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A blog on terrorism, democracy and international politics

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Some travel overseas to relax. . . 

My recent trip to the United States was a great success. I met with a number of policy analysts and democracy and human rights activists, and came home with a lot of new ideas.

As this was my first trip to the United States, it was interesting to see first hand whether the various preconceptions and cliches would be proven true. I found Americans to be universally friendly (except for a certain obstinate truck driver in Manhattan!) and much slimmer than expected! My only regret is that I no longer possess the appetite for donuts that I enjoyed in my youth.

I was stunned by the architecture in some places (particularly Washington DC) and the absolute lack of planning in places such as Florida. Moving between states, or even between parts of the same city in some cases meant more of a change of atmosphere than one experiences moving between different countries in Europe. I suspect that anything one says about America is bound to be true, but the opposite is also the case!

Ending a holiday is never easy, but the return to Australia was made more pleasant by the fact that my recent article, The Evolution of al-Qaeda: Osama bin Laden and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, appears in the April edition of The Review

This article deals with the merger between Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's organisation, At-Tawhid w'al-Jihad (Monotheism and Holy Struggle) and Osama bin Laden's Tanzim al-Qaeda in October last year. Zarqawi has often been rumoured to be part of al-Qaeda, but in fact he has kept his group formally independent for years, refusing to swear bayat (fealty) to Osama bin Laden. Nonetheless, he has worked within the ideological framework or paradigm that is associated with al-Qaeda.

In my article, I sought to explain what it meant for a group that was working within the al-Qaeda paradigm to merge with al-Qaeda. I also sought to explain why these two groups needed each other and what the merger of their organisations meant for their respective futures. The article was accepted for publication some time ago, but was delayed for a couple of months by events such as the visit of Israeli President Moshe Katsav, which the Review covered in detail.

As my article appears in The Review's hard copy edition but is not reproduced on their web page, I have uploaded a copy to the PWHCE web page. It can be found here:

http://www.pwhce.org/evolutionofalqaeda.html

I have also updated the profiles of Mullah Krekar and Muhammad Abdus Salaam Faraj, the latter being a complete rewrite.
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