Unconventional thinking about the Middle East.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Back to Al-Baghdadi’s Speeches

Promising a quick withdrawal from Iraq, Senator Barack Obama often says that he “will end this war” when and if he’s elected Commander-in-Chief. Obama neglects to mention that wars usually involve two or more sides, and cannot be unilaterally ended; the enemy waging the war on the other side unavoidably must be consulted on the matter as well. But Obama doesn’t tell us who the enemy is in Iraq, and whether he has any special insight as to why this enemy would call the war quits if America withdraws from Iraq.

Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, the man—fictitious or not—who heads Al-Qaeda’s Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), is promoted by jihadist propaganda as America’s top enemy in Iraq, so it is useful to reflect upon what he has to say. Here’s a hint: it doesn’t end when Barack Obama says it will.

This blog believes al-Baghdadi to be a real person, and has closely followed his speeches from the very beginning. The following is an attempt to catch-up with his latest speeches, which by my reckoning are nos. 8, 9 and 10. I shall be skipping no. 7 for the time being since I’ve been unable to download an audio file of it.

I will add the translated excerpts for speeches 9 and 10 once I’m done with them. [Update, April 22, 2008: all done!]

For a previous in-depth discussion of al-Baghdadi on this blog, check this link.

Abu Omar al-Baghdadi’s Eight Speech

Title: “Humble towards believers, stern toward unbelievers” (derived from a segment of verse 54 of the alma’ida ‘The Table’ sura of the Koran [Medina]; it describes those who take up the fight against renegades.)

Duration: 40 minutes

Date: unsure, December 28, 2007, on the occasion of the ‘eid aladhha, Feast of Sacrifice

SUMMARY: Al-Baghdadi explains that to hate in the name of God is just as important as to love in the name of God. This is the ideological foundation that he lays in order to attack bonds between men other than religion, such as Arab nationalism and patriotism towards a nation state. In al-Baghdadi’s view, one cannot make common cause with non-Muslims just because they share the same ethnicity or nationality. Al-Baghdadi then focuses his attack against those who argue that safeguarding one’s life or money is more important that protecting one’s religion, and who do so by slyly employing reason to trump God’s word. As far as he’s concerned there’s no conflict between what God demands and the boundaries of reason. Al-Baghdadi then cites several verses from the Koran to prove that it doesn’t take too much thinking to know that God had decreed jihad against the American “Crusaders” and the Shia “idolaters”. He acknowledges that many jihadists are too poor to offer a sacrifice during this holiday feast, so he calls upon them to slaughter members of the anti-Al-Qaeda Awakening groups in lieu of lambs.

Translated Excerpts and Analysis:

Al-Baghdadi counsels the “believers” that to hate in the name of God is just as important as to love in the name of God. This is an interesting take on the jihadist concept of alwala’ wel bara’ (loyalty and renunciation) by which the mujaheddin must tell apart friend from foe.

Beware o monotheist of falling into the devil’s trap whereby you are partial to a man because he treats you well and says nice things even though he may be an infidel or a renegade; and to hate a Muslim because he is difficult to deal with and badly mannered, for love and abhorrence must be for God alone and not [to satisfy] a selfish vanity. You must love the Muslim mujahid even though he doesn’t love you or isn’t kind to you, and you must hate the people of [wicked] innovations and you must fight the renegade even though he may fill your lap with gold and welcomes you into the sea of his gentleness.
Al-Baghdadi insists that it is necessary to understand this point because there are “serious attempts to obscure the contours of [our] religion and to change its premises within the souls of the mujaheddin”. Adding that some underestimate the dangers of how nationalism and patriotism bring Muslims and infidels together under one cause to the detriment of the religious bonds between Muslims.

On nationalism:

That old lie and scandalous trick, which has always been the occupier’s winning horse whenever [the occupier] experiences defeat and his days in our land turn painful…it is the lifeboat whenever the occupier wants to leave or thinks about leaving, so he digs up the pagan sentiment, what they falsely call nationalism, and [the occupier] seeks to find a surrogate for himself from among us, who speaks with our tongue, and it doesn’t matter if at the beginning [these surrogates] employ religion or are fake religious clerics as Bourgeiba did in Tunis who afterwards quickly assaulted shariah, the Koran and the Prophet [Muhammad] when he was secure in his rule.

This cruel and pagan nationalism is at its ugliest when it forces the Sunni Muslim in Lebanon to accept a constitution that stipulates that the head of state must be a fanatical Christian Maronite, to preside over a majority Muslim nation, as long as he is an Arab Lebanese.

