In an audio message released to jihadist forums on Aug. 30, a spokesman from al Qaeda’s Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) called on Egyptians to take up arms and fight the Egyptian army. The spokesman, Abu Muhammad al ‘Adnani al Shami, also denounced the Muslim Brotherhood and called on the Islamist group to repent “and turn back from the religion of democracy,” according to a translation by the SITE Intelligence Group.
In the message, titled “Peacefulness is the Religion of Whom?,” al Shami began by saying: “This is a message to the Sunnis in general and to our people in Egypt in particular. We incite them to fight in the cause of Allah.” The ISIL went on to argue that the Islamic nation “today lives in slavery and humiliation” and that many of those who partook in the protests in the so-called Arab Spring have yet to find the “medicine” to their problems.
“They thought that salvation came in regime change and the replacement of rulers, and they thought that the best way to remove injustice and gain dignity was in peaceful protests,” al Shami contended. But, according to al Shami, “our disease is not the ruling regimes, but it is the polytheistic laws with which they rule.”
Thus, al Shami argued that “if we wish to remove injustice and gain dignity, we must shun the earthly, polytheistic laws and empower the Shariah of Allah, and there is no path to this except through jihad in the cause of Allah.” The ISIL spokesman further contended that “[g]aining dignity and liberation from injustice and breaking the shackles of humiliation only comes through the swords, spilling blood and sacrificing one’s self, and it is never through peaceful calls or parliamentary elections.”
Al Shami then denounced the armies of Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia as “armies of apostasy and disbelief.” “These armies were only created to protect the tyrants, defend them and steady their thrones,” al Shami continued. The ISIL spokesman specifically denounced the Egyptian army for defending “the usury banks and the whorehouses” as well as “the Jews, the Copts and the Christians,” among other offenses.
Al Shami also asked whether “any sane person [can] say that it is not permissible to fight this army, even if it were seen as Muslim?”
With regard to the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, al Shami said the group was simply “a secular party with an Islamic garb, and they are more evil and cunning than the secularists.” Al Shami further slammed the Muslim Brotherhood for being “a party that, if gaining the throne required kneeling before Satan, they would do it without hesitation.”
After denouncing the Muslim Brotherhood for failing to implement sharia law in Egypt, al Shami urged Egyptians and Iraqis “to shun the peaceful calls, and to bear arms and do jihad in the cause of Allah in order to push away the invader from among the Egyptian army and the Safavid army.” In addition, al Shami called on members of the Egyptian army to defect.
Recent statements by jihadist groups regarding situation in Egypt
Yesterday’s message from the ISIL is the latest in a plethora of statements from jihadists in response to the ongoing crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood. Most recently, Harith bin Ghazi al Nadhari (also known as Muhammad al Murshidi), an official in al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), charged the Egyptian government with seeking “to return Egypt to the era of oppression, tyranny and the domination of the security and intelligence agencies.”
Eight days earlier, jihadist ideologue Abu Sa’ad al ‘Amili posted a series of tweets to his Twitter account urging Egyptian Muslims to prepare for an “open war.” Likewise, Abdullah Muhammad Mahmoud of the jihadist Dawa’at al-Haq Foundation for Studies and Research warned Egyptian Muslims, in an article posted to jihadist forums on Aug. 14, that “if you don’t do jihad today, then only blame yourselves tomorrow.”
Similarly, on Aug. 15, Abu Hafs al Maqdisi, the leader of the Gaza-based Jaish al Ummah (Army of the Nation), called on Egyptians to wage “jihad” against Egyptian army commander General Abdul Fattah el Sisi. Four days later, al Shabaab, al Qaeda’s affiliate in Somalia, urged Egyptian Muslims to “pick up arms and defend yourself.”
And, on Aug. 22, al Salafiyya al Jihadiyya in Sinai released a statement that called on Muslims to fight the “apostate” Egyptian army. The communiqué was particularly notable as last fall the group said: “[T]he army and the police are not our targets and that our weapons are directed at the enemies and the enemies of our Ummah the Jews.” More recently, in mid-May, the jihadist group said: “[T]he target of the Salafist Jihadist current in Sinai is the Zionist enemy and its operations are directed to them, and the Egyptian soldiers are not a target for us.”