Over the years we have taken issue more than once with the initiative, which enjoys approval at very high levels, to stop talking about “jihad” in connection with Osama bin Laden and his ilk, and to label what they are doing “hirabah” — unlawful fighting. This, we’re told, will strip the jihadists of legitimacy in the eyes of peaceful Muslims, and help them to rally against the global jihad.
Of course, there are many things wrong with this. One is the idea that Muslims will be influenced by whatever non-Muslims call the jihadists, or that this new labeling will make any difference to how the jihadists perceive themselves or are perceived by others at all. Another is that the jihadists’ view of Islam and jihad has no legitimacy within traditional Islam, and can easily be exposed as such — an assumption apparently shared by Major General Douglas Stone. Those who hold this view have accused me of “endorsing” Osama bin Laden’s “version” of Islam, but they of course completely ignore the many ways in which jihadists can and do appeal to the Qur’an and Sunnah as they have been traditionally interpreted in mainstream Islam in order to justify their actions.
Lobbyist Jim Guirard called me a few years ago and took an hour or two to try to convince me that I should start speaking about “hirabah” rather than “jihad,” and I tried to explain to him that this would have the effect of obscuring the traditional nature of the appeal that the jihadists so effectively make within Muslim communities, and thereby obscuring our proper response and the response that peaceful Muslims should make. I was also suspicious because people like John Esposito were the scholars endorsing his initiative.
Anyway, I didn’t convince him and he didn’t convince me, although maybe if he had, I’d be lunching with George W. Bush and Condoleeza Rice today. But in this piece in The American Thinker (thanks to Romy), Walid Phares reveals that the entire “hirabah” initiative comes from the Saudis, whose reasons for pushing it are not exactly benign:
The practice of not using “Jihad” and “Jihadism” was lately defended by two academics at the National Defense University  who based their arguments on a study published by a Washington lobbyist, Jim Guirard. On June 22, 2006, Jim Garamone, writing for the American Forces Press Service, published the study of Douglas Streusand and Harry Tunnel under the title “Loosly Interpreted Arabic terms can promote enemy ideology.” Streusand told CNN that “Jihad is a term of great and positive import in Islam. It is commonly defined as striving or struggle, and can mean an internal or external struggle for faith.” 
The article was posted under the title “Cultural Ignorance Leads to Misuse of Islamic Terms” by the US-based Islamist organization CAIR.  Since then the “concept” of deflecting attention away from the study of Jihadism has penetrated large segments of the defense newsletters and is omnipresent in Academia. More troubling though, is the fact that scholars who have seen the strategic threat of al Qaeda and Hezbollah have unfortunately fallen for the fallacy of the Hiraba. Professor Michael Waller of the Institute of World Politics in Washington wrote recently that “Jihad has been hijacked” as he bases his argument on Jim Guirard’s lobbying pieces. Satisfied with this trend taking root in the Defense intelligentsia of America, Islamist intellectuals and activists are hurrying to support this new tactic.
The good holy war is when the right religious and political authorities declare it against the correct enemy and at the right time. The bad jihad, called also Hiraba, is the wrong war, declared by bad (and irresponsible) people against the wrong enemy (for the moment), and without an appropriate authorization by the “real” Muslim leadership. According to this thesis, those Muslims who wage a Hiraba, a wrong war, are called Mufsidoon, from the Arabic word for “spoilers.” The advocates of this ruse recommend that the United States and its allies stop calling the jihadists by that name and identifying the concept of Jihadism as the problem. In short, they argue that “jihad is good, but the Mufsidoon, the bad guys and the terrorists, spoiled the original legitimate sense.”
When researched, it turns out that this theory was produced by clerics of the Wahabi regime in Saudi Arabia and the Muslim Brotherhood, as a plan to prevent jihad and Jihadism from being depicted by the West and the international community as an illegal and therefore sanctioned activity. It was then forwarded to American- and Western-based interest groups to be spread within the Untied States, particularly within the defense and security apparatus. Such a deception further confuses U.S. national security perception of the enemy and plunges democracies back into the “black hole” of the 1990’s. This last attempt to blur the vision of democracies can be exposed with knowledge of the jihadi terror strategies and tactics, one of which is known as Taqiya, the doctrine on deception and deflection. 
First, the argument of “good jihad” raises the question of how there can be a legitimate concept of religious war in the twenty-first century to start with. Jihad historically was as “good” as any other religious war over the last 2,000 years. If a “good jihad” is the one authorized by a caliph and directed under his auspices, then other world leaders also can wage a “good crusade” at will, as long as it is licensed by the proper authority. But in fact, all religious wars are proscribed by international law, period.
Second, the authors of this lobbyist-concocted theory claim that a wrong jihad is called a Hiraba. But in Arab Muslim history, a Hiraba (unauthorized warring) was when a group of warriors launched itself against the enemy without orders from the real commander. Obviously, this implies that a “genuine” war against a real enemy does exist and that these hotheaded soldiers have simply acted without orders. Hence this cunning explanation puts “spin” on jihad but leaves the core idea of jihadism completely intact. The “spoilers” depart from the plan, attack prematurely, and cause damage to the caliphate’s long-term plans. These Mufsidoon “fail” their commanders by unleashing a war of their own, instead of waiting for orders.
This scenario fits the relations of the global jihadists, who are the regimes and international groups slowly planning to gain power against the infidels and the “hotheaded” Osama bin Laden. Thus the promoters of this theory of Hiraba and Mufsidoon are representing the views of classical Wahabis and the Muslim Brotherhood in their criticism of the “great leap forward” made by bin Laden. But by convincing Westerners that al Qaeda and its allies are not the real jihadists but some renegades, the advocates of this school would be causing the vision of Western defense to become blurred again so that more time could be gained by a larger, more powerful wave of Jihadism that is biding its time to strike when it chooses, under a coherent international leadership.