It is this same cruel nationalism that allowed the ummah [the global community of Muslims] to accept that Arab nationalists would fight side by side with the British against the Ottoman Empire or the “tyrannical Turks” as they call them. Thus entered the British Army into Jerusalem with forces that bring together the Christian Englishman and the Arab nationalist, so what was the result? The English handed over Jerusalem to the Jews until today using the weapon of nationalism and patriotism.

It was those wicked advocates of nationalism and patriotism who lost Jerusalem. Today they want to convince our youth of what they had sown in the past: he who works for building the nation and expelling the occupier is the true mujahid, while he who distinguishes between the sons of the one nation—between a Yezidi and a Christian and a Mandean and a Muslim—is an alien agent working for others. It is this paganism that allowed the Egyptian Muslim to be proud of his Pharonic past, and the Iraqi to be proud of his Assyrian and Babylonian and Chaldean heritage. It is this paganism that encouraged such people to be proud of the days of the Ba’ath [Party] and to incessantly call for resurrecting its army, and crying over its past.

Al-Baghdadi then proceeds to give a brief history of how nationalism seeped into the Middle East: At first, the world acted through its religious identities, but the advent of the French Revolution changed that. Nationalism was first introduced in Arab lands by Christian Arabs in the Levant, for they wanted to have equal rights and to break-up Muslim bonds, for “this was their opportunity to destroy the Ottoman Caliphate”. Al-Baghdadi quotes Bernard [“Fernard”] Lewis to say that “nationalism replaced Islam in the Arab world”. Al-Baghdadi cites the “handful of Christians” behind this conspiracy, as he sees it: Butrus Bustani, George Zeidan, Faris al-Shidyaq, Ibrahim al-Yazegi and one of the founders of Ba’athism, Michel Aflaq. But it is odd that he’d cite Sati’ al-Husri, the ethnically Albanian, Yemeni-born Ottoman bureaucrat who spoke heavily accented Arabic, as one of these Christians when al-Husri was a Muslim.

Yet al-Baghdadi reserves his fiercest wrath for the proponents of patriotism for, in his eyes, they “are crueler by method, deeper by effort, and more deviant than the advocates of nationalism”. Adding:

The loyalty to [the WWI treaty of] Sykes-Picot is now in vogue, and every spot created by this ill-omened treaty is now looking for a glorious past and is spending money and establishing institutes and universities for archeology to look in the layered dirt or submerged dwellings, hoping to find a glorious past in the graveyards.

So the call for patriotism has replaced the call for nationalism, so they are now dispersing between a Yemenite and his brother in Jazan or Najran, and between an Egyptian and a Sudanese…
Al-Baghdadi promises the faithful that he will never go down this route:

Ever since God has led me to this goodness, I have never sat down with an infidel or a renegade, and I have not gotten in touch with an occupier or one of its agents either directly or indirectly, and my feet have never entered the hotels of the occupation. I may be many things but I will never be a traitor, God willing, until the heroes of monotheism rule [Iraq], or until I suffer what was suffered by Thamir al-Rishawi, and Abu Omar al-Kurdi and Abu Musaab al-Zarqawi. And to hell with the advocates of darkness who want the return of the Ba’athist army, hoping that security will come in its wake, and the only arms will be its own; they say this and they are still not in power, and have no force on the ground, and the weapons are in our hands, and authority is God’s and that of the soldiers of the Islamic State, so what will happen then if these people come to power?

God did not decree jihad so that the land gets liberated and is then ruled by a renegade of our own skin; no [God decreed jihad] so that God’s word will [rule] supreme
It seems that al-Baghdadi is under pressure to assume more of a patriotic tone in his dealings and strategy; he seems to be responding to a surging sentiment of Iraqi nationalism, and hence his rejection and retort.

Al-Baghdadi then proceeds to argue against those who see jihad as too detrimental to the well-being of Muslims under certain conditions. He describes such people as ones for whom “religion has been turned into stale merchandise and the last obligation of life’s [duties]”. Such people are more concerned about protecting property and souls at the expense of their religious beliefs, to the point of “cooperating with the Crusading and majusi [Shia] occupations, and becoming tools in the hands of the agents of Jews in neighboring countries”.

Al-Baghdadi categorically says that God decreed jihad per this Koranic verse (albaqarah, verse 193, Yusufali translation): “And fight them on until there is no more Tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in Allah; but if they cease, Let there be no hostility except to those who practice oppression.”

