Mohammed al Zawahiri weighs in on Egyptian political crisis

Mohammed Zawahiri Facebook Page Captured 13-7-3.JPG

Mohammed al Zawahiri has issued statements concerning the Egyptian political crisis on his Facebook page and Twitter feed.

As the political crisis unfolded inside Egypt this week, leading to the military’s ouster of president Mohamed Morsi, Mohammed al Zawahiri issued statements on his social media sites in an attempt to rally the country’s jihadists. On July 2, the younger brother of al Qaeda’s emir posted a defiant message on his Facebook page.

Zawahiri urged Muslims to “forsake fear and hesitation,” promising “we will not be defeated.”

“If the United States and its agents in the state of Egypt” push tensions to the point of “confrontation, it will definitely be in our favor because we do not have anything to lose,” Zawahiri wrote, according to a translation obtained by The Long War Journal.

The younger Zawahiri argued that all will not be lost “even if all of us had been eliminated and the first and second lines perished,” because “we entered this arena not only after we had sold ourselves to God, but also we believe we lived more than we expected.”

The jihadists “will have the upper hand” in the end “and that is what matters.” And should the jihadist “trend be established in Egypt,” it will transform the entire region, leading to an “Islamic revival and victory.”

Egypt’s Al-Masry Al-Youm characterized Zawahiri’s July 2 statement as a vow to wage jihad against the army in the event that Morsi was deposed. The Muslim Brotherhood’s man was in fact removed from the presidency the following day, July 3.

However, one source claiming to speak on Mohammed al Zawahiri’s behalf told Al-Masry Al-Youm that his words should not be construed as a call for jihad against the Egyptian military.

In separate entries on his Facebook page and Twitter, the younger Zawahiri posted a statement from “the Islamic Forces and Movements and the Scholars of the Ummah” calling for the immediate implementation of sharia law. It is not clear who the statement’s other authors are. Mohammed al Zawahiri and his more infamous older brother regularly call for Egyptians to eschew democracy in favor of sharia. [See, for example, LWJ reports, Mohammed al Zawahiri rejects ‘filthy market of democracy’ and Zawahiri calls on Muslims to implement sharia.]

The authors of the statement calling for sharia law posted by Mohammed al Zawahiri do not call for violence against the Egyptian military. Instead, they say that the matter will be escalated through the press, and they will organize “massive rallies” and demonstrations that are “proportionate with the reaction of the authorities in charge.”

It remains to be seen how Egypt’s Salafi jihadists respond to the crisis in the coming days.

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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  • Arjuna says:

    Superb reporting as usual. Thanks Tom for presenting both sides of the story. Chaos is the ally of our enemies. Nothing Little Brother says here is at all surprising. They will make hay with this coup d’├ętat (and its aftermath); just give them time. What will their targets be? Foreign diplomats? Tourists? Transport nodes? Political/religious enemies? I doubt they will attack the army the way the TTP does with the PA. At least not outside Sinai.
    I know it’s not the most reliable source, but WND is reporting that members of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood are already studying how to form a so-called military wing to carry out terrorist attacks, according to a senior Egyptian security official. The wing is supposed to be modeled after Gama’a al Islamiya.
    Things could go from bad to worse quickly if this little “project” gets off the ground. It would be so nice if Little Brother went away like MM. MAZ’s a stone-cold terrorist, having been tortured even more than his big brother in Mubarak’s jails.

  • mike merlo says:

    Interesting. The ‘Extremists ‘blinked.’ I thought ‘we’d’ experience/witness at least some sporadic violence once the Egyptian Military started moving armored vehicles & tanks in position out in public.
    “It remains to be seen how Egypt’s Salafi-Jihadists respond to the crisis in the coming days.”
    It’ll be violent, very violent.
    If my prediction fails to materialize I’ll dig a pit in the backyard have my grand kids fill it waist deep with water & gators & have them toss me in there with my Mother-In-Law armed with chop sticks, a rubber duck & her favorite frying pan.

  • gb says:

    It never fails that whenever the islamists foundation of rule is threatened by democracy, the so called leaders are all too eager to call on their Muslim followers to sacrifice themselves for the Jihad. For once I’d like to see one of these losers lead from the front, as opposed to willingly sacrifice their brothers lives while preserving their own existance.

