Marisa Urgo, of the ever illuminating Making Sense of Jihad blog has an interesting post up today about the changing ideological views of jihadi theorist Abu Mohammed al-Maqdisi (former spiritual mentor of the late al-Qaida in Iraq leader al-Zarqawi and who the CTC centre at Wespoint has labelled the most important thinker in the salafist-jihadist movement).
Urgo points to a recent interview in which al-Maqdisi speaks against the deliberate targeting of Muslims in jihadist attacks, saying
The iniquity of letting 1,000 infidels escape is smaller than the sin of shedding a drop of blood of any Muslim. Therefore, one should not be lenient about the sin of shedding the blood of Muslims based on suspicion, jihad, or other things. Indeed, the blood and properties of disobedient Muslims cannot be violated even if they commit iniquities. It is our duty to call them into religion and try to bring them from darkness to light and not to engage with them in battles.
I have written on this many times and I dissociated myself from the undisciplined operations that others commit outside the bounds of shari’ah – operations that result in thousands of victims and in which much blood is shed without any legitimate benefits to jihad or Muslims
Certainly in the latter quote, he appears to be distancing himself from AQI and his former protege. Urgo also suggests that al-Qaida core follows al-Maqdisi’s thinking closely and that this may lead them to focus more on attacking political and security figures rather than the wider population. Though presumably this restraint is intended to be applied to Muslim populations only, leaving non-believing civilians as legitimate targets.