Al Qaeda renews its oath of allegiance to Taliban leader Mullah Omar

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Al Qaeda renews its oath of allegiance to Taliban emir Mullah Omar in its new online publication, Al Nafir.

Al Qaeda published the first edition of a new online bulletin, “Al Nafir” (meaning “call to arms” or “call to mobilize”), on July 20. And the organization uses the inaugural issue to publicly renew its oath of allegiance to Taliban emir Mullah Omar.

“The first edition begins by renewing the pledge of allegiance to [the] Emir of the Believers Mullah Muhammad Omar Mujahid, may Allah preserve him, and confirming that al Qaeda and its branches everywhere are soldiers among his soldiers,” the newsletter reads, according to a translation by the SITE Intelligence Group. Al Qaeda goes on to say that it is fighting “under his victorious banner” to restore control over a broad swath of territory “to the coming State of the Caliphate.”

Although Al Nafir was just released online by As Sahab, al Qaeda’s propaganda arm, the first edition’s publication date indicates that it was produced in April or May. Its release at this time is undoubtedly connected to the Islamic State’s declaration in late June that it now rules over a supposed caliphate. The Islamic State is an al Qaeda offshoot that has been openly at odds with al Qaeda for more than one year.

As part of its announcement, the Islamic State said that all other jihadist groups, and even all Muslims, owe Abu Bakr al Baghdadi (now called “Caliph Ibrahim”) their loyalty. This was a direct attempt to usurp the authority of al Qaeda emir Ayman al Zawahiri and could be read as a challenge to all other senior jihadists around the globe as well.

The Islamic State controls a significant amount of territory in both Iraq and Syria. And because of the group’s recent territorial gains, Baghdadi’s attempted power grab has forced al Qaeda to respond with an explanation of how it believes the jihadists’ world is organized. Baghdadi’s claims have caused significant problems for al Qaeda’s senior leadership, which does not claim to directly control any territory. Al Qaeda’s regional branches in the Middle East and Africa do control turf, but none of them is organized as an officially sanctioned Islamic state.

Although both Baghdadi and Mullah Omar have now been called “Emir of the Believers,” only Baghdadi has claimed to rule over an all-encompassing caliphate. Mullah Omar’s organization calls itself the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan,” meaning that it is considered a regional state, and not a caliphate. The Taliban still gives itself this name even though it does not control much of Afghanistan.

Leading jihadist ideologues, such as Abu Muhammad al Maqdisi, have pointed this out in their critiques of Baghdadi’s group. Maqdisi has noted that the Taliban never claimed that it was owed the allegiance of Muslims everywhere, as the Islamic State now does.

Al Qaeda also uses the new publication to portray itself as being committed to defending and leading predominately Muslim countries everywhere. (In reality, most of the victims of al Qaeda’s violence are Muslims.)

“Al Nafir begins its first issue with a message to all the vulnerable Muslims in every land and country: We are with you and did not forget about you,” SITE’s translation reads. “Your blood is our blood, your wounds are our wounds, and your martyrs, your wounded, your orphans, and your widows are our sons, our brothers, and our sisters.” The newsletter’s authors then go on to list a number of countries around the world in which al Qaeda is supposedly committed to defending Muslims.

Renewed pledge to Mullah Omar follows bin Laden video discussing oath

On July 13, al Qaeda released a video starring Osama bin Laden that was recorded sometime in the middle of 2001, just months prior to the 9/11 attacks. The deceased al Qaeda master recounts, in brief, the history of his organization’s relations with the Taliban.

An audience member asks bin Laden about his bayat (oath of allegiance) to Mullah Omar, the Taliban’s emir. And as The Long War Journal reported on July 15, bin Laden’s response likely has bearing on Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s claim to be the new rightful caliph.

“My pledge of allegiance to the Emir of the Believers [Mullah Omar] is the great pledge of allegiance, which is mentioned in the chapters of the Koran and the stories of the Sunnah,” bin Laden says. “Every Muslim should set his mind and heart and pledge allegiance to the Emir of the Believers Mullah Muhammad Omar for this is the great pledge.”

