Ansar al Sharia Egypt calls on Muslims to resist France in Mali

Eiffel Tower Captured 13-1-31.JPG

Ansar al Sharia Egypt, an extremist group headed by an al Qaeda-allied jihadist, has called on Muslims to pray for a jihadist victory in Mali and to “[q]uickly offer material and moral support for the Muslim Mali people.” The group’s statement, which was authored by an Egyptian Salafist named Jalaluddin Abu al Fotouh and released online in late January, was translated by the SITE Intelligence Group.

Al Fotouh argues that France’s “real motives” for the war, which is “supported by Crusader Europe and tyrannical America and the rest of the forces of evil against the Muslims in Mali,” are to prevent the implementation of sharia law. This is a common argument advanced by Salafi Jihadists in the wake of France’s intervention.

“The forces of evil and disbelief cannot be silent about the establishment of a real Islamic State that is committed to the Qur’an and the Sunnah [traditions of the Prophet Muhammad], especially regarding its foreign relations with the countries of the world,” Al Fotouh claims, according to SITE’s translation. “They want Mali to be subordinate, servile, and weak and frail so as to be able to loot its resources and steal its wealth.”

In a separate entry on Ansar al Sharia Egypt’s Facebook page earlier in January, the group threatened France by re-posting an image of the Eiffel Tower being attacked. The graphic was originally produced on another jihadist web site. An Air France airliner can be seen approaching the tower from the left.

The Long War Journal captured a screen shot of the image, which is reproduced at the beginning of this article.

The Arabic text of the image, which can be seen at the top of this article, reads: “France, beware! We are able to carry this out and it would not be the first time.” According to a translation obtained by The Long War Journal, Ansar al Sharia Egypt added a caption to its Facebook post that reads, “Is France unaware of who it is fighting?”

Leadership of Ansar al Sharia Egypt

Ansar al Sharia Egypt is led by Ahmed Ashush, who does not hide his allegiance to al Qaeda. In an interview with the Cairo-based publication Al Shuruq al Jadid late last year, Ashush said he was “honored to be an extension of the al Qaeda organization in its beliefs, principles, and concepts.”

“We must perpetuate [Osama] bin Laden whether alive or dead,” Ashush explained. “If the revolutions of the Arab Spring were fair they would have adopted bin Laden as the symbol of heroism and sacrifice.” Ashush called al Qaeda the “House of Honor,” the “Title of Glory,” and the “Home of the Nation’s Dignity.”

Ashush adamantly defended al Qaeda’s jihad. “We are at war with the United States and Israel and all the Worldly Rulers whom they appointed in the countries of the Muslims to carry out their imperialist blueprint in our countries,” Ashush added.

Ashush’s ties to al Qaeda date to the early 1990s, when he traveled to Afghanistan. Ashush befriended Abu Hafs al Masri, who went on to become al Qaeda’s military chief before he was killed in late 2001, and other senior al Qaeda figures. Ashush forged a lasting relationship with the Zawahiri brothers. He served in the Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ), headed by Ayman al Zawahiri (now the emir of al Qaeda), before helping to establish his own offshoot terrorist organization.

Ashush was arrested in the 1990s and imprisoned inside Egypt until after the fall of Hosni Mubarak’s regime. In 2007, Ashush defended al Qaeda’s violence from within prison. He was one of the key signatories on a letter rebutting Sayyid Imam al Sharif’s (also known as Dr. Fadl) critique of al Qaeda’s approach to waging jihad. Another of the signatories was Mohammed al Zawahiri, the younger brother of al Qaeda’s emir, who had served as a senior EIJ leader before his arrest in the late 1990s. Mohammed al Zawahiri was also freed from prison in the wake of the Egyptian revolution.

Since both the younger Zawahiri and Ashush were freed from prison, the two have often worked together, as can be seen in numerous jihadist videos and on Ansar al Sharia Egypt’s Facebook page.

As-Sahab-video-Mohammed Zawahiri-Shahtu-Ashoush.jpg

Mohammed al Zawahiri (right, in front of an al Qaeda in Iraq flag), Sheikh ‘Adil Shehato (center, bottom), and Ahmad Ashush (center, speaking on microphone), from an As Sahab video released on Sept. 10, 2012.

