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Islamic Relief Chairman Seems to Hate Jews and Love Jihad

Please click here to sign a Change.org petition calling on the Silicon Valley Community Foundation (SVCF) to end its financial support for Islamist Relief.

IR-USA Chairman Khaled Lamada displaying the Muslim Brotherhood's four-finger "R4BIA" sign.

Islamist Watch has uncovered further evidence of anti-Semitism promoted by senior officials of Islamic Relief, the largest Islamic charity in America.

Although Islamic Relief is a designated terrorist organization in the United Arab Emirates, it enjoys the support of governments and other charities all around the world, including $370,000 from the U.S. government in 2016, along with millions of dollars from the UN, European Union, Germany, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

As Islamist Watch has previously discussed, these public monies serve to subsidize Islamic Relief's funding of Hamas-linked organizations in the Gaza Strip. All across the globe, in fact, Islamic Relief branches are led by Islamists with close ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist causes. Islamic Relief's U.S. branch (IR-USA) is no exception.

The current chairman of IR-USA is Khaled Lamada, a prominent Egyptian-American, who has a long history of involvement with Muslim Brotherhood organizations. He does not, in fact, shy away from publicly expressing his support for Islamist causes. His social media accounts are filled with Muslim Brotherhood insignia, including the notorious R4BIA sign – exhibited by Muslim Brotherhood supporters since 2013.

Islamic Relief received $370,000 from the U.S. government in 2016.

Worst of all, Lamada appears to hate Jews and admire violence against Israel. Writing and sharing posts mostly in Arabic, Lamada has circulated text praising the "jihad" of the "Mujahidin of Egypt" for "causing the Jews many defeats." He has republished claims on Facebook that praise Hamas for inflicting a "huge defeat" against the "Zionist entity."

Further, Lamada has circulated videos that claim the current leader of Egypt, President Sisi, is secretly Jewish, and that he opposes the Muslim Brotherhood on the orders of the Jews. The video further claims that Jews are sowing division among Egyptian Muslims by encouraging sexual activities. Lamada's only comment about these anti-Semitic conspiracies is: "I hope this is not true." Lamada has even disseminated claims that America is controlled by a Zionist lobby, which is working to demonize Muslims and plan an invasion of Sudan and the Nile Valley.

Lamada is not the only anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist running America's largest Islamic charity.

Yousef Abdallah, east coast operations manager for Islamic Relief.

Last month, Islamist Watch uncovered anti-Semitic social media posts by another senior official of IR-USA, Yousef Abdallah, who published a story romanticising "martyrs" who provided guns to "kill more than 20 jews" and "fire rockets at Tel Aviv."

Abdallah's other posts included references to Jews as "stinking," and claims that "the Jews put the outside wall of Al Aqsa [the mosque in Jerusalem] on fire." Abdallah also 'likes' a comment on his Facebook post that calls on God to wreak "revenge on the damned rapists Zionists. O God they are no challenge for you. Shake the Earth beneath their feet and destroy them as you destroyed the peoples of ʿĀd, Thamud and Lot."

Another (former) IR-USA staff member, Omar Shahin, preached in 2002: "You will keep on fighting with the Jews until the fight reaches the east of Jordan river then the stones and trees will say: oh Muslim, oh (servant) slaves of Allah, there is a Jew behind me; come and kill him."

That IR-USA's chairman and his staff appear to hate Jews is not particularly surprising. That this extremist, terrorism-linked, Jew-hating charity has enjoyed millions of taxpayers' dollars and dinners at the White House, however, is utterly perplexing.

Sam Westrop is the director of Islamist Watch, a project of the Middle East Forum.

By Sam Westrop  |  August 11, 2017  |  Permalink

Another Academic Mangling of My Views on Islam

Originally published under the title "Academic Malfeasance: Another Mangling of Views about Islam."

Michelle Sandhoff, an assistant professor of sociology at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, has written a book titled Service in a Time of Suspicion: Experiences of Muslims Serving in the U.S. Military Post-9/11 (Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2017).

In it, she interviewed 15 Muslim service members who, according to the publisher, "talk about what it means to be Muslim, American, and a uniformed member of the armed services in the twenty-first century. These honest accounts remind us of our shared humanity."

In the book's early pages, Sandhoff devotes a long, error-rich paragraph to describing two contrary ways of seeing Islam:

Among those who write and teach about Islam there are, broadly speaking, two camps. One side, exemplified by Karen Armstrong, presents a generally positive view of Islam and considers Islam to be a religion equivalent in scope and effect to other religions. At the other extreme are authors such as Daniel Pipes, who preach a doomsday scenario of an Islamic conspiracy to destroy the West. The latter camp often begin [sic] their discussion in terms of Islamism (a political movement), but quickly devolve into an association of all Muslims with fundamentalism, violence, and terrorism. This perspective takes the stance that Islam poses an existential threat; in his book Militant Islam Reaches America, Pipes writes, "The preservation of our existing order can no longer be taken for granted; it needs to be fought for." The form of this threat is often proposed to be "creeping sharia," the idea that religious accommodation and multiculturalism will lead inexorably to a world in which "sharia law" (i.e., Islamic law) dictates the behavior of both Muslims and non-Muslims. This perspective is also marked by the belief that all Muslims are suspect, and that profiling is a justified and effective technique to combat terrorism. Pipes writes, "All Muslims, unfortunately are suspect." Perhaps most troubling is the assertion from this camp that Muslims regularly practice taqiyyah, a form of deception believed by this camp to be pervasive. This allows them to dismiss any Muslim who speaks against them on the assumption that they are lying.

Problems abound in this paragraph:

  • Note that Armstrong just has views but I am at the extreme.
  • I reject the idea of "an Islamic conspiracy to destroy the West." Conspiracy implies some central agent making plans, which does not exist.
  • "Camp" is singular, so a camp begins. It's a good idea to get basic grammar right, especially when writing a book.
  • Not my Twitter account.

  • I do not associate "all Muslims with fundamentalism, violence, and terrorism." To the contrary, I am known for saying that "radical Islam is the problem, moderate Islam is the solution" – and was quoted only yesterday to this effect in the Wall Street Journal. Nor is this view just an abstraction: I actively support anti-Islamist Muslims intellectually and financially.
  • I do not use the term "creeping Sharia."
  • I understand that taqiyyah is reserved for specific religious circumstances (such as Shi'a passing as Sunnis) and never deploy this concept to dismiss what Muslims say about Islamism.

Comments:

I recently wrote an article on 9 errors about me in 3 pages so, even by American academic standards, 4 mistakes in 1 paragraph is impressive; What's ahead, 2 errors in as many words?

I keep wondering: are professors who disagree with me purposefully mangling my views or just not bothering to check what those are? Either way, the result undermines their only currency – a reputation for sound scholarship.

Daniel Pipes (DanielPipes.org, @DanielPipes) is president of the Middle East Forum.

By Daniel Pipes  |  August 5, 2017  |  Permalink

Churchill, Hitler, and Islam

Churchill condemned Islam's "fanatical frenzy." Hitler saw it as preferable to Christian "meekness and flabbiness."

