Unconventional thinking about the Middle East.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Al-Baghdadi’s Third Speech--Sounding Worried

The Al-Furqan Institute for Media Productions released Abu Omar al-Baghdadi’s third public speech yesterday as an audio file on several jihadist websites under the title ‘Say I Am Made Certain By My God’; the speech runs for a little under 22 minutes and the speaker’s voice sounds like the one we heard in the two earlier speeches that were attributed to al-Baghdadi.

Al-Baghdadi sounds like one big unhappy jihadist: his whole speech is a long rant against all those who are undermining him and the Al-Qaeda-led ‘Islamic State of Iraq’. He doesn’t sound like someone who’s winning, in fact he sounds embattled.

Al-Baghdadi is clearly responding to a growing campaign of criticism against him and his Islamic State of Iraq, most of it coming from other jihadist groups. But instead of being endearing and trying to calm tempers, al-Baghdadi lashes out and portrays this 'smear' campaign as one orchestrated by the enemies of the Islamic State such as the Saudi royal family and others "who have jealousy and malice in their hearts."

Al-Baghdadi finds the need to clearly spell out the doctrine of his faction, and seems to indicate that he must do so because his supporters are losing faith in him, and that this atmosphere of recriminations is drying up the sources of money and fighters. He is clearly alarmed that things are not looking good for his venture, and he poses a provocative question to the effect: "Where would you be without Al-Qaeda or the Islamic State?" seemingly directed against his detractors.

He lays out 19 tenets, most of which we already know about. The notable innovations are judging that Jews and Christians who live among Muslims are no longer protected as Dhimmis, and that the Sunnis who participated in the political process, specifically Tariq al-Hashemi's Islamic Party, are apostates and infidels, who are marked for death.

Here is my rough translation of most of the speech with some of my commentary and explanations; I've left out all the religious stuff such as Koranic references for the sake of expediency:

Oh brave, marauding mujahid in the prisons of the tyrants, raise your head and laugh from the bottom of your heart, for you have brothers who do not accept that you should be in misery, and who have pledged to Allah before pledging to you that they will return you to their ranks, by Allah’s power…

For [recently] your brothers had shouted Allah’s name on the walls of Abu Ghaib prison and released over sixty prisoners [there], and then it was [the turn of] the Counter-Terrorism prison, then the prisons of the apostate policemen in Hai al-Amil, and the prison of the Shahreban [Muqdadia] police in Diyala, and today, with blessings and aid from Allah, the sons of the State of Islam broke into one of the lairs of the tyrant and one [of his] impregnable forts in an operation that the enemy confessed was highly accurate and quick, whereby the heroes distracted their enemies in more than one location, which brought on the force of the enemy and his attention to them, and they cut off the roads and suspended the electrical and telecom grids, and in less that 15 minutes they were, by Allah’s grace, knocking at the cell doors of their brothers, from the muhajerin and the ansar, and Allah relieved more than 220 mujahids; the enemy admitted to 140 and they were honest for they counted only the ansar from the people of Iraq, while the rest of the number were from the muhajerin towards Allah in Mesopotamia…

Here al-Baghdadi is referring to the mass jail break from the Badosh prison near Mosul a few days ago, an operation that the Islamic State of Iraq had taken credit for in a press release at the time. The muhajerin, ‘immigrants’, and the ansar, ‘hosts’ or ‘supporters’, are both terms from the early Islamic era when Muhammad followed his Meccan disciples in finding sanctuary and refuge in the oasis town of Yathrib (later renamed Medina), which was populated by the pagan Aws and Khazraj tribes that already encompassed large factions of Muslim sympathizers, as well as many Jews. The foreign fighters in Iraq--the Saudis, Syrians, Yemenis, Sudanese, Egyptians and others--would count themselves as ‘immigrants’ in Iraq, while the native Iraqi jihadists would be labeled ‘supporters’ in this analogy.

And while we were [basking] in this glory, and resolving ourselves and our brothers in facing a Crusader-Safavid campaign, that is unprecedented [in scope] since the occupation, [and while] asking everyone to cooperate, close ranks and unite our word, everyone was surprised by a fierce multi-pronged media attack on the nascent State of Islam that saddened all [our] sincere [supporters] in its content, its meticulous symmetry, its multiple means, and the synchronization of its leading lights, even though they make come from varying backgrounds, for the matter has been hatched in the dark, black night, as was stated by a study on counterterrorism by the Brooks [Brookings] Institute in cooperation with the Rand [Corporation] for research, and that was published before the current satanic campaign against the State of Islam, under the title ‘Al-Qaeda’s War’.

