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Aafia vs al-Qaeda … again.

Dec 16, 2010


By: Andrew Purcell

My goodness! Aafia has become positively trendy amongst the elite in the world of terrorism. Last month it was Ayman al-Zawahiri attempting to turn her into a pin-up girl for suicide bombers. Now it is the turn of Abu Yahya al-Liby. At this rate I expect Aafia to be the covergirl for "al-Qaeda Chic: The Hottie in the Hijab" next month.
Liby, like Zawahiri before him, seems to have only now discovered Aafia, nearly eight years after she was kidnapped off the streets of Karachi, two and a half years after she surfaced dazed and disoriented in Afghanistan, and ten months following her conviction in a New York City courtroom.
Where have these guys been? Are they really hidden so deeply in caves that the news is only now reaching them? I don't believe that. Even the guys in the caves have cable TV.
They decided that she would make a great recruiting tool. Nothing more and nothing less. Read their statements. Watch their videos. There is no human warmth or concern for Aafia, her children, her brother, her sister, and especially for their mother. Just the tired calls for more mayhem.
Aafia has stated that she wants no violence done in her name. Her sister, her brother, and their mother have all repeatedly said in public and to me in private that they do not want people killing or dying or participating in any sort of violence in Aafia's name.
Do you want to know what success looks like? Success looks like Dr. Fowzia appearing at a press conference in Karachi in the summer of 2008 as part of a desperate attempt to force the release of her sister. This was a risky move accompanied by death threats from the military dictatorship that ruled Pakistan. A few weeks later the military dictator fled Pakistan and now wanders from one place to another.
Success looks like Fowzia gaining custody of Aafia's son Ahmad in September 2008. Success looks like Easter Sunday 2010 when Aafia's daughter was found wandering the streets of Karachi (and possibly redefining the term "resurrection" at the same time).
Two and a half years ago Dr. Fowzia and a handful of friends and relatives, with nothing more to work with than faith, courage, and persistance, began a campaign to free Aafia from the secret prison and secure her children. This campaign has been a success. Aafia's captors were forced to release her from the secret prison where she had been
subjected to torture and turn her over to the official American legal system where she is entitled to at least the appearance of being treated in accordance with American law. The identity of her captors is no longer secret. Two of her three children are now living with her mother.
In al-Qaeda's decade and a half of reckless nihilism, have they even come close to achieving any form of success for any of their goals? Have they ended or even moderated the Western influence in Muslim countries that they find so corrosive? Have they replaced any corrupt or ineffective government in the Muslim world? Have they done anything besides kill a lot if people and blown up a lot of stuff?
Al-Qaeda's attempt to use Aafia as a recruiting tool is a sign that they are aware that the Islam of compassion and mercy has produced successes that the Islam of beheadings and amputations has not. They fear that if too many people notice this they will become little more than an irrelevant nuisance. Kind of like the metaphor of the tail trying to wag the dog.

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