Winston Churchill disparaged the impact of Islam on Muslims in his 1899 book, The River War:

How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy."

Adolf Hitler admired Islam, as quoted by Albert Speer in his 1969 book, Inside the Third Reich:

You see, it's been our misfortune to have the wrong religion. Why didn't we have the religion of the Japanese, who regard sacrifice for the Fatherland as the highest good? The Mohammedan religion too would have been much more compatible to us than Christianity. Why did it have to be Christianity with its meekness and flabbiness?

Comments:

(1) The arch-enemies of World War II agreed in their perception of Islam as a martial faith – except that Churchill rued its "fanatical frenzy" and Hitler admired its representing the opposite of "meekness and flabbiness."

Paul Weston arrested after publicly reading from Winston Churchill's The River War.

(2) These positions echo in the West today. Paul Weston, a right-wing candidate for the European Parliament, took a stand by reading publicly from of The River War, leading to his arrest. Fascists still admire Islam's perceived ferocity and want to ally with it: "I offer my most sincere best-wishes to those who wage holy Jihad against the infrastructure of the decadent, weak and Judaic-influenced societal infrastructure of the West" wrote August Kreis, an Aryan Nations leader, sounding like Hitler.

(3) Today's Left sees Muslims not as bellicose but as victims exploited by capitalism, tormented by Zionism, and victimized by "Islamophobia." This marks a new understanding, one with no World War II precedent.

(4) How Westerners see Islam and Muslims can say more about them than about Islam or Muslims. (July 24, 2017)


July 24, 2017 addendum: Churchill called Mein Kampf, "the new Koran of faith and war: turgid, verbose, shapeless, but pregnant with its message." For details, see my 2008 weblog entry here.

Daniel Pipes (DanielPipes.org, @DanielPipes) is president of the Middle East Forum.

By Daniel Pipes  |  July 24, 2017  |  Permalink

Harakat Nour al-Din al-Zinki Splits from Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham

Harakat Nour al-Din al-Zinki fighters prepare to behead an 11-year-old Palestinian boy accused of fighting for the Syrian regime last summer.

Harakat Nour al-Din al-Zinki (The Nour al-Din al-Zinki Movement: NZM) – an Islamist faction originating from Aleppo that once received support from the CIA's program of backing 'vetted' Syrian rebels that now seems set to be phased out – gained a widespread reputation as being representative of the 'not-so-moderate rebel' trend in Syria when a video emerged from Aleppo last year of some members beheading of a youth accused of being a fighter for the regime. While a beheading in itself is not so indicative of ideological 'moderation' considering how widespread war crimes and brutality are in Syria, a legitimate concern was NZM's close working relationship with Jabhat al-Nusra/Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, which was probably a key reason why the group was cut off in 2015 from the program of support for 'vetted' groups.

The reputation of being 'baddie rebels' was compounded by NZM's subsequent joining of the Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham merger in January 2017, which came amid infighting in Idlib and Aleppo provinces that saw a number of factions join Ahrar al-Sham in seeking protection from Jabhat Fatah al-Sham. NZM had been touting the idea of of a grand merger between Jabhat Fatah al-Sham and Ahrar al-Sham, but as became apparent from comments from Turki Abd al-Hameed, a member of NZM's political office, the support for a merger was not indicative of a supposed NZM ideological affinity with jihadism. Rather, the merger hopes came from a belief that Jabhat Fatah al-Sham in particular was an effective military actor that in a merger initiative could help uphold the interests of the 'revolution' militarily and politically in a stage of crisis following the regime's recapture of Aleppo in December 2016. NZM's hopes were likely derived from the close working relationship it had developed with Jabhat Fatah al-Sham. Ahmad Hamamer of NZM explained to me the rationale for joining Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham as follows:

The necessity of the stage [of the 'revolution'/civil war] required the existence of a strong body in all its components, and Ahrar al-Sham was among those to merge but it withdrew in the last period before the announcement of the merger.

As for NZM, Hamamer insisted that "We were a revolution [faction] and continue to be so." Yet the idea that Jabhat Fatah al-Sham in a merger initiative could help uphold what NZM perceived as the 'revolution's' interests was naive. Abu Muhammad al-Jowlani, the leader of Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, and Hashim al-Sheikh, who headed a more hardline contingent of Ahrar al-Sham that unsuccessfully tried to push the whole group into a merger with Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, have come to wield the real reins of power and direction in Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham as the military and general leaders respectively.

There are certainly questions to be raised about the nature of Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham's exact relationship with al-Qa'ida: the speed at which the Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham merger took place suggests that al-Qa'ida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, with whom correspondence takes considerable time, was almost certainly not consulted, even as the transition from Jabhat al-Nusra to Jabhat Fatah al-Sham through the official dropping of the 'external entity' affiliation with al-Qa'ida in July 2016 insisted Ayman al-Zawahiri and al-Qa'ida's leadership would remain an exemplar and that the general directives had been followed to carry out the rebranding. Further, although the idea of Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham could fit in with an al-Qa'ida conception of embedding more deeply within the insurgency to advance the interests of the jihadist project, there is currently a sharp strategic divergence as Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham has sought to expand its administrative reach and power base, whereas Ayman al-Zawahiri, likely out of a realistic view of the current trends in Syria's civil war that have gone against the insurgency, advises a guerrilla approach that does not focus on controlling territory. A rapprochement here will probably require Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham being forced to pursue guerrilla tactics through loss of territory on account of a major offensive against it by a party pushing into Idlib from the outside.

Nonetheless, these questions of the relationship with al-Qa'ida do not alter the fact that on the ground, Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham has not softened its conduct, whatever overtures it might make towards the 'revolution' in its statements and rhetoric that al-Qa'ida loyalists and Ayman al-Zawahiri might consider to be nationalist dilution of the jihadist project. In fact, Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham's approach towards other insurgent groups and civil society in the form of local councils, as well as its treatment of the officially ex-Druze community in Idlib, have become more hardline. This probably reflects the dominance of the jihadists in the entity, and certainly the overall direction could not have sat well with many of the NZM members who had joined, even if they felt Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham could ultimately be the 'winning horse' – so to speak – for the 'revolution'. For example, Hussam al-Atrash, an NZM official who joined Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham and wrote extensively on the backstories behind the rebel merger initiatives, caused considerable controversy within Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham in suggesting through comments on Twitter that 'liberated' areas needed to be handed over to the interim government tied to the opposition-in-exile.

NZM leader Tawfiq Shahab al-Din

Internal tensions through the presence of NZM in Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham have now developed into NZM's split from Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham in a statement from NZM's leader Tawfiq Shahab al-Din. The immediate context and cited causes of the split are a new round of infighting in Idlib between Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham and Ahrar al-Sham, partly coming amid increasing talk of the possibility of a Turkish intervention into Idlib that may target Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham. Each side accuses the other of aggression, and an initiative emerged to resolve the conflict between the sides, to which Ahrar al-Sham agreed but Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham only under certain conditions, whereas Tawfiq Shahab al-Din himself had agreed to it.

