The Iraqi Kurdish authorities arrested Mustafa Haji Muhammad Khan (Hassan Ghul) on 23 January 2004. Khan had been dispatched to Iraq by Nashwan Abdulbaqi (Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi), one of the key military officials of al-Qaeda “central” (AQC), to function as AQC’s intermediary with Ahmad al-Khalayleh (Abu Musab al-Zarqawi), the founder of the Islamic State movement. Khan replaced Abdallah al-Kurdi, the first envoy sent by Abdulbaqi. Al-Kurdi had failed to establish any footing to do his job effectively, but Khan, a battle-hardened jihadist from Baluchistan, earned a measure of respect from al-Khalayleh and facilitated a productive conversation between AQC and al-Khalayleh. Al-Khalayleh, possessed of a pathological anti-Shi’ism, wrote a seventeen-page memo to Usama bin Ladin explaining his strategy to defeat the Americans by starting a total war between the sects in Iraq. That memo, in digital form, was given to Khan, and Khan had it in his possession when he was captured. The letter was translated and publicized by the State Department, and is reproduced below with minor editions for clarity and some interesting sections highlighted in bold.
Khan will likely be remembered to history for two things. First, putting the above-mentioned “Zarqawi letter” in Western hands, revealing from the very outset the strategy of the IS movement—which they effectively succeeded in. Second, after the Kurds handed Khan over to the Americans, under interrogation Khan mentioned (p. 384) the kunya of Bin Ladin’s “closest assistant”, Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti, contributing to an intelligence trail that would end at Abbottabad seven years later.
The name “Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti” had come up in the 2002-03 period, but never from anybody in American custody. One man who had given alerted the Americans to the importance of “Abu Ahmad” was “Riyadh the Facilitator”, whose real name is Abdul Rahim al-Sharqawi (and who has also used the aliases Sharqawi Ali al-Haji and Abdu Ali Sharqawi), a Yemeni facilitator arrested in Pakistan on 7 February 2002. Sharqawi was “rendered” to the Jordanians, before being transferred to American custody in January 2004, taken first to Bagram Airbase in Afghanistan and then to Guantanamo on 19 September 2004.
Another al-Qaeda jihadist in the hands of a foreign government who gave the name “Abu Ahmed” as significant was Fawzi Saad al-Ubaydi (Abu Zubair al-Haili). Al-Ubaydi, sometimes referred to as “the bear”, is said to have run a training camp in Taliban Afghanistan; among his graduates are said to be Zacarias Moussaoui, the would-be “twentieth hijacker” in the 9/11 conspiracy, and Richard Reid, the “shoe bomber” who tried to bring down American Airlines Flight 63 as it travelled between Paris and Miami on 22 December 2001. Al-Ubaydi, assessed as one of the top twenty-five al-Qaeda officials, a close associate of Zayn al-Abidin Husayn (Abu Zubayda), is believed to have been involved in planning attacks on shipping off the Yemeni coast and was involved with Ansar al-Islam in northern Iraq, the hosts of al-Khalayleh after he fled Afghanistan in late 2001. Arrested in Morocco in June 2002, al-Ubaydi was later transferred to Guantanamo Bay detention facility.
Khalid Shaykh Muhammad had confirmed that Abu Ahmed was an al-Qaeda member and involved in facilitation work for the organization—including working with Khan—after being confronted with information obtained from Masran bin Arshad, a long-time Malay associate of KSM’s from the days when KSM had planned a “Planes Operation” in the Far East through Jemaah Islamiya. Abu Ahmed had organized Arshad’s evacuation from Afghanistan with Riduan Isamuddin, much better known as “Hambali”. KSM tried to play down Abu Ahmed’s importance.
Abu Ahmed was Ibrahim Saeed Ahmed, a Pakistani Pashtun who grew up in Kuwait and became a close deputy to Khalid Shaykh Muhammad and then Bin Ladin. Tracking Ahmed led the CIA to the Bin Ladin compound in Pakistan in August 2010. Ahmed and his brother were killed with Bin Ladin on 2 May 2011.
