Online Exchange between Mustafa Hamid and Saif Al-'Adl Represents New Wave of Internal Jihadi Criticism
No. 707 - July 14, 2011
Over recent months, jihadi discourse has witnessed an intriguing phenomenon in the form of an online exchange between prominent jihad writer Mustafa Hamid, also known as Abu Al-Walid Al-Masri, a longtime critic of Al-Qaeda, and one of the organization's most senior operatives, Saif Al-'Adl. The debate between the two provided Hamid with a new opportunity to criticize Al-Qaeda's overall strategy of open war with the U.S., as well as its specific tactics, most notably the 9/11 attacks. Saif Al-'Adl responded to this criticism by defending Al-Qaeda in articles that appeared on Hamid's website.
Like Hamid, Saif Al-'Adl has also criticized some of the decisions made by Al-Qaeda's leadership, including its management of jihad in Afghanistan and its decision to directly confront the U.S. by carrying out attacks on its own soil. He also voiced criticism of Osama bin Laden's leadership of the organization.
It should be noted that Hamid represents a rather unique position within the jihadi community, one focused less on ideology and religious matters than strategic concerns; he does not subscribe to a Salafi creed like most in the jihadi community. With that in mind, his views as presented in the following document should not be taken to reflect a wider tendency in the global jihad movement. The exchange between the two was, in fact, largely ignored in the online jihadi community, where Hamid is considered a persona non grata. The Ansar Al-Mujahideen Arabic forum suspended Hamid's membership after he published an article calling for Al-Qaeda to be disbanded. The forum's administrators wrote to him: "You have been suspended from the website for the following reason: there is no room for the tails [i.e., lackeys] of Rafidite Zoroastrians [derogatory terms for Shi'ite Iranians] on an Islamic jihadi website."
Mustafa Hamid's Criticism: "Best Solution is to Disband Al-Qaeda"
On December 17, 2010, Mustafa Hamid published on his website a scathing critique of Al-Qaeda and its track record, and of Osama bin Laden's leadership, although he said the latter was "a old and dear friend." He said that the organization in its original form no longer existed, having been taken over by numerous syndicate groups which had taken jihad to the extreme, using bin Laden's reputation to advance their own agendas under the brand name "Al-Qaeda." Therefore, Hamid concluded, Al-Qaeda must reevaluate its course and modus operandi, and disband:
"My thoughts [on this matter] are merely a realistic assessment based on my acquaintance with [bin Laden's] personality and way of thinking as a dear, old friend. Bin Laden left the door open for other groups to join Al-Qaeda. This was a grave mistake, as few of these groups, if any, espouse the same ideas as bin Laden… since the man [as an individual] and Al-Qaeda as a group do not have any sort of printed literature which defines the group's ideological and political line. Likewise, from its outset, the group has lacked any strategy or defined goals for which to strive, except for general, vague goals that change constantly with the turn of events..."
"Al-Qaeda Did Not Achieve Any Mentionable Success or Progress in Any Islamic Issue Anywhere"
"It is necessary to evaluate Al-Qaeda's performance, as an organization and in terms of its leadership. This must be done before bin Laden or others start reorganizing. Maintaining the status quo, or going forth in the old manner, is a form of foolishness to which no rational man can agree.
"From the outset, Al-Qaeda failed to answer the ummah's practical needs, and did not provide adequate answers for its existing challenges. Since it does not belong to any specific people, and is not connected to any specific land, it did not define any clear political or religious goal, apart from general slogans that enable schism, destruction, and straying in all directions, as we see now and as we have seen from the outset.
"In a practical sense, Al-Qaeda did not achieve any mentionable success or progress in any Islamic issue anywhere. The benefits the enemy derived from [the decisions made by] Al-Qaeda are great by any measure, to the extent that [Al-Qaeda] can be considered one of the major tools [the enemy used to advance] its international strategy. It has even helped to consolidate the European and U.S. [governments'] domestic rule, on the pretense that Al-Qaeda represents [the global threat of] 'Islamic terrorism.' The U.S. [uses this pretext] to scare the peoples of the West and drag their governments behind it into wars, and in order to enforce tyranny and a system of total police supervision over Western individuals and societies, in the name of security against Islamic terrorism…"
Saif Al-'Adl Answers: Instead of Flogging Itself for Its Errors, Al-Qaeda Should Focus on Mending Its Ways
On December 31, 2010, Hamid posted a compilation of five articles on his website, written, as he described it, by "the most important person in Al-Qaeda's field command." The pen name under which the articles appear is 'Abir Sabil, or "wayfarer," and from the description Hamid provides, in addition to the somewhat personal tone of the articles, it can be deduced that the author can be none other than Al-Qaeda commander Saif Al-'Adl. A second batch, also containing five articles, was published March 23, 2011. Although the articles constitute an apologia for Al-Qaeda, its war on the West, and the 9/11 attacks, they do admit that Al-Qaeda is not infallible, that it can be criticized, and that it should reevaluate its strategies from time to time. Such statements are unique, coming from a senior Al-Qaeda leader.