What of the future for NZM? For now, Hamamer says that "God knows best" as to whether NZM will remain an independent group, with things depending on the circumstances. NZM's history does provide a lesson that the moral judgement of whether a group is ideologically 'moderate' – sometimes derived from mere observation of one event that gains media traction – is not always a useful measure for assessing why some groups shift affiliations over time. Ideological differences cannot be overlooked in the wider Syrian civil war, but in NZM's case, its relationship with Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham was more driven by naivety and a bet on the supposed 'strong horse' to uphold what it saw as the interests of the 'revolution' (sentiments that had arisen from the close cooperation in the field with Jabhat al-Nusra/Jabhat Fatah al-Sham) rather than a newly found love for jihadist ideology.

Below is Tawfiq Shahab al-Din's statement translated in full.


In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful

Harakat Nour al-Din al-Zinki had been a forerunner for the merger and unity projects in the Syrian revolution, and did not have regard for the deviant voices on the inside and outside that called to prevent that merger, even as all that was for the sake of unity of rank and finding an entity that could bring together the Sunnis in al-Sham to implement the ruling of God's law. But now the compass has deviated from its path and the rifle from its target, so:

Harakat Nour al-Din al-Zinki announces its separation from Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham for the following reasons:

1. Lack of applying the ruling of Shari'a for which we expended our lifeblood and what is precious to implement its ruling. That became manifest as follows:

a) Neglecting the fatwa committee in the commission [Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham] and the issuing of a statement from the Shari'i council without the knowledge of most of its members.

b) The lack of acceptance of the initiative that the virtuous 'ulama launched last Thursday night.

2. Neglecting the Shura council of the commission [Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham] and taking the decision to fight Ahrar al-Sham despite the fact that the commission's formation was built on the basis of not committing aggression against the factions.

Harakat Nour al-Din al-Zinki pledges to the Syrian people in revolt to continue towards realizing its aims in bringing down the criminal regime and implementing the ruling of God's law on the Syrian lands.

Tawfiq Shahab al-Din

Published on 26 Shawwal 1438 AH/20 July 2017 CE.


Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi is a research fellow at Middle East Forum's Jihad Intel project.

By Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi  |  July 20, 2017  |  Permalink

Fawj Ra'ad al-Mahdi: East Aleppo Militia Expansion

Insignia of Fawj Ra'ad al-Mahdi.

The Local Defence Forces network, set up and supported by Iran, has tens of thousands of people under its wing in Syria, going by the numbers given in internal documents. The statistics indicate that the network is most prominent in Aleppo province, where there has also been the most social media publicity for the Local Defence Forces. As the regime has expanded its control through the Aleppo countryside, most notably seizing large swaths of the rural eastern areas from the Islamic State (IS), culminated in IS' expulsion from its last notable Aleppo town holding of Maskanah earlier this month, so too has the Local Defence Forces network expanded.

Indicative of this expansion of the Local Defence Forces is the creation of a new unit called Fawj Ra'ad al-Mahdi (The Thunder of the Mahdi Regiment), also known as Fawj Asha'ir Manbij (Tribes of Manbij Regiment).

The group was originally announced at the end of March 2017 by its leader Mua'mmar al-Dandan (aka Abu Fatih), who posted on Facebook:

By God Almighty's help, Fawj Asha'ir Manbij/Ra'ad al-Mahdi has been formed...under the leadership of the fighter Mua'mmar Abu Fatih, and the formation includes a number of the youth of Aleppo and Aleppo countryside and the training has been done at the hands of an elite of the officers, the Hujjaj and the asdiqa', and by the Almighty's help, the first contingent of the regiment has been graduated, and we are trying through this formation to spread into all the lands of Syria, including the Sanjak of Alexandretta and the beloved Golan.

For context here, Hujjaj is the plural of Hajj, a title often associated with commanders in Hezbollah who act as overseers of other armed formations. Asdiqa' means "the friends" and usually refers to one or both of the two main foreign backers of the Syrian government: Iran and Russia. In this case, considering the Local Defence Forces' connections, it is evident that the Iranians are meant here. The group's name additionally points to the Iran link, with the reference to the Imam al-Mahdi associated with Shi'i Islam in particular.

At the same time, Fawj Ra'ad al-Mahdi wishes to convey a Syrian nationalist image, issuing the following statement on 3 May 2017 in response to negative coverage from pro-opposition outlets:

In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful. We the leadership of Fawj Ra'ad al-Mahdi/Asha'ir Manbij make clear that we are a faction affiliated with the auxiliary forces for the Syrian Arab Army/the People's Army/the Local Defence Forces. Operating in the faction are people from all sects and religions, and all of them are Syrians. No distinction is made between anyone, and our slogan is 'religion is for God and the homeland is for all' [a slogan of Sultan Pasha al-Atrash, a Druze notable who led the Great Syrian Revolt against the French colonial occupation]. And we will not allow or let off anyone letting himself be seduced to characterize us with sectarianism or play on the string of sectarianism in order to sow resentment and hatred among the sons of the one homeland. And if we have sought help in the friend, the Islamic Republic of Iran, we have sought help in those who bear the banner of Islam, whereas they have sought help in the Zionist entity. And today we are in a decisive battle in which Syrian blood of all types and kinds has been mixed, and what they prattle on about will not turn us away from liberating every inch of the lands of Syria. Victory is coming, coming, coming. Eternity be to the martyr, and victory be to the fire of his blood.

In multiple conversations, Mua'mmar al-Dandan likewise employed nationalist rhetoric in speaking to me. When asked about his clan origins in a conversation in early May 2017, for example, he said: "I am from the clan of the lovers of the homeland. Please don't speak like this [i.e. inquire on tribal/clan origins]. We do not distinguish between this or that. The blood of any fighter is like my blood...if you notice from the first statement for the regiment I did not mention the surname. We are all children of one clan, it is the united Arab Syria."

Mua'mmar al-Dandan

Beyond this rhetoric, it was possible to pick up on some concrete information. Mua'mmar al-Dandan, who says he was in the regime's security apparatus and had previously been wounded, confirmed the Local Defence Forces affiliation of Fawj Ra'ad al-Mahdi and clarified the distinction between the Local Defence Forces and the more familiar National Defence Forces: "The National Defence relies on the Syrian command in everything and constitutes groupings of the popular committees, whereas the Local Defence constitutes auxiliary forces for the army working under the command of the army with Iranian support."

Elaborating further on the concept of Iranian support, Mua'mmar explained with regards to salaries for fighters, which he put at around $100 per month for each fighter: "Currently we take [money] from the state but frankly we don't know the financing, but this [that it is provided by Iran] is what has been said." As of May 2017, Fawj Ra'ad al-Mahdi consisted of six squadrons: two from the graduation of the first contingent, four from the graduation of the second contingent. Most of these fighters come from the eastern Aleppo countryside.

Mua'mmar al-Dandan holding a replica of the Dhu al-Fiqar, the legendary sword of Imam Ali.