And if we wanted to find out who was behind this campaign, we have to know who stands to benefit [from it]. Let us pose this query: What would become of jihad in Mesopotamia if there was no Shura Council of the Mujaheddin or the State of Islam? And how would matters play out if the sons of the State of Islam put aside their weapons and sat out the jihad? The answer is known: honor would be desecrated and our [progeny] would be annihilated. And if you don’t believe [me], then I ask every fighting faction that claims the infallibility of its message, the purity of its banner and the strength of its resolve against the enemy, to publish three videotaped military operations of raiding American bases nay even one videotaped operation of raiding or breaking into an American military barracks.

Al-Baghdadi is essentially claiming that his organization is the only force that matters in the insurgency, and he is challenging all his detractors to prove their mettle by a benchmark that he arbitrarily sets at the act of overrunning American bases. This is what it would sound like in playground-speak: “We can and you can’t; nanana-booboo”.

Therefore, what are the goals of this latest media campaign against the State of Islam:

First: To unravel the strong bonds between the State of Islam and its large popular base.

Second: To set the State of Islam against the other jihadist groups.

Third: To banish the global jihadist movement from the battlefield to the advantage of nationalist movements that are more moderate and open, and to slander its global image.

Fourth and Last: To destroy the jihad in Mesopotamia and to disappoint the hopes of the ummah [the global community of Muslims] in it.

This comes in light of the state of collapse that envelopes the [government] institutions of Maliki the tyrant, and [comes] after the intriguing statement made by a team of American officers who revealed a fact that says that American forces have only six months ahead of them to achieve victory in the Iraq war or else they would face a Vietnam-like collapse. And this is what that cock of war, Cheney, who has suddenly become a chicken by throwing a defeatist media bomb [saying] that their goal now is only to come back with honor to [their] homeland.

And the Democratic majority in the American Congress declared that the security plan must bear fruit by the middle of this [upcoming] summer or else they will hasten the evacuation of forces at the end of this year.

This brief period has left the enemy and its agents in a state of preparation to quickly set up the Iraqi scene for a new successor or ally who will be more moderate and less threatening than the State of Islam especially if we learn that the Americans are inevitably embarking on a military campaign against Iran, for many reasons that are not for discussion here. Then it is imperative [for them] to sort out the Iraqi matter and to end the turbulent situation in it, specifically in the Sunni areas even if it were to the advantage of a moderate Islamist faction or even a fundamentalist one that can be controlled through an intermediary.

This is the reason that drove the [House of Saud] to quickly build up and strengthen Saudi Hezbollah under another name and with the blessing of the priests of the sultan, especially those who are famous for their animosity towards the sons of the Islamist movement. Thus, the oil money drenched them through he who is known as Muhammad bin Nayif and through the hands of the merchants of religion.

Muhammad bin Nayif is Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Minister of Interior, and often fills in for his father the Interior Minister, Prince Nayif bin Abdel-Aziz. I think that al-Baghdadi is referring to Harith al-Dhari, the head of Iraq’s Muslim Clerics Association, when using the terms ‘merchants of religion’ and ‘priests of the sultan’; al-Dhari is close to other jihadist factions that rival Al-Qaeda such as the 1920 Revolt Brigades and the Islamic Army of Iraq (...are these two groups what al-Baghdadi meant by "moderate Islamist faction or even a fundamentalist one that can be controlled through an intermediary"). Al-Dhari had traveled to Saudi Arabia soliciting funds in recent weeks, and allegedly met with Prince Nayif. Al-Dhari is wanted for questioning by Iraqi authorities (he’s hiding out in Syria now) and has been recently quoted saying sympathetic things about the ‘Islamic State of Iraq’.

I had no idea what al-Baghdadi means by his reference to 'Saudi Hezbollah'.

