Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat- The Egyptian Islamist movement Jamaat Islamiya has called for Al Qaeda to adopt a four-month truce and to cease any operations against the United States, the West and other countries, as they await “the fair, practical stances of the new American president.” Its request came shortly after Al Qaeda leader Abu Yahya al Libi urged for attacks to be launched on Western states, especially the US and Britain, to avenge Israel’s attacks on Gaza and for Britain’s role in supporting the establishment of a homeland for the Jews in 1948.
Sheikh Najih Ibrahim, a theorist and leading figure of the Jamaat Islamiya group in Egypt told Asharq Al-Awsat that the movement fears that Al Qaeda may carry out operations and launch attacks in the upcoming period and as a result, turn President Barack Obama into “another George W. Bush.” The group fears that Obama would change his position regarding withdrawing from Afghanistan and Iraq and shutting down the US prison at Guantanamo Bay whereas America under George W. Bush occupied Afghanistan and Iraq and detained Islamists in Guantanamo Bay in the wake of the 9/11 attacks in 2001.
“Whether or not Libi called for attacks to be launched against Britain, we fear that Al Qaeda could carry out operations that would turn Obama into another George W. Bush and turn something positive into something negative. No one will benefit from this except Israel,” said Shiekh Najih Ibrahim.
A repeat of Al Qaeda attacks “will be a victory for Israel and those who share the opinion of George W. Bush that this violence is a characteristic of Islam. We, the Jamaat Islamiya group, want the best for Islam and Muslims and we have hope that the Al Qaeda of today is different to the Al Qaeda of 9/11,” he added.
The statement signed by Sheikh Essam Derbala, a prominent leader of the Egyptian Jamaat Islamiya addressed the Al Qaeda organization saying, “Tell them (Western states) without fear: We will not start fighting except in self-defense over the next four months as we wait for Obama’s fair, practical stances. We welcome permanent peace based on respect for the Islamic identity and the right of our people to live independently according to their creed and religious law, based on common interest with America and the world and for the sake of humankind away from the clash of civilizations.”
The statement addressed “all Al Qaeda supporters, whether they are part of the movement or just agree with its ideology, but especially the leaders of the organization in all places, and particularly Sheikh Osama Bin Laden and Sheikh Dr. Ayman al Zawahiri.”
The statement referred to the new American president’s desire to follow a new direction. “Addressing the Islamic world, Obama said we are in need of a new direction. So he is calling for adopting a new approach that differs to the blocked and irrational path that Bush followed.”
Derbala stated that the new president’s approach is based on common interests and mutual respect and that Obama had said that American generations faced communism and fascism not just with missiles and tanks but with alliances and with dialogue. His approach carried a peaceful message to the world and he said that he would extend his hand to those who extend their hands in peace and announced his intention to withdraw American forces from Iraq in an easy way and would try to establish peace, which is difficult to achieve, in Afghanistan.
Derbala added, “These positions – Obama announcing a diplomatic approach towards Iran and its nuclear file, his willingness to close Guantanamo Bay, and his request that judges suspend trials for four months in Guantanamo Bay – show that there is a new opportunity that must be explored and not thrown away before making sure that it is just a mirage.”
Derbala called upon the Al Qaeda leadership to extend its hand in peace. He said, “What harm would it cause if you told Obama what you want and you said: we extend our hand in peace based on common interests and achieving good for humankind. We extend our hand for the sake of peace and achieving independence for Iraq and Afghanistan. We extend our hand for the sake of peace and realizing the hopes of our Islamic nations so that we can live under Islamic rule in accordance with our creed based on the rules of Sharia that we cherish and defend.”
According to the Jamaat Islamiya statement, there were other conditions for peace between the Al Qaeda organization and the United States: “the fair demands of our Ummah in Palestine, Kashmir, Chechnya, Bosnia and Kosovo,” and “the release of prisoners such as Dr Omar Abdul Rahman,” and that “America abandons it policy of double standards with regards to the Islamic world and its bias towards Israel,” as well it “[working towards] achieving communication between civilizations and not clashes.”