An expert's point of view on a current event.

The Worst of the Worst

These are some of the jihadi pundits who are making waves on al Qaeda's Web forums today -- and could potentially trade their keyboards for suicide vests tomorrow.


Asad al-Jihad2

Asad al-Jihad2

Who is he? The most flamboyant and popular jihadi pundit currently on the forums. His recent announcement that he was "logging back on" after a hiatus has reinvigorated online participants who have been eagerly anticipating his return.

Sample quote: "I will disclose something about [myself]: When I see the planes hitting the towers, I exclaim loudly ‘God is Great.’  I cannot hide my happiness every time I see this clip, which heals Muslims’ chests, praise be to God first and foremost."


Abd al-Rahman al-Faqir

Who is he? A senior jihadi pundit whose work concentrates heavily on the role of the media and perception management. His essays have been amassed into a 290-page compilation book and reposted on jihadi forums.

Sample quote: "There is nothing more dangerous to the United States than stirring up social issues and mobilizing racial groups, as well as focusing on the class system that is unique to this, the largest capitalist nation in the world…. I am willing to donate $10 to Obama for his fulfillment of a personal favor and for his success in instigating racial tension in the United States when it was unable to find anyone to stir it up."


Hafid al-Hussain

Who is he? A popular jihadi Web activist and instigator. He has sought to call attention within the al Qaeda Internet forums to a number of campaigns. One initiative was designed to enlist members of four premier al Qaeda forums to invade American websites and spread al Qaeda messages. He has also promoted a campaign to convince men to marry the widows of dead martyrdom operatives.

Sample quote: "Therefore, we encourage the followers of the master of prophets Muhammad (prayers and peace be upon him) and the sisters and brothers to be considerate of this matter, and perpetually to publicize and upload it to the forums, urging and encouraging the brothers in the Hijaz, Egypt, Syria, and the Islamic Maghreb to marry the wives of martyrs. This is in order to protect the Sunni girls and save the honor of your sisters and the orphans. O brothers in Islam, is this difficult?"


Shaykh Abu-Abd-al-Rahman al-Yafi’i

Who is he? A newer pundit who has seized the forums’ attention with his playful writing style that draws on puns, poetry, excessive hyperbole, and irony. He tends to make arguments that bifurcate the world into good Muslims and others. Importantly, he makes ample use of Quranic and Hadith justification in his arguments, a quality that distinguishes him from most other pundits and substantiates his use of "Shaykh" in his pseudonym.

Sample quote: "The shaykhs of the Marines and all Arab and non-Arab ‘Marines intellectuals’ know very well that they are orbiting the worldwide terrorist campaign to defame the intentions of the Muslim mujahideen, who seek to resume the caliphate on the path of the Prophet and to remove all obstacles on the way to achieve that noble mission and sacred ordainment…. By God, I feel sorry for your reality, you miserable people. How can you judge the mujahideen for their mistakes, they are certainly not angels, while your eating, drinking, standing, sitting, sleeping, and traveling are a worse sin, which is abstaining from ordained jihad in due time. By God, the movements of the mujahideen — standing, sitting, laughter, sleeping, waking, eating, and drinking — are all good deeds."


Abu Shadiyah

Who is he? A rising star in the jihadi forums. Cocky and brash, yet formal in his writing style, Abu Shadiyah has amassed a huge following in a short amount of time. Some of his writings take the form of poetry.

Sample quote: "Al Qaeda is the one who will carry out the pre-emptive strike
Al Qaeda is the one who outlines the features of the battle
Al Qaeda is the one who drags the enemy into the battlefield
Al Qaeda is the one who sets the zero hour
Al Qaeda is the one who makes peace and make truces. It is the one who fights and carries out strikes."


Ziyad Abu Tariq

Who is he? Abu Tariq has been publishing since 2007 on the jihadi forums. His essays often focus on the role of jihadi pundits and the reasons these forums and media groups exist.

Sample quote: "On the media side, al Qaeda surely relies on advocate authors. This fact clearly suggests the wide horizons of al Qaeda because there are many ideas to be read between the lines…. [W]hen al Qaeda wants to convey messages … it appoints one of its great scholars to undertake this task using the jihadist forums…. [Asad al-Jihad2] has conveyed many messages for al Qaeda to the followers as well as the opponents…. ‘Yaman Mukhaddab’ has posed terrifying questions to the enemy’s face that made them nervously cower. The professional ‘Abu Shadiyah’ dots the i’s and crosses the t’s and clarifies the way of dissolving alliances. ‘Ubadah Bin-Samit’ kills them silently and opens the fire of his limited and unlimited media fronts on them. The fingers of ‘Husni Salamah’ take their breath away and tighten the grip around their throats. The general administrator ‘Mujahid’ attacks them with his raid of glory and enablement, invades their borders, and drives them crazy. ‘Hadi al-Arwah’ takes them to the basements of nightmares and sadness with his realistic analysis of al Qaeda threats. The very witty ‘Muhami al-Dawlah’ makes them feel depressed and starts the bidding with 200 killed persons, hopes for 100,000, and increases the number."


Shaykh Abu Ahmad Abd al-Rahman al-Masri

Who is he? An old-hand Egyptian jihadi author who now publishes a prolific number of essays and short monographs. Beyond the al Qaeda Web forums, a number of more formal jihadi media outlets and magazines have begun publishing his work, which suggests that he is becoming a more trusted personality in the inner rings of al Qaeda’s movement. Recent reports have surfaced that he is ill, which could really mean that he is sick — or potentially is code for being under duress.

Sample quote: "O Muslim masses everywhere, this blood cannot be stopped except by blood. This fear will not be killed except by blood. The body and sins of the ummah [the Muslim community] will not be purified except by blood."


Yaman Mukhaddab

Who is he? A revered jihadi analyst who is rumored to be "close" to al Qaeda. After a short posting hiatus, Mukhaddab returned in September 2009, though the pace of his writings has decreased noticeably. His writings are premised on the idea that al Qaeda is very clear about its strategy and goals. All jihadists need do is listen carefully to understand their rationale. His recent writings about the need to attack Germany were well received in the jihadi forums.

Sample quote: "I expected a decisive announcement from al Qaeda … 15 days from my having written an article on this subject here in al-Hisbah.… By the grace of God, Abu Hamzah al-Muhajir’s announcement of the beginning of a new stage different from its predecessors came out 16 days from the date of my writing the article. This success that God granted me in deducing the plans of al Qaeda … gives me confidence to believe — and God knows best — that I have understood and comprehended al Qaeda’s strategy and implementation plans very well.

Jarret Brachman, an assistant research professor of security studies at North Dakota State University, is the author of Global Jihadism: Theory and Practice and the former director of research at West Point's Combating Terrorism Center. He blogs at

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