Abdulbaqi continued trying to unify AQC and al-Khalayleh’s movement, but his efforts, like Khan’s, were cut short by arrest. In October 2004, al-Khalayleh gave bay’a (an oath of allegiance) to Bin Ladin and renamed his movement al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia (AQM). Al-Khalayleh had never wanted to bind himself in this way—his focus had always been on creating a self-sufficient movement, but he needed resources at this moment. By mid-2005 this was no longer true, and AQC was soliciting money from AQM. AQC’s influence over AQM continued to erode. Probably the last moment AQC could have reasserted itself was lost when Abdulbaqi, an ethnic Kurd from Mosul, decided that he would return to his homeland to personally oversee al-Qaeda’s branch in the country. Abdulbaqi and al-Qaeda were concentrated on unifying AQM and the other al-Qaeda faction in Iraq, Ansar al-Islam/Ansar al-Sunna (some of whose senior members had already defected to AQM). There was even thought given to whether al-Khalayleh might have to be removed in order to achieve this. In the course of events, the Americans removed al-Khalayleh from the scene, killing him in June 2006, and in October 2006 the Islamic State (of Iraq, ISI) was announced—a move that blindsided al-Qaeda’s senior leadership. A day later, on 16 October 2006, Abdulbaqi, who was in the process of travelling to Iraq when ISI was declared, was arrested in Turkey and thereafter moved to Guantanamo Bay.
Khan’s story is far stranger. In late 2006, after revelations of U.S. “black sites” in eastern Europe, many detainees were moved to Guantanamo. Khan, who had been held in one of these sites and subjected to some of the harsh interrogation methods (though not waterboarding) was, instead, given to Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence. In early 2007, Khan was released—having ostensibly agreed to work as a spy within al-Qaeda for the U.S. and Pakistan. By the time of the raid that killed Bin Ladin, and likely long before, this arrangement had broken down. In September 2011, the U.S. Treasury sanctioned Khan as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT), noting that he had been a “courier and operative” for al-Qaeda “since at least 2003”. The Treasury designation said: “In 2007, Khan helped al-Qaeda re-establish logistic support networks in Pakistan”, suggesting that the deal with the Americans did not last long. Khan assisted AQC moving money and men between the Gulf and Pakistan. “Khan has also been active in facilitating the travel of al-Qaeda members, including escorting an individual to meet with another al-Qaeda member in 2009”, Treasury added. “As of 2010, Khan facilitated activities for senior Pakistan-based al-Qaeda operatives”. Khan was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Waziristan on 1 October 2012.
* * * * *
In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate, …
Peace and the mercy and blessings of God be upon you.
Even if our bodies are far apart, the distance between our hearts is close.
Our solace is in the saying of the Imam Malik. I hope that both of us are well. I ask God the Most High, the Generous, [to have] this letter reach you clothed in the garments of health and savouring the winds of victory and triumph. Ameen.
I send you an account that is appropriate to [your] position and that removes the veil and lifts the curtain from the good and bad [that are] hidden in the arena of Iraq.
As you know, God favoured the umma [Islamic nation or community] with jihad on His behalf in the land of Mesopotamia. It is known to you that the arena here is not like the rest. It has positive elements not found in others, and it also has negative elements not found in others. Among the greatest positive elements of this arena is that it is jihad in the Arab heartland. It is a stone’s throw from the lands of the two Holy Precincts [Saudi Arabia] and the al-Aqsa [Mosque]. We know from God’s religion that the true, decisive battle between infidelity and Islam is in this land, i.e., in al-Sham [Greater Syria] and its surroundings. Therefore, we must spare no effort and strive urgently to establish a foothold in this land. Perhaps God may cause something to happen thereafter. The current situation, o courageous shaykhs, makes it necessary for us to examine this matter deeply, starting from our true Law and the reality in which we live.
Here is the current situation as I, with my limited vision, see it. I ask God to forgive my prattle and lapses. I say, having sought help from God, that the Americans, as you know well, entered Iraq on a contractual basis and to create the State of Greater Israel from the Nile to the Euphrates and that this Zionized American Administration believes that accelerating the creation of the State of [Greater] Israel will accelerate the emergence of the Messiah. It came to Iraq with all its people, pride, and haughtiness toward God and his Prophet. It thought that the matter would be somewhat easy. Even if there were to be difficulties, it would be easy. But it collided with a completely different reality. The operations of the brother mujahideen began from the first moment, which mixed things up somewhat. Then, the pace of operations quickened. This was in the Sunni Triangle, if this is the right name for it. This forced the Americans to conclude a deal with the Shi’a, the most evil of mankind. The deal was concluded on [the basis that] the Shi’a would get two-thirds of the booty for having stood in the ranks of the Crusaders against the mujahideen.
First: The Makeup [of Iraq]
In general, Iraq is a political mosaic, an ethnic mixture, and scattered confessional and sectarian disparities that only a strong central authority and an overpowering ruler have been able to lead, beginning with Ziyad Ibn Abih [d. 673] and ending with Saddam. The future faces difficult choices. It is a land of great hardships and difficulties for everyone, whether he is serious or not.
