Al Qaeda’s propaganda arm, As Sahab, has released a new message from Osama bin Laden’s son, Hamzah. It is the second time Hamzah has spoken on behalf of al Qaeda since last August. Hamzah’s message has been paired with a speech by Ayman al Zawahiri on both occasions.
Hamzah’s latest discussion, titled “Jerusalem Is But a Bride, Its Dowry Is Our Blood,” was released online earlier today.
Hamzah speaks at length about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, saying that Muslims everywhere must “participate in our Palestinian brothers’ intifada” by “killing Jews and striking their interests worldwide.” Muslims must “purge” their “beloved Palestine” of the Jews and their Western “supporters,” according to Hamzah.
In addition to “personally” supporting the Palestinians’ cause, Hamzah points to the jihad in Syria as being key to the effort to “liberate Jerusalem.” Osama’s heir calls on the ummah (worldwide community of Muslims) to raise a “large army,” drawing in “experts” who can wage war on Israel.
The “best preparation field” for raising this great army is in “the blessed Levant,” he says. The “path to liberate Palestine is far closer today,” Hamzah claims, because of the “Syrian revolution.” Therefore, the “Islamic ummah” must focus its efforts on the “jihad in the Levant, guiding and directing it,” spreading awareness of sharia, and “uniting the mujahideen’s ranks there.”
Hamzah adds that there are “no more excuses” for those who sow “division” in the mujahideen’s ranks, because the entire world has supposedly united “against Muslims.” His words are a thinly-veiled critique of the Islamic State, which al Qaeda blames for sowing discord between jihadist factions in Syria and elsewhere.
This is not the first time al Qaeda has sought to link the war in Syria to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
In a message released last November, for example, Zawahiri argued that the jihadists must establish a “state” in Egypt and in the Levant in order to “mobilize the ummah to liberate Palestine.” The al Qaeda chieftain said this project “requires unity” and “the mujahideen” should avoid “hostilities” among themselves. Hamzah explores this same basic theme in his latest address.
As was the case in August 2015, when al Qaeda released its first message from Hamzah, the younger bin Laden does not show his face. Instead, the audio of his speech is embedded in a video production.
Hamzah’s talk is bracketed by archival material of his father. The video opens with a clip of Osama saying that the blood of the Palestinians’ sons is the same as the “blood of our sons.” Osama’s words fit neatly with Hamzah’s narrative, which is likely why this clip was included. The video ends with more footage of Osama.
The video also includes footage of Ibrahim al Rubaish, a former Guantanamo detainee who became one of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s most senior ideologues. Rubaish was killed in a US drone strike last year.
In the clip replayed by As Sahab, Rubaish warns against Muslims restricting the concept of “brotherhood” to “membership” in a “group” or “organization.” The AQAP theologian stresses that “brotherhood” encompasses all Muslims. A screen shot of Rubaish, as shown by As Sahab, can be seen on the right.
Rubaish’s sermon is intended to buttress Hamzah’s own warnings in this regard. The junior bin Laden denounces the “fanatic” who supports “one group or faction” over others. Hamzah says that one’s love for a group should never trump one’s “love for other Muslims” simply because they don’t belong to the same organization.
Hamzah’s and Rubaish’s words are undoubtedly aimed at the Islamic State, which al Qaeda accuses of placing the interests of its own “faction” above those of other jihadists and Muslims.
Hamzah echoes the words of his father, telling “our brothers in Palestine” that “your blood is our blood.”
He then concludes by praising the jihad in each of the areas where al Qaeda and its regional branches operate: Yemen, the Levant, the Khorasan (an area that includes Afghanistan and Pakistan), Somalia, North Africa and the Maghreb. Hamzah swears that they will “maintain the jihad started by our leaders” in each of these areas until victory is achieved.