Michael Ratney, who has been the United States Special Envoy for Syria since July 2015, wrote a public letter on 11 March 2017 that labelled all constituent parts of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) as members of al-Qaeda and therefore as terrorists. On 12 March, HTS’s “Administration of Political Affairs”—its newly-minted political office, perhaps evidence of an evolution in HTS’s thinking about an endgame in Syria—issued a statement in reply, which is reproduced below. Continue reading
Looking through others matters, I discovered this video of a speech by Hamid al-Zawi (Abu Umar al-Baghdadi), the first emir of the Islamic State when it was founded in 2006, entitled, “This Is Our Doctrine,” a neat summary of the speech’s content. As it transpires this is al-Zawi’s third speech and dates to 13 March 2007. There is more to the speech than this section that a supporter of the Islamic State chose to excerpt, but the excluded parts seem extraneous at this vantage point—relevant in the week it was released, but no more. At all events, the video seemed an interesting contribution to what the Islamic State actually believes, so a transcript is reproduced below. Continue reading
On 5 January 2017, the leader of al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri, gave a speech, “To Other Than Allah, We Will Not Bow: Brief Messages To A Victorious Nation, Part 5”. Today, al-Qaeda channels put out an English translation. The emphasis of the speech was restating al-Qaeda’s creed and methodology, specifically as it differs from that of the Islamic State (IS). One noticeable point was al-Zawahiri’s admonition against IS’s genocidal approach to the Shi’a: lay Shi’is should not be harmed, al-Zawahiri says; rather, their leaders should be killed for misguiding them and the masses converted to Sunnism. Al-Zawahiri also reiterates that al-Qaeda remains focused on the West and determined to carry out terrorism against it—regardless of whatever short-term strategic calculations currently have al-Qaeda de-emphasizing this aspect of its worldview and conduct. The speech is reproduced below with some transliteration editions and some sections bolded for emphasis. Continue reading
The forty-first edition of the Islamic State’s newsletter, al-Naba, was released within the territory of the caliphate on 30 July 2016 and released online on 2 August; it and the forty-second edition (released 6 and 9 August) contained an obituary for Abdurrahman al-Qaduli (Abu Ali al-Anbari), the caliph’s deputy, who was killed on 25 March. The German version of the third issue of the Islamic State’s Rumiyah magazine on 11 November contained this obituary. Below is a very rough translation. Some interesting or important sections have been highlighted in bold. The subheadings are mine.
Published at The Wall Street Journal
Why did Prohibition in America fail? The Pakistani Islamic scholar Abul Ala Mawdudi argued that it was because the law “required people to accept human rather divine reasoning.” What was needed was a harsh and absolute divine mandate to root out evils like alcohol. As the Ottoman empire was being swept away and national-independence movements were about to overrun the Muslim world, men like Mawdudi began articulating a new ideology that would meld medieval and modern concepts. That ideology, Salafi-jihadism, now represents one of the West’s greatest security challenges. Continue reading
The fifteenth issue of the Islamic State’s English-language magazine, Dabiq, released on 31 July 2016 contained an essay, “By the Sword,” a brief polemic that defends the Islamic State’s brutality on the basis that it is conducted according to the Word of God—laying open claim to genocide and slavery so long as it is undertaken by Muslims and not disbelievers, saying they would have felt no need to have apologized for the atomic bombing of Japan or the use of defoliants in Vietnam and would have been more thorough-going in the extermination of Native Americans and Jews, since these things are vouchsafed by the Creator. The Islamic State contends that the Jewish and Christian religious contain the same prescriptions for the forcible implementation of the Holy Law that the Qur’an does, but these monotheists have lapsed and pay more attention to the edicts of the United Nations. Continue reading
On 14 July 2016, Bastille Day, a lorry zig-zagged along the seafront Promenade des Anglais in Nice for two kilometres (1.25 miles) during a fireworks display. Eighty-four people, including ten children, were murdered instantly and two-hundred-plus wounded, nearly two-dozen critically. Below is a compilation of the evidence so far, which indicates that the killer was a part of a substantial network acting on behalf of the Islamic State, though there is not yet any evidence of a direct contact with the terrorist state headquartered in Raqqa. Continue reading