At the same time, Mua'mmar al-Dandan complained to me more than once of lack of material support for his group: "We severely lack material support," he said to me this month. The previous month, he stated that "we do not have any support: no cars or anything to empower us but light weapons." According to him, no assistance was provided by the likes of Liwa al-Baqir a formation of Aleppo-based Bekara tribesmen that has been featured prominently in the Aleppo Local Defence Forces or other Local Defence Forces groups in the creation of Fawj Ra'ad al-Mahdi: "I relied on myself in everything. There were even attempts to make it fail and foil it, but despite this, I remained steadfast."

Mua'mmar al-Dandan did not specify who exactly tried to foil his project of Fawj Ra'ad al-Mahdi: "Persons, brother, persons." As for the reason for these alleged initiatives against Fawj Ra'ad al-Mahdi, he put the motives down to the fact that "our foundational aim is...distancing interests from work." Could it be that some other formations in Aleppo including perhaps Liwa al-Baqir see in Mua'mmar al-Dandan's initiative something that threatens the opportunity to expand client networks and patronage into the east Aleppo countryside? It is perhaps better not to speculate too far on this matter for lack of clear evidence.

Militarily, Fawj Ra'ad al-Mahdi has so far only participated in the operations that cleared IS from Maskanah. Mua'mmar al-Dandan explained that this participation was not an assignment given to his group: "We were not entrusted with an assignment, but rather we entered voluntarily." In relation to the Maskanah operations, Mua'mmar al-Dandan has also pointed to the participation of the regular Syrian army and the air-intelligence-affiliated Tiger Forces ('the tigers').

On left: Mua'mmar al-Dandan. Photo as part of a series put up by him proclaiming the return to his home village as part of the Maskanah operations.

Alongside the entrance into the Maskanah area has come allegations of Shi'ification and recruitment attempts in the area by Fawj Ra'ad al-Mahdi (though the pro-opposition outlet All4Syria does not appear to realize that what it calls the "al-Dandan/Mahdi battalion" is actually the same Fawj Ra'ad al-Mahdi). For his part, Mua'mmar al-Dandan denies recruitment in the Maskanah area or Shi'ification: "We have never thought in this way [to Shi'ify people]. Also are the Shi'a a different religion? Are they not Muslims? Our creed is that religion is for God and the homeland is for all."

In keeping with the regime's line, Mua'mmar al-Dandan repeatedly stresses the idea of claiming every inch of Syrian land. As he told me in May 2017: "The aim is to liberate all the lands of Syria. We observe the international agreements and respect the opinion of the Iranian and Russian friends regarding the ceasefire, ceasefire pact and resolutions but the sovereignty of the state or partitioning any inch of the Syrian lands is a red line." Where then does this stance leave the town of Manbij itself, which is presently under the control of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces? No answer was provided.

As the regime and its allies continue to expand eastward, the Local Defence Forces is likely to be an important mechanism for the raising of some forces of local origin, which, if they do not participate in the operations themselves to recapture the various places still under IS control, will at least act as partial holding forces in the aftermath. Fawj Ra'ad al-Mahdi is one case of how such trends already play out on the ground further to the west of the country: another indicative case from Aleppo is the ongoing recruitment for a formation called the Legion of the Defenders of Aleppo, a project overseen by the Local Defence Forces and the "friends." Given the recent administrative measures involving the Local Defence Forces and the issue of army service, these arrangements benefit both the regime and Iran: the former can have at least some forces of local origin to help maintain security and claim some basis of legitimacy without incurring too high a financial cost, while the latter can expand its networks of patronage and influence inside Syria. It will of course be interesting to see if the various formations that do arise end up competing with each other and/or existing militias and armed units and what kind of problems that competition may spark. The case of Fawj Ra'ad al-Mahdi seems to point to some rivalry at play behind the scenes, though it remains difficult to pinpoint details beyond such a general statement.

Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi is a research fellow at Middle East Forum's Jihad Intel project.

By Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi  |  June 18, 2017  |  Permalink

Katibat Dir' al-Watan Nasheed: Translation and Analysis

Ghassan Ja'afar, who styles himself as a munshid (nasheed singer).

Following on from my report on the new Syria-Lebanon border militia outfit called Katibat Dir' al-Watan, here is a nasheed from the group. The melody and performance are by Ghassan Ja'afar, whom I characterized in the original piece as a second deputy. Ghassan however, who was born in 1988, has one child and is a cousin of al-Hajj Muhammad Ja'afar, formally distances himself from Dir' al-Watan, describing himself to me as "independent" and affirming the following: "I am not affiliated with Dir' al-Watan." In any case, he is on the right of one of the photos below that is from Tartous province (note al-Hajj Muhammad Ja'afar is just to the left of the centre), which Ghassan explained as follows: "I was only accompanying al-Hajj because he is close to me."

Like his cousins al-Hajj Muhammad Ja'afar and al-Hajj Hussein al-Ja'afar, Ghassan expresses dissatisfaction with the current political environment and perceived lack of concern on the part of the politicians for local north Beqaa interests. In a recent Facebook post, he wrote:

To deputies and ministers who represent the Ba'albek-Hermel region and who must bear responsibility in front of God before bearing it in front of the people:

- Doesn't the Hermel region need a university after the world has reached the moon?
- Doesn't the Orontes dam need to be finished so that the poor can benefit from it?
- Doesn't the Hermel region need equipment in the current hospitals to save lives, and doesn't the number of them [hospitals] need to be increased?
- Have you not seen that in the Hermel region there is a lack of ambulances, and that Hermel's roads need serious oversight during their use from which only the mechanic benefits?
- Do you not see the lack of work opportunities in Hermel, even for the educated, unless they have connections with your associates?
- Don't some of the villages in Hermel need sports grounds and...etc.?

We know that some of you have spent and are still spending some of your time on the lesser jihad but is it not of greater obligation that you spend some of your time in giving more importance to the jihad of the soul and it is the greater jihad, within which is purifying the conscience when man bears responsibility for one besides him in the end? To my Sayyid and my leader and crown of my head, Sayyid of the resistance the secretary general of Hezbollah, his eminence Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah (may God protect him): we hope for change in the coming elections and in all elections because some have considered them a monarchy, my Sayyid, and not a commission [i.e. same people remaining in power all the time, with positions treated like dynasties]. And the reason we have hoped for that [change] is for serious and earnest work and real and true development. As-salam alaykum wa rahmat Allah wa barakatuhu.

From Tartous province: Ghassan Ja'afar is on the right wearing sunglasses. al-Hajj Muhammad Ja'afar is the short man just to the left of the centre, wearing black clothing.

Following up on this post, Ghassan explained to me that "the Hermel [region] is in need of much development." The term "lesser jihad" that is used in this post refers to a distinction drawn between the supposed lesser jihad of military efforts, and the supposed greater jihad of bettering oneself as a person.

In this case, Ghassan is talking about the preoccupation with the war in Syria but also military efforts in Lebanon (e.g. dealing with the small insurgency in the border areas): "The meaning is that it is not only in the military respect that there must be jihad."

More generally, Ghassan characterized his position as follows, specifically when I put to him al-Hajj Hussein Ja'afar's comments about some of the newer members of Hezbollah not being mundhabiteen ("restrained/controlled"):

For Hezbollah or any other party, it is not possible for all its youth to be of the same mind i.e. of the same personal thinking...but generally in Hezbollah, the majority are restrained and the evidence for that is the victories, for restraint is a foundational factor in the creation of victory, and from the foundational restraint in Hezbollah is the true religious adherence that represents true Islam, meaning that Hezbollah represents the foundational face for the Islamic Ummah and is not like Da'esh [Islamic State] and the likes of it. Note brother that I am not against the political direction in Hermel [i.e. the alignment with the 'resistance' axis] but rather I think that some of the particular people who represent Hermel in the state are not undertaking their role for Hermel.

Below is the nasheed translated. Note that the nasheed has features of Levantine Arabic, such as dropping of the qaf, as in اتلوا حلم الصهيونية for قتلوا حلم الصهيونية ("they have killed the dream of Zionism") and the use of بد to indicate want/need/future action. Any extended explanatory notes will be given in the appendix.


Oh mother of the Arab Ummah,
Your victory is coming oh Syria,
A coming victory that will tell you:
Of Assad, your land is of Assad.

Your lions, oh Syria, your lions,
Your storms, your rage, your rifle,
On the periphery,
From the abode of your borders,
The volcano lava of your soldiers.

Your end-goal, your lion, the beast of the jungle,[1]
Your falcon, your eagle, a hawk,[2]
Syria is the death of terrorism,
And the graveyard of the kufr[3] of terrorism.

Syria, your door is closed in the face of the kafir [disbeliever] and the Jews,
In Syria are the soldiers of the One who is worshipped [God],
Who have killed the dream of Zionism.

Oh terrorist, whom do you worship?
Oh takfiri,[4] your day is black
You have nothing to with the guider Muhammad [the Prophet],
Or the Islamic Ummah.

Notes

[1] The original Arabic reads: امدك اسدك سبع الغاب

Amusingly, Ghassan could not explain to me the meaning of امدك (NB: a noun with the 2nd person singular possessive attached to it) and had to consult the lyricist (Hussain Ismail). He then explained the meaning of الامد as غاية نهاية or اجل: cf. the Hans-Wehr definition of امد.

[2] The original Arabic reads:

صقرك نسرك باز عقاب

Ghassan explains باز عقاب as one term: "A type of the medium-sized hawks [falcons]."

[3] Kufr means 'disbelief': the idea being that the terrorists have nothing to do with Islam.

[4] A common term for Sunni jihadis/Sunni extremists who habitually pronounce others to be non-Muslims (takfir), especially those who profess to be Muslims.

Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi is a research fellow at Middle East Forum's Jihad Intel project.

By Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi  |  June 17, 2017  |  Permalink

The U.S.-Iranian confrontation on the Syria-Iraq Borders: Interview with an Iraqi Militia Official

The competing forces in eastern Syria: red= regime and allies, blue= Sunni rebels, black= Islamic State, green= Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces.

Besides the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces operations with U.S. coalition support to capture the Islamic State's de facto Syrian capital of Raqqa, the other major hot-spot to watch at the moment in Syria is the Syrian desert border area between Iraq and Syria. As the Islamic State continues to lose ground in Syria, it is apparent that there is a scramble to take the territory, particularly as the fighting shifts eastwards towards the border with Iraq. For the Syrian regime and its allies, the eastern regions are valuable for multiple reasons. Economically speaking, for example, there are valuable oil and gas resources, as well as agricultural assets and the prospect of opening or reopening important trade routes like the highway between Baghdad and Damascus. It is far more than mere symbolism, therefore, that the Syrian regime has worked to maintain its currently besieged outposts in Deir az-Zor province. The idea of coordinating with any available Iraqi forces to regain control of the eastern border areas has also long been on the table well, as when the commander for Liwa al-Imam Zain al-Abidin, a Syrian Hezbollah group fighting in the area, inquired with me in the autumn of last year about the territorial control situation in the eastern border areas, hoping he could arrange coordination with Iraqi forces.

Of more concern to the U.S. government is the fear that Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) is trying to use the current campaign pushing eastwards to connect territorial holdings of militia client groups in Iraq and Syria, thus re-developing a land route for the IRGC stretching from Iran to Lebanon that existed before the war, only one in which the Iranians now have much more of a free hand in light of the rise of its militia clients and their prominence in maintaining security in these zones. For its own part, the U.S., working with Jordan, has trained small Syrian rebel forces to push against the Islamic State in the Syrian desert. These rebels, at least some of whom are remnants of the Deir az-Zor insurgency that was destroyed by the Islamic State by the summer of 2014 and were given new training and equipment on the basis of only fighting the Islamic State, have been able to capture some territory from the Islamic State – most notably the al-Tanf crossing between Iraq and Syria – but are unlikely to develop the capability to take the fight to the Islamic State's strongholds inside Deir az-Zor province.

Reinforcing the U.S. concerns regarding Iranian designs is the fact that a number of pro-Iranian militia groups are participating in the eastern push. While some U.S. airstrikes have been conducted in a bid to warn off these forces from al-Tanf in particular, there may in fact be a bigger strategic loss for the U.S. even if those groups do not capture the al-Tanf crossing itself. As of yesterday, reports have emerged that these forces have taken a substantial portion of territory to the north and northeast of al-Tanf along the Syria-Iraq border, effectively blocking any further advances for U.S. client forces stationed in al-Tanf. The map below should help illustrate this picture better. Note for Syria, red= regime and allies, blue= Syrian rebels, black= Islamic State and green= Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces.

Saraya al-Jihad is an Iranian-backed Iraqi Shi'a militia established in 2014.

To help shed further light on these matters, I interviewed Mustafa al-Yasiri, who is the assistant Syria portfolio official for the Iraqi Shi'i militia group Saraya al-Jihad (The Jihad Brigades), the military wing for the Jihad and Development Movement in Iraq. Saraya al-Jihad has been closely intertwined with Liwa al-Muntazar (The Expected One's Brigade, a reference to the Imam al-Mahdi in Shi'i Islam), which has also functioned as a military wing for the Jihad and Development Movement but has more recently taken to using instead the designation as the 7th brigade of al-Hashd al-Sha'abi (Popular Mobilization) forces in Iraq. According to Mustafa al-Yasiri himself, Liwa al-Muntazar has separated from the Jihad and Development Movement.

The Jihad and Development Movement falls within the broader network of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq (ISCI). Some personalities in ISCI, such as Ammar al-Hakim, who leads his own militia network called Saraya Ashura' (The Ashura' Brigades), represent a more nationalist and independent line. The Jihad and Development Movement, however, is more closely aligned with Iran. Indeed, the fact that Saraya al-Jihad participates in the Syria fighting at all is illustrative of this point, as Shi'i militancy in Syria to support the Assad regime represents an effort organized by Iran.

Below is my interview with Mustafa al-Yasiri conducted overnight, slightly edited and reordered for clarity.


