Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Assessing Ayman

Ayman al Zawahiri is al Qaedas’s second in command. He gave an interview to al Sahab in December, 2007, and, most recently, answered written questions in a kind of jihadi talk radio show. Both provide a wealth of information and insight into the mind of a man who is in equal measure a religious fanatic and psychopath.

I've been going through Zawahiri's most recent communiques as time has allowed over the past week. They are worthwhile for spelling out the goals and intentions of al Qaeda, as well as for giving a window into the logic of a true Salafist:

1. Iraq remains al Qaeda’s central front:

As-Sahab: And what is the most important field in which this Mujahid vanguard is wrestling with the enemies of Islam?

Zawahiri: Iraq is the most important of these fields.

2. One of the points I have repeatedly made is that pulling out of Iraq would have dire long term consequences for our ability to conduct foreign policy and gather allies, particularly among nations threatened by radicals. Zawahiri thinks so too. He fully expects the U.S. to retreat from Iraq, repeatedly referring to Vietnam. He later explains that he forsees al Qaeda reasserting itself after America leaves Iraq and that the Anbar Awakening cannot keep al Qaeda out of Iraq without American support:

Zawahiri: And I also call on all Muslims to stop supporting the armed groups which have cooperated with the Americans against the Muslims and mujahideen. And I warn those individuals from among the armed factions who have been involved in cooperating with the occupation against the mujahideen that history is recording everything, and that they will lose both their religion and life, and that the Americans will soon be departing - Allah permitting - and won't keep defending them forever. And let them look at the fate of America's agents in Vietnam and the fate of the Shah of Iran, and intelligent is he who learns from other's mistakes.
. . . .
That is why those who conspire against the Jihad and Mujahideen in Lebanon with American weapons, Zionist collusion and Saudi money must know that they are digging their graves with their own hands, and that the Americans and Jews will not defend them, because they are looking for those who will defend them, and whoever doubts this should remember Vietnam and look at Iraq and Afghanistan."
. . . .
I expect the Jihadi influence to spread after the Americans’ exit from Iraq, and to move towards Jerusalem (with Allah’s permission). As for the militias mentioned, they have failed to eliminate the Jihad with the help of what is called the strongest power in the history of mankind, so will they succeed by themselves or with the help of Iran?

3. Zawahiri, whose al Qaeda organization that regularly slaughters women and children of whatever faith, has the same difficulty with veracity that our own politicians seem to have. When confronted with some very angry questions as to why al Qaeda was slaughtering Muslims in Algeria and in Iraqi marketplaces, Zawahiri claims that al Qaeda kills no "innocents" while, at the same time, accusing the U.S. of taking human shields.

1/1: The questioner Mudarris Jughrafiya [Geography Teacher] asks, "Excuse me, Mr. Zawahiri, but who is it who is killing with Your Excellency’s blessing the innocents in Baghdad, Morocco and Algeria? Do you consider the killing of women and children to be Jihad? I challenge you and your organization to do that in Tel Aviv. Why have you – to this day – not carried out any strike in Israel? Or is it easier to kill Muslims in the markets? Maybe it is necessary [for you] to take some geography lessons, because your maps only show the Muslims’ states."

My reply to Mudarris Jughrafiya is that we haven’t killed the innocents, not in Baghdad, nor in Morocco, nor in Algeria, nor anywhere else. And if there is any innocent who was killed in the Mujahideen’s operations, then it was either an unintentional error, or out of necessity as in cases of al-Tatarrus [taking of human shields by the enemy]. . . .

I would like to clarify to the brother questioner that we don’t kill innocents: in fact, we fight those who kill innocents. Those who kill innocents are the Americans, the Jews, the Russians and the French and their agents. Were we insane killers of innocents as the questioner claims, it would be possible for us to kill thousands of them in the crowded markets, but we are confronting the enemies of the Muslim Ummah . . .

The scale of untruth on this one is amazing, and it is obviously not lost on Muslims in the Middle East - a reason why al Qaeda's popularity is in a tail spin in the Middle East. As a side note, what appears to be going on here is actually pretty typical among Salafists like Zawahiri. They routinely engage in Koranic linguistic contortions to justify their actions. And in that vein, the word "innocent" has been so interpreted as to mean anything the Salafist’s want it to mean. A little later on, Zawahiri adds:

"It is not hidden from you that the enemy intentionally takes up positions in the midst of the Muslims, for them to be human shields for him. And here I emphasize to my brothers the Mujahideen to beware of expanding the issue of al-Tatarrus, and to make sure that their operations targeting the enemies are regulated by the regulations of the Shari’ah and as far as possible from the Muslims.

