In the midst of a week of fierce clashes in Sana’a between Shiite Houthi rebels and Sunni Islamist militias, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) released its most recent statement addressed to the Sunni community writ large. The “Statement Regarding The Crimes of the Houthi Faction Against the Sunnis,” also given the subtitle “A Call to Sunnis,” was disseminated on Sept. 23 by an AQAP-affiliated Twitter account.
The statement begins by describing recent Houthi actions in Sana’a as seeking “to complete the rafidi [Shiite] (Persian) project in Yemen” and continues to refer to the Houthi movement as a “malicious rafidi [a derogatory term for Shiite] plant.” The leaders of the Sunni community, as well as its clerics and religious figures, are accused by the statement of aiding and abetting the “sprouting and growing” of this “plant.”
“This occurred by their turning a blind eye to them [the Houthis] and by staying silent regarding their crimes committed against the Sunnis in Sa’ada and elsewhere,” explains the statement, “and by their defense of them following the ‘stolen revolution,’ claiming that they [the Houthis] are a part of the people and part and parcel of its revolution.” The statement continues to admonish the Sunni community for legitimizing the Houthis by giving them a chair at the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) brokered National Dialogue Conference.
In classic sectarian language, the statement summarizes, “In that manner, the poison spread, and the Persians stabbed us with their poisoned (Houthi) dagger they inherited from their Magian grandfather (Abu Lu’lu’).”
The statement then moves into a history of the roots of the Houthi rebellion, according to the AQAP perspective. In order to do so, it begins with a broad sweep of Islamic history in Persia. After the Arab conquests, “the land of the Persians took shelter under the shade of the Shari’ah” and the Persians “were tamed by the justice of Islam and its mercy and entered into the religion of Allah.” Everything was fine until Khomeini fooled the Persians into obedience, created the “twelver rafidi revolution,” and began seeking to export it elsewhere in the Muslim world. This is the connection to the Houthis.
The statement accuses Hussein Badreddin al Houthi, the founder of the group, of “carrying the rafidi flag in the land of Yemen” under false and often changing pretenses. It describes Houthi leader Abdul Malik al Houthi as “even greater in mendacity, delusion, and audacity in his falsehood” and condemns him for allying himself with Bashar al Assad and Nouri al Maliki against Sunni interests.
“Oh Sunnis, you must rise from your slumber and awaken from your sleep,” the statement implores. The time for factionalism and tribalism has passed and now is the time for “unity under the banner of the people of the Sunnah [Sunnis].” The statement then reminds its readers that “the consequence of betrayal is severe” while “the consequence of aiding a Muslim is great.”
The statement next turns to a call to arms. “Oh people of the Sunnah [Sunnis], carry your weapons, take the path of struggle, and know that what is due will only return at gunpoint.” In flowery poetic language, AQAP explains that violence is the only means by which to exact revenge and seek retribution.
The statement concludes by assuring the Sunni community of coming victories that will be a source of comfort and reminding them of the many efforts that AQAP has made to defend them. In a final threat to the Houthis, the statement reads, “we have come to you carrying our souls on our shoulders and we view spending them in the path of Allah [i.e. martyrdom] the greatest of sacrifices to Allah.”
“Statement Regarding The Crimes of the Houthi Faction Against the Sunnis” (Source: Twitter)