As for the details:
- The Kurds
There are two: the Barazani and Talabani halves, these have given the bargain of their hands and the fruit of their hearts to the Americans. They have opened their land to the Jews and become their rear base and a Trojan horse for their plans. They [the Jews] infiltrate through their lands, drape themselves in their banners, and take them as a bridge over which to cross for financial control and economic hegemony, as well as for the espionage base for which they have built a large structure the length and breadth of that land. In general, Islam’s voice has died out among them—the Kurds—and the glimmer of religion has weakened in their homes. The Iraqi Da’wa [Party] has intoxicated them, and the good people among them, few as they are, are oppressed and fear that birds will carry them away.
3 [sic]. The Shi’a
[They are] the insurmountable obstacle, the lurking snake, the crafty and malicious scorpion, the spying enemy, and the penetrating venom. We here are entering a battle on two levels. One, evident and open, is with an attacking enemy and patent infidelity. [Another is] a difficult, fierce battle with a crafty enemy who wears the garb of a friend, manifests agreement, and calls for comradeship, but harbours ill-will … Theirs is the legacy of the batini bands [esoteric sects] that traversed the history of Islam and left scars on its face that time cannot erase. The unhurried observer and inquiring onlooker will realize that Shi’ism is the looming danger and the true challenge. “They are the enemy. Beware of them. Fight them. By God, they lie.” History’s message is validated by the testimony of the current situation, which informs most clearly that Shi’ism is a religion that has nothing in common with Islam except in the way that Jews have something in common with Christians under the banner of the People of the Book. From patent polytheism, worshipping at graves, and circumambulating shrines, to calling the Companions [of the Prophet] infidels and insulting the mothers of the believers and the elite of this umma, [they] arrive at distorting the Qur’an as a product of logic to defame those who know it well, in addition to speaking of the infallibility of the umma, the centrality of believing in them, affirming that revelation came down to them, and other forms of infidelity and manifestations of atheism with which their authorized books and original sources—which they continue to print, distribute, and publish—overflow. The dreamers who think that a Shi’i can forget [his] historical legacy and [his] old black hatred of the Nawasib [those who hate the Prophet’s lineage], as they [Shi’is] fancifully call them [Sunnis], are like someone who calls on the Christians to renounce the idea of the crucifixion of the Messiah. Would a sensible person do this? These are a people who added to their infidelity and augmented their atheism with political cunning and a feverish effort to seize upon the crisis of governance and the balance of power in the state, whose features they are trying to draw and whose new lines they are trying to establish through their political banners and organizations in cooperation with their hidden allies the Americans.
These [have been] a sect of treachery and betrayal throughout history and throughout the ages [a theme al-Khalayleh would return to with the story of Ibn al-Alqami]. It is a creed that aims to combat the Sunnis. When the repulsive Ba’thi regime fell, the slogan of the Shi’a was, “Revenge, revenge, from Tikrit to al-Anbar”. This shows the extent of their hidden rancour toward the Sunnis. However, their religious and political ulama [clerics] have been able to control the affairs of their sect, so as not to have the battle between them and the Sunnis become an open sectarian war, because they know that they will not succeed in this way. They [the Iraqi Shi’a] know that, if a sectarian war was to take place, many in the umma would rise to defend the Sunnis in Iraq. Since their religion is one of dissimulation, they maliciously and cunningly proceeded another way. They began by taking control of the institutions of the state and their security, military, and economic branches. As you, may God preserve you, know, the basic components of any country are security and the economy. They are deeply embedded inside these institutions and branches. I give an example that brings the matter home: the Badr Brigade, which is the military wing of the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution, has shed its Shi’a garb and put on the garb of the police and army in its place. They have placed cadres in these institutions, and, in the name of preserving the homeland and the citizen, have begun to settle their scores with the Sunnis.
The American army has begun to disappear from some cities, and its presence is rare. An Iraqi army has begun to take its place, and this is the real problem that we face, since our combat against the Americans is something easy. The enemy is apparent, his back is exposed, and he does not know the land or the current situation of the mujahideen because his intelligence information is weak. We know for certain that these Crusader forces will disappear tomorrow or the day after. He who looks at the current situation [will] see the enemy’s haste to constitute the army and the police, which have begun to carry out the missions assigned to them. This enemy, made up of the Shi’a filled out with Sunni agents, is the real danger that we face, for it is [made up of] our fellow countrymen, who know us inside and out. They are more cunning than their Crusader masters, and they have begun, as I have said, to try to take control of the security situation in Iraq. They have liquidated many Sunnis and many of their Ba’th Party enemies and others beholden to the Sunnis in an organized, studied way. They began by killing many mujahid brothers, passing to the liquidation of scientists, thinkers, doctors, engineers, and others. I believe, and God knows best, that the worst will not come to pass until most of the American army is in the rear lines and the secret Shi’i army and its military brigades are fighting as its proxy. They are infiltrating like snakes to reign over the army and police apparatus, which is the strike force and iron fist in our Third World, and to take complete control over the economy like their tutors the Jews. As the days pass, their hopes are growing that they will establish a Shi’i state stretching from Iran through Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon and ending in the Cardboard Kingdom of the Gulf.
