Al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri recently released an audio message, via the Internet, in which he blamed moderate Moslems for preventing more conservative or radical Moslems from taking control in the wake of the Arab Spring uprisings in 2011. This is a remarkable statement because in the past al Qaeda and other Islamic radical groups called on moderate Moslems to join them in overthrowing oppressive governments and share power once that was done. But Zawahiri correctly noted that whenever that happened the Islamic radicals pushed the more moderate Moslems aside and tried to establish an Islamic (religious) dictatorship. This failed because the moderates were more numerous and unwilling to submit to another dictatorship. At least that’s what happened in Tunisia and Egypt. In Iraq and Afghanistan the Islamic radicals never got to share power because in both those places the radicals revealed themselves as violent thugs early on.
Al Qaeda and Zawahiri accuse the moderate Moslems as being bad Moslems for their opposition to using Islamic law (sharia) to govern secular and religious affairs. During the 7th century, when Islam was founded, the intent was that sharia would apply to all aspects of life for Moslems. But those who had to actually govern found that this did not work in practice, in part because there was no (and still is not) supreme authority to interpret sharia law. Thus the rulers and the clergy were feuding over the true meaning of sharia from the beginning. Naturally, the guys with the weapons won these arguments. This is how al Qaeda justifies the use of weapons and terror to establish the true religious dictatorship they believe Islamic law requires. Unfortunately, even among Islamic fundamentalists there is still no agreement on how to interpret sharia, which is why Islamic radical groups often fight each other. This tendency to drift into constant feuding and violence has been a problem with militant Islamic conservatives for over a thousand years. While modern technology makes this Islamic terrorism more widespread and lethal, the built-in self-destruction of Islamic radicalism remains and most Moslems realize it.