This interview was conducted in Arabic using the necessary vocabulary in order to understand better the aims and strategy at work here. For the reader's reference:

'Martyrs': fallen fighters.
'Da'esh': Derogatory Arabic acronym for the Islamic State.
'Liberating': capturing a place.
Marja'iya: The religious leadership.
'The blessed fatwa': Ayatollah Sistani's call for Iraqis to join and aid the security forces in defending Iraq after the fall of Mosul in June 2014. This call is conventionally taken as the blessing for the establishment of al-Hashd al-Sha'abi. In reality though the foundations were laid before it by then Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who is at present one of the main political figures in Iraq aligned with Iran. It is also important to note that while many new groups were created as part of al-Hashd al-Sha'abi phenomenon, many other groups that emerged with clearer media/social media profiles have older roots.
al-Hashd al-Muqaddas: 'The Sanctified Hashd.' Another term for al-Hashd al-Sha'abi in light of Sistani's fatwa.
'Zionist entity': Israel
'Islamic Resistance': a moniker most commonly used by Iranian client/Iranian supported militia factions in the region, reflecting their alignment with the wider Iranian-led 'resistance' axis in the Middle East, standing in sharpest contrast with Saudi Arabia.
'Jihadist work': al-amal al-jihadi, in Arabic. Religious militant activity.
'Mujahid': holy warrior/one who wages jihad.

Could you tell me a little about your biography and life in jihadist work?

Concerning my life and my jihadist work, I hail from a mujahid family that fought the bygone Saddamist regime. During Saddam's rule we gave forth martyrs in that time. I heeded the call of the religious marja'iya in Najaf so with the issuing of the blessed fatwa I was with Saraya al-Jihad in Iraq. I participated in the operations to liberate al-Latifiya, al-Yusufiya, al-Dabitiya, Jurf al-Sakhr, Balad, Makishifa, al-Zalaya, al-Dhulu'iya, Jalula', Tikrit, al-Awja, Fallujah, Saqlawiya and a little of the Mosul operations. And don't forget Samarra', al-Ishaqi, al-Tharthar, al-Dawr, al-Alam and Baiji.

So you weren't with Jaysh al-Mahdi for example during the days of the U.S. occupation?

No, I was not affiliated with Jaysh al-Mahdi. Our work against the occupation was in our name.

Could you clarify when Saraya al-Jihad was established exactly?

Saraya al-Jihad was established in 1983 in the name of Harakat Hezbollah [The Hezbollah Movement].

I see. And it fought the U.S. occupation as well after the bringing down of the Saddam regime.

There were no big operations.

True, like mortar rounds and these things.

More or less.

Can I ask when the Saraya al-Jihad forces entered Syria?

The Saraya al-Jihad forces entered the land of Syria 9 months ago.

But until now there was no media publicising about the matter, right?

No brother, all know that Saraya al-Jihad is a resistance faction present in Syria.

In which areas in Syria has Saraya al-Jihad fought? For example liberating Aleppo city?

It was present in Aleppo but now participating in the operations to liberate the borders, specifically the al-Tanf area.

Yes. How many martyrs does Saraya al-Jihad have in Syria in the operations against the rebels and Da'esh?

One martyr.

I see. Can you explain in detail what is the aim of the operations in the al-Tanf area exactly?

The aim of the operations is for us to limit the enemy to specific areas, cut off the reinforcements from them, and connect with our brothers of al-Hashd al-Sha'abi al-Muqaddas and the Iraqi army on the Iraqi borders to secure the borders.

But the factions of al-Hashd al-Muqaddas are far away in Ninawa province on the Syria borders, right?

No brother, correct your information. The al-Ba'aj area has been seized by the Iraqi forces and al-Hashd al-Sha'abi and this area is on the borders with Syria.

True, but I meant that al-Ba'aj is far from al-Tanf.

I told you the aim of the operations is to advance to the borders.

Yes. With regards to the 'enemy,' your meaning is the Americans and Da'esh?

Da'esh and whosoever supports and finances them. All who help Da'esh financially, militarily or logistically is among the enemy.

Yes. I meant that the Americans are among those who help Da'esh, right?

Of course, and the evidence is the repeated airstrikes helping Da'esh against the Syrian Arab Army and the resistance.

It is said in the media many times that the ultimate aim of these operations on the borders is establishing a land route from Iran to Lebanon to strengthen the resistance axis. What is your opinion on this talk?

There is no truth to what is spread as rumour. The main aim is to destroy Da'esh.

Yes. But is it possible that there is an aim in the future after totally defeating Da'esh to recover the land route to strengthen the resistance axis against the Zionist entity?

Of course projects and aims are put in place to avoid any crisis or to take into account any enemy with new names.

Currently the Americans are targeting the resistance factions in al-Tanf with air strikes. If these strikes continue, will it be necessary to target American soldiers in Iraq?

No, the response has been present in the area and the American strike was responded with a strike.

Yes, so the battle between the Americans and the resistance factions will be in al-Tanf.

If the Americans want it to be a battle, we are prepared. As for the American strikes, they are a warning to the resistance against approaching their areas.

In addition to the Saraya al-Jihad forces, which other factions of the Islamic Resistance in Iraq are participating in the al-Tanf operations?

All factions of the resistance present in Syria.

But at present which factions are they exactly?

Our brothers in the movements: al-Nujaba', Kata'ib Hezbollah, Kata'ib Sayyid al-Shuhada', Ansar Allah al-Awfiya', Kata'ib al-Imam Ali, al-Abdal, Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq. And we: Saraya al-Jihad.

After liberating al-Tanf, will the advance be towards Deir az-Zor?

It has not been specified till now.

Thanks for the interview brother. Can you clarify that you are presently in Syria?

Yes, in Syria presently.


Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi is a research fellow at Middle East Forum's Jihad Intel project.

By Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi  |  June 10, 2017  |  Permalink

"Dawlati Baqiya": New Nasheed from the Islamic State's Ajnad Media

The term 'baqiya' ('remaining') is one of the most familiar words associated with the Islamic State, dating back to the first statehood predecessor of the Islamic State: namely, the Islamic State of Iraq under Abu Omar al-Baghdadi. The idea of 'baqiya' is that the Islamic State will not vanish, whatever the setbacks.

This is the underlying message of this new nasheed- Dawlati Baqiya (My Dawla/State is Remaining) from the Ajnad Media wing. Like 'Heed the Call', it is clearly addressing the current losses faced by the Islamic State amid the coalition campaign against it.

Below is my translation of the nasheed, with explanatory notes where necessary.


