Al-Qaeda founder says attacks are 'immoral'

By David Leask
Published Date: 22 February 2009

CHINKS have appeared in the armour of al-Qaeda with one of the terror network's founders launching a vitriolic attack on its methods.

Sayyid Imam al-Sharif lashed out at former ally Osama bin Laden as American rockets rained down on suspected terrorist bases inside Pakistan's troubled frontier with Afghanistan.

The jailed Egyptian radical, better known by his nom de guerre "Dr Fadl", said the 9/11 and other suicide attacks on the West had been "immoral and counterproductive", unleashing horrific retribution on Islamists.

Fadl said: "Ramming America has become the shortest road to fame and leadership among the Arabs and Muslims. But what good is it if you destroy one of your enemy's buildings, and he destroys one of your countries? What good is it if you kill one of his people, and he kills a thousand of yours?"

The convicted terrorist made his remarks in a book published in a notorious Cairo jail, where he is being held by Egyptian authorities. Fadl, who has had some success in deradicalising key terror figures, reserved some of his toughest comments for his one-time deputy in the Egyptian Islamic "resistance", Ayman al-Zawahiri, who he brands a "liar".

Fadl said: "Every drop of blood that was shed or is being shed in Afghanistan and Iraq is the responsibility of Bin Laden and Zawahiri and their followers."

Fadl first recanted his most extreme views two years ago, sparking claims by Zawahiri that his one-time leader had been tortured into submission. Amnesty International has accused Egyptian authorities of mistreating prisoners, but Fadl – in a 200-page rebuttal of Zawahiri's claims – insists he really has changed his mind. His words are believed to reflect growing dissatisfaction with Bin Laden and al-Qaeda among former sympathisers.

Fadl, along with Bin Laden, a Saudi, created al-Qaeda, which means "The Base", in 1988 in the dying years of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. His words carry considerable weight with many radicals in Egypt and beyond.