The Mujahideen Make Mistakes – But Their Intentions Are Pure
In his first article, dated January 12, 2011, Saif Al-'Adl addressed Al-Qaeda's need to admit its errors and face criticism: "When the old truths appear before our eyes, we are baffled, as though they were revealed only today. The first thing we try to do is to beat ourselves with them. This is because we like to flog and blame ourselves constantly. We turn our small sins into large ones and our adversaries' great sins into small ones. Instead of working to fix our wrongs, we shackle ourselves to our sins and continue flogging ourselves...
"What is all this for? Praise Allah, He has not shut the gates of repentance, so why all this self-flagellation when it is possible to mend one's ways... [and] when we have recognized our errors? Nobody claims that the jihad movement did not make mistakes or stumble here and there... so should we work to correct them, or should we sit around crying over them? Should we sit around and flog ourselves, or work to repair and improve our ways?
"We make mistakes! Yes, we make mistakes. We still make them... I know your love of the mujahideen, your yearning for their company, and your strong will to live in their midst. I agree with you [on the importance of] raising their awareness, teaching them, and fostering their zeal. However, I do not agree with you about flogging them..."
Defense of Al-Qaeda and Bin Laden
In his second article in response to Hamid's criticism, dated January 12, 2011, Saif Al-'Adl addresses Hamid's critique of Al-Qaeda's decision to wage war on the U.S., in particular the 9/11 attacks, as having "served the Jews and the Americans" and having been, in fact, an American-Western plot to justify attacks on the Muslims. Saif Al-'Adl also responds to Hamid's criticism of bin Laden. Following are excerpts from the article:
"The Muslim ummah has produced many jihadi and Islamic movements in the present era, with Sheikh Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda at their fore... [they] and their actions are products of Islamic civilization.
"Therefore, we must not do the job of the Americans and their allies for them and judge the role of the devoted sons of the ummah, whether Al-Qaeda and its leader or others. Allah will forgive them for their intentions on the Day of Resurrection. As for their actions, they are not infallible, and can be criticized and corrected. But we must not subject them to, and evaluate them in accordance with, the viewpoint of the global deception apparatuses. Rather, we shall assess them according to a clear method. We will use the lessons we've learned from them to give advice and direct [them]..."
Self Evaluation Is a Necessity
"I say to my brothers, the mujahideen... that along the course of jihad, we must evaluate it. We must see what has been achieved and what is yet left [to be done], what we have done wrong and what we have done right. We must cooperate with our brothers, the sons of the ummah. We represent a generation that will be replaced by generations that will benefit from what preceded them, generations which will continue the journey with greater understanding and a greater awareness..."
Saif Al-'Adl goes on to list the positive achievements of Al-Qaeda's efforts, in his opinion. These can be summarized as follows:
- Causing the failure of the U.S.'s imperialistic aspirations by waging war against it in Iraq.
- Stopping the West's scheme for carving up the Arab states into a "Greater Middle East" in order to facilitate the plundering of its resources, to be funneled to the U.S. and the West.
- Exposing "the dark face of the new imperialism," as represented by the rulers of the Arab states, to the Arab peoples and Western public opinion.
- Successfully carrying out the 9/11 attacks, which melted fear of the U.S. among the groups and countries that oppose it by proving that the U.S. was vulnerable even on its own soil, emboldened the Arab peoples enough to stand up to their rulers in the name of freedom of speech, and led to a huge wave of conversion to Islam in the West.
- By waging all-out war against the U.S. and its Western allies without any foreign assistance, the mujahideen rendered their fight an independent Islamic one and repented for the assistance they had accepted from the intelligence services of the U.S., Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan in the 1980s.
- Kindling the spirit of jihad among the Muslims and raising their morale.
- Bolstering Al-Jazeera TV's viewership and reputation, presumably by providing it with video and audio clips of bin Laden.
