Senior al Qaeda official praises Taliban’s ‘victory’ in Afghanistan

Asim Umar, a senior al Qaeda official, has released a lengthy statement praising the Taliban’s “victory” in Afghanistan. He claims that America’s “defeat” proves that its superior technology is no match for the jihadists’ faith, adding that America’s army no longer wants to fight.

Umar has served as the emir of Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS), but it appears he may no longer hold that title. In another recent message, AQIS identified Usama Mahmood as its overall commander. Mahmood was previously the group’s spokesman and likely had other responsibilities within the group as well.

However, while Umar’s current position isn’t clear, he is obviously still a senior figure within al Qaeda. Umar’s new message, titled “And on that day the believers will rejoice,” was released by As Sahab earlier today to mark the occasion of Eid–ul–Fitr. As Sahab, which is the media arm for both al Qaeda’s senior leadership and AQIS, produced versions of Umar’s statement in Arabic, English and Urdu. The English-language transcript can be read here.

“May Allah make the victories of The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan a source of bringing back the honor and dignity of the Ummah,” Umar says at the beginning of his message. “We on behalf of the sub-continent …give congratulations for these victories to Amir-ul-Momineen, Sheikh Hibatullah Akhundzada, Sheikh Ayman al-Zawahiri and the leaders of the Mujahidin and the Mujahidin present in the fields of Jihad all-around the world.”

Akhundzada is the emir of the Taliban, which refers to itself as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. Both the Taliban and al Qaeda refer to Akhundzada as the “Amir-ul-Momineen,” or the “Amir of the Faithful,” a title usually reserved for a Muslim caliph.

Umar accuses President George W. Bush of declaring war on the entire worldwide community of Muslims – the ummah — after the “heroic attacks of September 11.” The al Qaeda man relies on an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory, portraying the Jews as being in control of the US.

“The arrogant, Jewish slave [Bush] said that we will not tire, we will not falter and we will not fail,” Umar says. But only the “ones who believed in material means of this world immediately believed this,” while also believing that there is “no place for Jihad anymore” and governance under sharia was finished. The true believers fought on, Umar argues, believing that Allah would lead them to better days.

Umar claims that the “American invasion in Afghanistan” fulfills “one of the promises of Allah,” because “He humiliates the powerful by the hands of weak and empty-handed Muslims.”

“Today, after 18 years, the promise of Allah” has been kept, Umar says. Whereas America once threatened war, it is now “begging for ceasefire.” Umar asks, rhetorically, where America’s “naval frigates,” drones, and bombers have gone. All of this technology has failed to defeat the jihadists.

“But the Sunnah of my Allah remains unchanged even in this era of technology,” Umar says. “When Allah punishes the arrogant, He does it when they are at their climax of advancement, when they, intoxicated in the pride of their supremacy, declare themselves god.”

“The victory of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan is glad tidings for the Muslim Ummah, as Allah Almighty has exhausted its biggest enemy through these Jihadi assaults to the extent that the Super power’s army has refused to fight anymore,” Umar claims.

The Taliban’s Islamic Emirate once looked liked it was finished, Umar explains, as its “entire assets were robbed” and “most of the leaders were either in jail or were martyred.” Moreover, the jihadists, with their Kalashnikovs and other crude weapons (including “axes”), appeared to be hopelessly outgunned. Yet, the “sons of Muhammad” fought on.

Umar recounts some stories that supposedly demonstrate the power of the devout. For instance, he claims that three jihadists were killed by an American drone as they attempted to plant a mine. This did not dissuade a fourth man from taking their place and successfully detonating the explosive under an American convoy. The entire episode could be apocryphal, but Umar uses the tale to claim that the jihadists’ faith can overcome America’s superior technical prowess.

The “American defeat and victory of the Islamic Emirate in Afghanistan is victory of the whole Ummah,” Umar claims. “For the weak and oppressed these are the glad tidings of a new beginning.” Umar tells Islamic scholars and students that the Afghan war has taught them that they “should not bow in front of any power.”

Umar cites the example of the jihadists’ original “”Amir-ul-Momineen,” Mullah Mohammad Omar, the first Taliban leader. Omar “did not bow in front of anyone, rather alone he waged war against the Infidel powers to save one Muslim, to save Islamic honor and its dignity.” The “one Muslim” is, of course, Osama bin Laden, whom Omar refused to turn over even after the 9/11 hijackings.

Praises Taliban’s “unity” in the face of the “fitnah” caused by the Islamic State

Umar says the Islamic Emirate’s “victories” are “a model for mujahidin that the success of Jihad is embedded in unity and alliance.” He contrasts this with the Islamic State’s divide and conquer strategy, which has pitted jihadists against one another. “If there is no unity then a war you almost won can be stabbed in the back like in Iraq and Levant” and the “fruits of Jihad can be lost,” Umar says. “Otherwise,” he warns, a “Caliphate can be slaughtered in the name of Jihad and Caliphate” — meaning that the effort to resurrect an Islamic empire can be compromised by those supposedly fighting for the same cause.

Umar makes it clear that he is talking about Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s Islamic State. “There are great lessons in the victories of Islamic Emirate for those who got stuck in ISIS in the name of Jihad and are today a puppet in the hands of International powers,” Umar says. He elaborates, claiming that the Islamic State is working to undermine the Taliban’s Islamic Emirate. “They are weakening the global jihad in the name of jihad and Caliphate,” Umar argues. “They should understand that these powers intend to use the formula they used in Iraq and Levant against the Islamic Emirate… to stab the Ummah in the back with the ISIS dagger, the stage is being set in Nangarhar Province.”

Umar relies on another conspiracy theory when recounting the dangers of ISIS to the jihadists’ cause. He portrays ISIS as a tool of the US and its allies.

“Preparations have been made to slaughter Caliphate in the name of caliphate,” Umar says. “People are being brought in planes from Syria to Herat province in the name of ISIS and are being transferred from Herat to Nangarhar province in American helicopters.”

Addressing those “in ISIS ranks who consider themselves devoted and dedicated,” Umar advises that they “contemplate the conspiracy in Afghanistan after Iraq and Levant.” He asks, “who will ISIS wage Jihad against in Afghanistan after America has been defeated?” Umar claims that ISIS is “being strengthened in Nangarhar” even as America prepares for withdrawal, and repeats the claim that “American helicopters” are bringing reinforcements to ISIS. He argues that this is just what happened in Syria, where the Islamic State’s jihad “was against the mujahidin.” And as the “mujahidin kept conquering land from Nusairis [the Assad regime]…ISIS kept snatching it from them.” The “result” of the Islamic State’s war on the jihadists “is in front of everyone,” Umar claims.

He asks: “Will this kind of Jihad be done in Afghanistan? Will Ummah’s victorious war be auctioned to the International Infidel powers again?”

Umar concludes by asking Allah to “give the Islamic Emirate steadfastness” to “protect it from fitnah of ISIS” — meaning the strife within the global jihadist movement caused by Baghdadi’s men. Umar describes ISIS’s rise and its subsequent actions as the “most difficult and deadly fitnah for jihad and mujahidin during these forty years of Jihad.”

The al Qaeda leader asks Allah to grant the jihadists victory in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Levant, and to “end this ISIS fitnah forever which has stabbed Jihad and Caliphate in the back.”

And Umar hopes that the Taliban’s Islamic Emirate is victorious over not just America, but ISIS as well.

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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