Anwar al Awlaki: Jihadists should steal from disbelievers


Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has released the fourth volume of its Inspire magazine online and it features a potentially revealing commentary by al Qaeda cleric Anwar al Awlaki. In an article entitled “The Ruling on Dispossessing the Disbelievers [sic] wealth in Dar al-Harb,” Awlaki argues that jihadists should not rely exclusively on donations and that instead they have the right to loot “disbelievers” in order to finance their activities.

“Our jihad cannot depend wholly on donations made by Muslims,” Awlaki writes. Pointing to the past, Awlaki argues that Muslim forces have typically relied upon raids against disbelievers, as well as taxes paid by non-Muslim peoples to finance jihad.

“It is about time that we take serious steps towards securing a strong financial backing for our work rather than depending on donations,” Awlaki argues.

Awlaki’s article suggests that American-led efforts to disrupt AQAP’s fundraising efforts in the Gulf are working. Indeed, Awlaki openly laments such efforts:

Dear brothers: Jihad heavily relies on money. In Qur’an, the physical jihad is associated with jihad with one’s wealth in eight verses. In every verse but one, jihad with wealth preceded the physical jihad. That is because without wealth there can be no jihad.

Awlaki continues:

Our enemies have realized that. Therefore they are “following the money trail” and are trying to dry up all the sources of funding “terrorism”.

This may be a thinly-veiled compliment to the US Treasury Department, which has spearheaded international efforts to disrupt al Qaeda’s financing. In October 2009, David Cohen, the Treasury Department’s assistant secretary for terrorist financing, explained that al Qaeda was “in its weakest financial condition in several years, and that, as a result, its influence is waning,”

Cohen went on to caution that al Qaeda still had wealthy donors “who are ready, willing and able to contribute to al Qaeda,” according to CBS News.

AQAP has made public appeals to such donors on multiple occasions. In September 2009, Said al Shihri, a former Guantanamo detainee who is AQAP’s second-in-command, asked for assistance “to help jihad to keep going.”

“The blessed Jihad performed by your brethren in Yemen against the enemies of Islam needs the core of life and the core Jihad, which is money,” al Shihri said in a video recorded on a cell phone, according to CBS News. Similarly, other al Qaeda leaders have issued pleas for cash repeatedly over the past two years.

It appears, however, that al Qaeda’s recent fundraising efforts have not been as successful as the group hoped.

Awlaki’s message is just the latest by AQAP to focus on the economics of jihad. A special issue of Inspire released in November of last year was entitled “$4,200” – the amount that AQAP claims it cost to build and ship cargo plane bombs. [See LWJ report, AQAP releases a ‘special issue’ of Inspire magazine.]

The deadly packages were intercepted before they could be detonated, but AQAP claimed the operation was a success anyway. AQAP’s reasoning was straightforward. While it cost the terror group only several thousand dollars to launch the foiled attack, deemed “Operation Hemorrhage,” the West would be forced to spend “billions of dollars” to defend against future attempts.

This simple cost-benefit argument was clearly intended to justify additional donations to AQAP. But Awlaki argues that jihadists cannot wait for gifts from their fellow Muslims because “jihad around the world is in dire need of financial support.”

“Rather than the Muslims financing their jihad from their own pockets, they should finance it from the pockets of their enemies,” Awlaki writes. Of course, al Qaeda affiliates ranging from western Iraq to North Africa and into Europe have already done just that. Al Qaeda-affiliated parties typically resort to kidnappings, theft, drug sales, and other petty crimes to finance their jihad.

Therefore, Awlaki’s strategy is not a new one. But it could represent a new urgency for AQAP as it seeks ways to fund not only its own terrorist campaign, but also willing recruits in the West. Indeed, Awlaki argues that jihadists living in the West are not bound by their nations’ laws and that they should feel free to loot the disbelievers’ coffers.

Drawing on jihadist literature that marks a distinction between dar al-harb (the land of war, which is not governed by Islamic law and in which there is no truce between Muslims and non-Muslims) and dar al-‘ahd (the land of covenant, where Muslims and non-Muslims have entered into a pact of non-aggression), Awlaki writes:

Muslims are not bound by the covenants of citizenship and visa that exist between them and nations of dar al-harb. It is the consensus of our scholars that the property of the disbelievers in dar al-harb is halal [permissible] for the Muslims and is a legitimate target for the mujahidin.

Awlaki cautions Muslims to “avoid targeting citizens of countries where the public opinion is supportive of some of the Muslim causes.” In such unnamed countries, Awlaki says, it is best to target “Government owned property,” “Banks,” “Global corporations,” and “Wealth belonging to disbelievers with known animosity towards Muslims.”

With respect to America, however, Awlaki has no reservations about stealing from any parties in his former homeland. “In the case of the United States,” Awlaki writes, “both the government and private citizens should be targeted.” The al Qaeda cleric surmises:

The American people who vote for war mongering governments are intent on no good. Anyone who inflicts harm on them in any form is doing a favor to the ummah.

Thomas Joscelyn is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Senior Editor for FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • gerald says:

    This man is a complete traitor to his Nation,deserving of any punishment that is meted out to him.

