Among the correspondence between readers and the editor of the latest edition of Mu’askar al-Battar (issue 21, pp.40-41) there is an interesting exchange. In response to a letter asking how to set about joining the jihad in the Arabian Peninsula, the editor listed seven requirements: 1) seek out similar-minded people; failing that, keep your intentions to yourself; 2) attain an appropriate level of physical fitness; 3) study carefully the section “Executing Operations in Urban Warfare” authored by the late Abu Hajir (al-Muqrin) which gives the important groundwork, along with details on assassinations, ambushes and road blocks; 4) acquire quality weaponry in good condition, and keep it in that state.
However, the next requirement listed casts light on the damage done to public support in Saudi Arabia in earlier phases of the confrontation with the regime. Explaining the fifth requirement: the need to scout the target carefully, the editor underlines in bold type the need “to avoid doing damage to Muslims … For example, if your target is an American officer, do not target him in the middle of a marketplace, since he might attempt to escape from you and in consequence your stray shots may hit passers-by. Instead, wait until he leaves the market to an empty place (such as a car park).”
Finally, after outlining the need for a temperament that knows how to take orders, the editor stresses the need for careful attention to be paid to planning. Here he highlights what is effectively the downside of the volunteers’ will to martyrdom: the frequent lack of interest in providing for a retreat, or a “plan B”. Insistence on martyrdom may be a required thing, the editor states, “but prolonging the operation for God’s religion is also required … and will neither hasten nor delay your appointed time.”