The Badr Brigade entered carrying the slogan of revenge against Tikrit and al-Anbar, but it shed its garb and then put on the emblem[s] of the army and police to oppress the Sunnis and kill the people of Islam in the name of law and order, all under cover of smooth talk. The noxiousness of falsehood rides the horse of dissimulation. Their Ghunusi religion [one based on special personal enlightenment] veils itself with lies and covers itself with hypocrisy, exploiting the naïveté and good-heartedness of many Sunnis. We do not know when our umma will begin to learn from historical experience and build on the testimony of the empty eras. The Shi’i Safavid state was an insurmountable obstacle in the path of Islam. Indeed, it was a dagger that stabbed Islam and its people in the back. One of the Orientalists spoke truth when he said that had the Safavid state not existed we in Europe would today be reading the Qur’an just as the Algerian Berber does. Yes, the hosts of the Ottoman state stopped at the gates of Vienna, and those fortifications almost collapsed before them [to permit] Islam to spread under the auspices of the sword of glory and jihad all across Europe. But these armies were forced to return and withdraw to the rear because the army of the Safavid state had occupied Baghdad, demolished its mosques, killed its people, and captured its women and wealth. The armies returned to defend the sanctuaries and people of Islam. Fierce fighting raged for about two centuries and did not end until the strength and reach of the Islamic state had waned and the umma had been put to sleep, then to wake up to the drums of the invading Westerner.
The Qur’an has told us that the machinations of the munafiqun [hypocrites]—the deceit of the fifth column, and the cunning of those of our fellow countrymen whose tongues speak honeyed words but whose hearts are those of devils in the bodies of men—these are where the disease lies, these are the secret of our distress, these are the rat in the dike. “They are the enemy. Beware of them.” Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyya spoke with truth and honesty when he said, after he mentioned their [Shi’a] thinking toward the people of Islam
For this reason, with their malice and cunning, they help the infidels against the Muslim mass[es], and they are one of the greatest reasons for the eruption of Genghis Khan, the king of the infidels, into the lands of Islam, for the arrival of Hulagu in the country of Iraq, for the taking of Aleppo and the pillage of al-Salihiyya, and for other things. For this reason, they pillaged the troops of the Muslims when they passed among them going to Egypt the first time. And for this reason, they commit highway robbery against the Muslims. And for this reason, help for the Tartars and Franks appeared from among them against the Muslims. Deep sadness over the victory of Islam appeared, since they were friends with the Jews, Franks, and mushrikeen [polytheists] against the Muslims. These are among the customs of the hypocrites. Their hearts are full of acid and ire like no others with regard to Muslims old and young, godly and ungodly.
Their greatest [act of] worship is to curse the Muslim friends of God from first to last. These are the people most anxious to divide the Muslims. Among their greatest principles are levelling charges of infidelity and damning and cursing the elite of those who have ruled matters, like the orthodox caliphs and the ulama of the Muslims, because of their belief that anyone who does not believe in the infallible imam, who is not present, does not believe in God and his Prophet, may God bless him and grant him salvation.
The Shi’a love the Tartars and their state because through it they achieved a glory that they did not achieve through the Muslims’ state. They were among the greatest helpers [of the Tartars] as they seized the countries of Islam, killing Muslims and capturing their women. The story of Ibn al-Alqami and his like with the Caliph and their case in Aleppo is famous. All the people know it. If the Muslims defeat the Christians and polytheists, this causes distress among the Shi’a. And if the polytheists and Christians beat the Muslims, this occasions a holiday and joy among the Shi’a.
—[Majmu] al-Fatawa, part 28, pages 478 to 527
Praise be to God, it is as if veils had been lifted from him [Ibn Taymiyya] and he looked at what was before him and then spoke clearly on the basis of observation and information. Our imams have traced a clear path and lifted the veil from these people. Imam al-Bukhari says, “Not in the house have I prayed behind a Shi’i or behind Jews or Christians. They are not to be greeted. They are not to be congratulated on holidays. They are not to be taken in marriage. They cannot bear witness. The animals they slaughter are not to be eaten”—Khalq Af`al al-’Ibad, page 125 .