Such wavering folk, according to al-Baghdadi, argue that it is unreasonable to wage jihad when the price for doing so is too high on a Muslim society, but al-Baghdadi counters them by saying that “it is the creed of us Sunnis that if shariah conflicts with straightforward reasoning then shariah is always put first, for nothing anyone says, whoever he may be, can trump God’s word and that of the Prophet Muhammad”. Al-Baghdadi then adds that shariah is inherently reasonable since it is God’s will, and thus cannot be argued with.

This is important because the jihadist message is at once simple and straightforward and thus hard to counter. “How can they say that the jihadists are more dangerous to society” than the “crusading infidels” and “heretical” Shias, al-Baghdadi asks. At this point of the debate, all the jihadist need to do, as al-Baghdadi does, is to reference the following verses of the Koran that sanction jihad against the Americans:

Never will the Jews or the Christians be satisfied with thee unless thou follow their form of religion. Say: "The Guidance of Allah,-that is the (only) Guidance." Wert thou to follow their desires after the knowledge which hath reached thee, then wouldst thou find neither Protector nor helper against Allah. (albaqareh, verse 120, all translation by Yusufali)

Quite a number of the People of the Book wish they could Turn you (people) back to infidelity after ye have believed, from selfish envy, after the Truth hath become Manifest unto them: But forgive and overlook, Till Allah accomplish His purpose; for Allah Hath power over all things. (albaqareh, verse 109)

O ye who believe! If ye listen to a faction among the People of the Book, they would (indeed) render you apostates after ye have believed! (omran, verse 100)
As for the heretics:

Nor will they cease fighting you until they turn you back from your faith if they can. (albaqareh, part of verse 217)

If they were to get the better of you, they would behave to you as enemies, and stretch forth their hands and their tongues against you for evil: and they desire that ye should reject the Truth. (almumtehineh, verse 2)
“These are the aims of the majusi [Shia and American] crusade on [Iraq]…so how can there be any discussion beyond God’s word?” asks al-Baghdadi.

Moderate Muslim scholars can spend days refuting al-Baghdadi on this stuff, but their reasoning can be too pedantic and obscure for mass consumers; for most jihadists and suicide bombers, al-Baghdadi’s simplified and unambiguous case is convincing enough.

Al-Baghdadi ends by commiserating with his soldiers that it is too costly to buy a sheep and offer it as alms during the ritual slaughter of the ‘eid, but he gives them an alternative:

Sacrifice, for God will accept your sacrifices if [they are] given in the form of the renegades of the Awakening [groups], for they have become aids to the crusaders and [enemies] of the mujaheddin, they have desecrated [our] honor and have stolen money, and they wanted to reap the fruits of the blood of [our] martyrs. Do not miss this great honor, but those of you who can’t offer a sacrifice in time then it is permissible to do it later as sanctioned by the Shafi’i scholars.
Meaning that in case a jihadist couldn’t kill any “renegades” now then he can promise God to do so later; even though al-Baghdadi also makes the case for hurrying up and doing so before the advent of the month of Muharrem.

Al-Baghdadi concludes by announcing the “martyrdom” of Abu Abdullah (Muhammed Suleiman) of the Kuroshiyeen clan of the Zoba’ tribe who al-Baghdadi credits with shooting down an aircraft even though one of his hands is cut; and that of Abu Karar, from the Shidadeh clan of the Zoba’ tribe, who al-Baghdadi alleges to have killed the head of the Awakening group among the Zoba’ tribe. The third “martyr” that al-Baghdadi mentions is Abu Maysara al-Gharib.

Abu Omar al-Baghdadi’s Ninth Speech

Title: Religion is Advice

Duration: 25 minutes

Date: February 14, 2008

SUMMARY: Al-Baghdadi reserves this whole speech to address the issue of Palestine and how to resolve it once and for all from a jihadist perspective. Al-Baghdadi dismisses the notion that Zionism is a secular idea and says that there’s no differentiation between Zionism and Judaism. Al-Baghdadi focuses his wrath on Hamas and accuses of them of subtly acknowledging Israel’s right to exist and charges them with treason for colluding with the “infidel” regime of Syria’s ruling Alawites. He also warns against the spread of Shiism among Palestinians. Al-Baghdadi calls upon Palestinian Salafists to unite and specifically directs a plea to the Qassam Brigades, encouraging them to secede from Hamas. He recommends that several fronts be opened up against Israel and America, and hails the attempt made by Shakir al-Absi’s Fath al-Islam organization to do so in Lebanon. Al-Baghdadi sees the task of his Islamic State of Iraq as one of laying the cornerstone towards a future drive to liberate Palestine.

