Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Al-Baghdadi following in bin Laden’s footsteps

A file image made available by the jihadist Twitter account Al-Baraka News on June 9, 2014 allegedly shows Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants waving the trademark jihadi flag as vehicles drive on a newly cut road through the Syrian-Iraqi border between the Iraqi Nineveh province and the Syrian town of Al-Hasakah. (Photo: AFP/Al-Baraka News)
Published Wednesday, July 2, 2014
An audio recording was posted online yesterday of the leader of the Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, in which he delivered a message infused with religious discourse at various points. He tried to present himself as the caliph of all Muslims and their only leader by globalizing the content of the message which “called on Muslims to flock to the Islamic State.” He also threatened that “Muslims in all the corners of the earth will take revenge.”

The message of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of the the Islamic State (formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria), came at the threshold of a new phase of expansion. Although it is his first audio appearance after he was declared caliph, Ibrahim al-Samarrai did not bring up the oath of allegiance, preferring instead to issue a message that is religious in terms of its title and content. It is “a message to the mujahideen and the Islamic ummah (nation) in the month of Ramadan.”
The introduction that preceded Baghdadi’s message did not add anything new in terms of introducing the speaker. He is, as before, “our leader, the prince of the faithful, Abu Bakr al-Qurashi al-Husseini al-Baghdadi, may God protect him.” If Baghdadi did not bring up the caliphate at the end of his message, one would have cast doubt on the date of its recording. It was evident in his message that he was keen on appearing as the “sole Islamic leader” in terms of his reliance on religious justifications in everything he said and in terms of globalizing his discourse.
Urging the state’s fighters to carry on with their battles stems from the notion that “jihad is the best deed.” Therefore Baghdadi ruled out the possibility of an initiative to put an end to the war his group is waging and chose in this regard the following Quranic verse to address his soldiers: “So do not weaken and call for peace while you are superior...”
The most remarkable feature of Baghdadi’s message is his insistence on presenting his state as a “rescuer of Muslims” around the world. “So take up arms, take up arms, O soldiers of the Islamic State! And fight, fight... Indeed you have brothers in many parts of the world being inflicted with the worst kinds of torture...” He added: “For your brothers all over the world are waiting for your rescue, and are anticipating your brigades.” He made sure to list the countries he is referring to, from China to India, Palestine, the Arabian Peninsula, the Caucasus, Tunisia, Libya, and Morocco. Baghdadi stressed that the Islamic State will avenge Muslims in all the corners of the earth: “By God, we will take revenge! Even if it takes a while, we will take revenge, and every amount of harm will be responded to with multitudes more.”
Reiterating his threats and proclaiming a new era, he warned: “So let the world know that we are living today in a new era... Muslims today have a loud, thundering statement. A statement that will cause the world to hear and understand the meaning of terrorism.” It was noticeable that the caliph’s message did not include attacks against the Rawafid and the Nusayris ( derogatory names for Shias and Alawis) as is common in the state’s discourse. Instead, he issued threats against “Crusaders, atheists and Jews” as well as “their agents, the treacherous rulers,” saying: “Muslims today possess boots that will trample the idol of nationalism and destroy the idol of democracy.”
This introduction seemed necessary to invoke the famous “two sides” speech delivered by al-Qaeda’s former leader Osama bin Laden. Like bin Laden, Baghdadi divided the world into “two sides and two trenches. The side of Islam and faith and the side of disbelief and hypocrisy.” In the latter side, he put all “the nations and religions of disbelief, led by America and Russia and mobilized by Jews.” Baghdadi continued to emulate bin Laden’s speech by recalling: “the violations and practices against Muslims” in Burma, the Philippines, Indonesia, Kashmir, the Caucasus, Palestine, Eastern Turkestan, Iran and he did not forget the ban on the veil in France.
The caliph once again gave Muslims the good news that “by Allah’s grace – you have a state and a caliphate... A caliphate that gathered Caucasians, Indians, Chinese, ..., Americans, French, Germans, and Australians.” He called on Muslims: “Rush to your state,” because “Syria is not for the Syrians, and Iraq is not for the Iraqis.” He stressed that “emigration to the land of Islam is obligatory for those who are capable of it.”
In a way that reflects the caliphate’s concern for its subjects, Baghdadi issued a special appeal to “scholars, jurists (experts in Islamic jurisprudence) and preachers, especially judges, as well as people with military, administrative and service expertise... for their emigration is an individual obligation.” His appeal indicates that individuals with expertise will enjoy a special status because “People thirst for those who can teach them and help them understand their religion.”
And because the caliphate is a state of jihad, the caliph was careful to end his message the same way he started it by addressing the soldiers of the Islamic State. He said: “I do not fear for you the numbers of your opponents... I fear for you and your own sins.”
Determined to imbue his message with a sense of encouragement, he reminded his soldiers to “attend to the Muslims and the tribes of the Sunnis with goodness.” He also gave priority to liberating prisoners, suggesting that the Islamic State will continue to attack prisons in its future battles. Baghdadi said in this regard: “Verily, the best place for your blood to be spilled is on the path to liberate Muslim prisoners.”
He concluded saying: “This is my advice to you. If you hold on to it, you will conquer Rome and own the world, if God wills it.”

Although it was not stated, Baghdadi’s message confirms the group’s desire to abolish the legitimacy of all the other organizations if they do not pledge allegiance to the caliph, including the Emirate of the Caucasus, al-Qaeda and the Taliban whose leader Mullah Omar also has the title of prince of the faithful, a source linked to the Islamic State told Al-Akhbar. The source said: “Leadership should not be given to someone who refrains from joining jihad and it is not proper for a leader to limit his jihad to one part of the world.” He added: “The Islamic State is the one responsible for the right jihad. Becoming a caliph has conditions that are available in our leader al-Qurashi. Victory and establishing power and authority come from God, He bestows them on whomever He wills and on he who is worthy of them. And He has bestowed them on our caliph.”
The two-sides speech
Baghdadi’s message matched in many of its points a statement that former al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden had issued in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks in 2001. Some of what Bin Laden said about terrorism at the time was that: “A million children, innocent children, have been killed... in Iraq and having done nothing wrong... A people at the ends of the earth - Japan - were killed by the hundreds of thousands, young and old. For them, this is not a crime, but a debatable issue. One million children in Iraq is a debatable issue. But when a dozen of them were killed in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, Afghanistan was bombed and Iraq was bombed and all the hypocrites stood behind the head of infidels worldwide - behind the Hubal [an idol worshipped by pagans before the advent of Islam] of our age - America and its supporters.”
On the division of the world, bin Laden said: “These events have divided the whole world into two sides. The side of believers and the side of infidels.” As to warnings of revenge, he said: “I swear by God, ..., neither America nor the people who live in America will enjoy security before we see it as a reality...”
This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.


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