Then they started a three-pronged war on the State of Islam:

First: Through drying up the sources of money through a long-winded campaign of lies and rumors that were believed by many of [our] honest and sincere [supporters]…

Second: Through drying up the recruitment pools of those who are honest and sincere; especially after the failure of their fatwas in deterring those youthful Muslim mujahids who want to expend their monies and selves cheaply in the cause of Allah. So they conspired with that agent of the Mossad and the CIA, Yusri Fodah, to expose the points of entry for the mujaheddin and those seeking martyrdom…

Fodah (an Egyptian) is the host of Aljazeera’s 'Top Secret' program. I don’t know which episode that al-Baghdadi is referring to exactly. [[UPDATE, Friday, March 16, 2007: the rest of al-Baghdadi's take on this is "...despite what those decent folks who accompanied [Fodah and Aljazeera] and brought them in and facilitated matters for them had declared, on more than one occasion, that they do not receive the muhajerin [foreign fighters], so what compelled them to take this risk and expose this route and shine the spotlight on it, and that cruel one [Fodah] has himself admitted that he had given what he had gathered by way of information to the intelligence service of a certain country." It seems that by "decent folks"--probably said ironically--al-Baghdadi is referring to the Islamic Army of Iraq who collaborated with Fodah on this program, this according to today's al-Hayat newspaper and the analysis of al-Baghdadi's remarks on jihadist-friendly discussion forums.]]

Third: to enthusiastically join and belong to the three-pointed dagger whose heads are:

a) A gang of apostate and opportunistic merchants of blood and the thieves of jihad, who [follow in the steps] of Sa’ad Zaghloul and Bin Bella and Ali Jinnah, and to those we say that the era of stealing the jihad and bartering with the limbs of the disabled and the blood of the martyrs is over…

b) A group of those who profess Salafism but who are cravenly lying low and [encouraging others] to lie low, and whose only concern is to stab the mujaheddin, and hound them over their [mistakes].

c) A group of jealous [persons] who were compelled [to act in this manner] by the sight of their soldiers and units coalescing through pledging allegiance to the State of Islam, because the ego is inclined to liking the glamour of its high standing…

The poster-child for "category a)” would be Misha’an al-Jebouri, the owner of Al-Zawra’a TV. Many pacificist Salafist sheikhs who oppose conducting insurgent operations against and within civilian targets would fall under "category b)"; the Islamic State of Iraq has been accused of assassinated many such sheikhs. I guess jihadist groups such as the IAI, the Ansar al-Sunnah, and the 1920 Revolt Brigades would fall under "category c)" since the Islamic State of Iraq had earlier put out press releases claiming that individuals and units from these factions had splintered off and joined in pledging allegiance to al-Baghdadi.

They have barred the people from performing jihad in the cause of Allah because of the jealousy and malice they have in their hearts against the true believers, as well as the fear and trepidation that wrenches their hearts. They called upon their fellows and tribes to [take a] rest and be languid, even though it would allow the infidels to challenge Allah and his Prophet and the believers, and they put their hands in the hands of the tyrants of the Arabs, to rile them against the people of religion...claiming that all they want to do is to expel the occupiers.

This is an interesting distinction that al-Baghdadi is drawing between his group, "Constant Revolution", and the other Iraqi jihadist factions that counsel "Revolution in one country".

The people have libeled us with countless and unfounded lies about our doctrine, saying that we have cast the accusation of "infidels" against lay Muslims, and that we legitimize [the shedding of] their blood and [the looting of] their money, and that we force the people to enter into our State by the sword, and as such, here are a few of our tenets to answer those lies so that the liar would have no more excuse [to continue lying] and so that bewilderment is lifted from he who loves us:

1) We see the necessity of destroying and removing any forms of idolatry and to ban its methods.

This is a stringent Wahhabist doctrine that bars the veneration of saints, tombs or other holy places or objects (such as trees, rocks...etc.) and considers all such acts as cultural residues from the pre-Islamic pagan era. This has driven Al-Qaeda to destroy such cultural monuments as the Buddhas of Bamyan in Afghanistan, as well as the Golden Shrine of Samarra.

2) The rafidha [Shi'as] are an idolatrous and apostate sect, in addition to that, they are averse to enforcing many of the known rites of Islam.

3) We see the apostasy and heresy of the magician and the necessity to kill him and not to accept his penitence...

Watch out, David Blaine. This is a weird point to make: are the jihadists really that freaked out by magic? The reference here is to traditional witch-doctors who claim to counter demons and jinnis that may have possessed the ill or insane.

4) We do not excommunicate any Muslim man that prays to our [Mecca]...Our stance on faith is a midpoint between the extremism of the Khawarij and the laxity of the Marji'eh, and whoever pronounces the two testimonials and outwardly showed us Islam, and was not caught with anything that would annul [his] Islam, then we treat him as we treat Muslims...

5) We see the necessity of referring legal matter to the shari'ah of Allah through the shari'ah courts in the State of Islam, and to search for [legal solutions] in case it is an unprecedented matter...

