Ayman al-Zawahiri, the leader of al-Qaeda, released a nearly-six-minute speech today entitled, “One Umma, One War on Multiple Fronts,” as part of the “Brief Messages” series, this being “Brief Messages to a Victorious Nation 7”. A transcript of al-Zawahiri’s speech was released by As-Sabha Media and is reproduced below with some editions in transliteration and explanatory notes added.
Al-Zawahiri continues a theme he has emphasized in previous speeches in this series, namely that Muslims are a unitary block, and thus the interference of the jihadists in all these states is legitimate because these states are false, their borders drawn by colonialists so as to keep Islamdom weak and divided, and their governments are agents of external powers (and therefore a de facto foreign occupation). The historical examples that al-Zawahiri reaches for in describing the kind of “resistance” to this Western scheme that al-Qaeda supports include the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hassan al-Banna, and the first leader of the Taliban, Mullah Muhammad Umar.
In the name of Allah. All praise belongs to Allah, and may peace and blessings be upon the Messenger of Allah, his family and Companions.
My dear Muslim brothers,
May peace, mercy and blessings of Allah be upon you.
Our umma [Islamic community or nation] today is up against a global war in which Western and Eastern (Orthodox) Crusaders, the Chinese, Hindus, Safavi Rawafid [Iranian Shi’is], and secular nationalists are partners in crime. From the coasts of al-Maghreb [i.e. Morocco] to Eastern Turkistan [the Uyghur areas of China], you will find a Muslim world confronted by aggression, occupation, repression, bombardment, and international alliances working hand in glove with client regimes, which are outside the pale of Islam and work for the interests of the leading international criminals.
In terms of peculiarities, one region may differ slightly from another, but there are obvious common denominators, namely fighting Islam in the name of the “Fight Against Terrorism” and subservience to an “International System” cleverly crafted by the victors of World War II for the mutual division and theft of the natural resources of the world—specifically the Muslim world.
You will find that the major role in this criminal alliance belongs to the Americans, and then the roles gradually differ as per the power wielded by each partner and its stakes in the system.
So how do we confront this criminal alliance in terms of shar’i confrontation and practical resistance? As for the shari’a, it has clearly resolved this problem. The True One, glory and praise be to Him, says, “Verily, the believers are nothing but brethren” [Al-Hujurat: 10]. And He says, “And hold fast, all of you together, to the Rope of Allah [the Qur’an] and be not divided among yourselves” [Ali Imran: 103]. And He says, “O mankind! We have created you from a single male and female and made you into nations and tribes so that you may know one another. Verily, the most honoured amongst you in the sight of Allah is the most pious of you” [Al-Hujurat: 13]. And the Prophet (peace be upon him) says, “The blood of the Believers is equal, against their enemy they are like a single hand, and the promise of security given by one of them is binding on all.” This is why the jurists have ruled that the lands of the Muslims have the status of a single domain. There is a consensus amongst the jurists that if the disbelieving enemy occupies a Muslim land, it becomes obligatory on its residents to defend that land, and if they find themselves unable to do so, this obligation expands in a circular fashion to those nearest to them, and so on until it encompasses Muslims all over the globe.
In terms of the practical approach, historically Muslims have always risen up to defend their lands regardless of nationality or race. This remained the prevailing norm until the demise of the Ottoman state, which had defended the lands of Islam for five centuries.
After the fall of the Ottomans, the concept of nation-states with boundaries demarcated by the infidel occupiers started holding sway, and among Muslims arose some proponents of this notion. This is why the callers of the Islamic revival actively fought against this concept. Hence you find Hassan-al-Banna, the Egyptian—may Allah have mercy on him—organizing battalions for the liberation of Palestine; Izzadeen al-Qassam, the Syrian, waging jihad in Palestine; Abdullah Azzam, the Palestinian, awakening the umma to defend Afghanistan, and declaring most unequivocally that jihad has been a fard al-ayn [compulsory individual obligation] since the fall of al-Andalus [in Iberia to the Christian Reconquista in 1492]. Then emerged the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan [the Taliban regime], and we saw Afghans and muhajirun [“emigrants”; foreign jihadists] alike pledging allegiance to it. Usama bin Ladin and Abu Musab al-Suri [Mustafa Setmariam Nasar]—both Arabs—and Abu Muhammad al-Turkistani [Hasan Mahsum] pledged allegiance to Mullah Muhammad Umar, the Afghan (may Allah have mercy on each one of them). So, may Allah reward these pioneers, who revived the spirit of one united umma confronting a disbelieving enemy.
But today, there are some who want to push us back behind the lines of division drawn by disbelieving occupiers: Pakistan for Pakistanis, Syria for Syrians, Palestine for Palestinians. In the interest of whom, may we ask?
May Allah help us gather our strength, bring our hearts closer, unite our ranks, and not deprive us of victory because of our sins. Our last prayer is that all praise belongs to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds. And may peace and blessings be upon our Master, Muhammad, his family, and Companions. May peace, mercy and blessings of Allah be upon you.