Gene Sharp: Author of the nonviolent revolution rulebook
His central message is that the power of dictatorships comes from the willing obedience of the people they govern - and that if the people can develop techniques of withholding their consent, a regime will crumble.
"As soon as you choose to fight with violence you're choosing to fight against your opponents best weapons and you have to be smarter than that," he insists.
To do this Sharp provides in his books a list of 198 "non-violent weapons", ranging from the use of colours and symbols to mock funerals and boycotts.
Designed to be the direct equivalent of military weapons, they are techniques collated from a forensic study of defiance to tyranny throughout history.
"These non-violent weapons are very important because they give people an alternative," he says. "If people don't have these, if they can't see that they are very powerful, they will go back to violence and war every time."
When I finally reached one of the organisers he refused to talk about Sharp on camera. He feared that wider knowledge of a US influence would destabilise the movement but confirmed that the work had been widely distributed in Arabic.
"One of the main points which we used was Sharp's idea of identifying a regime's pillars of support," he said. "If we could build a relationship with the army, Mubarak's biggest pillar of support, to get them on our side, then we knew he would quickly be finished."
Read the book for yourself:
From Dictatorship to Democracy - A Conceptual Framework for Liberation