The USG Open Source Center summarizes the main points in the new video released by al-Qaeda’s number 2 man, Ayman al-Zawahiri. Zawahiri identifies Iraq as the primary field for jihad or holy war and defends the Islamic State of Iraq (radical Sunni Muslims in Iraq) from charges of having been especially vindictive and destructive. Zawahiri also again slams the the Shiites. He sees Iran as hypocritical and actually tacitly cooperating with the US. He dismisses Muqtada al-Sadr as an Iranian cat’s paw. He attacks Hasan Nasrallah of Lebanon’s Hizbullah. This sectarian approach is typical of the Salafi Jihadis’ failures in Iraq, where only a pan-Islamic movement against US occupation could have had a chance of succeeding. Nasrallah is still very popular in the Arab world because his Hizbullah stood up to Israel’s attack on Lebanon in summer of 2006, and al-Zawahiri clearly sees Nasrallah as a rival to himself. But Nasrallah has an extensive social welfare program and deputies in the Lebanese parliament, and leads a real if small political movement in a compact territory. Zawahiri is a fugitive whose organization is shadowy and tenuous and on the run. These are the rantings of a loser. The one worrisome thing in the video Zawhiri’s conviction that the US presence in Iraq is keeping al-Qaeda alive as a cause, which may well be correct. A whole new generation of jihadis with key terrorism skills is being created by their struggle against what they see as US occupation. That US interests are held harmless from this development in the long run seems unlikely. Zawahiri also calls on the Pakistani military to make a coup against Pervez Musharraf, apparently in hopes that officers of a radical Muslim bent will come to power. (This development is highly unlikely, since Musharraf has by now purged a lot of those elements from the officer corps.)
‘Jihadist Website Releases New Al-Zawahiri Interview. . .
Jihadist Websites — OSC Summary
Monday, December 17, 2007 . . .
Terrorism: Jihadist Website Posts Interview With Al-Qai’da’s Ayman al-Zawahiri Entitled “A Review of Events”
On 16 December, a jihadist website posts links to a 98-minute interview with Ayman al-Zawahiri, Al-Qa’ida’s second-in-command, entitled “A Review of Events.” During the interview, Al-Zawahiri addresses the ongoing developments in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Egypt, and the Palestinian territories, as well as a possible US attack on Iran.
Asked on “the most serious transformations” in the world today, he says: “The most significant and serious transformations, in my view, are the emergence of the jihadist vanguard of the Islamic Nation as a power that has imposed itself as a reality. This is so because of the increasing jihadist awakening that is sweeping across the Islamic World in rejection of humiliation, the philosophy of surrender, and the culture of defeat; and in defense of the pride of the Islamic Nation. This jihadist vanguard is gaining increasing ground. One can even say that, thank God, they are grouping as one unit.
Commenting if the integration of a number of Islamic groups into Qa’idat al-Jihad Group, is an example of this unity, he says: “There is no doubt about that, especially if you add to this the key role which the fighter group in Libya is undertaking in the field of Da’wah (invitation to the path of God) and the genuine truth — which is embodied in taking pride in God only and refusing to submit to any one else. Add to that their role in defending the Islamic Nation through sacrificing their souls and money. It is not only in Libya. One can hardly see a spot, particularly when Jihad is involved, where their blessed –and, God willing, acceptable, efforts cannot be seen.”
Asked about “the most important field where the jihadist vanguard is struggling against the enemies of Islam,” he says: “Iraq is, definitely, the most important field.”
Asked to comment on “the state of jihad in Iraq today,” he says: “In general, the state of jihad in Iraq is good, thank God. Of course, there are pains that one cannot avoid when on jihad. The most recent reports that arrived from Iraq indicate that the mujahidin are gaining further strength, while the Americans are in a deteriorating situation. These reports come despite their intense efforts to falsify and distort things. Let us just remember the decisions of the British to escape.”
Asked on the US reports on the security improvement in Iraq in general and Al-Anbar Governorate in particular, he says: “All this is nothing but a fruitless attempt to cover the US failure in Iraq. The clearest proof is the fact that Petraeus said, in his Congress report, that he might be able to reduce the number of his troops to 100,000 by next summer. But the report stresses that the Iraqi troops are not ready yet and that an immediate withdrawal of the US troops would lead to the collapse of the Iraqi troops. All these statements are an exposed attempt to manipulate words.”
The video then shows clips of “resistance” operations in Iraq, including the execution of Iraqi Interior Ministry elements.
