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In Timbuktu, Al Qaeda showed 'seeds of its decay'

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He decries the stoning of adulterers to death, the barring of women from public areas, and the prevention of children from playing. He worries about losing local support after his men destroyed local shrines that they deemed sacrilegious.

Al Qaeda’s notion of women as second-class people can be seen in one court document also found in Timbuktu that ordered a woman to be given 60 lashes for “mixing with men.” During its 10-month reign, Al Qaeda required women to be clothed head to toe when in public. They could wear no makeup and use no perfume.

Mr. Droukdel, who was appointed by Osama bin Laden and now takes orders from Al Qaeda’s current leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, also revealed a sharp debate over the group’s failed attempts to set up an Islamic state in Somalia and Algeria. This disclosure of internal dissension helps justify the approach of the West and moderate Muslims to contain violent jihadists as well as preempt their attacks.

Locals in Timbuktu now report that the Al Qaeda fighters would show up in mosques with guns, telling people what to do. This zealous righteousness and armed authoritarian manner violated the people’s moderate practice of Islam. Indeed, Muslims worldwide have turned against Al Qaeda for regularly violating an Islamic tenet not to kill other Muslims.

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