- Weakening the old world order and, as a result, the political orders under its patronage, i.e. the Arab regimes, thus enabling the Arab peoples to rise up, and thereby justifying Al-Qaeda's strategic decision to fight the "far enemy."
- Bringing about the economic crisis engulfing the West.
- Crushing both the communist ideology through jihad against the former Soviet Union in Afghanistan and the Western capitalist ideology through its current war against the U.S. and the West.
Saif Al-'Adl points to these achievements as the ultimate proof of the success, and therefore legitimacy, of Al-Qaeda's strategy of declaring war on the U.S. and the West: "How would it have been possible to achieve all this without the  bombing of the U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Dar Al-Salam, which symbolized an attack on American foreign policy, which is entirely disposed in favor of the ummah's enemies. Wasn't America's military collapse heralded in the attack on [the USS Cole]? Didn't the American security concept of defending of their impregnable fortress... collapse? The attacks on the Pentagon and the American homeland, or Al-Qaeda's tactic of attacking the U.S... will be studied in military academies alongside Sun Tsu's book and the idea of the Trojan Horse…
"Wasn't all of Western culture ready to collapse with the collapse of the World Trade Center towers? Wasn't the attack on this economic symbol an indication to anyone with eyes to see of the importance of economic attrition? Isn't the threat on the new Silk Route, the oil lines, an indication of what the Western world is destined to suffer should it lose them, and of the right of those who control [the oil] to decide what its appropriate price should be?
"It is important for me to clarify that Al-Qaeda and its leader never said that they were going to defeat the Americans on their own. Rather, they are working to inspire the ummah, incite it [to wage war], and act as a vanguard for it in this blessed jihad, to weaken the greatest tyrant [the U.S.]. Then, the ummah will rise up and liberate itself from the tyrants that weigh heavily on its soul [i.e., the Arab rulers].
"In this sense, we are talking about a long war and not a quick battle. War is a series of battles... Al-Qaeda's war and the war its ummah [is waging] against the West is a long one which will last 20 years, according to [the West's] own estimates... A war in which one of the sides is a coalition that controls the world, and the opposite side is an ambitious organization that inspires the ummah and seeks to revive it cannot be a war of one or two years. Whoever fails to understand this should look at similar wars [in history], if he can find them.
"The central question today is which one of us [i.e., Saif Al-'Adl or Hamid] now possesses deeper, farther-reaching insight. Ever since Al-Qaeda's [operations] in Somalia, it embarked upon entangling the Americans in a long war that would bring them to their current state of collapse. [The Americans] were [able] to escape and evade this until their fool, [George W.] Bush, turned up.
"So, who drew whom into the war? Who brought whom under their program? Who lost in the short run and who in the long run? Why have you [Hamid] recognized the Russian collapse [i.e., the fall of the Soviet Union, purportedly as a result of jihad in Afghanistan], while you ignore the American and Western collapse? Both of these were brought about by the sons of the ummah; both of these were accomplished with arms; both emerged from Afghanistan. Why shouldn't we Muslims realize these results and discuss them? [Why] do we adhere to what the Western, Arab, and Islamic intelligence services and their mouthpieces disseminate? More importantly, if Al-Qaeda's doings are part of a global strategy devised by the Americans and the Jews [as Hamid asserts], what did the Americans and Jews derive from a decade of violent conflict? The truth is that I see [nothing but] more hostility toward them and more losses for them on all levels..."
Hamid to Saif Al-'Adl: Bin Laden, Al-Qaeda have Destroyed Afghanistan
On April 9, 2011, Mustafa Hamid published the first part of his response to Saif Al-'Adl's defense of Al-Qaeda in an article severely critical of Al-Qaeda and its strategy of waging open war on the West. Hamid accuses Al-Qaeda of bringing tragedy upon the Afghan people and of causing the downfall of the Islamic rule in Afghanistan, i.e., the Taliban regime, by bringing on the U.S. invasion in response to 9/11. Following are excerpts:
"As for me, I do not care about New York to the extent that I care about Kandahar. For me, and for every Muslim, too, I think, Afghanistan is more important than the U.S. I discussed this with Sheikh Osama in my last meeting with him – see the book A Cross in the Skies of Kandahar – and I warned him that attacking the U.S. would give it an excuse to topple the Taliban rule, conquer the country, and appoint a regime loyal to it in Afghanistan. This was several weeks before the 'Manhattan raid' [i.e., 9/11]...
"The main points that concern me in this regard are:
"1. The 'raid' was conducted contrary to explicit orders from the commander of the faithful, the Mullah Muhammad 'Omar.
