Al Qaeda in Iraq praises appointment of Zawahiri to emir

Al Qaeda’s Islamic State of Iraq praised the appointment of Ayman al Zawahiri to emir of the terror organization, lashed out against the Awakening, and said foreign fighters continue to join the ranks of the terror group.

Abu Muhammad al ‘Adnani, the spokesman for the Islamic State of Iraq, made the statements in an hour-long audiotape that was released by the the Al Furqan Foundation on jihadist websites. A translation of ‘Adnani’s statement, which is titled “Indeed, the Islamic State Will Remain,” was provided by the SITE Intel Group.

‘Adnani began his speech by welcoming Zawahiri’s promotion to emir of al Qaeda after his predecessor, Osama bin Laden, was killed on May 2 by during a US special operations raid in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

“I also address in particular the wise man of the Ummah [Muslim community], Dr. Ayman al Zawahiri Abu Muhammad, and we congratulate him for his new position, and we ask Allah to help him in fulfilling the responsibility and guide him to what He likes and accepts,” ‘Adnani said.

Al Qaeda in Iraq follows affiliates al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, and Shabaab in praising Zawahiri’s appointment to emir. ‘Adnani also tells al Qaeda members not to mourn the death of bin Laden as he died while waging jihad.

“My mujahideen brothers, we don’t condole you for the killing of the reviving scholar, Imam Abu Abdullah Osama bin Laden, may Allah have mercy on him, because condolences are for the dead. Rather, we congratulate you for his martyrdom, which he had always wished for and sought, and we think that he attained it and Allah knows him best,” ‘Adnani said.

Al Qaeda in Iraq still receives a flow of foreign fighters, ‘Adnani claimed, while stating Iraq remains “the main front” in the global jihad.

“We receive the emigrants and we train them and shelter them, and we are still in Iraq, which is the main front for confrontation and conflict despite all the rumors about us,”

‘Adnani railed against Sunnis for supporting a Shia-majority government and the Iraqi political process, which he described “an American hanger, Zionist conspiracy, and Shi’ite plot.” He described the Awakening councils, the Iraqi security forces made up of former insurgent groups and tribal militias, as “satanic” and urged them to join al Qaeda to fight the government.

“If you come to us in repentance, we will accept your repentance even if you killed a million people,” he said. “Do not stand in the way between us and the [Shi’ites].”

The Awakening councils, which started in western Anbar province and spread throughout Iraq, were instrumental in defeating al Qaeda in Iraq during the 2006-2007 “surge” in Iraq. Violence has decreased by 90 percent since its height in the summer of 2007,and al Qaeda in Iraq has been reduced to conducting occasional suicide attacks and assassinations. The Awakening has been a target of al Qaeda’s assassination campaign.

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

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