Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) released an audio message over the weekend titled “And Allah is the best of planners” from al Qaeda ideologue and theologian Ibrahim al Rubaish. His message comes as a response to Saudi Arabia’s royal decree on March 7 that designated several Islamist groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood, the Al Nusrah Front, and the Islamic State in Iraq and the Sham (ISIS) as terrorists. The Saudi statement also announced that Saudis and foreign residents who join or give moral or material support to the designated groups, as well as any of its citizens who insult other countries or leaders, will be punished under the law.
Although Rubaish’s response comes a little late, he claims it is a necessary rejoinder to a Saudi statement that was contrary to the expectations of the majority of Muslims. He says he was surprised that the statement did not come from the King himself and instead was issued by the Interior Ministry after consultations with several other ministries, including the Ministry of Islamic Affairs. Rubaish explains this contradiction by mentioning Saudi Arabia’s alliance with the US, charging that the Kingdom has taken “the employees of the White House as a god beside Allah.”
Rubaish begins his discussion by asking rhetorically, “What is the cause for issuing this statement and list at this time?” He alleges that after the Saudi royal family managed to foil all the revolutions of the Arab spring, they are now ready to suppress the “winds of revolution” within their own borders. He asserts that the royal family considers allegiance to itself more important than allegiance to Allah, which is demonstrated, he argues, by the designation of the Yemeni Houthi movement and Saudi Hezbollah but not the Lebanese Hezbollah group. Rubaish claims that even though the three aforementioned groups are Shi’ite and therefore disloyal to Allah in his worldview, the Saudis did not designate Lebanese Hezbollah because they have shared interests with that group, especially since Hezbollah began fighting the mujahideen in Syria.
Rubaish criticizes Saudi Arabia’s policy to combat atheism, which has spread widely, he claims. He says that if a campaign were waged against the atheists similar to the campaign that Saudi Arabia wages against the mujahideen, there would be no atheists.
Next, Rubaish tackles the part of the recent Saudi statement that stipulated the Kingdom would punish anyone found to be fighting outside Saudi Arabia or supporting such endeavors. “What is your position regarding fighting the Jews in Palestine?” Rubaish asks. “[D]oes he who fights them, or supports he who fights them, or sympathizes with he who fights them, deserve a punishment … does he who hopes for the victory of the Muslims over the Jews deserve this punishment?” Rubaish says that although it is ridiculous, the Saudi prohibition on fighting is not surprising given that the Saudis have “imprisoned people simply for the intention.”
In his discussion, Rubaish also asks if anyone who flies the “flag of monotheism,” a reference to the black flag used by al Qaeda emblazoned with the Muslim testament of faith, is included in Saudi Arabia’s prohibition. He argues that this flag is not simply the flag of al Qaeda but rather is the flag of all Muslims.
Rubaish particularly criticizes the section of the Saudi statement that calls for punishing “those who insult other countries or their leaders.” Rubaish says that even America is more lenient with someone who speaks ill of his president and criticizes him. “You are truly more American than the Americans,” he argues. Even more surprising, according to Rubaish, is that among the countries mentioned are the “government of rafidi [Shi’ite] Iraq and the government of the Zionist entity [Israel].”
Rubaish says that there is a message for all Islamic groups “who have conceded some of their principles” in Saudi Arabia’s designation of the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization. According to Rubaish, “no matter how much they change and substitute, the heads of infidelity will not be satisfied with them till they announce their disavowal of anything related to Islam.” He goes on to say, “We must stand firm till death, if we seek Allah’s satisfaction.”
Rubaish concludes his audio message with the statement: “The Saudi regime is like the one-eyed Antichrist” that sees only one side of things. He calls on all Muslims to pray to Allah to “shred” the Saudi regime and humiliate it with the glory of the believers. The disappearance of the Saudi regime would bring happiness to the believers, he claims, and anger and worry to the hypocrites and infidels.