"2. The ramifications of the 'raid' on Afghanistan, its people, and its Islamic regime, which was the fruit of a century and a half of jihad against enemies from the East and West alike. I await a reply from dear brother Osama bin Laden regarding these two points. If 'Abir Sabil [i.e., Saif Al-'Adl] has an answer – he is welcome to share it with me…"
9/11 Brought Tragedy upon the Afghans
"Brother 'Abir Sabil speaks of 'the blessed results of the Manhattan raid,' and then lists matters such as the enemies' losses, the waves of Americans converting to Islam, the boost in the Muslims' morale, etc. I will not dispute all this, despite the fact that it is all very disputable. But I will ask: if we were to weigh these [supposed benefits] (even though most of them are nonsense) against the Muslims' losses in Afghanistan alone, which side of the scale would outweigh the other – the sacrifice of the people, the land, and the Islamic [rule] of Afghanistan, or the gains – most of which are totally imaginary or irrationally exaggerated? Did the Afghans, the interested party, empower you to sacrifice them so that, in return, you could achieve all of these great gains? Why did bin Laden choose Afghanistan as a victim and not Saudi Arabia, for instance, seeing that Al-Qaeda's motto at the time was the liberation of the Arabian Peninsula and [Islam's] holy sites?...
"Just as Al-Qaeda, as an organization and leadership, executed a [remarkable] feat in the 'Manhattan raid,' it executed an even more remarkable feat in destroying Afghanistan, its people, and its government – not to mention the destruction of Al-Qaeda's own cadres and its strategic reserves of combat expertise, which evaporated in the fire of the war [with the West that followed], without any possibility of being renewed in the foreseeable future..."
We Should Ask Ourselves Why the Masses have Renounced the Islamists
"Carrying out the duty of jihad does not grant immunity from criticism, accountability, or standing trial, if necessary... Concealing mistakes and letting them increase throughout the years and the succession of defeats, and hiding the group's [true] situation, causes these mistakes to increase [yet more], in a manner that diffuses the stench of corruption. As a result, people of all walks of life steer away from these groups, and possibly also from Islam itself, to other schools of thought – and this is what has been happening for decades.
"In the end, the masses renounced the Islamic movement, its parties, and its groups. Right now, we are witnessing powerful indications to this effect in the stirring of the Arab street and its revolution against tyranny and corruption – all of it detached from the leadership of the Islamists. Shouldn't we ask ourselves… why?"
Hamid: Al-Qaeda No Longer Exists
In his second letter in response to Saif Al-'Adl, dated April 14, 2011, Hamid writes of bin Laden's mistaken conviction regarding his organization's ability to defeat the U.S., and says that the original Al-Qaeda in effect ceased to exist the instant it began carrying out major attacks against the U.S.:
"[Bin Laden] thought that the U.S. was very weak, to the extent that it would not be able to withstand two or three big strikes from him. [He] underestimated its abilities, after its weakness was revealed in Somalia [in 1993], when its forces fled from small strikes carried out by weak groups of fighters. This weakness was made clear beforehand in Lebanon, whence [the U.S.] fled after a suicide bombing in the Marine barracks in Beirut.
"If bin Laden is convinced of something, there is no use in discussing it with him. He went ahead carrying out what he wanted to, regardless of any opposition there may have been, and carried out his three strikes. The first was a double attack in Africa against two U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Dar Al-Salaam. The second strike was in the Gulf of Aden, against the destroyer Cole. And the third and final strike was the 'Manhattan raid', according to Al-Qaeda's narrative.
"In practice, Al-Qaeda's wars ended, as, in fact, did Al-Qaeda itself, following these three strikes. At the same time, the entire world became the scene of an American outburst of the utmost barbarism and harshness against the Muslims specifically, and [against] the rest of the peoples of the world in general. [This outburst] was intended to impose a global hegemony through the force of arms, and with all means of financial, political, and intelligence coercion – all under the slogan of 'the war on Islamic terrorism.'"
Hamid: Al-Qaeda's Inconsistent Strategy Can Only Be Described as "Wandering"
Hamid criticizes Al-Qaeda's strategy of attacks against civilians and its lack of strategic consistency in general. Hamid explains that targeting civilians is forbidden in Islam, and that whenever a side makes a move that is intended as deterrence but which fails to deter, escalation will necessarily ensue:
"Al-Qaeda considered the strategy of targeting America as meaning only one form of action, namely the targeting civilians, in the manner of what occurred in the 'Manhattan raid' – or the attempts to bomb aircraft in the air or in populated gatherings in cities, in the manner of the operations that took place in Spain and Britain...
