Accession Number : ADA562328

Title :   Beware of Imitators: Al-Qa'ida through the Lens of its Confidential Secretary


Personal Author(s) : Lahoud, Nelly

Full Text :

Report Date : 04 Jun 2012

Pagination or Media Count : 112

Abstract : A draft of this report based on Fadil Harun s two-volume autobiography had been completed and reviewed by external readers when my academic home, the Combating Terrorism Center (CTC) at West Point, received 17 declassified documents captured from Usama Bin Ladin s compound in Abbottabad. Revising this report took a backseat as I prioritized analyzing the documents, a study that resulted in the publication of the CTC report Letters from Abbottabad: Bin Ladin Sidelined? , which accompanied the release of the documents. Initially, I agonized about privileging Bin Ladin s files over Harun s manuscript. After all, in my view, Harun s manuscript is the richest primary source available regarding al- Qa ida, and this report is but a modest exploration of what it has to offer. But, in hindsight, the delay in publication of this report was fortuitous as Bin Ladin s concerns about the ideology and operational conduct of regional jihadi groups echo the dominant theme that runs throughout Harun s lengthy autobiography (1,156 pages). Since Harun was a quiet al-Qa ida operative who prioritized effectiveness while avoiding publicity, his criticism of the jihadi landscape may have been brushed aside as that of a renegade. Now that Bin Ladin s own letters articulate similar concerns to those raised by Harun, their release prior to the publication of this report lends an emphatic credibility to Harun s account. Whereas Bin Ladin chose to restrict his worries to private communications, Harun decided to air his publicly, releasing his autobiography on a jihadi website in February 2009. In comparison with the thin volume of Abbottabad documents, Harun s manuscript is richer in information and has more to offer about al-Qa ida s internal political culture, its ideology and the methods of its operational work. The process of revising this report in light of the documents has largely been to confirm Harun s account rather than to correct it.


Subject Categories : Unconventional Warfare

Distribution Statement : APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE