On Nov. 25, the Taliban released the seventh episode in its “Badri Army” series. As in past installments, the video highlights the organization’s operations throughout Afghanistan, glorifying the sacrifices made by its “martyrdom seekers.”
The most noteworthy aspect of the video is the extensive praise given to Jalaluddin Haqqani – a legendary jihadist who was one of Osama bin Laden’s earliest and most important allies. Haqqani’s eponymous network is an integral part of the Taliban. For instance, Sirajuddin Haqqani (Jalaluddin’s son), has served as the Taliban’s #2, or deputy emir, since 2015. In that role, Sirajuddin oversees much of the Taliban’s warfighting.
The “Badri Army 07” video was produced by Manba’ Al-Jihad Media – the Haqqanis’ main propaganda arm, which was integrated into the Taliban’s media shop years ago. The production includes archival footage of the elderly Haqqani encouraging his followers to wage jihad, as well as eulogies from prominent ideologues.
Haibatullah Akhundzada, the Taliban’s top leader, gives his condolences to the Haqqani family.
Hani al-Sibai, an Egyptian jihadist living in the UK, offers high praise for Haqqani. Interestingly, so do two jihadists living in Syria: Dr. Abdullah al-Muhaysini and Sheikh Muslih al-Ulyani. The Taliban’s decision to include Sibai, Muhaysini and Ulyani underscores Haqqani’s influence on jihadism around the globe.
Sibai is a pro-al Qaeda figure who has long been one of Ayman al-Zawahiri’s compatriots. Muhaysini claims to be “independent,” but as FDD’s Long War Journal has repeatedly assessed, that is likely false. Muhaysini has ties to al Qaeda’s network.
Archival footage of Jalaluddin Haqqani
Jalaluddin Haqqani had not appeared in the Taliban’s publicly-available media in years. So the Taliban’s media men reached back into their archives for scenes of Haqqani speaking with his followers.
In one clip, Haqqani criticized anyone who “says that today the jihad has finished and it is nothing but [the] shedding [of] blood and killing brothers and that there is no disbelief in our land.” These people “are in fact our enemies,” he claims, explaining that they have contradicted the teachings of the Quran and Islam’s scholars. “They are not our allies, we are waging jihad against these disbelievers based on the Commandments of Allah SWT and the teachings of the final Messenger PBUH,” Haqqani said.
In another piece of footage, Haqqani stressed the importance of waging jihad in order to install sharia, or Islamic law.
“Not a single Mujahid will even shoot a single bullet if it is not for the supremacy of the Word and Shari’ah of Allah SWT,” Haqqani said. Moreover, “this war (jihad) will continue even if America or the rest of the governments of [the] world tries to stop it.”
In another clip, Haqqani explained that he fought for religious reasons. “I have personally faced death twenty times in different places,” Haqqani said. “Therefore, by Allah I did not wage this jihad for achieving leadership. Neither have I fought for taking revenge. Nor did I fight because America, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia or any other government or leader forced me to do so, rather I am waging this jihad only for the sake of Allah SWT based on the Islamic creed.”
That last part seems a bit defensive. It is well known that Haqqani and his men received substantial assistance from the America-Pakistan-Saudi alliance during the 1980s jihad against the Soviets in Afghanistan. Pakistan has continued to harbor and back the Haqqani Network in the years since. But in Haqqani’s telling, this state sponsorship was secondary to his ideological commitment.
The Haqqani Network has conducted some of Afghanistan’s most devastating suicide attacks. Such “martyrdom” operations were completely legitimate in Jalaluddin Haqqani’s view. “Sacrificing one’s self in the path of Allah SWT is in fact like a soul for all the other acts of worship,” Haqqani said. “All the other acts of worship will only thrive in a region or country if jihad is alive in that region or country.”
Haqqani’s words are spliced together with various images and commentary. The video’s narrator describes him as a “mountain of resistance against Communism” and the “Crusaders.”
At one point, various photos of the notorious chieftain are arranged onscreen in the shape of a heart (seen above). It is well-known that Haqqani lost multiple family members along the way, including several sons. Some of them are honored in the Taliban’s video, including: Nasiruddin Haqqani, Badruddin Haqqani, Mohammad Haqqani and Omar Haqqani.
Taliban’s overall leader offers condolences
Haibatullah Akhundzada, who became the Taliban’s top leader in 2016, offered his own short statement in remembrance of Haqqani.
“It is of great regret to hear that one of the sincere and determined jihadist leader[s], scholar and jihadist personality of the Muslims has departed from the perishable world to the eternal world,” Akhundzada said. “Indeed, we belong to Allah, and indeed, to Him we will return.”
