A kinder, gentler jihad?

The new code, a 417-page religious document entitled “Corrective Studies” is the result of more than two years of intense and secret talks between the leaders of the LIFG and Libyan security officials.

The code’s most direct challenge to al Qaeda is this: “Jihad has ethics and morals because it is for God. That means it is forbidden to kill women, children, elderly people, priests, messengers, traders and the like. Betrayal is prohibited and it is vital to keep promises and treat prisoners of war in a good way. Standing by those ethics is what distinguishes Muslims’ jihad from the wars of other nations.”

The code has been circulated among some of the most respected religious scholars in the Middle East and has been given widespread backing. It is being debated by politicians in the U.S. and studied by western intelligence agencies.

In essence the new code for jihad is exactly what the West has been waiting for: a credible challenge from within jihadist ranks to al Qaeda’s ideology.