6) We see the necessity to revere the Prophet [Muhammad]...

7) We believe that secularism, in all its different banners and varied sects such as nationalism or patriotism or Communism or Ba'athism, is clearly faithless and in contradiction to Islam and it takes [one] outside the [bounds] of religion. We also see the apostasy and heresy of whoever participates in the political process like the party of Mutleg and Duleimi and Hashemi and others. Because this process seeks to replace the law of Allah and pave the way for the enemies of Allah such as the Crusaders and the rawafidh [Shi'a] and all the apostates to lean upon the necks of the believers...

We also see that the program of the Islamic Party is one of apostasy and heresy that is no different from all the other infidel and apostate programs such as the parties of Ja'afari and Allawi. And as such, their leaders are apostates and there is no difference between a party branch head or an official in the government, but we do not see the heresy of all its members unless a judicial opinion is reached [in individual cases].

8)We see the heresy and apostasy of whoever gave any form of aid to the occupier and its acolytes, whether food or medicine or the such that would strengthen it because by doing so he becomes a legitimate target for us and [the shedding of] his blood is allowable.

9)We see that jihad in the cause of Allah is clearly compulsory since the fall of the Andalus, in order to liberate the lands of the Muslims...

The Andalus here is the once-Muslim controlled portion of the Iberian Peninsula (Spain), lost in the 15th century.

10) We see that the lands where the laws of the infidel are prevalent over the laws of Islam as lands of unbelief and this does not necessitate counting a resident of this land an infidel, but since the laws of the tyrant prevail over the laws of Islam in all the lands of Islam, then we see the apostasy and heresy of all the rulers of these lands [as well as] their armies, and fighting them is more pressing that fighting the crusading occupier. Thus we want to call to attention that we will fight any armies invading the State of Islam in Iraq whether they be under any Arab or Islamic name, and we advise and warn them that this army should not be the scapegoat for the occupier, as is being suggested to end the crisis of the crusading occupier in Iraq.

11) The necessity to fight the policemen and the army of the tyrant's state, and whatever offshoots such as the Oil Facilities Protection [units] and others, and we see the need to demolish or remove any building or institution that the tyrant may employ as a base for him.

12) We find that the sects of the people of the book and other from the Sabians and so in the State of Islam today are people of war who qualify for no protection, for they have transgressed against whatever they agreed to in many countless ways, and if they want peace and security then they must start a new era with the State of Islam according to [the Caliph] Omar's stipulations that they have annulled.

The 'people of the book' are the Jews and Christians in classical Islam, whereas the 'Sabians' traditionally incorporated the neo-platonists of Harran (northern Syria) but now describes the followers of the Mandean rite in southern Iraq. They are also referred as the tax-paying Dhimmis; the position of such non-Muslims within the expanding Islamic empire was codified under the second caliph, Omar. Al-Baghdadi is claiming that whatever protections and exceptions that Islam had extended to Dhimmis are void and no longer valid, and that the previous agreement with the Caliph Omar must be renegotiated; this sounds like a determination that only a caliph can make but maybe al-Baghdadi sees himself in such a role already.

13) We see that all the sons of the jihadist groups operating on the battlefields are brothers to us in religion and we do not libel them as infidels or deviants, but they are seditionists for lagging behind in performing the duty of our times, which is to unite under one banner.

14) Every group or individual conducting an agreement with the invading occupier, we find non-binding in anything and it is null and rejected, and we warn the occupier against striking any agreement, whether public or secret, without the permission of the State of Islam.

15) We see the need to revere the honest and working clerics...and to revile those who follow the tyrant or were accommodating to him in anything that pertains to religion.

16) We rightly acknowledge he who was pioneering in jihad and we give him his due and will take care of his money and family.

17) We see the need to save the Muslim prisoners from the hands of the infidels...

18) We see the need to teach the ummah the matters of its religion...

19) We find that anything that encourages deviancy and advocates for it such the satellite dish should be banned, and that the woman must lawfully cover her face...

Your brother,

Abu Omar al-Husseini al-Qurayshi al-Baghdadi


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Juan Cole www.juancole.com translates a Jordanian TV interview with Khalaf al-Ulayyan, politician of the Accord Front, which includes an extraordinary and lengthy attack on al-Qa'ida in Iraq. Put together with Baghdadi's latest communication it seems a very significant development.

11:37 AM, March 15, 2007

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