Commenting on a tape showing an Iraqi security officer complaining about the inability of his men to bring the situation under control, Al-Zawahiri says: “This proves that the mujahidin made the right decision to target these infidel forces from the very beginning. It also shows how astray are the fatwas –which will not be rewarded in life or the Judgment Day– that urged the Muslims to joint these troops.”
Asked on “accusations” that the “Islamic State in Iraq” is to blame for the conflict with other armed groups, he says: “This accusation needs evidence. The State said it is ready to look into all grievances.”
Asked if he ‘is trying to acquit the State from these accusations,” he says: “I cannot say that any certain side is guilty or not guilty without hearing from both sides. But what I am saying is that the State’s approach cannot allow the bloodshed of the innocent and the violation of sanctities. I am saying this in light of my knowledge of the State’s key leaders and in light of my knowledge of its stands.”
The video then shows unidentified masked gunmen criticizing awakening councils, and criticizing Abd-al-Sattar Abu-Rishah, former head of Al-Anbar Awakening Council. One armed man says: “All people know that his past. He is an immoral man. He is a looter, and a thief. All people know his past. America could not find some one mor e base than him to use.”
Al-Zawahiri calls on the Iraqi tribes to confront those whom he described as “traitors” and says the tribe that supports Islam and jihad and confronts any traitor who seeks to exploit its name for forbidden gain will be remembered in the history of Arabs and Muslims with pride and glory.
The video then shows the masked men with one of them asking how has the Untied States been able to control Al-Ramadi. He answers that it did so through economic siege that upset the common people, and those with weak hearts exploited this to incite the people against the “Mujahidin”.
Al-Zawahiri is then asked if he has an advice to the “mujahidin” in Iraq. He replies: “Unity under the word of monotheism.” Asked on the recent message of Usama Bin Ladin which was interpreted by some people as if Bin Ladin admits of Al-Qa’ida’s mistakes and apologizes for them. Al-Zawahiri says at present there is nothing in Iraq that is called Al-Qa’ida, adding that the Al-Qa’ida of Jihad in the Land of the Two Rivers was merged with other groups in the Islamic State of Iraq. He accuses the channel, which was the first to broadcast the message (Al-Jazirah), of manipulating the message by omitting important parts of the speech. He says the omitted parts are very important and those parts could have been briefly mentioned since this channel devotes long times and programs for those who are much less important than Bin Ladin. He also says that the channel interpreted Bin Ladin’s speech in a different way than its objective by saying that he is blaming the “mujahidin” of the Islamic State of Iraq although he was directing his speech to all “mujahidin” . Al-Zawahiri also says that the channel sought the views of commentators who are either hostile to, or unsympathetic with Bin Ladin’s speech while professionalism requires seeking the opinions of those who oppose and agree with the message.
He urges all those who want to know what the “mujahidin” say only to depend on the “full texts of the mujahidin’s messages that they post on the internet.”
Asked about his advice to the “mujahdin” of unity under the word of monotheism, Al-Zawahiri says that they should iron out their differences and seek the arbitration of those who have Islamic knowledge and to keep away from the clerics affiliated with the rulers who “recognize the traitor rulers who assisted in besieging Iraq and opened their countries for the Crusader invading forces to launch their attacks from these countries and kill thousands of Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
He then urges the mujahidin in Iraq to continue along the same path that was charted by their predecessors and support the Islamic state in Iraq against the “crusader-Zionist aggression” in Iraq. He also appeals to the Islamic state in Iraq to listen to their brothers open-mindedly and dedicate itself to serving the mujahidin in Iraq.
Al-Zawahiri then appeals to the Ansar al-Sunnah group and their leader Abu-Abdallah al-Shafi’i, saying that the mujahidin are awaiting the unity between the group and the Islamic state in Iraq. “And I tell them: The Islamic State of Iraq is your state, your emirate and your government. Who are you going to unite with if you do not unite with them?”
The interviewer then asks about the “political orientation which the mujahidin in Iraq should adopt particularly since the American crusader forces are about to leave.” Responding, Al-Zawahiri says that the Islamic nation in general and the mujahidin elite in particular “will not offer their blood cheaply in the cause of God to be reaped by the likes of Abd-al-Nasir, Al Sa’ud, Bouteflika, and Musharraf.”
Asked who the nation should trust, Al-Zawahiri says that the nation should trust the “honest mujahidin” who never backtracked or compromised.
