US troops on the hunt for trails to al Qaeda on the Afghan-Pakistan border came upon the new publication, titled Storm over the Roof of the World, in a deserted former al Qaeda hideout. The 900-page tome had been published for an internal audience as recently as September, 2006, written by Abu al Walid, known also in al Qaeda circles as Al-Masri – real name is Mustafa Hamad.
Most of the work is taken up by the writer’s response to questions from al Qaeda adherents who want to know why their organization invested so many years in activity in Afghanistan rather than the Palestinian cause.
Each question is rendered at length – often spreading over many pages – with an equally lengthy response.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s counter-terror sources report that US intelligence experts attach great significance to this find and are going to great lengths to understand and analyze the book’s content. Their interest has been caught for three reasons:
1. From the early days of the 1990s, when al Qaeda began evolving into its present form, Mustafa Hamada aka Abu al Walid has been influential within the higher echelons of his movement. They perceive him as the outstanding journalist-philosopher of jihadist terror, although few outside their circle have heard of him.
His past works are text books within al Qaeda. His 2004 work on “Afghan Arabs” is compulsory reading for its members as well as those of likeminded terrorist groups and experts seeking insights on the role Arabs play in al Qaeda and other Islamic terrorist groups.
2. Mustafa Hamed’s writings have often promoted a line contrary to that articulated by Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, leading some intelligence researchers in the West to assume that his is the voice of internal opposition to the leadership. No other evidence of such opposition was ever found.
3. Most importantly, Mustafa Hamad is the son-in-law of Seif al Adal, al Qaeda’s senior operations officer. Some Western intelligence circles believe the two are in close touch and that Hamad is an influential element in al Adal’s operational decisions.
The must surprising feature, according to DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s al Qaeda experts who have read the new book, is Hamad’s unique theory of how Osama bin Laden’s bloody conflict with the United States originated.
He pins the enmity to a period between the late 1980s and early 1990s (during the presidential tenures of Bush the Elder and Bill Clinton), when “all of a sudden” the mujahiddin who helped America drive the Red Army out of Afghanistan were transformed from the friends, beneficiaries of Washington’s weapons and funds, to “enemies of the world.”
Hamad asserts that this change of heart in Washington reduced Islam’s triumph over the Russians in Afghanistan into its worst tragedy.
It was the moment that the West launched its crusade against Islam. The first to pay for this change in fortune, according to this writer, was the Afghan people. The greatest Muslim victory in hundreds of years was achieved on their backs, yet the Afghans were the first together with their Muslim allies to come under assault on their own soil as well as from Pakistan and the Middle East.
The precise historical detail of what happened after the Russians were thrown out of Afghanistan is no longer relevant, Hamad writes. What matters is that, ever since, the West has found it easier to evoke passions of hatred against Muslims. The greatest tragedy of all is the exponential deepening of the West’s hate for al Qaeda. We in al Qaeda have discovered, says the writer, that the more the Muslims defend themselves against Western systems, the more strongly the Americans cling to their perceptions of us.
This argument brings the author to the conclusion that Muslims have no choice but to switch from defensive tactics to assault. The example he chooses is the 9/11 assaults on New York and Washington, which, in Hamad’s view, was nothing but a legitimate act of defense by al Qaeda after ten years of self-restraint.
Setting aside the many factual inaccuracies in his dissertation, DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s al Qaeda experts note that Hamid’s rationale for the genesis of anti-West jihadism is completely at odds with a written statement produced by another al Qaeda author, shortly after 9/11. In his book, “Knights under the Prophet’s Banner,” Zawahiri, bin Laden’s second-in-command, defined al Qaeda’s most important short-term strategic goal as being to seize control of a state or a region in the Muslim world. He explained that a launching pad under Muslim Authority established on Muslim land was vital for confronting Islam’s enemies and staging future jihadist attacks on the West.
Mustafa Hamad’s latest book is being snatched up by young al Qaeda zealots.
They are not bothered by the historical and chronological inconsistencies of his work, but prefer to take inspiration from his message, food for their zeal and a source of legitimacy for their war on the West.