"We recall that bin Laden set out with a strategic plan, which was to liberate the Arabian Peninsula and the Two Holy Places. [This plan] then evolved into liberating [all] Islamic holy places, including Palestine. His latest proposal that I know of was to target American civilians everywhere.
"There is no other phrase to describe all this other than 'wandering.' This is because a strategic goal must be permanent. There are still those who speak on behalf of Al-Qaeda in defense of the 'strategy' of attacking the enemy on his lands or anywhere. This is what is known as 'foreign operations,' those which target the enemy outside the area of conflict. It should be added that Al-Qaeda [itself] is an organization foreign [to Afghanistan], having been established on the periphery of the Afghanistan issue..."
Following Bin Laden's Assassination, Hamid Condemns the Takeover of Al-Qaeda by Salafi-Jihadis Who Conduct "Criminal Massacres"
Following the assassination of Osama bin Laden, Hamid published a series of three articles discussing the Al-Qaeda leader's legacy. This report will focus on the third and final article in the series, titled "Whither Al-Qaeda?" and dated May 21, 2011, in which Hamid details his negative opinion of "the new Al-Qaeda," which he says has been taken over by Salafi-jihadi trends whose commitment to unchecked violence serves the U.S. in its plot to sustain its presence and influence in the Middle East. It should be noted that Hamid claims that bin Laden had nothing to do with the new Al-Qaeda, but adds that this does not absolve him entirely of responsibility for the direction the global jihad movement has taken. Another interesting detail is that in his history of Al-Qaeda, Hamid makes no mention of his fellow Egyptian, Ayman Al-Zawahiri, who would later replace bin Laden in leading Al-Qaeda. Following are excerpts from the article:
"The years between 2002 and 2010 witnessed the establishment of a new organization under the name of Al-Qaeda, but far from the old Al-Qaeda that was eliminated in the field of battle in Afghanistan... and Waziristan, which became a death zone, and a building zone for the new Al-Qaeda – something bin Laden knew nothing of and to which he had no connection, other than its name and formal declaration of loyalty [to bin Laden]. However, the [new organization's] aims are different, its leaders scattered and completely obscure, and nothing is known of them except for their noms de guerre.
"Iraq was the most important station in the shaping of the new Al-Qaeda's concepts and operational philosophy. At times, its leaders were known, especially during the period when it was led by Abu Mus'ab Al-Zarqawi...
"It was clear that the new Al-Qaeda was formed in accordance with precepts suited to the American strategy in the Arab and Islamic region, and in congruence with the Israeli view... which aims to divide the Arab world into [numerous] sectarian or ethnic mini-states – igniting armed conflicts between them on these grounds, rendering armed or cold conflict the basis of relations among the entities of the region – and to divide the Islamic ranks along the Sunni-Shi'ite schism... Seeing that the Salafi-jihadi [current] is the greatest divider in this struggle, it must have military wings that will kindle the conflict to the level of bloody strife or even war, if possible.
"The most important wing of the armed Salafi [movement] is the new Al-Qaeda organization, whose most important active center at present is in Waziristan. However, the American propaganda is eager to emphasize that Al-Qaeda is present, powerful, and scattered all around the world, and that it poses a grave threat necessitating the continuation of the global confrontation which the U.S. leads... However, the issue of leadership continues to be a real problem for the Americans... since there is no figure who can fill the great leadership role that bin Laden [left vacant]...
"Then came the actions of the new Al-Qaeda [elements], who announced their membership in Al-Qaeda as organizations or individuals, following the occupation of Afghanistan, and perpetrated a series of bloody acts that harmed bin Laden more than any act of slander his American enemies and their allies ever conducted against him. If bin Laden had had actual command of [Al-Qaeda], he would not have agreed to these criminal massacres against innocent Muslims...
"The leaders who took bin Laden's place, albeit symbolically, did not have actual control or even the ability to make a suggestion to the individuals and organizations of the new wave, without causing a declared split which would inevitably lead to takfir and mutual accusations over which the enemy would delight and gloat. Therefore, it was decided to accept the shedding of the Muslims' blood by the new Al-Qaeda, rather than to allow Al-Qaeda to lose face and its media image."
