Jihadist ideology is now under attack from some of its erstwhile proponents. A Libyan group has issued a new religious document denouncing the tactics used by al Qa'eda as illegal under Islamic law.
"In May 2007, Sayyid Imam al Sharif, better known as Dr Fadl, a former member of the al Qa'eda leadership, attacked its tactics of mass slaughter, arguing that this inevitably led to the deaths of innocents, and was therefore un-Islamic," wrote Michael Smith in The National.
"He was particularly critical of the way in which Muslims lived freely within western societies, then attacked the very people who had given them shelter.
Fadl's attack was dismissed by his fellow Egyptian, and former fellow student, al Zawahiri, as having been written while Fadl was in prison in Egypt.
"But last week saw a fresh attack, this time not from just one man, but from a complete militant movement previously aligned to al Qa'eda. The Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), issued a new religious document denouncing the tactics used by al Qa'eda as illegal under Islamic law."
The text featured in a new documentary, "The Jihadi Code", which aired on CNN on Sunday.
Omar Ashour, writing for the Carnegie Endowment, described what he calls a second wave of modern Islamist de-radicalisation, which is being laid out through a process of ideological revision in a corpus of writings.
"The new body of literature, which is composed of more than 30 books, mainly deconstructs the eight major arguments of jihadism: al hakimmiyya (God's exclusive right to legislate), al riddah (apostasy, mainly of ruling regimes), al jihad/qital (fighting) for the Islamic state, jihad al daf' (defensive jihad), ahkam al diyar (rules of conduct in the 'abode of Islam' and the 'abode of infidelity'), methods for sociopolitical change, the inevitability of confrontation, and the 'neo-crusader' arguments.
"Deconstructing those arguments in the post-jihadist literature entails an inference shift. The theological arguments of jihadism rest on the idea that literal orders from God supersede any rational calculations or material interests. In other words, al nass fawq al maslaha (the text is above interests); believers are to follow divine commands literally and leave the consequences and results to God. This usually translates into an impetus to engage in armed confrontations against much stronger powers.
"In post-jihadist literature, there is a shift to the idea that interests determine the interpretation of religious texts. If a confrontation, or any other behavior, is likely to lead to negative consequences, it must be forbidden and should be avoided. In other words, it is theologically sanctioned pragmatism."
Johann Hari, in The Independent, tracked down some of Britain's best known former jihadis to find out what had led to their change of heart.
They included Maajid Nawaz who had been a prominent member of the pan-Islamist political group, Hizb ut-Tahrir.