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New AQAP Video: The Descendants of Muhammad ibn Maslamah

As Ibn Silliqi noted in the comments this morning another video has been released from al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. This one is entitled, “The Descendants of Muhammad ibn Maslamah.” The reference is to this man, and particularly to this incident:

In 624, Muhammad ibn Maslamah volunteered when the Prophet Muhammad called upon his followers to kill Ka’b, a chief of the Banu Nadir, who had written poetry the Muslims found offensive. Muhammad ibn Maslamah collected four others, including a foster-brother of Ka’b. By pretending to have turned against Muhammad, they enticed Ka’b out of his fortress on a moonlight nightfor what was supposed to be negotiations of Ka’b’s sale of food to them. After Ka’b walked out of his fortress to meet Muhammad ibn Maslama and his companions, they attacked Ka’b and killed him in spite of his vigorous resistance.

The video features the attacker, ‘Abdullah ‘Asiri, as well as Nasir al-Wahayshi. Again, in an effort to cut back on blogging, I am not going to go into a full analysis of the video, but I will say that this is yet one more effort by AQAP to locate itself firmly within what it believes is a solid tradition of attacking non-believers. The parallel isn’t quite there in this instance, as Muhammad bin Nayif is a self-identifying Muslim, but in the absence of vigorous debate AQAP’s narrative has a certain appeal. And, if nothing else, this shows that A.) AQAP is susceptible to popular perceptions among its target audience and B.) that there is an Islamic precedent, or maybe more accurately there is an attempt here to connect ‘Abdullah ‘Asiri’s attack to an early Islamic example that AQAP believes serves as a precedent. That is to say, that the attempted assassination is within the tradition that AQAP is claiming to be a part of.

AQAP has an audience it is appealing to and by attempting to position itself within a particular tradition and by claiming to uphold the values of the companions of the Prophet it is doing a fairly convincing job, or at the very least a much better job than either the Saudi, Yemeni or US governments.


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