Ayman al Zawahiri is so fond of Ashush that clips of the Ansar al Sharia Egypt leader are frequently included in al Qaeda’s videos. A Sept. 10, 2012 video starring al Qaeda’s emir featured a clip of Ashush praising Osama bin Laden. A two-part al Qaeda video released on Oct. 24 included nine video clips showing Ashush and other Egyptian jihadists. Mohammed al Zawahiri can be seen listening to Ashush’s pro-al Qaeda sermons in the same clips.

Ansar al Sharia Egypt’s Facebook page features Mohammed al Zawahiri in several posts. Some of the posts show the younger Zawahiri’s protest outside the French Embassy in Cairo in January. Mohammed al Zawahiri has criticized the French intervention in Mali and threatened the West with retaliation.

The protest orchestrated by Mohammed al Zawahiri outside the French Embassy was poorly attended, with perhaps hundreds or maybe one thousand demonstrators in attendance. In fact, Ansar al Sharia Egypt has criticized Islamist groups for not doing more to support Zawahiri’s demonstration.

It is a “scandal” that “many of the Islamic movements..didn’t participate in the peaceful protest in front of the French embassy in Cairo, and all of those who attended the protest were no more than a thousand,” Jalaluddin Abu al Fotouh writes in Ansar al Sharia Egypt’s statement on Mali.

Ansar al Sharia Egypt, Ahmed Ashush, and Mohammed al Zawahiri will undoubtedly continue to call for jihad in Mali and threaten the West.

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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  • I think this is spelling we are already in an all. out war with Isalm and this is world war 3 started. These people do not want peace of negotiations of any sort and we must fight for our survival

  • blert says:
    “In December, Belmoktar announced the formation of a new commando unit called “We Sign with Blood,” and he promised attacks against Western interests in the region and the home soil of Western countries if an operation was launched against jihadists in northern Mali.
    The name of the new commando unit was first used by a unit of an Algerian militant outfit that hijacked a French airliner in 1994, according to Camille Tawil, a Lebanese expert on al Qaeda.”
    “Air France Flight 8969 was an Air France flight that was hijacked on 24 December 1994 by the Armed Islamic Group (GIA) at Algiers, where they killed three passengers, with the intention to blow up the plane over the Eiffel Tower in Paris.”
    It’s an old theme for islamists in the Maghreb.
    Rumblings such as this must have been a consideration when Paris decided to counter-intervene in Mali.

  • mike merlo says:

    very creepy, scary & spooky. These people remind so much of the many ‘termiter’s’ who surface during the Bolshevik takeover of Russia & the spread of Communism in the ensuing decades

  • joe six-pack says:

    This is one major reason for the war. A religion fielding an army. This cannot be allowed to continue. The idea of a religion acting like a nation-state should have been put to rest centuries ago.

  • Reza says:

    I am a muslim and against all acts of terror. However, I do believe that Americans have to shed the chains of ignorance and accept responsibility for all the terrorism that goes on in the world. Reviewing the history of imperialism and the crimes that the imperialisthaves committed over centuries in poor countries, you can easily realize why you are responsible for all the violence, suicide bombing, terrors, etc.
    The saddest point is that Americans can not, or do not want, to learn lessons from the dark history that they have and they continue with their aggressive policies. The luxury you are enjoying at the expense of other nations will soon decline unless you wake up once and forever.

  • blert says:

    America was founded as the Original anti-Imperialist power.
    Since the American ascendancy decades ago, EVERY single imperial power has been dethroned, one-by-one.
    You couldn’t be further off the mark if you tried.
    There is only one power left that lusts for empire: China.
    She is what an imperial state looks, and acts, like.

  • Witch Doctor says:

    @ Blert, you are so right on!

  • mike merlo says:

    you might be a Muslim but you’re also a stooge. Go read your own “Dark History.” In fact just start with the year 2000 & read everything about the Muslim Ummah up to the present.