Translated Excerpts and Analysis

Al-Baghdadi succinctly defines the battle in the following terms:

We believe that the fulcrum of our conflict revolves around our sanctities, and that distracting people from [this conflict] is the goal that is sought after by the enemies of our [creed] whether they are Jews or their agents either through direct occupation, as is the case with Jerusalem, or through their hatchlings as is [the case] with [Mecca and Medina], and because the Jews are at the core of corruption and its [originators], and our real battle with them revolves around Jerusalem, and our conflict with them will be in effect until the trees and the stones fight [on our side], and the battle results in a victory for [our] religion and its people.
It is interesting that al-Baghdadi casts the royal house of Saud that now controls the Islamic holy places in the Arabian Peninsula as the “hatchlings” of the Jews. It should be noted that there’s a discrepancy between the audio version and the transcript version that subsequently floated onto jihadist websites: al-Baghdadi utters the harsher and more humiliating term “afrakhehum” [“their hatchlings”] to describe the Saudi royals, while the transcript uses the word “atrafehum” [“their extended limbs”]—this is likely the result of a little diplomatic editing done by the jihadist propagandist who took it upon himself (…or herself) to transcribe the speech.

Liberating the Al-Aqsa Mosque is the duty of every Muslim, just at it is the duty of every Palestinian Muslim to liberate Iraq and Chechnya and whatever Muslim lands are under occupation, according to al-Baghdadi, who follows through by asserting that the fight should not be limited to Zionism but should encompass all of Judaism:

The state of Israel was established upon a religious foundation, for it is a religious state and whoever says that it is a secular state or that it was a secular [state] that manipulated religion is lying, and it is a malignant germ that was planted in the body of the ummah which must be uprooted, even though the traitors may sign thousands of surrender treaties with it.
That last point means that whether the Arab governments sign peace treaties with Israel or not is a moot point since ending Israel’s existence is the goal.

Al-Baghdadi then turns to the three political currents—Arab nationalism, the Palestinian left and the Muslim Brotherhood—that he views as the ones to blame for the failure of the ummah in achieving this goal:

…The Arab nationalists, with their ill-omened Arab Revolt [Ed. Sharif Hussein’s British-funded campaign against the Ottoman Empire during WWI], are complicit in the creation of the state of Israel, and that by participating with the British Army, and entering Jerusalem as conquerors, and breaking apart the Muslim ummah under [the Treaty of] Sykes-Picot in return for servile, feeble kingdoms in Jordan, Iraq, the Levant and the [Arabian] Peninsula.

…The Palestinian organizations with their bizarre mix, from Ba’athist to Communist to secularists that filled the arena with noise for decades [claiming] that they will liberate Al-Aqsa, are the secret [behind] the nakba and the root of the problem…
But al-Baghdadi directs the bulk of his wrath against Hamas and accuses them of treason:

…The armed factions that follow the Muslim Brotherhood, especially during these times, and at the head of them Hamas, save for the sincere [members] of the Qassam [Brigades], have in reality betrayed [our creed] and the ummah
Al-Baghdadi then enumerates the ways by which the Hamas leadership has shown its “treason”:

a) Participating in the political process under the auspices of a secular and legislated constitution, and on the term of the Oslo treaties that abandoned three quarters of the land of Palestine.

b) Implicitly recognizing [the state of] Israel by recognizing the legitimacy of the [Palestinian] Authority that was based on the Oslo treaties, and by recognizing the legitimacy of its renegade secular president, the loyal agent of the Jews.

c) Their statements about respecting the international decisions issued by the United Nations, and just recognizing the UN is [proof] of recognizing its legal charter and Israel’s membership [under that charter].

d) Entering into a bizarre alliance with renegade regimes, especially [the ones] in Egypt and Syria, forgetting the blood of their brothers in the massacre of Hamah [Ed. The three week campaign by Syrian security forces to retake the old section of Hamah in 1982 from Islamist extremists allied to the Syrian MB], for [Khalid] Mishaal [Ed. Hamas leader based in Damascus] described the butcher of his brothers, that traitor Hafez al-Asad, as “a sincere Muslim who safeguards the Arab nation and defends the rights of Palestinians”, [and he did that tens of times]. Doesn’t Mishaal and others realize that the Syrian Nusairi [Ed. Derogatory term for the Alawite minority] Army, was the one that administered suffering to the Sunni Muslims in Lebanon, and especially to the Palestinians in the camps and elsewhere…Forging an alliance with the rafidha [Ed. Derogatory term for Shias] Nusairis in Syria for the purpose of liberating Palestine is [an act of] high treason, for Saladin did not enter Jerusalem as a conqueror until after he had destroyed the rafidha state of the Obeidis [Ed. Derogatory term for the Fatimids, 10-11th century dynasty] in Egypt and the Levant, and the Nusairis are wickeder by creed and more malicious [than the Fatimids]…

