The State Department here is assuming a key point: that the aversion to the beheadings and the attacks on Shi’ites among Muslims at large comes from a conviction that these things violate the tenets of Islam, and not simply from natural human feeling. After all, Zawahiri didn’t tell Zarqawi to stop the killing; he just told him to adopt a different, less flashy and bloody method.
If State’s assumption that the great majority of Muslims actually finds these things un-Islamic, and not just repulsive, is indeed true, then I expect we will soon be seeing much more active opposition to jihadist violence among Muslims worldwide: Osama burned (beheaded?) in effigy, thousands of Muslims marching and demonstrating, denouncing the leaders of Al-Qaeda as apostates and renegades from true Islam, Muslim governments closing madrassas that are schools of jihad, etc. Watch for this in the headlines from the coming weeks; how much of it do you think we will see? From VOA News, with thanks to the Constantinopolitan Irredentist:
The United States Wednesday made public a letter from a senior al-Qaida figure to the group’s chief operative in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, that, among other things, questions his tactic of attacking Iraqi Shiite mosques. The State Department said the letter reveals al-Qaida as a confederacy of evil, and a perverter of Islam….
It says ordinary Muslims find tape footage of the al-Zarkawi group’s slaughter of hostages in Iraq unpalatable, and also says they cannot accept its bomb attacks on Iraqi Shiite mosques, remarking that public aversion to the tactic will continue.
The letter further says that more than half the battle is taking place in the media, and that it is a race for the hearts and minds of the Islamic world.
At a news briefing, State Department Deputy Spokesman Adam Ereli said the letter shows the media-savvy of al-Qaida, but also clearly reveals the evil nature of the enemy being faced in Iraq:
“This isn’t a question of hearts and minds, it’s a question of bodies and gore, quite frankly. Meaning that this is a network and this is a confederacy of evil that will stop at nothing to advance its radical agenda. And that agenda was made very clear: it’s a caliphate that will start in Iraq and move to take over Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Syria, and practice the kind of abuse and intolerance and perfidy that we saw under the Taleban in Afghanistan, which was in cahoots with these guys,” Mr. Ereli says.
Mr. Ereli said the best evidence of what al-Qaida and its allies are all about is their own writing.
He said the United States released the letter so that those claiming to be speaking in the name of Islam can be seen by Muslims for what they are, in his words, perverters of that religion.