A prominent Saudi cleric once praised by Osama bin Laden has published an open letter condemning Al Qaeda's violence.The article goes on to quote the editor of international Arabic publication:
In the long letter published on an Arabic Web site, Cleric Salman al-Awdah calls on Mr. bin Laden to end the killing of innocent Muslims and others in terrorist acts in Iraq and elsewhere around the world.
"How much blood has been spilt? How many innocent people, children, elderly, and women have been killed, dispersed, or evicted in the name of Al-Qa'ida?" the letter says. "My brother Usama Bin Ladin, the image of Islam today is not at its best."
Mr. al-Awdah is an independent cleric who was jailed for several years for criticizing the Saudi government's links to America. He toned down his criticism after his release from prison in 1999, although he reportedly promoted Iraqi resistance when American troops recaptured Fallujah from Iraqi insurgents in 2004.
In the letter, Mr. al-Awdah, who has condemned terrorism in the past, appears to distance himself from terrorist acts that investigators have said were inspired by his teachings. Investigators in the Madrid train bombings, for example, have reportedly said Mr. Al-Awdah's preaching may have emboldened the attackers.
Mr. al-Awdah asks, "Have we reduced Islam to a bullet or a rifle? Has the means become an end?"
"Sheikh Salman al Ouda's distancing himself from Bin Laden at a time when those absolving themselves of Al Qaeda's leader have nothing to lose and no price to pay." Mr. Alhomayed wrote in an editorial published yesterday. "This comes at a time when no one is shedding any tears for the leader of Al Qaeda organization."So perhaps al-Awdah is simply recognizing that al-Qaeda is in deep trouble, and is jumping off a sinking ship.