Imam Ahmad says—he was asked about who had cursed Abu Bakr, Umar, and A’isha, may God be pleased with them—“I do not see him within Islam.” Imam Malik says, “He who curses the Companions of the Prophet, may God bless him and grant him salvation, has no share or part in Islam”—Kitab al-Sunna of al-Khallal, number 779. Al-Faryabi says, “I do not see the Shi’a except as atheists”—al-Lalika’i, part 8, page 1545.
And when Ibn Hazm brought evidence and proofs against the Jews and Christians for distorting the Torah and the Gospel, they found no retort except to say that the Shi’a among them spoke of distortions to the Qur’an. He said, “God’s mercy! When they speak of the claim of the Shi’a that substitution has occurred, the Shi’a are not Muslims. They are a sect that follows the path of the Jews and Christians in lying and infidelity”—al-Fasl, part 2, page 78.
Ibn Taymiyya said, “With this, it becomes clear that they are more evil than the sectarians and more deserving of being fought than the Kharijis. This is the reason for the general opinion that circulates that the Shi’a are people of heresy. The populace spreads around that Shi’i is the opposite of Sunni because they show resistance to the sunna of the Prophet of God, may God bless him and grant him salvation, and to the Laws of Islam”—from Sa’ir Ahl al-Ahwa’, part 28, page 482.
And he said, “If the sunna and ijma [scholarly consensus] are in agreement that—if [the spirit of] the Muslim attacker could [only] come out by killing, then he should be killed, even if the property that he took was [but] a fraction of a dinar—how could it be with regard to fighting those who deviate from the Laws of Islam and fight God and His Prophet, may God bless him and grant him salvation?”—part 4, page 251.
And with all this, let the people of Islam know that we are not the first to have begun going down this road. We are not the first to have brandished the sword. These people [the Shi’a] are continuing to kill those who call for Islam and the mujahideen of the community, stabbing them in the back under cover of the silence and complicity of the whole world, and, regretfully, even of the symbolic figures beholden to the Sunnis.
Moreover, they are a bone in the throats of the mujahideen and a dagger in [the backs of] their leading personalities. People without exception know that most of the mujahideen who have fallen in war have done so at the hands of these people. The wounds are still spreading, and they are working the daggers of hatred and cunning in them assiduously, Night or day, they do not let up.
2 [sic]. As regards the Sunnis
They are more wretched than orphans at the tables of the depraved. They have lost the[ir] leader and wandered in the desert of artlessness and negligence divided and fragmented, having lost the unifying head who gathered the scattered [pieces] and prevented the egg from shattering. They also are [various] kinds.
- The Masses
These masses are the silent majority, absent even though present. “The hooligans following everyone and his brother hungered. They did not seek enlightenment from the light of science and did not take refuge in a safe corner.” These, even if in general they hate the Americans, wish them to vanish and to have their black cloud dissolve. But, despite that, they look forward to a sunny tomorrow, a prosperous future, a carefree life, comfort, and favour. They look ahead to that day and are thus easy prey for cunning [media] information and political enticement whose hiss rings out. In any event, they are people of Iraq.
- The Shaykhs and Ulama
These are mostly Sufis doomed to perdition. Their part of religion is an anniversary in which they sing and dance to the chanting of a camel driver, with a fatty banquet at the end. In truth, these are narcotic opiate[s] and deceitful guides for an umma that is feeling its way on a pitch-black night. As for the spirit of jihad and the jurisprudence of martyrdom and al-bara [disavowal] of the infidel, they are innocent of all of that, just as the wolf was innocent of the blood of Joseph, may peace be upon him. With all the horrors and bad circumstances, not one of them ever speaks about jihad or calls for sacrifice or self-sacrifice. For these, three is too much, not to say four. They are not suited to this.
- The Ikhwan [(Muslim) Brothers]
As you have observed, they make a profession of trading in the blood of martyrs and build their counterfeit glory on the skulls of the faithful. They have debased the horse, put aside arms, said “no jihad”, and lied.
Their whole effort is to extend political control and seize the posts of Sunni representation in the government cake whose creation has been decided, while taking care in secret to get control of the mujahideen groups through financial support for two purposes. The first is for propaganda and media work abroad to attract money and sympathy, exactly as they did during the events in Syria, and the second is to control the situation and dissolve these groups when the party ends and the gifts are distributed. They are now intent on creating a Sunni shura body to speak in the name of the Sunnis. It is their habit to grab the stick in the middle and change as the political climate changes. Their religion is mercurial. They have no firm principles, and they do not start from enduring legal bases. God is the one from whom we have sought help.
