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Coming To Their Senses?

This seems like good news:

In his memoirs, Sharif recalls serving time with Zawahiri in 1981 after the assassination of Anwar Sadat. Sharif specifically accuses Zawahiri of informing on his associates to get out of prison. He also calls Zawahiri and Osama bin Laden cowards, accusing them of running out of Afghanistan and leaving wives and children behind to die in the American invasion. He wants them tried before a shari'a court, which would be at least poetic justice for the radical Islamists.

Zawahiri could give a press conference at CENTCOM and still not live down those kind of accusations. The entire mythos of AQ relies on the personal courage of its leaders, who claim to have bested a global superpower in personally liberating Afghanistan. Leaving behind women and children while fleeing a battle doesn't quite match that mythology. If it gains resonance in the ummah, Zawahiri and Osama will discover that interviews with Western journalists won't make up the lost ground.

Critics of Sharif claim that he has been tortured into his recantation. Undoubtedly, the Egyptian authorities have applied their usual techniques to Sharif, but Rohan Gunaranta says it matches a trend in Egypt over the last few years. The author of Inside al-Qaeda believes that Muslims have begun to see the disaster that 9/11 has brought to their standing in the world, and even the radicals want a new direction. The personal revelations of Zawahiri as a snitch may make it easier for them to make that transition, and for us to then destroy what remains of AQ.

I think that Ed is a little overoptimistic on that last, but it would sure be nice if he's right.

[Update a few minutes later]

Here's some more good news that would seem to be related:

We have failed to offer a robust response to the brutal wave of human sacrifice. This failure has allowed extremists to garner headlines and define the agenda without meeting an equally passionate response from the moderate center. It is long past time to mount a vigorous campaign against the cult of death and reaffirm a culture of life.

An essential first step is admitting we have a problem. The terrible attacks of recent days occurred during the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, Islam's most solemn act of atonement. The introspection and self-criticism of this sacred time offer an ideal moment to acknowledge the sacrilege of terrorism and the sin of being a passive bystander.

We must also avoid the temptation to rationalize murder. "The attack is wrong," goes a common refrain, "but we must understand the root causes." There can be no "buts" - no qualifications or justifications that indulge the political grievances and religious sanction claimed by extremists.

More of this, please.

Posted by Rand Simberg at December 20, 2007 08:03 AM
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