Friday, October 14, 2005

al-Z to al-Z

A few days ago on Belgravia Dispatch, Dan Darling wrote about the letter from Ayman al-Zawahiri to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Zawahari complains about some of Zarqawi's violent tactics particularly the videotaped beheadings of hostages. ' "We don't need this," the letter says. "Use a bullet instead." '. As Dan says, it is as well to see the actual text of the letter.

The full text has now been released (via Norm). Here is the relevant passage:

'things which the feelings of the Muslim populace who love and support you will never find palatable - also- are the scenes of slaughtering the hostages. ...we are in a battle, and ... more than half of this battle is taking place in the battlefield of the media. And that we are in a media battle in a race for the hearts and minds of our Umma. And that however far our capabilities reach, they will never be equal to one thousandth of the capabilities of the kingdom of Satan that is waging war on us. And we can kill the captives by bullet.'

Here are some more edited highlights:

The Shia
'the Shia [the Iranians] cooperated with the Americans in the invasion of Afghanistan and they cooperated with them in the overthrow of Saddam and the occupation of Iraq in exchange for the Shia's assumption of power ...

'... the Twelve'er school of Shiism .. is a religious school based on excess and falsehood ... Their prior history in cooperating with the enemies of Islam is consistent with their current reality of connivance with the Crusaders.

'The collision between any state based on the model of prophecy with the Shia is a matter that will happen sooner or later. these are the fruits to be expected from the rejectionist Shia sect and their opinion of the Sunnis.

'the majority of Muslims don't comprehend this and possibly could not even imagine it. For that reason, many of your Muslim admirers amongst the common folk are wondering about your attacks on the Shia [,especially] when the attacks are on one of their mosques...

'questions will circulate among mujahedeen circles and their opinion makers about the correctness of this conflict with the Shia at this time. Is it something that is unavoidable? Or, is it something can be put off until the force of the mujahed movement in Iraq gets stronger?

'we have more than one hundred prisoners - many of whom are from the leadership who are wanted in their countries - in the custody of the Iranians? And even if we attack the Shia out of necessity, then why do you announce this matter and make it public, which compels the Iranians to take counter measures?

Stages towards 'the establishment of a caliphate in the manner of the Prophet
'The first stage: Expel the Americans from Iraq. The second stage: Establish an Islamic authority or amirate, then develop it and support it until it achieves the level of a caliphate- over as much territory as you can to spread its power in Iraq, i.e., in Sunni areas...

'The third stage: Extend the jihad wave to the secular countries neighboring Iraq.

The fourth stage: It may coincide with what came before: the clash with Israel, because Israel was established only to challenge any new Islamic entity.

The mujahedeen must not have their mission end with the expulsion of the Americans from Iraq, and then lay down their weapons, and silence the fighting zeal. We will return to having the secularists and traitors holding sway over us.

the enemies of Islam ... did not establish Israel in this triangle surrounded by Egypt and Syria and overlooking the Hijaz except for their own interests.

The Muslim masses ... do not rally except against an outside occupying enemy, especially if the enemy is firstly Jewish, and secondly American.

Preparing for the aftermath of the exit of the Americans: things may develop faster than we imagine. The aftermath of the collapse of American power in Vietnam-and how they ran and left their agents-is noteworthy.

Theological purity
Also, the active mujahedeen ulema - even if there may be some heresy or fault in them that is not blasphemous - we must find a means to include them and to benefit from their energy. ... all Muslims are speaking of jihad, whether they are Salafi or non-Salafi, then you would understand that it is a duty of the mujahed movement to include the energies of the Umma. ... I do not want us to repeat the mistake of Jamil al-Rahman~, who was killed and whose organization was shattered, because he neglected the realities on the ground.'

Strangely, Afghanistan seems almost like a lost cause: 'We don't want to repeat the mistake of the Taliban, who restricted participation in governance to the students and the people of Qandahar alone. They did not have any representation for the Afghan people in their ruling regime, so the result was that the Afghan people disengaged themselves from them. Even devout ones took the stance of the spectator and, when the invasion came, the amirate collapsed in days, because the people were either passive or hostile.'

Update: A couple of points from Bernard Haykel's New York Times article (referenced by Norm):
'Abu Baseer al-Tartusi, has issued a fatwa arguing that all suicide bombing that targets Muslims, or innocent non-Muslims, is unlawful.'  With the 7 July bombings, I've a suspicion that the Jihadis do not regard British citizens as innocent, since they re-elected Tony Blair, even after he supported the intervention in Iraq.

Al-Tartusi 'no doubt fears that in Britain's changing legal climate, he might be extradited to [Syria], where he would face certain imprisonment and torture.'  While the British government is having negotiations on this with some North African countries, it seems unlikely they would negotiate anything with Syria.

Update 2:According to the FT (15 Oct), the letter may have been to Abu Musab al-Suri, rather than Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.  Al-Suri was an intermediary for al-Qaeda in Europe during the 1990s. This would explain the reference to al-Zarqawi in the third person, which certainly puzzled me when I read it: "if by chance you are going to Fallujah..."


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