D [sic]. The Mujahideen
These are the quintessence of the Sunnis and the good sap of this country. In general, they belong to the Sunni doctrine and naturally to the Salafi creed. The Salafis splintered only as the bend curved, and the people of the [distant] regions fell behind the caravan. In general, these mujahideen distinguish themselves by the following:
- Most of them have little expertise or experience, especially in organized collective work. Doubtlessly, they are the result of a repressive regime that militarized the country, spread dismay, propagated fear and dread, and destroyed confidence among the people. For this reason, most of the groups are working in isolation, with no political horizon, farsightedness, or preparation to inherit the land. Yes, the idea has begun to ripen, and a light whisper has arisen to become noisy talk about the need to band together and unite under one banner. But matters are still in their initial stages. With God’s praise, we are trying to ripen them quickly.
- Jihad here unfortunately [takes the form of] mines planted, rockets launched, and mortars shelling from afar. The Iraqi brothers still prefer safety and returning to the arms of their wives, where nothing frightens them. Sometimes the groups have boasted among themselves that not one of them has been killed or captured. We have told them in our many sessions with them that safety and victory are incompatible, that the tree of triumph and empowerment cannot grow tall and lofty without blood and defiance of death, that the umma cannot live without the aroma of martyrdom and the perfume of fragrant blood spilled on behalf of God, and that people cannot awaken from their stupor unless talk of martyrdom and martyrs fills their days and nights. The matter needs more patience and conviction. [Our] hope in God is great.
E [sic]. The Muhajirun [“Immigrants”; Foreign Fighters]
Their numbers continue to be negligible as compared to the enormity of the expected battle. We know that the convoys of good are many, that the march of jihad continues, and that only confusion over the banner and a muffled reality keep many of them from [answering] the call to battle. What prevents us from [calling] a general alert is that the country has no mountains in which we can take refuge and no forests in whose thickets we can hide. Our backs are exposed and our movements compromised. Eyes are everywhere. The enemy is before us and the sea is behind us. Many an Iraqi will honour you as a guest and give you shelter as a peaceable brother. As for making his house into a base for launching [operations] and a place of movement and battle, this is rarer than red sulphur. For this reason, we have worn ourselves out on many occasions sheltering and protecting the brothers. This makes training the green newcomers like wearing bonds and shackles, even though, praise be to God and with relentless effort and insistent searching, we have taken possession of growing numbers of locations, praise be to God, to be base sites for brothers who are kindling [the fire of] war and drawing the people of the country into the furnace of battle so that a real war will break out, God willing.
Second: The Current Situation and the Future
There is no doubt that the Americans’ losses are very heavy because they are deployed across a wide area and among the people and because it is easy to procure weapons, all of which makes them easy and mouth-watering targets for the believers. But America did not come to leave, and it will not leave no matter how numerous its wounds become and how much of its blood is spilled. It [America] is looking to the near future, when it hopes to disappear into its bases secure and at ease and put the battlefields of Iraq into the hands of the foundling government with an army and police that will bring the behaviour of Saddam and his myrmidons [hired thugs] back to the people. There is no doubt that the space in which we can move has begun to shrink and that the grip around the throats of the mujahideen has begun to tighten. With the deployment of soldiers and police, the future has become frightening.
Third: So Where Are We?
Despite the paucity of supporters, the desertion of friends, and the toughness of the times, God the Exalted has honoured us with good [amounts of] harm to the enemy. Praise be to God, in terms of surveillance, preparation, and planning, we have been the keys to all of the martyrdom operations that have taken place, except those in the north [i.e. in the Kurdish areas]. Praise be to God, I have completed twenty-five [operations] up to now, including among the Shi’a and their symbolic figures, the Americans and their soldiers, the police and soldiers, and the coalition forces. God willing, more are to come. What has prevented us from going public is that we have been waiting until we have weight on the ground and finish preparing integrated structures capable of bearing the consequences of going public so that we appear in strength and do not suffer a reversal. We seek refuge in God. Praise be to God, we have made good strides and completed important stages. As the decisive moment approaches, we feel that [our] body has begun to spread in the security vacuum, gaining locations on the ground that will be the nucleus from which to launch and move out in a serious way, God willing.
Fourth: The Work Plan
After study and examination, we can narrow our enemy down to four groups.
- The Americans
These, as you know, are the most cowardly of God’s creatures. They are an easy quarry, praise be to God. We ask God to enable us to kill and capture them to sow panic among those behind them and to trade them for our detained shaykhs and brothers.
- The Kurds
These are a lump [in the throat] and a thorn whose time to be clipped has yet to come. They are last on the list, even though we are making efforts to harm some of their symbolic figures, God willing.