It is widely believed among jihadists that the new caliph should be descended from the Quraish tribe, from which Islam’s earliest rulers, including Mohammed, came. So, Baghdadi’s supporters make much of the fact that he is supposedly descended from the Quraish.

Al Qaeda used bin Laden’s testimony from 2001 as a rejoinder to the Islamic State’s argument. Bin Laden says in the video that Mullah Omar’s ancestry should not bar him from being the rightful ruler. Omar is not descended from the Quraish tribe, but bin Laden says this is a “minor factor,” which can be ignored given the circumstances that existed at the time. The “pledge of allegiance” to Omar is “legitimate,” bin Laden insists.

In other words, according to al Qaeda, one need not be descended from the Quraish tribe to be considered a legitimate ruler.

Bin Laden explains further that Mullah Omar’s authority has been accepted by the “scholars” of Afghanistan and, therefore, “it is the duty of everyone to pledge allegiance to him.” The intended contrast with Baghdadi’s claim to power is obvious. Baghdadi has not been widely accepted as the legitimate ruler by leading jihadist “scholars” outside of his own organization in either Iraq or Syria.

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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  • Fred says:

    So they’re rejecting Baghdadi’s claim of the necessity of establishing the caliphate, declaring instead that the time is not yet right and re-affirming their oath of allegiance to the Taliban? Or are they laying the groundwork to declare Mullah Omar the caliph?
    Leaders of Islamic Emirates don’t have to be Quraishi, so far as I know. Only the caliph has this requirement. I don’t see why they feel the need to rationalize his lack of proper bloodline unless they’re preparing to declare him to have this status.
    These arguments are always interesting because they provide a lot of insight into their ideology and how they view their internal structure.

  • Kent Gatewood says:

    Killing bin Laden didn’t settle the score for 9/11. Omar is the Caliph for AQ. He is the Mr. big who has to be executed.
    Pakistan is guarding Omar, and the Pakistanis should be made to give him up.

  • mark says:

    Bill Roggio
    I’ve have written serval observational views on Baghbadi vs Al Qeada about shifting balance of power articles published to LWJ the past few weeks. Namely, those comments posted to:
    Analysis:Al Qeada attempts to undermine Islamic State…
    To summerize the mamluk rise to power is an accepted fact of Islamic history, one packed with some of the greatest chapters of Islamic history.
    This current article, after reading, quite closely reflects my opinion, but requires a between the lines contrarian view to be understood as a core requirement to my intrepidation to Al Qeada’s meaning of its publicly released responces to ISIS aka Islamic States gains in Iraq.
    Call it the art of saying something without saying it. In other words, one point of view is saying Al Qaeda is trying to undermine Baghdadi, another would be to say AQ is trying to call Baghdadi to task.
    Basically OBL old video statement comes down to this… pay you respects by taking and receiving consul, you(Baghdadi) have made impressive gains, but there are larger gains to made, the various emirates have largely operated independantly, with none coming close to what you( Baghdadi) believe can claim, work with them.
    It right there in this article, OBL, says it himself, Quraish decendancy it is not a requirement, since none would claim Omar has this decendancy, yet I OBL would claim his right to Caliph status on basis of what…
    Could that basis simply be that at the time OBL made these statements Omar was the only simpathic ear an OBL lost in the wilderness( as in a Churchillian wilderness) could sound off his deepest desires and plans to.
    Point is, there are a number of personalities in Al Qaeda that desire this glory. Much of what i am implying, is shreaded by belief, that if OBL was alive to day, and if Al Qaeda was victorious over world, new Caliph was on verage of reality, and the only outstanding question was should OBL or Omar lead as Caliph, the rhetorical weight of noble argument these gentlemen islamist engage in would require Omar to wear a blue turban to support his right over OBL.
    Intel analysis can go in circles until it blue in the face, bottom line at the end of day, it comes down to a concenus of thought.
    My hope is that my comments have their day of hearing, and you Bill as a respected memeber of analysis community to ponder my comments weight.
    Note to editor remove the below statements.
    PS After some reflection, Riyadh is the target, i can’t explain openly, it a gut feeling, But if i had a crystal ball, the royal family seat of power as a target is a world game changer