He then appeals to members of the mujahidin groups in Iraq to realize that “the precursors of the caliphate state have begun to loom on the horizon.” “And this is what Shaykh Usa ma Bin Ladin was referring to in his latest message, of which this part was not reported by Al-Jazirah despite its importance, when he talked about the redrawing of the region’s map,” he says.
On the role of Muslim clerics in this “critical stage,” he says: “The role of the ulema in this critical stage is to emphasize the rule of the shari’a and rejection of territorial affiliation and nationalist spirit as a basis for discrimination between Muslims.” They should, he says, also “emphasize the duty of the Muslims to continue jihad until the expulsion of the infidel invasion forces from Palestine, Afghanistan, Chechnya, and all the lands of Islam.”
Asked if he expects the ulema in Iraq to play a certain role, he says: “Of course, they are on the battlefield and they are acquainted with the conspiracies being hatched against Islam and Muslims.”
The interviewer then asks about the “fatwa of the mufti of Al Sa’ud on the impermissibly of to go forth to jihad in Iraq and elsewhere.” Al-Zawahiri says this fatwa was supported by the “American crusaders.” “This is evidence to moral cowardice because if he were a brave man, he would have listed the happenings, events, and parties to make it possible to examine and study what he said,” he says.
Al-Zawahiri continues to criticize the mufti of Saudi Arabia and says that he should have remained silent and should not have exposed himself and his regime.”
He says that when Saddam Husayn threatened the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, it sought the help of the Americans and issued “a dubious fatwa” allowing people to seek the help of the Americans.
He asks the mufti about his opinion of the Saudi initiative, by which the Saudis “recognized Israel and applied pressure on HAMAS to relinquish four fifths of Palestine.” He also asks the mufti about “the number of oil barrels” which the Saudi king provided for the “Crusader forces” to invade, destroy, and bombard Iraq and Afghanistan.
While showing footage of King Abdallah of Saudi Arabia shaking hands with Pope Benedict XVI, Al-Zawahiri says that the mufti should have reprimanded King Abdallah for such a visit.
Al-Zawahiri then criticizes the stand of some “jurists” in Algeria who “tied their fate to that of rulers and kings” and failed to realize the tragedy of people in Algeria who made great sacrifices and ended up under “the oppression of butchers who serve US and French interests.”
On the US Senate’s resolution to partition Iraq, Al-Zawahiri says that “this was a deal that the Crusader invaders struck with traitors, who trade in religion, and secular agents.”
He goes on to say that he spoke about this partitioning in his first message after the 11 September events, more than five months before the “invasion of Iraq.”
He adds that the American “campaign” is expected to include Iran and Pakistan “to destroy any country that has nuclear projects in the Middle East in order to guarantee Israel’s security.”
Al-Zawahiri then criticizes the practices of Shiites in Iraq and the building of “gold domes of shrines” which the Shiites build in Iraq and says that had Imam Al-Husayn been alive, he would not have accepted this. He urges them to melt these domes and use their money to help the poor.
He criticizes the practices of Shiite militias in Iraq, which are carried out “under Iranian guidance” and says that they will remain “a disgrace in the history of Islam and even in the history of humanity” because they cooperate with the Americans and “fight under their banner.”
Answering a question on Muqtada al-Sadr, Al-Zawahiri describes him as “one of the arms of Iran in Iraq”, saying that in 2004 Al-Sadr announced that Al-Mahdi Army will hand over its weapons to the Americans and announced that Al-Mahdi Army is “a civil institution that participates in the political process.”
He goes on to say that “the skirmishes” that take place between Muqtada al-Sadr and the Americans are “American-Iranian conflicts over the expansion of powers . “
On ways to stop Shii te-Sunni fighting, Al-Zawahiri says that “the aggressor should be asked to stop his aggression” so as to have the chance to stop fighting.
Asked to elaborate on this, Al-Zawahiri says that those who cooperate with “the Crusader occupier” should stop doing so” and should be engaged in jihad against the Crusaders.
On Kurds in Iraq, Al-Zawahiri says that they are a “genuine part of the Muslim nation” and that every Muslim should take pride in their history. He adds that Kurds should not accept for the Kurdistan of Iraq to be governed by “a secular government that is agent of the Crusaders and that cooperates with Jews.”
Al-Zawahiri also criticizes Iran’s recognition of the “agent government in Kabul” immediately after it was established and criticizes it for the help it provided for the Americans during its invasion of Afghanistan.