- Soldiers, Police, and Agents
These are the eyes, ears, and hands of the occupier, through which he sees, hears, and delivers violent blows. God willing, we are determined to target them strongly in the coming period before the situation is consolidated and they control arrest[s].
- The Shi’a
These in our opinion are the key to change. I mean that targeting and hitting [their] religious, political, and military depth will provoke them to show the Sunnis their rabies and bare the teeth of the hidden rancour working in their breasts. If we succeed in dragging them into the arena of sectarian war, it will become possible to awaken the sleepy Sunnis as they feel imminent danger of annihilation and death at the hands of these Sabaeans. Despite their weakness and fragmentation, the Sunnis are the sharpest blades, the most determined, and the most loyal when they meet those Batinis [Shi’is], who are a people of treachery and cowardice. They are arrogant only with the weak and can attack only the broken-winged. Most of the Sunnis are aware of the danger of these people, watch their sides, and fear the consequences of empowering them. Were it not for the enfeebled Sufi shaykhs and [Muslim] Brothers, people would have told a different tale.
This matter, with the anticipated awaking of the slumberer and rousing of the sleeper, also includes neutralizing these people [the Shi’a] and pulling out their teeth before the inevitable battle, along with the anticipated incitement of the wrath of the people against the Americans, who brought destruction and were the reason for this miasma. The people must beware of licking the honeycomb and enjoying some of the pleasures from which they were previously deprived, lest they surrender to meekness, stay on the[ir] land, prefer safety, and turn away from the rattle of swords and the neighing of horses.
- The Work Mechanism
Our current situation, as I have previously told you, obliges us to deal with the matter with courage and clarity and to move quickly to do so because we consider that [unless we do so] there will be no result in which religion will appear. The solution that we see, and God the Exalted knows better, is for us to drag the Shi’a into the battle because this is the only way to prolong the fighting between us and the infidels. We say that we must drag them into battle for several reasons, which are:
1—They [the Shi’a] have declared a secret war against the people of Islam. They are the proximate, dangerous enemy of the Sunnis, even if the Americans are also an archenemy. The danger from the Shi’a, however, is greater and their damage is worse and more destructive to the umma than the Americans, on whom you find a quasi-consensus about killing them as an assailing enemy.
2—They have befriended and supported the Americans and stood in their ranks against the mujahideen. They have spared and are still sparing no effort to put an end to the jihad and the mujahideen.
3—Our fighting against the Shi’a is the way to drag the umma into the battle. We speak here in some detail. We have said before that the Shi’a have put on the uniforms of the Iraqi army, police, and security [forces] and have raised the banner of preserving the homeland and the citizen. Under this banner, they have begun to liquidate the Sunnis under the pretext that they are saboteurs, remnants of the Ba’th, and terrorists spreading evil in the land. With strong media guidance from the Governing Council and the Americans, they have been able to come between the Sunni masses and the mujahideen. I give an example that brings the matter close to home in the area called the Sunni Triangle—if this is the right name for it. The army and police have begun to deploy in those areas and are growing stronger day by day. They have put chiefs [drawn] from among Sunni agents and the people of the land in charge. In other words, this army and police may be linked to the inhabitants of this area by kinship, blood, and honour. In truth, this area is the base from which we set out and to which we return. When the Americans disappear from these areas—and they have begun to do so—and these agents, who are linked by destiny to the people of the land, take their place, what will our situation be?
If we fight them—and we must fight them—we will confront one of two things. Either:
1—We fight them, and this is difficult because of the gap that will emerge between us and the people of the land. How can we fight their cousins and their sons and under what pretext after the Americans, who hold the reins of power from their rear bases, pull back? The real sons of this land will decide the matter through experience. Democracy is coming, and there will be no excuse thereafter.
2—We pack our bags and search for another land, as is the sad, recurrent story in the arenas of jihad, because our enemy is growing stronger and his intelligence data are increasing day by day. By the Lord of the Ka’ba, [this] is suffocation and then wearing down the roads. People follow the religion of their kings. Their hearts are with you and their swords are with Bani Umayya [the Umayyads], i.e., with power, victory, and security. God have mercy.
