a leader of a jihadist organisation committed to overthrowing the Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi, Noman Benotman was regarded by Osama Bin Laden as an ally.

However, shortly before 9/11, Benotman cautioned Bin Laden against targeting the United States.

In the programme, he explains why he now publicly criticises al-Qaeda's strategy and lack of theological justification.

Others to whom Bin Laden might have looked for support have turned against him too.

Dr Fadl, one of the architects of the most extreme jihadist ideology, now calls al-Qaeda's leadership "extremely immoral".

Sheikh Salman al-Oudah, a Saudi religious scholar, once credited by Bin Laden with inspiring him to take up "my duty of enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong", has recently denounced the al-Qaeda leader.

Furthermore, the targeting of Muslim civilians by al-Qaeda affiliates in Iraq and elsewhere is undermining popular support.

All this provides some cause for optimism.

But, with a resilient Taliban in Afghanistan and the Pakistani tribal areas sheltering al-Qaeda, is it too early to talk about the unravelling of the global jihad network?

Listen to Frank Gardner examining how the war of ideas within the Jihadi movement is becoming as important as the military frontline.

First broadcast Wednesday 27th August 2008.

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