Hamid presents the merging of Salafi groups, specifically those in Algeria and Iraq, with Al-Qaeda as a trade-off wherein Al-Qaeda offered its reputation in return for men and arms. This Salafization of Al-Qaeda, in Hamid's eyes, cost the organization the heavy price of isolation from general Muslim society:
"The regions that were harmed most by the new Al-Qaeda were Iraq and Waziristan... Following the appearance of the new Al-Qaeda in Iraq, there was a digression from the course of jihad against the Americans to sectarian Sunni-Shiite fighting... The misconduct of the new Al-Qaeda's commanders made the locals turn against jihad and join the Americans in the accursed Sahwa movement."
Hamid goes on to enumerate the crimes of the Salafi terror groups in Waziristan, such as causing a split between the Pakistani and Afghan Taliban, attacking Shi'ites and Sufis, causing the Pakistani army to attack tribal areas, and turning jihad into a matter of internal fighting among Muslims: "During the past nine years, the U.S. has been establishing a new theater of global Salafi jihad under the banner of the new Al-Qaeda. Following the supposed assassination of Osama bin Laden, journalists and intelligence circles in the U.S. and the West raised many questions regarding the fate of Al-Qaeda post [bin Laden], and regarding the old leaders.
"These questions are misleading, since the new stage in Al-Qaeda's history was founded and laid down de-facto years ago. The announcement of the assassination of its founding leader is an official announcement of the inauguration of the new Al-Qaeda, and the beginnings of a trend meant to be the leading force of Salafi jihad throughout the world...
"If anybody asks: who leads the new Al-Qaeda? The answer is: the U.S. commands this trend de-facto."
* R. Green is a research fellow at MEMRI
 Hamid, born in Egypt in 1945, is a veteran jihad commander, strategist, and author. Having arrived in Afghanistan in 1979, Hamid was among the very first Arabs to join the Afghan jihad. In the late 1980s, Hamid became acquainted with 'Abdallah 'Azzam and Osama bin Laden, and was a founding member of Al-Qaeda and a member of its shura council. Hamid, however, has long criticized the organization's leadership, specifically its lack of strategic thinking and military professionalism. Additionally, Hamid worked as a reporter for several Arab media outlets, including the Qatari TV channel Al-Jazeera.
In 2001, following the U.S. offensive in Kandahar – where Hamid was living, along with his family and numerous other Al-Qaeda operatives – he fled to Iran, where he has since remained, having effectively been placed under house arrest. In recent years, Hamid has written for the Taliban's Arabic e-magazine Al-Sumud, and also maintains his own personal website where he publishes the bulk of his writings.
Saif Al-'Adl ("the sword of justice") is the nom de guerre of a senior Al-Qaeda commander of Egyptian origin. Recently an Egyptian newspaper revealed that Saif Al-'Adl's real name is Muhammad Salah Al-Din Zaidan, a native of the Manoufia district. Little is known of his background, apart from the fact that he served as an officer in the Egyptian army. He is said to have gone to Afghanistan in 1987, after meeting Osama bin Laden on a pilgrimage to Mecca. Throughout the 1990s, Saif Al-'Adl served a central role in planning and facilitating Al-Qaeda's military training and operations. In late 2001, like Hamid, he reportedly fled Afghanistan to Iran, where he was likewise placed under arrest. It should be noted that there are some indications that he has nonetheless continued to play a leading role in Al-Qaeda and its operations. In October 2010 Saif Al-'Adl was released by the Iranians in exchange for an Iranian diplomat who was kidnapped by the Taliban. According to reports in the Pakistani press and elsewhere, he arrived to Waziristan under orders by Ayman Al-Zawahiri. Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), May 23, 2011. See also MEMRI JTTM Report, "After His Release By Iran, Al-Qaeda Sends Its Military Commander, Saif Al-Adl, To North Waziristan," http://www.memrijttm.org/content/en/blog_personal.htm?id=4178.
 It should be noted that whereas Hamid has voiced his criticism of Al-Qaeda openly, Saif Al-'Adl did so in private correspondence, which was later discovered and disseminated by the U.S. military.
 Abir Sabil was first identified as Saif Al-'Adl in a January 1, 2011 article in the London-based daily Al-Hayat. See http://www.daralhayat.com/internationalarticle/218699.
It should be noted that in one instance, Hamid mentions Saif Al-'Adl by name, referring to the destruction of the latter's home in a 2001 airstrike in Kandahar.
 Saif Al-'Adl would seem to be referring to the scathing criticism voiced by Mustafa Hamid and others against Al-Qaeda.
 A Wahhabi movement founded in the 1970s which views true Islamic government as based on an equal partnership between the religious establishment and the state, and Islamic law as derived solely from the Koran and the Sunna.