My Dawla [state] is remaining, firing at the enemy.
Its soldiers shout that it is remaining [baqiya].
Its path will not be eliminated, its light seeks to expand
From a glorious God, thus removing darkness.
Its rain is like the clouds, raining down with spears
On the gatherings of the dogs and the misguided enemy.
Through the iron, the swords have given rise to honourable deeds,
Having awoken a sleepy Ummah from slumber.
Oh people of error, it [the Dawla] is remaining, not vanishing,
Anchored like the mountains, anchored, anchored.
It has not bowed down like the slaves, its might is like iron.
Its zealous lions will revive our glory.
Its faithful soldiers have built the edifice,
High in the sky, high, high.
So it [the edifice] has become unable to be harmed, lofty as the clouds,*
Elevated to Excellence, the pinnacle in the sky.[1]*
The Dawla of the believers is the fortress of the Muslims.
Its strength will not grow soft, its fire protects.
It has exploded their [the infidels'] hearing,[2] made their tears flow,
Its strong wind has dispersed their gatherings.
It has killed them by the thousands and led them to their deaths,
With bloody armour, swords and knives.
How much blood it has made to flow in the path of defiance!
For the banner has transformed into a mast for on high.
By an illuminating book [the Qur'an] and weapons that give victory,[3]
To the Almighty God it has been calling.
My Dawla, indeed it is the saved sect.[4]
Its soldiers shout: remaining, remaining.

Notes

[1] cf. 'We will move forth to Excellence.'
[2] i.e. Rendered them deaf.
[3] cf. Ibn Taymiyya's concept of a 'book that guides and a sword that gives victory.'
[4] For the 'saved sect' concept: see discussion here.


Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi is a research fellow at Middle East Forum's Jihad Intel project.

By Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi  |  June 7, 2017  |  Permalink

The Six-Day War: Personal Recollections

Life magazine, June 23, 1967.

For my interpretation of some consequences of the fighting in June 1967, see today's article, "What If: Fifty Years After the Six-Day War."

On a personal note, I have three memories of those six days, which I experienced at the age of 17 in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

First, I watched television late into the evening the day the war broke out, June 5, and went to sleep thinking that Egyptian aircraft had bombed Tel Aviv and that the Jewish state was in grave peril. That's because, in the words of the authoritative Middle East Record: 1967, "In view of the dearth of information given by Israeli spokesmen during the first day of the war, there was a preponderance of news from Arab sources in the Western press on 6 June." Only the next day did I learn how the Egyptian air force had been destroyed in place. It was a unique moment of shock

Second, my graduation from Commonwealth School took place on June 8, in the midst of the war. In addressing the graduating high school seniors, our arch-liberal headmaster, Charles E. Merrill Jr., went to pains to distinguish between the Americans' bad war in Vietnam and the Israelis' good war.

My graduation from Commonwealth School in Boston took place during the war.

That moment symbolizes for me how Israel once appealed to the left, back before the West Bank became a central issue. For the rest of the world, the cover of Lifemagazine, dated June 23, 1967, expresses that same, distant liberal joy.

Third, the Israeli half-century commemoration focuses not on defeating three enemy armies in record time nor seizing other territories, nor on establishing more defensible borders, but on the reunification of Jerusalem.

From the perspective of someone who lived through the war, that makes sense, for the emotional core of the victory was the Israeli conquest of eastern Jerusalem, with its sanctities, history, and symbolism.

Daniel Pipes (DanielPipes.org, @DanielPipes) is president of the Middle East Forum.

By Daniel Pipes  |  June 5, 2017  |  Permalink

Ansar al-Shari'a in Libya Dissolves Itself

Sample Ansar al-Shari'a social outreach in Sirte, western Libya, September 2013. The city would later become known as the Islamic State's main stronghold in Libya, as it absorbed the Ansar al-Shari'a network there.

Ansar al-Shari'a ("Supporters of Shari'a") was once Libya's most familiar jihadi organization in the post-Gaddafi environment, widely suspected of involvement in the attack on the U.S. government presence in Benghazi in 2012. It was closely linked to the Ansar al-Shari'a of Tunisia, many of whose members took refuge in Libya following a crackdown by the Tunisian government, which declared Ansar al-Shari'a of Tunisia a terrorist organization in August 2013.

Since 2014, Ansar al-Shari'a in Libya went into significant decline. A thorough overview of the group's rise and beginning of its loss of influence in the period c.2011-2015 can be found in a lengthy paper for the Hudson Institute by my friend Aaron Zelin. In brief, the two main reasons for the group's decline were the military campaign launched against it by Libyan general Khalifa Heftar, which shifted much focus away from da'wa [Islamic proselytization] activity and social outreach across Libya, and the rise of the Islamic State in Libya, which absorbed many of Ansar al-Shari'a's networks. However, it must be stressed that contrary to common perception, the organization as a whole never pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, but rather remained ideologically aligned with al-Qa'ida.

The newly released statement announcing the group's dissolution does not come as much of a surprise considering that the group's output on social media had almost completely disappeared, with the last item before this statement put out several months ago. The statement alludes to some of the points made above: for instance, the loss of key leaders and cadres and the emphasis the group had on da'wa and social outreach.

Like Ansar al-Shari'a, the Islamic State in Libya has also experienced a significant decline, lacking real control of territory. Its main governance projects in Derna and Sirte have both collapsed. However, it should not be thought that the wane in fortunes for Ansar al-Shari'a and the Islamic State means the end of jihadism in Libya. There are still other active jihadist groups in Libya like the Derna Mujahideen Shura Council, in which Ansar al-Shari'a had participated as a junior actor. In addition, the country's vast expanse and continuing civil war chaos provide ample training ground space for jihadists and potential bases for remote direction of operations abroad or to dispatch operatives from Libya into neighbouring countries (e.g. Tunisia and Egypt) and beyond. How exactly the Libya connection may have played out in the recent Manchester attack- claimed by the Islamic State and carried out by a British citizen of Libyan descent who travelled to Libya- remains to be seen.

Below is the full text of the Ansar al-Shari'a statement translated, with explanatory notes in square brackets where necessary.


Ansar al-Shari'a
The foundation of this religion is a book guides and a sword gives victory.

1 Ramadan 1438 AH
27 May 2017 CE

The message has arrived and the masses of the people will bear it.

Praise be to God and prayers and peace be upon our Prophet Muhammad and all his family and companions. As for what follows:

A path rich in da'wa, jihad and patience over the hardship of the path that the successors inherited from the best predecessors from their fathers in the battalions of the martyrs during the 80s and 90s of the past century, and from their ancestors the sheikh of the martyrs Omar al-Mukhtar and his good companions, a path bearing the banner of his slogan:

May the religion's might return to it, may its glory return to it, may blood pour from us.

A path taken from the Almighty's words: "We have sent Our Messengers with proofs and We sent down with them the book and the balance so that people may live in justice, and We have sent down the iron in which there is strong might and benefits for the people so that God may make evident who supports Him and His Messengers unseen. Indeed God is powerful and mighty"- doctrine and direction.

A doctrine and direction whose banner the Ummah will bear generation after generation as the sheikh of the martyrs Omar al-Mukhtar [Libyan revolutionary who fought the Italian colonial presence]- may God accept him – expressed in his words: "It will be upon you to fight the next generation and the generations that follow it."

