[Marxism] al-Qaeda influenced by Marxism? Really?

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Apr 17 06:07:48 MDT 2015

(I doubt that Juan Cole got this right, especially after his last gaffe 
on how jihadists were emulating "the Bolsheviks" by killing Charlie 
Hebdo cartoonists. I forward it as a demonstration of how ignorant Cole 
can be on occasion. I might look further into his allegation later on.)


DAVID SPEEDIE: Thank you for clearing this up. [Laughter] It obviously 
is a fraught and complex thing.

Let’s move to Europe, if we may, just a couple of questions there. On 
Europe, specifically in France, you use a very interesting term, a 
phenomenon you called “sharpening the contradictions,” saying that 
attacks such as Charlie Hebdo—and presumably, later the incident in 
Belgium and then in Copenhagen—are actually contrived by al-Qaeda to 
create a backlash that will bring politically unengaged Muslims into the 
fold. Explain that a little bit.

JUAN COLE: I see evidence of al-Qaeda thinkers, like Ayman al-Zawahiri, 
who was the number-two man for a long time, before bin Laden was killed, 
being influenced by Marxist thought, and radical Marxism. This is very 
clear in the technical terms that the Muslim far-right uses. They talk 
about a vanguard. This was a Leninist term. In some radical forms of 
Marxism, activists were impatient with the working class, which seemed 
not to want to fulfill its historical duty by rising up against the 
business classes, and so it engaged in sabotage—not everywhere all the 
time, but there were some groups that did that kind of thing in hopes of 
provoking a class war, because they knew the business classes would call 
upon their agents, the police, to crack down hard on sabotage and 
workers’ activism and so forth.

I think that al-Qaeda picked up this kind of thinking from the Marxist 
fringe in places like Egypt and so forth. I think that it is a 
deliberate strategy on their part, the sharpening of contradictions, or 
the heightening of contradictions, as it’s called. I think it explains 
everything that happened in Iraq.

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