I come back and again say that the only solution is for us to strike the religious, military, and other cadres among the Shi’a with blow after blow until they bend to the Sunnis. Someone may say that, in this matter, we are being hasty and rash and leading the umma into a battle for which it is not ready, [a battle] that will be revolting and in which blood will be spilled. This is exactly what we want, since right and wrong no longer have any place in our current situation. The Shi’a have destroyed all those balances. God’s religion is more precious that lives and souls. When the overwhelming majority stands in the ranks of truth, there has to be sacrifice for this religion. Let blood be spilled, and we will soothe and speed those who are good to their paradise. [As for] those who, unlike them, are evil, we will be delivered from them, since, by God, God’s religion is more precious than anything and has priority over lives, wealth, and children. The best proof [of this] is the story of the Companions of the Ditch, whom God praised. [Imam] al-Nawawi [d. 1277] said that this story contained proof that, if the city and the desert fought each other until all without exception perished unless they professed belief in tawhid [the oneness of God], this would be good. Persons live, blood is saved, and honour is preserved only by sacrifice on behalf of this religion. By God, o brothers, with the Shi’a, we have rounds, attacks, and dark nights that we cannot postpone under any circumstances. Their danger is imminent, and what we and you feared is most certainly a reality. Know that those [Shi’a] are the most cowardly of God’s creatures and that killing their leaders will only increase their weakness and cowardice, since with the death of one of their leaders the sect dies with him. It is not like when a Sunni leader dies. If one dies or is killed, a sayyid arises. In their fighting, they bring out courage and hearten the weak among the Sunnis. If you knew the fear [that exists] among the Sunnis and their masses, your eyes would cry over them in sadness. How many mosques have been converted into Husayniyyas, how many houses have they demolished on the heads of their occupants, how many brothers have they killed and mutilated, and how many sisters have had their honour defiled at the hands of these depraved infidels? If we are able to strike them with one painful blow after another until they enter the battle, we will be able to [re]shuffle the cards. Then, no value or influence will remain to the Governing Council or even to the Americans, who will enter a second battle with the Shi’a. This is what we want, and, whether they like it or not, many Sunni areas will stand with the mujahideen. Then, the mujahideen will have assured themselves land from which to set forth in striking the Shi’a in their heartland, along with a clear media orientation and the creation of strategic depth and reach among the brothers outside [Iraq] and the mujahideen within.
1—We are striving urgently and racing against time to create companies of mujahideen that will repair to secure places and strive to reconnoiter the country, hunting the enemy—Americans, police, and soldiers—on the roads and lanes. We are continuing to train and multiply them. As for the Shi’a, we will hurt them, God willing, through martyrdom operations and car bombs.
2—We have been striving for some time to observe the arena and sift the those who work in it in search of those who are sincere and on the right path, so that we can cooperate with them for the good and coordinate some actions with them, so as to achieve solidarity and unity after testing and trying them. We hope that we have made good progress. Perhaps we will decide to go public soon, even if in a gradual way, so that we can come out into the open. We have been hiding for a long time. We are seriously preparing media material that will reveal the facts, call forth firm intentions, arouse determination, and be[come] an arena of jihad in which the pen and the sword complement each other.
3—This will be accompanied by an effort that we hope will intensify to expose crippling doubts and explain the rules of shari’a through tapes, printed materials, study, and courses of learning [meant] to expand awareness, anchor the doctrine of the unity of God, prepare the infrastructure, and meet [our] obligation.
5 [sic]—The Timing for Implementation
It is our hope to accelerate the pace of work and that companies and battalions with expertise, experience, and endurance will be formed to await the zero hour when we will begin to appear in the open, gain control the land at night, and extend it into daylight, the One and Conquering God willing. We hope that this matter, I mean the zero hour, will [come] four months or so before the promised government is formed. As you can see, we are racing against time. If we are able, as we hope, to turn the tables on them and thwart their plan, this will be good. If the other [scenario] [happens]—and we seek refuge in God—and the government extends its control over the country, we will have to pack our bags and break camp for another land in which we can resume carrying the banner or in which God will choose us as martyrs for his sake.
- What About You?
You, gracious brothers [Usama bin Ladin and Ayman al-Zawahiri], are the leaders, guides, and symbolic figures of jihad and battle. We do not see ourselves as fit to challenge you, and we have never striven to achieve glory for ourselves. All that we hope is that we will be the spearhead, the enabling vanguard, and the bridge on which the umma crosses over to the victory that is promised and the tomorrow to which we aspire. This is our vision, and we have explained it. This is our path, and we have made it clear. If you agree with us on it, if you adopt it as a program and road, and if you are convinced of the idea of fighting the sects of apostasy, we will be your readied soldiers, working under your banner, complying with your orders, and indeed swearing fealty to you publicly and in the news media, vexing the infidels and gladdening those who preach tawhid [monotheism]. On that day, the believers will rejoice in God’s victory. If things appear otherwise to you, we are brothers, and the disagreement will not spoil [our] friendship. [This is] a cause [in which] we are cooperating for the good and supporting jihad.
Awaiting your response, may God preserve you as keys to good and reserves for Islam and its people. Amen, amen.
Peace and the mercy and blessings of God be upon you.