  • The jihadists “will have the upper hand” in the end “and that is what matters.” And should the jihadist “trend be established in Egypt,” it will transform the entire region leading to an “Islamic revival and victory.”
    The jihadists in Egypt have never had the upper hand in Egypt, even when Ayman the elder and EIJ were slaughtering tourists at Luxor. Typical Zawahiri-isms (‘Islamic revival and victory’) in regards to restoring Islam and establishing Sharia’ in Egypt. The military has supposedly already rounded up 300 members of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is reminiscent of how Nasser handled business back in the day where he sent the Islamists to Tura prison. Jihadists in Egypt don’t stand a chance against the Egyptian military because the constituency is disorganized; they are too busy back-biting one another (in regards to varying political aims and how to act in order to achieve these goals). Also, Mohammed the younger doesn’t have the pedigree to form, or sustain, a resilient movement of violence and political coercion in Egypt. Ayman ran EIJ into the ground with his atrocities against the Egyptian populace, therefore running himself out of Egypt; he even claimed the geography of Egypt isn’t suitable for a successful guerrilla campaign against the authoritative Egyptian government (Gerges, ‘The Far Enemy: Why Jihad went Global, 87).
    Jihadists in Egypt have definitely won some battles against the government (Sadat’s assassination for example), but they certainly won’t win the war in my opinion.

  • DANNY says:

    yeah losers have nothing to lose. Just so he knows following a lie from satan will leave him with nothing to gain either Just a loser wanting everyone else to pay for his hate.

  • sundoesntrise says:

    We are seeing a trend develop in Arab countries where the dominant forces prevailing are the national armies. The most recent examples are Syria and Egypt, but there are other ones as well.
    It might lead to a new “way of doing things” in the near future. The power nowadays does not lie with long bearded Jihadists or even young protesters trying to build a civil state. The power lies with the national armies and they are the new powerful forces to be reckoned with.

  • mike merlo says:

    “…he even claimed the geography of Egypt isn’t suitable for a successful guerrilla campaign against the authoritative Egyptian government (Gerges, ‘The Far Enemy: Why Jihad went Global, 87).”
    Now that Libya, the Sinai & large swaths of the Sahara are in ‘play’, not to mention a Syria in the midst of a full blown rebellion, Iraq experiencing escalating violence, a Lebanon having to ‘balance’ competing interests & a Sudan serving as a logistical & manpower platform, I’m rather skeptical as to whether or not the above quote still applies.
    Besides when have the jihadist’s ever really done anything more than envision the results of possible outcome’s as opposed to experiencing/witnessing all of their efforts & endeavors concluding as a Force In Retreat, ‘regulation’ to an area which by its terrain, distance, climate, & tribal inhabitants is autonomous & by default a sanctuary; or manage to create a sustainable level chaos that devolves to a type a norm that’s tolerated simply because all other available forms of governance are unable to maintain themselves because the society is too fracture to support itself on a broad & in depth scale(South Central Somalia, Western Pakistan, large swaths of the Sahara, etc.,.).
    I realize that the 2 above comments could easily be construed as contradictory but ‘that’ seems to have been as much a part of the jihadist’s Modus Operandi as all else that has transpired. IMO this stems from the fact that ‘we’ stubbornly adhere to measuring all this raw data by metrics, matrixes, templates, etc., we deem applicable. We apply solutions & plans by our calculation’s that should satisfy our goals, objectives hence a final outcome which at the very least is palatable to our sensibilities. Yet the same problems keep surfacing and or regenerating themselves. One would think by now ‘we’ would have figured out that our adversaries are not governed by the ‘properties,’ qualities, ‘belief system’ by which we define them.
    “…but they certainly won’t win the war in my opinion.” I’ll be willing to bet that ‘their’ definition of “a won war” is not the same as yours.

  • mike merlo says:

    If President Obama should choose to abandon or penalize Egypt too harshly Russia & Communist China are just salivating in the wings waiting to become Egypt’s new benefactor(s). India will probably try & jump onto this BandWagon also with Iran somehow trying to weasel into the act also. By controlling the Suez Egypt also holds a ‘Trump Card’ over the Oil Producers in the Gulf

  • boilerman says:

    If the fledgling democracy movement in Egypt can survive the recent upheaval without an upsurge in violence from jihadists or other groups it will be a big relief to everyone.
    For me the establishment of a secular state that shows respect for the beliefs of all its citizens has to be the goal. We will be extremely lucky if this can be achieved.

  • M.H says:

    The situation in Egypt right now is so similar to the Algerian Scenario in 1991 when the islamist groups started a civil war that killed thousands of civilians. Hoping the copts in Egypt who constitute the largest christian community in the Middle East will be safe ( estimated to between 10 and 15 Million).

  • mike merlo says:

    I figure you’re right multiplied by at least 4 with a host of other factors/variables thrown into the mix that weren’t present at the time of the Algerian Experience

  • feld1234 says:

    Couldn’t ask for a better scenerio!
    BM out….Military in….!
    The General is no stranger to the US.
    Definitely a “good thing”!