  • Shareef says:

    I too am a Muslim. I does not matter what (US of ) America was founded on. It matters what it has become. At the turn of the century, every single politician and “progressive” ideologue Muslim was in love with the west. That is no longer the case. The west and in particular USA has military bases in every corner of the world. USA has client states. USA has economic interests which it backs with military power over the interests of indigenous peoples. If you actually read and absorbed what your elites say and do you would come to the same conclusion that the USA is nothing but an old style empire…..and it will go the same way as all the others BECAUSE WE ARE FED UP OF THE WEST DESTROYING OUR COUNTRIES TO SATISFY YOUR ECONOMIC LUST. And if you think Mali is about terrorists, ponder this. It is well known in intelligence circles that the GIA and Al-Qaida are heavily infiltrated by….Algerian secret service. Mali has a tiny population and one of the worlds biggest gold mines. It is twice the size of France and is teeming with other mineral resources. Tell me with a straight face that France went in there because they thought a few sandle footed, AK-47 wielding hoodlums threatens a nuclear power with a strong fully equipped army and a member of the UN security council. GIVE ME A BREAK.

  • Bob says:

    America is responsible for all acts of terrorism?
    So the Sunni suicide bomber that just blew up a Shiite mosque is a direct result of American imperialism?
    Hardline Salafis/Wahabbis detonating thousand year old statues and manuscripts is a direct result of American imperialism?
    The adoloscent girl who was raped and then stoned to death because she would not marry her assailant is a direct result of American imperialism?
    Please, these chains of ignorance are weighing me down.

  • gbridson says:

    @reza these terrorists/islamists have only themselves to blame for their problems. They have been cutting each others heads off for 2 thousand years and have not evolved since. Hopefully they will go the way of the Neanderthals with a little help from the civilized peoples of the world. I speak only for myself but I have absolutely no interest in helping these these savages learn how to become productive peacefaring people. I hope the civilized people of the world galvanize to defeat these terrorists completely.

  • blert says:

    Your screed indicates that you’re college educated — in the West.
    As for France’s Mali involvement: see my first post. Self-defense is her motivation. Ditto, for Algeria.
    Algerian agents within islamist ranks are there to subvert them, the fanatics, nothing else.
    America does not have ‘Client States.’ That is a Communist epithet from the Soviet era.
    To be a Client State one would have to have the kind of relationship that Moscow has with Belarus: utter dependency.
    America’s so-called ‘clients’ give her the brush-off time after time; not uncommonly, when it really matters a lot.
    France, Italy and Spain all stiffed Reagan in the 1980s when he wanted to retaliate against Libya.
    Turkey stiffed Bush when he wanted to retaliate against Saddam in ’03.
    France and Russia stiffed Clinton and Bush during the Oil for Food fraud. (1992-2003) (Even Canadian politicians proved to be ‘on-the-pad’ during that era — which shocked everyone.)
    As for the American military protecting overseas assets: that Latin American phenomena stopped many decades ago. Sorry.
    In today’s world, such investors have to file an insurance claim.
    That’s why Venezuela’s nationalizations — massive as they were — led only to the courtroom.
    Your professors are leading you around by their doctrine.
    America doesn’t ‘run-the-world’ — far from it.
    The ‘War-for-Oil’ (Iraq) is producing oil for Red China and the Far East — nothing for America.
    (Even when our companies are involved — the crude flows eastwards. American imports from OPEC are in a profound decline. They may net down to zero within two years.)
    Shareef, you’re looking at a world that runs with No One in charge. Indeed, it’s so complicated that it can’t function any other way.

  • Aloysius says:

    It always amaze me when someone living in a country where more than 10 000 people are killed every year by firearm says that the whole muslim world is un-civilized “because they are killing each other”… No one has a monopoly upon barbary, but one should be careful when he claims to be civilized…
    As for the Salafists and their ilk, I think they are the death throws of the traditional islamic society. This is why they hate the West : modernity has been destroying their universe, and they try to preserve it through sheer violence.
    But 100 years from now, it will appears that this was a lost war : bombs can’t erase the printing press, radio, TV and internet.


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