There are two recent defections worthy of notice. One is a Saudi who thought he was going to fight against us in Iraq, but his own brothers blew him up en route. The other is the founder of Egyptian Islamic Jihad, whence came Ayman al Zawahiri, currently number one (or, if you insist on believing bin Laden is still alive, number two) of al Qaeda.
The Saudi is Ahmed al-Sheayea, and he went to Iraq via Syria back in 2004 to wage jihad. They told him to drive a truck bomb across town, and they exploded it before he got there. Then they told his family he’d been martyred. Now he wants to warn his countrymen and women not to trust the jihadis. He puts it nicely, too: “There is no jihad. We are just instruments of death”
Then there’s Sayid Imam al-Sharif, 57, the first commander of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad organisation. For those keeping track, Sharif is a surgeon, and he’s been in jail for about three years, during which time he has changed his thinking about jihad. He recently denounced killing women and children and targeting minorities, and he quotes the Koran: “Fight in the cause of God those who fight you, but do not transgress the limits; for God loveth not transgressors.” Armed operations were wrong, counterproductive and must cease, he declared sternly.
As the Guardian put it in a long story , Zawahiri attacked Sharif in a video message, and no doubt there will much more along these lines, since Sharif has written a book with his new thinking.
Funny, isn’t it, that as the war goes worse for them, they rethink the fundamentals?