Al-Qa‘ida’s Editor: Abu Jandal al-Azdi’s Online Jihadi Activism

This article deals with the online activism of Abu Jandal al-Azdi, one of the main ideologues of the now-defunct Saudi version of Al-Qa‘ida on the Arabian Peninsula (QAP), whose writings have been all but neglected in publications on this organisation. While rightly seen as only a mediocre religious scholar, I contend that al-Azdi is nevertheless an important ideologue for two reasons: firstly, his religious university education combined with his internet skills propelled him to a position that can perhaps best be described as ‘al-Qa‘ida’s editor’: he presented very few (if any) new ideas of his own but collected, selected, and presented others’ general and more difficult writings into readily-applicable and easily-digestible chunks of information – now forever present in cyberspace – that was aimed carefully and specifically at his target audience of radical Saudi Islamists; secondly, through the case-study of al-Azdi, I show that anti-Saudi ideas in QAP’s discourse – as opposed to pan-Islamism – were more prominent, more openly available and expressed at an earlier time than has hitherto been suggested, and that al-Azdi has been one of the most important ideologues promoting this.

Tags: Al-Qaeda, Narratives, Violent Jihadism