Top Islamic radicals continue catfight

In the latest exchange of insults between Sayed Imam, the former leader of Egyptian Islamic Jihad, and Ayman Al-Zawahiri, Iman accuses Al Qaeda's number 2 of being a spy for Sudanese intelligence, plagiarism and bad jokes.
Ayman Al-Zawahiri. R.R.

BEIRUT, November 23, 2008 (MENASSAT) -— Ayman Al-Zawahri is a "plagiarist who worked for Sudanese intelligence before his handlers grew tired of his jokes’, is the less than flattering description of Al Qaeda's number two in an essay by Sayed Imam that was published this week by the independent Egyptian daily Al-Masry Al-Youm.

Imam, who is currently in prison in Egypt, is the former spiritual leader of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad of which Al-Zawahiri was once a member.

Imam's allegations against Al-Zawahiri are the latest in a ongoing battle of the words between the two, which started after Imam wrote on a book from his Egyptian prison cell, condemning Al-Qaeda for killing innocent people and blaming it for the US invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, Daily News Egypt reports.

Al-Zawahri soon responded to Imam’s writings with his own book, "The Exoneration," in which he said that Imam’s work was written with the help of "the Crusaders and Jews."

Imam has now countered Al-Zawahiri’s publication once again by writing an essay under the title, "The Shaming of the Exoneration," in which he claims that Al-Zawahri told him during the 1990s that he suspected Osama Bin Laden of being a Saudi agent.

Bad joker

In the essay, which is filled with insults against Al-Zawahiri, Imam also accused Al Qaeda's number two of promising Sudanese intelligence to perform "operations" inside Egypt for which Al-Zawahiri would be paid US$100,000.

One such operation, according to Imam, was the attempted assassination of Egyptian Prime Minister Atif Sidqi in 1993, which resulted in mass arrests of Islamic Jihad members in Egypt and the execution of six of the plotters.

"While the six were on their way to the execution room, Zawahiri was sitting with his friends in Sudanese intelligence telling them funny jokes, although they were expecting a discussion on important and dangerous matters," Imam wrote.

"Al-Zawahri had nothing to tell them, and he continued until the Sudanese got bored of his jokes and complained to his friends: 'Find us another man to talk to; all he knows is 'Abu Lama' jokes.'" (The Sudanese were referring to a charlatan character in an Egyptian radio comedy show.)

Imam also accused Al-Zawahiri of claiming authorship of a book he himself wrote.

The feud between Al-Zawahiri and Imam has left some former members of Egypt’s Islamist militant community baffled.

"This is embarrassing for Imam," Kamal Habib, a former Jihad member, told AFP. "I don't think he realizes what it does to his image."

Imam was imprisoned in Yemen following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the US. In 2004, he was extradited Egypt where he is still in jail.