e) Letting down the mujaheddin and the implicit consent to kill and disperse the people of monotheism, such as what they said in Moscow: “the issue of Chechnya is an internal matter”, and their statement that they have no relationship with the jihad in Iraq, and that they haven’t a single bullet there.

f) …They do not demand that the political process must follow shariah, and they have not imposed shariah even while being in government, and not even after seizing full control of Gaza.

g) Their excessive hostility towards Salafist Jihadism, especially during this current time and their serious and repeated efforts to abort any project that has a salafist foundation, and their story with Jaish al-Islam is known, and the story of the British journalist [Ed. BBC reporter Alan Johnston, abducted for four months in Gaza in 2007] is famous too, and we had learnt that Jaish al-Islam was about to receive good concessions from Britain, just before Hamas interfered in the matter.

h) Not spilling the blood [of Palestinian heretics] like the Baha’i renegade, Mahmoud Abbas…
Al-Baghdadi says that there is no solution to this problem except to wage a jihad in which one much not differentiate between a “Jewish infidel” like “Olmert and his criminals” and a “Palestinian renegade” like “Abbas and his gang”.

Al-Baghdadi also warns of the danger of Shiism spreading among Palestinians, citing Iraq as an example of how quickly Shiism may spread if not held in check:

The other important type [of enemy] that must be targeted and with force, especially against their [leaders], are the rafidha [Shias], for this cancer has started to enter upon our people in Palestine, [by] manipulating the ignorance and poverty [there], and aided by traitors and agents of rafidhist Iran under the guise of resistance, and they perpetrated this same crime in Iraq, for when [historically] was Basra rafidhist by creed so that today it would have a [Shia] majority? The criminals managed to convince some tribal sheikhs and notables [to follow] their sect, and they did this through financial temptations or through the debauchery that they call [temporary marriage], and other vile means, and this led to the [conversion] of whole tribes that never before had a single [Shia member]. The [presence] of [Shiism] in some parts of [Iraq] is only 50 to 70 years, no more.

Know, oh soldiers of God, that [Shiism] is a religion other than the religion of Islam that was brought forth by Muhammad [PBUH], for [Shiism] is a religion based on [polytheism]…and it is based on the cheap [habit of temporary marriage] and spread through it, and the [Shias] did not leave anything that we find holy that they have not impugned in one way or another…
Al-Baghdadi calls upon the “sincere sons” of the Qassam Brigades (the military wing of Hamas) to secede from the leadership of Hamas, acknowledging that such a call would unleash a barrage of criticism from the media outlets controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood. He counsels them to do so furtively, and only after securing the loyalties of most of the jihadists as well as the arms caches.

Interestingly, al-Baghdadi draws a parallel between Hamas and the Islamist insurgent groups that have turned against Al-Qaeda in Iraq, and assigns a higher rank that what is believed otherwise to Abu Azzam [Thamir] al-Tamimi, putting him second in command of the Islamic Army:

…[Hamas’s] brothers in Hamas-Iraq, the Islamic Party, and the Islamic Army are today fighting alongside the carrier of the cross [the Americans] against the people of monotheism, and who doesn’t believe that should listen to the statements of Tariq al-Hashemi [Ed. Iraq’s Vice President, also Secretary General of the Islamic Party] and Abu Azzam al-Tamimi, the deputy to the emir of the Islamic Army, who have flung themselves into the laps of [the Iranians] and the Syrian Nusairis, and are proud of their relationship with Omar Suleiman, the head of Egyptian intelligence, who [was responsible for raping] thousands of honorable women in the prisons of Egypt…
Al-Baghdadi then plots a three pronged strategy for the ummah’s role in “supporting the liberation of Al-Aqsa”. First the jihadists must open up new fronts against the United States and Israel, and in this vein al-Baghdadi hails the efforts of Fath al-Islam in the battle of Nahr al-Barid in Lebanon last year that showed how a small number of fighters can have a major effect. He also confirms the survival of Shakir al-Absi, who led the jihadists in Nahr al-Barid, and refers to him as “hero of the Levant”, adding that he hopes that al-Absi will be the “leader” (imam) of the future jihad in the Levant, which al-Baghdadi clarifies as one that would be waged on Israel’s borders with Syria, Jordan and Lebanon.