Al-Zawahiri says: “With regard to Iraq, Iran achieved an agreement with the Americans before the latter’s entry into Iraq. The agreement provided for partitioning Iraq. The Shiite militias trained, funded, and armed by Iran for years advanced violently and quickly into Iraq following the collapse of the Saddam regime. They were merged into the Iraqi Army and other Iraqi security services. They were and remain the Crusader occupier’s paws used to strike at Muslims in Iraq. Despite the repeat of the slogans death to America, death to Israel by Iran, we have not heard a single fatwa from a single Shiite religious authority inside or outside of Iran urging jihad against the Americans in Iraq or Afghanistan. As a matter of fact, Rafsanjani has made a statement expressing respect for the wishes of the Iraqi agents of Iran regarding the continued presence of US troops in Iraq.”
Then, Rafsanjani is shown making a statement to this effect. He is also shown saying that the Iranians will not take the lead in eliminating Israel.
Al-Zawahiri adds: “The statement made by Ahmadinezhad regarding the elimination of Israel is indicative of unsubstantiated propaganda. This is because had he been sincere in his desire to eliminate Israel, he would not have shared with it membership of the United Nations, whose Charter provides for respecting the sovereignty of all UN members and their territorial integrity.”
Al-Zawahiri describes PA President Mahmud Abbas and PA’s Muhammad Dahlan as “agents who are fighting Islam” and who collaborate with the CIA and the Mossad.
Al-Zawahiri adds: “Hasan Nasrallah used the same equivocating language on Palestine.”
Then, Hasan Nasrallah is shown speaking while holding a meeting with a foreign dignitary. Nasrallah, speaking in Arabic, with sentence- by- sentence translation into English, is shown saying: “The major issue is Palestine, and this has to do with the Palestinians. We are in no position to decide on behalf of the Palestinians as to what they would accept or would not accept.”
Al-Zawahiri says that Hizballah cannot be considered “a national liberation movement.”
When asked by the interviewer on whether Iran will get help from the Muslim Ummah in case it comes under US attack, Al-Zawahiri says: “Iran has stabbed the Muslim Ummah in the back. It caused itself and the Shiites following it a historic disgrace. The signs of this stab will remain vivid in the Muslims’ memory for a very long time. The strange paradox to which I would like to draw attention is that despite the fact that Iran permitted the Crusader troops to enter Iraq, recognized the agent government there, and pushed its militias to participate in this government’s army, security services, and police force, and despite its recognition of the agent government in Afghanistan, it is warning the United States of double retaliation against its interests worldwide if it attacks Iran.”
Then, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamene’i is shown making a statement to the effect that if it is attacked, Iran “will threaten all American interests around the globe.”
Al-Zawahiri wonders: “Is it religiously impermissible for the Iranian territory to be occupied by the Americans when the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan is considered religiously permissible? Is Tehran more important to them than Karbala and Al-Najaf? Why is Khamene’i threatening the United States with double retaliation if the latter attacks Iran when he did not stir a finger when the US shells penetrated the Shrine of Imam Ali, may God honor his face, in Al-Najaf?”
Al-Zawahiri also attacks the Egyptian regime and Jamal Mubarak and their close ties with the United States.
Regarding the Palestine question, Al-Zawahiri says: “The problem does not lie with Mahmud Abbas or the Fall conference, but rather with the politicians of bargaining who recognize Mahmud Abbas as president an d grant him the right to negotiate on the Palestinians’ behalf. How can Mahmud Abbas be given the right to negotiate in the name of the Palestinians when everybody knows that he is selling out Palestine?”
With regard to current developments in Pakistan, Al-Zawahiri says: “Musharraf and his regime are reeling, they are in their final days, God willing. Their failure is a part or prerequisite of the US failure in the region. As a matter of fact, what brought about Musharraf’s defeat are the uprising and jihad awakening which prevailed in the tribal regions and spread to central Pakistan, thanks to the blessings of the Afghan jihad against the Crusaders in Afghanistan. All that is happening in Pakistan, from arranging the return of Benazir, to the announcement of the state of emergency, to the arrests, to the successive repression measures, constitutes a desperate US attempt to remedy the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan.”
He adds: “I appeal to whoever has concern for Islam in Pakistan to join the mujahidin, back them, and support them, because they are the key to salvation from the rotten and corrupt regime in Islamabad.”
Al-Zawahiri goes on to say: “If it is to save Pakistan from the bleak future it is being led into by Musharraf, this army must act against Musharraf.” ‘