  • James says:

    The Israelis sure have the right strategy with the STUXNET worm and are doing all of humanity a big favor.
    I would hope that the Israelis also engage in hardware sabotage against Iran’s nuclear program.
    If Iran is faced with the prospects of a meltdown scenario then so be it.
    There is another front that needs to be opened for US in the war on terror and that front needs to be the internet.
    It would help to determine what software they pirated and used to put this thing out. It’s time to get creative and to think “out of the box” (i.e., unconventionally), like the Israelis are now doing.
    It would also help if the software developers (like Adobe, Inc.) were to come up with creative ways to trace the source computers and creators of this kind of a publication.

  • ali says:

    Desperate times make for desperate and hasty measures. One slip and it is one less insurgent.
    Let the stealing begin as soon as i get fresh mags in my fiddle.

  • Paul says:

    So now stealing is being added to killing….what a great jihad to belong to. Real religious guys…….

  • Mike. says:

    Not enough that your followers are encouraged to murder indescriminately and commit suicide in the process. What will these criminals you are attempting to create do in your perfect society, Mr. Awlaki? I’m not sure you’ve thought this through.

  • MIKE says:

    An eye for an eye a tooth for a tooth. I would recommend this way of fighting a nd thinking for the clerics who speak like this. How would these cry babies feel if the west were to put a bounty on all muslim clerics and to steal for all mosques and to print cartoons daily and graffiti all muslim instituations with allah cartoons.

  • SomeGuy says:

    Can you say “short-sighted”? How many other countless paramilitary organizations throughout history have resorted to this tom-foolery…with the same result. Short term financial gains but long lasting PR defeats.
    AQAP and their “Inspire” are supposed to be AQ’s most organized Public Relations/IO guru’s yet they are setting themselves up to be painted and framed as the greedy criminals they are. I’d venture to say even their base supporters in Saudi Arabia are gonna find it hard to read future articles about Joe Jihad who stole a BWM for Allah and the cause.
    Capturing enemy supplys on an actual battlefield is a far cry from religiously sanctioned Grand Larceny.
    Hey, AQAP…good luck with that πŸ˜‰

  • Charu says:

    That’s the ticket; find the money. And Awlaki is only being true to precepts in Islam. Non-believers have very limited rights (if any) and are fair game to be robbed, abused, enslaved and even killed.

  • Zeissa says:

    I believe unbelievers is the correct short form. Disbelievers is not a recognized word.

  • Zeissa says:

    I agree with Charu, I’ve studied Islam for a bit and I don’t see this part of Awlaki’s Jihad being fundamentally disagreeable to Islam… even encouraged really.
    What he may fail to get right is to consider other muslim authorities, but theologically he is on sure footing.

  • Wes says:

    Mr. Anwar al Awalaki and friends: It seems you can no longer afford a strategy of death by a thousand cuts. I suspect you cannot win, not even in Yemen, if you can afford less than a hundred cuts. I suspect you cannot afford to win at all. There may be time left for you to decide to lose with dignity or to lose in misery. I don

  • Sophia says:

    It’s no surprise to the community. So, this is merely a confirmation that actions being taken by the community are successful. The inability for them to obtain operating funds will not cease. The little “wash” up stands selling lose cigarrettes, hotdogs and pretzels will all go under. Give it time! Kidnapping? U.S. Citizens very much dislike threats. Shall we arm all mature & legal Citizens?

  • neonmeat says:

    I actually think he is being very clever by issuing this edict. In my country the UK alot of inner city gangs are made up of 2nd/3rd generation immigrants who often come from Islamic backgrounds and although would not be called practicing Muslims are still culturally linked to the faith through their families and communities.
    These young disenfranchised, often uneducated men are the exact recruits the Jihadists want, and by issuing this decree he has now legitimised and made ‘halal’ their behaviour that by our standards is considered criminal.
    A lot of these criminals like to wear their faith on their sleeves and I have witnessed fights between so called Muslim and Sikh gangs even though the members are not practicing or religious at all. I believe if they were to follow his instructions we will see an increase in white and non muslim people getting mugged and robbed by these supposed Muslims leading to increased racial and religious tensions.
    Awlaki and the jihadists want to create an atmoshere of fear and mistrust inside you everytime you see a Muslim on the street, he wants to create conflict in our communities and countries, he wants us to feel attacked and the Muslims in our lands to feel persecuted so the divide will grow, lets not let this happen.
    I do not believe this is about funding the Jihad but about creating more conflict and division between those of us that live in the West and the Muslims we interact with on a daily basis.

  • kill.terrorist says:

    This shows as why profiling is so important. political correctness is killing us.

  • Nazir says:

    What the learned imam said was correct. Am suprise at d suprise of people coz those occupying d lands of muslim are not only stealing our wealth but also do rape our women. Its just how our Sheikh put it: ur security = our security.

  • Chris 'the likeable' says:

    Lets face it, these low lives will use any feeble reason to try an excuse their pathetic lives. Now they can use religion to steal from others, It will not be too long before we see some dopey individual in Court citing jihad and a religious purpose for looting a colour Television. Pathetic excuses handed down by even more pathetic religious leaders!


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