  • Evan says:

    Just throwing this out there buddy, but if you want to really be taken seriously by these analysts and others, like Bill Rogio, it wouldn’t hurt to put more effort into ensuring that your comments are grammatically correct, everything is spelled correctly, and that you’re not rambling.
    Good insights and everything, but the way you’re presenting your arguments could stand some polishing, so to speak.
    Also, it’s fairly obvious that you’re an intelligent person, just don’t try too/so hard man, I know it’s hard cause we get excited and want to put our views out there for all to see, just let it flow, let it come naturally so that it doesn’t sound or seem like you’re reaching.

  • sham says:

    Pledging alliegance to Omar and backing him up against IS is a very clever ploy imo. Omar is a reticent reclusive jihadist leader, who seems more interested in the affairs of afghanistan. He doesn’t have global ambitions like AQ or IS, is well respected by almost all jihadi groups and despite meager resources is the only leader who has the experience of working as an islamic emir in modern times, running a fully “islamic” emirate. The thing is he,s non controversial and is not interested in the bigger power game. He wont even contradict or support this statement, that shows how least he,s bothered about all this. But this can only be temporary.

  • Mueller says:

    Pakistan delegation visits Washington for CSF funds after end of mission to “fight the war on terror.”
    A new editorial suddenly appears? This reeks and says Pakistan all over it.

  • mark says:

    Your input was valued.
    I agree keeping a conversational tone from not sounding like a ramble is differcult. The other difficulty is how to compress ones thoughts into a coherent statements when drawing from a wide breath fields and sources. Such as history, geography, anthropology and psychology to name a few, as for sources I have none other than what read and hear in the media. My main trusted sources for research are Merriam-Webster’s Biigraphical Dictionary 1957 edition ( the wealth of arabic personalities of historical significance is abunant ) and encyclopedia topics.
    I am well read in the classics(mostly penguin press), i’ve read my tour de force of twentieth century tyrrants and statesmen. I have read translations of arabic accounts of Crusades.
    I took the time say these things of myself, to say I have an electic basis from which I approach the communication of my thoughts.
    I’ll give an example.
    When Al Qeada states the West has neither the understanding, nor the temperance of the meaning of Athenian democracy and the Socratic method, I should not have to write a Ph.D dissertation to advance my rhetorical insights.
    Yet, when communicating in realm of anything to do with jihad
    and figh, this classical understanding of politics and rhetoric is central to the thinking to AQ. I am not bound to sacred cows of academics turf, besides if you asked such a scholar to state something pertinent about Israel vs Hamas or Hezbollah for example, I am sure you would get that Ph.D disseration, when a simple rhetorical observation, “What is the mean elevation of West Bank or Golah Heights?”, says far more in explaining the so called peace process since Oslo.
    So here in sit, writting my thoughts, to what end some would ask…
    Well, i am not privy intell on AQ, yet when As Sahab, releases an old video of OBL in current context, do not ask me how I came to opinion that a reference to Mullah Omar’s relationship with OBL could mean he was trusted with guarding something of importance to AQ, I just pulled it out of thin air. Yet at same time I also know “operational blindness” sometimes clouds analysis.
    I did once say, “come tomorrow the world will come to understand whether buildings or people are stronger, on Sept 10th 2001 in discussion on yahoo ipConflict board under username Publius36.
    My point is this, I don’t know why or how I am making these connections, they are just strong, vivid thoughts. And, I am sharing them for what they worth.

  • raus says:



Islamic state



Al shabaab

Boko Haram