Evidently, U.S. soldiers handing out candy and the like to Iraqi children classifies the children as human shields during the seconds in which that occurs. Al Qaeda, Hamas and Hezbollah regularly make use of human shields. Zawahiri does not not address that practice, but I assume that it is justified both on some passage in the Koran that likewise has been interpreted beyond the bounds of any reasonable logic.

4. One of the Muslim traditions has been that if you are allowed to live in a foreign land, there is a covenant of security and that no Muslim should carry out attacks in the country in which they are guests. This was the deal with the devil that kept Britian, home to the world's most radical Islamists, free of major terrorism through 7/7. Whatever the tradition may have been, Zawahiri no longer honors it:

I don’t believe that the entry visa of the infidels is a security contract, . . .

Later, Zawahiri goes beyond that, noting that such a visa is no excuse for refraining from "obligatory jihad against them."

5. Zawahiri is wholly opposed to democratic rule, seeing a theocracy as the only legitimate form of government. He is sharply critical of Hamas for taking part in the democracy in Gaza as well for the Muslim Brotherhood for their choice of attempting to gain power through existing political systems:

[T]he methodologies of the jihad movements must be founded on the rule of the Sharia, not on the rule of the majority. . . .

First: HAMAS abandoned the right of the Shari’ah to rule because it – contrary to the slogan "the Quran is our constitution" – agreed to enter the elections, then come to power on the basis of the secular basic law which does not rule according to the Shari’ah. This is one of the disasters of the Muslim Brothers. . . .

6. Zawahiri’s views of Moqtada al Sadr:

Muqtada al-Sadr is one of Iran's lieutenants in Iraq. . . . And the skirmishes which take place between him and the Americans are American-Iranian disputes over expansion of influence.

7. Jihad is an individual obligation so long as any piece of land once ruled by Islamists during the course of history is occupied and/or ruled by non-Muslims. And it should be noted that this includes much of Spain. Zawahiri takes the UN to task and deems it a legitimate target because it considers Andalusia – conquered in 718 by Muslim invaders, reconquered by Christians in 1248 – a part of Spain.

. . . [J]ihad in Iraq and the rest of the Islamic lands is obligatory against the invaders and Crusaders and their agents so everyone who is hostile to Islam and Muslims and allies himself with the Crusader invaders against the Muslims whether Iraqi or non-Iraqi must be confronted and jihad waged against him. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), (who) fought his polytheistic people, was hostile to them and invoked Allah against them as did the Companions (with whom Allah is pleased) and when the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) chose to ransom the prisoners of Badr, Allah sent down on him a verse of the Koran, in which he reproached him (peace and prayers of Allah be upon him), 'It is not for a Prophet to have captives until he inflicts great slaughter (or is empowered) in the land. You (O Muslims) desire the goods of this world while Allah desires for you the hereafter. And Allah is Mighty and Wise' (8:67) (Qu’ran verses; Al-Anfal 8:67).

. . . The United Nations is an enemy of Islam and Muslims: it is the one which codified and legitimized the setting up of the state of Israel and its taking over of the Muslims’ lands. It is the one which considers . . . Ceuta and Melilla inseparable parts of Crusader Spain.

8. And lastly, Zawahiri clearly spells out al Qaeda's intentions for jihad, quoting Osama bin Laden:

"I also reassure our people in Palestine in particular that we will expand our Jihad – Allah permitting – and will neither recognize the borders of Sykes-Picot nor the rulers whom colonialism put in place. We – by Allah – haven’t forgotten you after the events of the 11th, for can the man forget his family? But following those blessed raids which struck the head and heart of global unbelief and the biggest ally of the Zionist entity, America, we are today occupied with attacking and fighting it and its agents, especially in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Islamic Maghreb and Somalia. And if it and its agents are defeated in Iraq – Allah permitting – then it won’t be long before the armies of the Mujahideen set out, brigades followed by brigades, from Baghdad, al-Anbar, Mosul, Diyala and Salahuddin to bring back to us Hittin, Allah permitting.

"And we won’t recognize any state for the Jews, even if on one hand span of the land of Palestine, the way all the Arab rulers did when they adopted the governor of Riyadh’s initiative a few years ago. And it wasn’t enough for them to commit that major catastrophe until the people recently saw the shepherdess of surrender herd them in flocks to Annapolis, doing with them what the Americans did with their forefathers before, but not for them to be sold: no, for them to sell, and sell what? Sell Jerusalem, al-Aqsa Mosque and the blood of the martyrs, and there is neither power nor strength except with Allah. May Allah do to them as they deserve. . . .

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