  • Arjuna says:

    @sundoesntrise, thanks for your very astute and correct observation about the national armies being the ultimate power in so many of these fracturing Muslim societies. America needs a “security and stability” first policy, and recognizing the primacy (and importance) of the military is a key first step. These poor people cannot eat freedom and democracy, in fact they can’t even manage democracies in these countries, the people are so angry and antagonistic… how does one give a cold shower to an entire region of the planet without drowning the patient? Catch-22, Hobson’s choice, take your pick. We need to focus on helping these countries keep their violent elements in check and their people fed, and armies can do this better than new democrats, simply because of the bureaucratic/hierarchical nature of any military force. I just wish the Egyptian Army hadn’t so completely and blatantly chosen sides, this makes it all the harder to avoid the inevitable Islamist backlash.

  • mike merlo says:

    “It might lead to a new “way of doing things” in the near future.” I’m not sure if I would characterize this recent turn of events as “a new way of doing things.” I see it more as the possible revival of what was once the ‘traditional’ (Coup d’etat) way of realigning or ‘rebalancing’ the current form of governance. For the 1st few decades in the aftermath of WWII ‘Coups’ were pretty much ‘Standard Fare’ in Post Colonial environments & other locales in the ‘developing world.’
    If Egypt is able to “pull this off” I wouldn’t be surprised to ‘see’ this ‘template’ come into vogue again. Central Asian Nations are pretty much dominated by this ‘template.’ I’m sure Russia & Communist China would have no problem accommodating such arrangements. The GCC is nothing but a collection Monarchical Dictatorships.
    So its not like this type of transfer of power will be at all difficult for many Nations to stomach. In fact many Nations will be inclined to actively support such power pursuits. The Taliban came to power via such an arrangement. Syria is pretty much slobbing their way through the same process. Who knows what Iraq will look like a couple of years from now let alone by the end of the summer or Christmas time. Much of Sahara Africa is ‘fertile ground’ for “Land Pirates.” Eastern Libya looks more like Western Pakistan with each passing week.
    And as usual the US will be busy concerning ‘themselves’ with yesterdays events while Real Time Scenario’s will be busying themselves with the matters at hand.

  • gb says:

    @Arjuna intellectually I understand, and agree with your premise that the militaries in these hell holes are the best hope for a sustained sense of stability, however I don’t agree that we the US need be involved in feeding or helping to keep their populace in check. More and more I get the sense that withdrawal, and constriction is a more viable path towards security for the US. This is not to say that the US should refrain from striking targets of opportunity whenever they present themselves.

  • Arjuna says:

    @gb I agree with you, disarm and disengage wherever possible where the United States is concerned. I meant to say “national” armies or possibly even blue helmets. We do more harm than good when we throw Big Army around. The notion of an Egyptian constitutional convention at this point is positively quaint. I just hope the Army (oops, I meant Mansour) picks someone other than El Baradei (who is tainted by association with the coup, although he should be allowed to run in the next election). Where is Little Brother? Can’t he have a very bad day for a change? Why attack Bodh Gaya? This is an attack against all mankind. Just like Bamiyan showed the true colors of the Taliban, this is a warning that things are reaching a point of madness. The Indian government must wake up and do more against extremism before their hand is forced.

  • sundoesntrise says:

    Mike, I get your point that coups are old school in nature. Of course they are. But my point was that the rising star of power at this moment is with the national armies. They will be the ones from this point on with the power and muscle and they will shape the futures of their countries however they see fit. So Jihadists as well as “youth activists” would be well advised to recognize who rules the town.

  • mike merlo says:

    “Mike, I get your point that coups are old school in nature.”
    Got it.
    “But my point was that the rising star of power at this moment is with the national armies.”
    I wouldn’t be surprised to ‘see’ the above ‘template’ take place in some of the Central Asian Nations where some of ‘Leaders’ are either reaching or in their ‘Twilight Years.’

  • mark says:

    I been reading and following LWJ coverage for a long time. No tip the spear experiences. Just want to say, getting a handle on the jihadist strategy is not so hard to piece together provided a healthy dose of contrarian logic is used.
    The goal in Egypt is simple… turn the Egyptian military into the new Shah.
    By forcing a circle the wagons outlook into the thinking of the urbanized and educated youth of the brotherhood that seek political compromise as a pillar of a post Mubark Egypt, the passage of time will wear away the popular support of the Egyptian military.
    What Egypt’s Salafi’ists did this past week to pull the rug from under Morsi is so patently clear in contrarian logic that the political and monied interests seeking to buttress Egypt’s political transition better wake up fast to the grand game the jihadists are playing.


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