“First of all, I send my deepest condolences regarding the departure of the honorable late Haqqani Sahib to his family, particularly his honorable brothers, Ibrahim and Haji Khalil Rahman, similarly to the Deputy of the Islamic Emirate, honorable Khalifa Sahib Sirajuddin Haqqani, [as well as] all the distinguished members of his family and relatives,” Akhundzada said.
Hani al-Sibai remembers Haqqani as a great “reviver”
The Egyptian jihadi ideologue Hani al-Sibai is openly pro-al Qaeda. He sided with al Qaeda in its dispute with the Islamic State. In 2014, Sibai publicly joined a group of ideologues in calling upon Ayman al-Zawahiri to comment on the disagreement in more detail. Zawahiri holds Sibai, and the others, in such high regard that he obliged, issuing another statement on the so-called caliphate after he had already addressed the matter. Sibai’s lectures and teachings are often referenced in the literature of al Qaeda’s branches and affiliated groups.
“It is none other than our Sheikh Moulvi Jalaluddin Haqqani who is from among the great personalities of the Muslim Ummah,” Sibai said. “And without any dispute, he is from among the revivers of our time. It was this very great personality who spent his entire life in successively kneeling down [sic] the two superpowers.”
The term “reviver” is an especially strong honorific. Al Qaeda’s followers refer to Osama bin Laden as the “reviving sheikh,” as he is credited with convincing many Muslims of the necessity of waging jihad. Thus, Sibai’s praise of Haqqani is in the same vein.
Two jihadist ideologues in Syria honor Haqqani
The Taliban’s video also includes short eulogies from two jihadist clerics in Syria. The first is Dr. Abdullah al-Muhaysini, a Saudi who relocated to Syria. Muhaysini has been designated as a terrorist by the US government, which noted that he had advised Al Nusrah Front, al Qaeda’s official branch in Syria until July 2016. Muhaysini has other ties to al Qaeda’s global network. He has been featured in Taliban messaging in the past as well.
“Today, the Ummah is grieved by the loss of a great man, who spent his long life in the defense of the oppressed and in the fight against the invaders,” Muhaysini said. “Both friends and foes are witness to his knowledge, wisdom, understanding and success in both jihad and trials. This was none other than the divine scholar and jihadist leader, Jalaluddin Haqqani.”
Sheikh Muslih al-Ulyani is the second jihadist ideologue in Syria who praises Haqqani. Ulyani, Muhaysini and a third cleric, Sirajuddin Zurayqat, have set up a fatwa committee to issue religious advice. (Zurayqat was once a spokesman for the Abdullah Azzam Brigades, an al Qaeda-linked group in Lebanon. It appears that he is operating in Syria. At a minimum, he is part of the same Syria-focused sharia body as Muhaysini and Ulyani.)
“One of the mountains of Islam has fallen – a brave lion of Islam and jihad from the braves of Afghan[istan],” Ulyani said. “He was a person of knowledge and education, who stood firm from the days of the jihad against the Soviet Union until this very day and did not hesitate from sacrificing anything in the service of Islam and Muslims. We ask Allah SWT to reward him, accept his knowledge and jihad, dwell him in the highest paradise and bestow the Islamic Ummah with similar men who will follow [in] his footsteps.”
Muhaysini and Ulyani are not the only jihadis in Syria who have eulogized Haqqani. As FDD’s Long War Journal previously reported, groups such as “Guardians of the Religion” and Ansar al-Din have as well.
The “martyrdom seekers” praise Haqqani, dismiss President Trump’s strategy
After the portion honoring Jalaluddin Haqqani, the Taliban’s video focuses on the operations conducted by the group’s “martyrdom seekers,” especially a suicide assault on a “military and intelligence complex” in Paktia province. Some of the jihadists are seen wearing shirts that read, in English, “Quick Assault Team.”
These “martyrdom seekers” make it clear that they are fighting for religious reasons.
One of them, a man known as Obaidullah Ahmad, criticizes those who are fighting on behalf of the Afghan government and its American allies. “You are a people who seek honor in alliance with the disbelief. But you will never be honorable. Do not be deceived by [the] new futile strategy of the disbelieving Trump,” Ahmad said into the camera. “This so-called strategy will neither save you (from the Mujahideen) nor will it save you from the accountability of the oppressed people of Afghanistan.”
Ahmad swore that the Taliban will continue to wage jihad against the Afghan government’s security forces until the jihadists “kick out” their “masters” (meaning America), and then “destroy [the] tyrannical system and implement sacred Islamic Sharia instead.”
That is, the “martyrdom seekers” are fighting for the restoration of the Taliban’s Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan — a cause that Jalaluddin Haqqani served from the mid-1990s until his death.
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