Letters written by al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, published online by the US Army, include criticism of the West for derailing the “Islamic spirit” of the Arab Spring and imposing a Turkey-style democracy on the Middle East, saying it would prevent Arabs from staying committed to Islam.
The US-based Combating Terrorism Center (CTC) published bin Laden's letters online on Thursday. One of the letters includes a public speech of Ayman al-Zawahiri on the Arab Spring. Al-Zawahiri was bin Laden's long-time lieutenant and became the leader of al-Qaeda after US Navy SEALs killed bin Laden in his hideout in Pakistan last May. The speech is claimed to have actually been written by bin Laden.
The speech warns Egyptians, who managed to topple the 30-year dictatorship of Hosni Mubarak in an uprising that started in late 2010, to be careful about external powers that want to derail their movement and to try to impose a Turkey-style democracy in the post-Mubarak period. It also claims that the US's decision to abandon its policy of supporting secular dictatorships like those of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in Tunisia and Ali Abdullah Saleh in Yemen and to come out in support of the Arab Spring movements stemmed from al-Qaeda's attacks on New York on Sept. 11, 2001.
“They want a democracy that will impose secularism on us and will prohibit us from committing to Islam, such as the democracy of Turkey that they try to market to us,” the text notes. It continues by defining that type of democracy as changing the social system in the country so as to be based on perversion and accepting a corrupt family foundation “based on a very ugly image of filth.”
In another letter, bin Laden criticized the “Mujahidin” of al-Qaeda for not fully focusing on the Gaza flotilla event when it was at the top of the agenda but instead busying themselves with the group’s own problems.
Claiming that some al-Qaeda militants focused on another kidnapped militant of the radical organization when the attack on the Mavi Marmara was popular opened the way to chatters in Arab media that al-Qaeda is not interested in the Palestinian cause and the blockade of Gaza.
Bin Laden said al-Qaeda should have first focused on “the bigger foe,” namely Israel, one of “the main reasons for initiating the ‘jihad’.”
Israel on May 31, 2010, attacked an international flotilla carrying supplies to Gaza in an effort to breach an Israeli blockade of Gaza. Eight Turks and a Turkish-American teenager were killed in the attack.
The incident aggravated relations between former allies Turkey and Israel. The ties were already tense over Turkish criticism of Israel’s 2008-2009 assault on the Palestinians. Turkey recalled its ambassador and pushed for international condemnation of Israel.