Second, the Palestinians in Jordan and the Egyptians of Sinai must rise in revolt to break the embargoes on the Palestinians in the West Bank and in Gaza respectively, says al-Baghdadi, and that the “if the renegade regimes in those lands are treasonous then the Muslim peoples there should not be silent or complicit in this crime” of embargoing the Palestinians.

Third, al-Baghdadi then advances a novel method of fundraising whereby every employed Muslim would save two dollars of his monthly income, one of which would go to the Palestinians and the other dollar would be earmarked for all the other fronts, and this sort of fundraising should be done on a grassroots level through mosques and neighborhood charities.

Al-Baghdadi concludes by putting his Islamic State of Iraq and the cause of liberating Palestine in a historical light. He addresses the Palestinians, saying:

…As was the state of Noureddin the Martyr [Ed. The Zengid sultanate of the 12th century] the cornerstone for the return of Al-Aqsa [Mosque] back into the [fold] of the ummah, [as a result of which] his disciple Saladin entered [Jerusalem] as a conqueror after the Battle of Hittin; as it had been entered by Omar al-Farouk [Ed. The second caliph]; we ask of [God] and hope that the [Islamic State of Iraq] will be the cornerstone for the return of Jerusalem. The Jews and the Americans have realized that, and they have tried to thwart us by any means from [advancing towards] this goal, and the vicious campaign in Anbar [Province] and the excessive pride in [how it calmed down], is [due] to their knowledge that it is easy to fire medium-range missiles against Israel from some parts of [Anbar] as was done by Saddam…And because they know that some of these missiles still exist, and can be manufactured as long at their targeting is not accurate. And it is the crime of the Muslim Brotherhood in [Iraq], and especially Hamas-Iraq and the Islamic Party and the Islamic Army and their formulation of the Awakening councils and their strident efforts to evict us from Anbar, and through direct contracts with the Americans, is [all directed] at preventing us from aiding you…But we are prepared to support you with all that we have of funds, even though it is little, and we are prepared to train your cadres, starting from IEDs and ending with manufacturing missiles
That’s an interesting propagandist take on the Awakening councils that mimics what the Lebanese jihadists have said about Hezbollah in southern Lebanon: these are efforts to create geographical buffers to impede the jihadists from targeting Israel.

Abu Omar al-Baghdadi’s Tenth Speech

Title: The Compact Structure

Duration: 25 minutes

Date: April 13, 2008

SUMMARY: In this speech, Al-Baghdadi marks the fifth anniversary of the fall of Baghdad. Al-Baghdadi comments on the inter-Shia fighting in Basra and commends the Shia tribes for resolving their differences peacefully. He uses this point to shame the Sunni tribes who have taken arms against their fellow Sunnis in Al-Qaeda, which would only benefit the Shia. Al-Baghdadi calls for turning a new page with these tribes by offering amnesty for those who leave the Iraqi security forces and the Awakening groups. Al-Baghdadi seemingly hopes that this message of reconciliation would rally the Sunnis ahead of the Iraqi Army’s projected campaign against Mosul.

Translated Excerpts and Analysis

Al-Baghdadi begins by asserting that five years after the fall of Baghdad, the Americans are experiencing defeat on the hands of the Sunni jihadists, yet this boisterous claim conflicts with his subsequent narrative in which he laments the state of affairs that Iraq’s Sunnis find themselves in:

…Five years have passed since [Iraq] was occupied, so what has the enemy reaped and what have we reaped? In summary, after this time, the enemy has reaped disappointment and shame and defeat, conceding—while lying—that the number of [enemy] dead has exceeded 4000, neglecting to [mention] the [number of] dead from the mercenary security companies. Five years have passed and [the enemy’s] army is witnessing an unparalleled state of collapse, its reverence broken, and the nose of its soldiers has been ground into the dirt and [it] no longer scares anyone. The capitalists have mutinied against it, and a situation of unprecedented economic collapse has begun, but [the enemy] still feigns [dignity] even though it knows that it shall lose the war and victory will be for Islam and its soldiers.