Indeed they are the path of the book that guides and the sword that gives victory, a book that was the guiding light for the path of those men whose slogan was always 'Your sons in your service', who offered what they offered from goodness and exertion to serve the people and attend to their needs from securing areas and facilities, and from campaigns of da'wa, charity and conscious-raising, their caravans reached the east, west and south of the land, a path that the highwaymen, agents of the West, and patrons of corruption only wished to cut off, so there was the disaster of the so-called Dignity [referring to Khalifa Heftar's operation Dignity], and behold the sword that gives victory unsheathed from its scabbard to push back the aggression of the taghut [idolatrous tyrant] Heftar and his soldiers.

A sharpened sword that pushes back the aggressor, offering forth blood and the lives of its bearers as cheap expenditure in the path of God and to support the oppressed, adhering to the command of God Almighty in His words: "And what is the matter with you that you do not fight in God's path and for the oppressed from the men, woman and children?"

After this rich path and sacrifices in which Ansar al-Shari'a offered the best of its leaders and cadres, we send the following messages:

1. To the lions of the den and the knights of the tumult, the revolutionaries of Benghazi on ribat on their frontlines: be patient, endure and be firm, for you are on the pinnacle of Islam, pushing back the aggressor and defending the religion, honour and land, so may God strengthen you and protect you, oh crowns of the heads. And we also say to you: just as we know that you are a people for praise and commendation, so by the capacity of your chests and the soundness of your modesty, you are also a people for censure and advice. Though you have done well in one of the greatest obligations- few are those who undertake it- and that is pushing back the aggressive enemy, some of you have also delayed in undertaking another obligation- and it is among the greatest obligations and a great condition to bring about victory: and that is that you must unite ranks so as to make them one rank. This is just as God – Exalted and Almighty is He- loves, when he said, "God loves those who fight in His path as one rank as though they were a structured edifice."


The Messenger of God (SAWS) said: "You must gather and beware of division, for Satan is with the one and more distant from two, and whosoever desires the midst of Paradise, let him embrace the gathering. Whoever rejoices in his good deeds and grieves over his evil deeds, then that is the believer.."- so close your ranks, gather your force, and beware of division and dispersal, for indeed they are a cause for every woe.

And to the honest, firm revolutionaries of Libya striving to establish the law of the Lord of the Worlds and rejecting the control of the criminal agents of the West, continue on your path and let your slogan be: 'Establish the religion and do not separate in it.' Be wary of the material world and coming to rely on it, for the Messenger of God (SAWS) said: "It is not poverty I fear for you, but rather this world will be opened up for you as it was opened up for those before you, and thus you will compete with each other for it just as they did, and it will destroy you as it destroyed them."

And we warn you as the warning of one giving advice to his brother: never place your hands in the hands of the West, and do not expect behind their friendliness or companionship conquest, victory or any good. These people only want to realize their interests, so do you want to leave the rule of an Arab taghut for a Western occupation? So you must rely entirely on God (Almighty and Exalted is He), for victory is near and will appear near to you if you know from where it comes: 'And there is no victory except with God.' So if you knock on the door of God- Almighty and Exalted is He- and go on the path of the predecessors in relying on God, know that God will open the path to victory for you if God wills: 'Say, perhaps it will be near.' And know that God- Almighty and Exalted is He- does not give victory to this religion except by its noble people, authentic creed, correct worship, and clear direction towards Him, Almighty and Exalted is He. As for those who innovate, those who replace, those who alter and those who abandon, these people do not support the religion of God, Almighty and Exalted is He. So rejoice in goodness from your Lord and continue in your revolution, and declare your direction clearly: we have not arisen except for God, Almighty and Exalted is He, defending the sacred rights of the religion, so we ask God to bring down His mercies and blessings on you, and that He should enable you to establish the Exalted's religion.

2. To our displaced people: Oh beloved people of our hearts, you who bore the cause with your sons and bore its costs, your reliance is the Almighty's words: "So those who migrated and were driven from their abodes, were harmed in My path and fought and were killed, I will surely remove their misdeeds, and I will surely enter them into the gardens of paradise, beneath which rivers flow, as reward from God. And with God is the goodness of reward." So do not worry or despair, as Satan has conjured up for the people's eyes false victory and partial tamkin [establishment of rule], for the dawn of the clear victory follows the night of the oppressors, so purify your intentions and place them before God, Almighty and Exalted is He.

3. To our people in the western region, you were truly our people and more. We will not forget your deeds from goodness of reception and provision of refuge. May God reward you best.

4. To our beloved people we say: you are today at a dangerous crossroads in which the agents of the West have entangled you, and there is no way for you to get out of it except by clinging to God the Exalted. The Almighty has said: "And hold fast to God's rope entirely and do not separate." And you must return to the closing of ranks on which you were on the 17th February, that day on which deeds fulfilled words when you came out to overthrow the taghut Gaddafi. So, our people, there is nothing before you except to fear God, Almighty and Exalted is He.


And strive to implement the ruling of His law that God Almighty commanded you to establish, fulfilling the pact, realizing the faith and leaving the stranglehold of life and humiliation that has engulfed our land. Your reliance is the Almighty's words: "And had the people of the villages believed and been pious, We would have opened up for them blessings from the sky and earth, but they deemed it false, so we took from them what they earned." We also call on you to assist your mujahideen sons striving to establish the Shari'a, and support them as you can for they are your lifeline. And do not go behind the people of transgression and corruption calling for laxity and liberation from the religion under whatever name, for they are the basis of woe and its head.

5. To the enemies of the Ummah and those lying in wait for it: know that jihad continues till the Day of Judgement, and the wars may bleed the generation of sacrifice only so that the generation of tamkin [establishing the rule of the religion] might live, so delight in a coming generation that will overcome you, while you will not be able to overcome them: a generation nurtured amid the clanging of the swords and clash of the spearheads, a generation that has seen its father killed, its brother taken prisoner, its mother bereaved, and its house burnt, so the meanings of sacrifice have taken root in its origin and heart, a generation that will by God's permission tear you out from your roots and alight the ground from underneath your feet.

Following on from the reasons mentioned above, the testaments offered to you by your sons in Ansar al-Shari'a, and the concluding messages that we ask God- Almighty and Exalted is He- to grant a place in your hearts, we announce to the Ummah and the mujahideen generally and to our people in Libya especially the official dissolution of the Ansar al-Shari'a group in Libya, so that its history may be written in golden liquid on the pages of pride and glory in the history of our Ummah after a path rich in da'wa and jihad, a path in which Ansar al-Shari'a offered its leaders and fighters emulating the people of the ditch [a story in the Qur'an about people thrown into a ditch and set on fire for their faith in God] in their steadfastness on God's religion, their tongue and their saying: Either we live in the shade of glory, or we die as martyrs.

Thus we will have opened the path for those besides us from the true sons of this Ummah to bear the trust after us. Thus we ask God to grant success to everyone working to support this religion, and God is the one behind the intention. And our last call is praise be to God the Lord of the Worlds.

Ansar al-Shari'a in Libya.

Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi is a research fellow at Middle East Forum's Jihad Intel project.

By Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi  |  May 29, 2017  |  Permalink

©1994-2017 The Middle East Forum   •   E-mail: info (at) meforum (dot) org   •   Tel: 1 (215) 546-5406Daniel J. Pipes

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