Today, al Qaeda in Iraq spokesman Abu Muhammad al ‘Adnani issued a lengthy statement that would make Ayman al Zawahiri proud (most of Zawahiri’s speeches are long, so long that in a circle of friends we refer to him as the Fidel Castro of jihadists). In the statement, al ‘Adnani claimed credit for yesterday’s series of attacks throughout Iraq that targeted security forces and Shia.
But the bulk of al ‘Adnani’s speech is devoted to his hatred of the Shia, and by extension Iran. Al ‘Adnani rails against the growing power of the Shia in Iraq and the wider Middle East. And he appears to advocate a return to the days of 2004-2006 Iraq, when al Qaeda leader Abu Musab al Zarqawi attempted to drag Iraq into a sectarian civil war between Sunnis and Shia by running death squads and attacking Shia mosques, markets, neighborhoods, and religious sites.
Zarqawi believed this was the only viable option to keep the Sunnis from cooperating with Iraq’s majority Shia in the government and serving in the newly-formed national security forces. He said that if the Sunnis feared the Shia, they would be forced to turn to al Qaeda as their protectors. Ayman al Zawahiri, in a letter to Zarqawi, had directed Zarqawi not to follow such a strategy as it would be counterproductive.
The following is a small portion of Al ‘Adnani’s speech, which was translated by the SITE Intelligence Group:
So, Iraq, Iraq, O people of the Sunnah. Stop the black extension that is coming towards you. Cut off the head of the [Shi’ite] snake, the tail of which is amongst you. Know that the coming stage is a stage of real confrontation and war against the despicable [Shi’ites], whether you like it or not, and that the war of the Sunnis with the [Shi’ites] is not a sectarian war, like people are braying about. A sect is part of something, and the [Shi’ites] don’t have anything to do with Islam; they have their own religion and we have our own. The war of the Sunnis with the [Shi’ites] is a religious war, a holy war of faith, a war of faith and unbelief, a war of idolatry and monotheism. There is no way out of it and there is no swerving from it. The [Shi’ites] know this well.
Later on, Al ‘Adnani echoes Zarqawi when he says that al Qaeda in Iraq’s front, the Islamic State of Iraq, is the only true defender of the Sunnis:
O our people, the people of the Sunnah, the Islamic State is only there to defend you and preserve your rights, and to stand in the face of your enemies. The Islamic State is your only true hope after Allah, Glorified and Exalted be He, to get out of the dark tunnel into which your leaders and representatives put you with their alliance with the [Shi’ites].
Al ‘Adnani also reminds us that al Qaeda in Iraq seeks to wage jihad beyond the borders of Iraq, including in the West:
In the end, everyone should know that we vowed and are determined that without the State of Islam, there is no security or peace, not in Iraq or in the Levant, nor in Egypt nor the Peninsula nor in Khorasan nor in the East nor the West. We will never negotiate or surrender. We will never bargain or exchange. Allah’s Shariah is only placed in power by the sword, and it will only stand with power and strength.
Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD’s Long War Journal.