…Yet the thing that has wrenched my heart and pains me with pity over the Sunnis is what we have all heard regarding news of [Shia]-[Shia] infighting in southern and central Iraq and the current stance of the tribes in central and southern Iraq vis-à-vis the Mahdi Army, for despite [the Mahdi Army’s] clear subservience to Iran to the point that its leader resides in a permanent manner there, and his weapons and ammunition and the training of his men has been underwritten by the devils of Qum [Ed. Shia center of religious teaching in Iran] for no purpose other than safeguarding the successes of the [Shia] state in governing Iraq, and to stand in the face of any Sunni demand, whether through peaceful or military means, to rule [Iraq] again. Despite the fact that the tribes in southern and central Iraq know that the ongoing struggle among [Shias] now has nothing to do with religious beliefs or the presence of the occupier, and that it is a struggle over influence and the money earned from smuggling oil which is estimated at 14 billion dollars per year according to official statements, yet these tribes stood beside its sons in the Mahdi Army and other [militias] and refused [a situation whereby] the Shia [community] gets embroiled in an internal war, so they organized demonstrations to that effect, and raised slogans, and sent intermediaries to resolve the fighting and to agree on how to divvy up the Iraqi oil cake.

Whereas we find some of the Sunni tribes has put its hands in the hand of the American occupier, in the hand of John and Jirgis [Ed. Arabic form of ‘George’] and Maliki to kill the sons of the Sunni tribes, to kill Omar and Muhammad and Ahmad, and to call their sons [among the] mujaheddin [names such as] scum and dirt and thugs, as was said by one of treacherous leaders of the Awakening [groups] namely the son of Ali al-Suleiman, the earliest of traitors to Iraq and the heirs of treason [Ed. Referring to Ali Hatem Abdel-Razzak Ali al-Suleiman, whose great-grandfather was made into the Prince of the Dulaim tribes by the British after WWI].

As if Rishawi [Ed. Referring to Abdel-Sattar Abu Risha] was a scientist [or a notable] who led the fighting against the mujaheddin from the sons of the honorable tribes; as if he wasn’t a criminal and highway-robber that was well known by all the sons of Anbar [Province].

I say that these concerns were brought to me by some of the sheikhs of the honorable tribes, and they said: “For how long will the Sunnis keep fighting [among themselves] like this? Isn’t it time to direct these weapons against the occupier?” I was gladdened by their stance and they found what they were after among their brothers in the [Islamic State of Iraq], and after consultations we have agreed on an action plan to stop what they called the infighting in the Sunni area between the sons of the tribes, which has deteriorated to the point that some tribes have formed assassination squads within the [police force] to eradicate the mujaheddin from among the sons of the tribes, and under this category falls those who have been released by the Americans…as what happened recently among the Jeghaifeh tribes where they killed heroes from their own tribe in broad daylight but they were from a different [tribal] branch, and they killed as well heroes from the tribes of Albu Hayyat and the Haditheeyin and the Jawa’ana and the Zawiyeen and the Albu Nimir as well, as was done by the Albu Mahal tribe with the braves of the Tarableh and the al-Salman.

The sheikhs spoke of how the Americans and their allies have led the tribes into a labyrinth and a dark tunnel called the national forces or the tribal Awakenings, promising them rosy fantasies back-up with large sums of money at first to some of the sheikhs and the volunteers in the Awakenings specifically, and after they had all gotten implicated in this ill-omened venture, they started to [turn their shoulders] and cutting off the salaries, and started talking of three month contracts or six months saying very clearly: “You have no option now but to collaborate with us or else you will be beheaded by the [Islamic State of Iraq] after having fought them, for you have become exposed targets and you have no cover but the Americans.”

All the above is self-explanatory: Al-Baghdadi claims that the Shias have managed to close ranks and sort out their differences, while the Sunnis are devouring each other.

Al-Baghdadi adds that he told the visiting tribal sheikhs that “the root of the problem in the Sunni area is the Islamic Party and its coterie of wicked clerics and tribal sheikhs” who insist on joining the political process without demonstrating that there is any value to that course of action. To further drive his point, al-Baghdadi asks about the numbers of Sunni prisoners that Tariq al-Hashemi, Iraq’s Sunni Vice-President and chairman of the Islamic Party, has managed to release even after publicly vowing to do so many months ago. Al-Baghdadi contrasts this ineptness with the number of attempts that the jihadists have partaken of to forcibly spring prisoners out of American-supervised prisons in Iraq such as the ones in Abu Ghraib and Badosh, as well as the number of American, British and Russian hostages that were taken by the jihadists with the aim of substituting them for some of the female and juvenile Sunni detainees. Al-Baghdadi’s argument here is that he and his jihadists are the ones who are really safeguarding Sunni rights by forceful actions, not the Islamic Party through empty politics and rhetoric.

Al-Baghdadi adds that there is also no overall financial reward or political influence accrued to the Sunnis by joining the security forces since Sunnis constitute “no more than 3 to 5 percent” of the army and police force of “[Shia] state”, by his estimate.

Al-Baghdadi then describes the seven-point agreement that he reached with the tribal sheikhs, which doesn’t have much substance to it since it goes through all the usual premises of annulling the Awakening Councils, deserting the security services, declaring amnesty for ex-members of the Awakenings and the security forces and imposing shariah law throughout the land, and doing so in collaboration between the tribes and the Islamic State of Iraq. But even al-Baghdadi concedes that this agreement “will remain ink on paper” if the tribes don’t enforce it themselves, and he doesn’t seem too optimistic about this outcome.

Towards the end of the speech, al-Baghdadi focuses on the impending government attack on Mosul, saying that Maliki’s government hurriedly put an end to the Basra operation and reconciled with the Sadrists so that it can direct its firepower to cleanse Mosul of any jihadist footholds. Al-Baghdadi rails against the parliamentary Sunni Consensus bloc (that includes the Islamic Party) for trying to stop the fighting between the Mahdi Army and the Iraqi state, accusing them of being more concerned over Shia blood than “the Sunni blood in Diyala” [Note: al-Baghdadi pronounces “Diyala” in a weird way] and brands them as “more rafidhist and majusi than the rafidha themselves”.

Al-Baghdadi tries to rally the civic pride of the people of Mosul:
…When has the military operation ever stopped against Mosul? It is [already] agitated and at its worst, and the casualties of the Zengili massacre [Ed. Referring to the explosion on January 23, 2008] that was perpetrated by the soldiers of the [National] Guard, in both its [Shia] component and that of the Jewish Kurds, by far exceeded all that they declared of dead and wounded in all their battles during the six days [Ed. Referring to the fighting in Basra and elsewhere]. O Sunnis, you must be very vigilant for what is in store for you is indeed grave, and you shall see humiliation and vulnerability if you abandon your sons [among] the mujaheddin, for they are of you and for you, and the source of your pride and honor and the secret behind your power. And I warn you severely against following the Islamic Party and its devils into the political process for they are, by God, beating the drums for a war of extermination against the Sunnis in Mosul, and they are shouting for [blood] to begin the massacres in Mosul anew, after they had stanched [the flow] of [Shia] blood in the south, and especially that of their masters in the Mahdi Army.
Al-Baghdadi concludes by calling on the people of Mosul to defend their “religion and land and honor” or else the “majusis” and the “Jewish peshmergas” will rape their women. But even if the people of Mosul let him down, al-Baghdadi is assured that “Our Lord in heaven will make us victorious”.


Blogger madtom said...

Dude I think it's called surrender

6:07 PM, April 18, 2008

Blogger Don Cox said...

I find all this Islamic jargonistic verbosity to be indistinguishable in practice from the Marxist version. Both types of bully have an overactive part of the brain which spews out endless garbage to justify mass killings. I see no point in attempting reasoned arguments against what is really a symptom of psychopathology.

7:50 AM, April 19, 2008

Blogger BrianFH said...

What you describe could be framed as a battle of "memes", those abstract organisms that fight for possession of human brain territory. The Ummah meme wants to override and extinguish the patriotism and nationalism memes. al-Baghdadi is a fervent servant of the Ummah meme, and hates the others.

6:03 AM, April 20, 2008

Blogger Soldier's Dad said...

All group conflicts are based on Us vs Them. Without a "them" group conflict can't occur.

There are 3 ways to get rid of them
1) Annihilation
2) Assimilation I.E. melting pot, intermarriage etc..(Middle Ages Armies raped the woman of the conquered as a method of forced assimilation which is why some extremist interpretations of the Koran make being raped by an infidel a crime punishable by death )

3) Accommodation I.E. Multiculturalism(moderate interpretations of the Koran stress

7:44 AM, April 21, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Middle Ages Armies raped the woman of the conquered as a method of forced assimilation which is why some extremist interpretations of the Koran make being raped by an infidel a crime punishable by death"

Dude do you even know what your talking about?! Bring me proof that there is such an interpretation of the Quran..

If a girl is raped the rapist is punished not the girl.. get it straight before you start talking like your some type of scholar of Islam, that's if your muslim..

7:41 PM, January 27, 2009

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