Al-Qaeda lauds Taliban’s great ‘victory’ over America and allies

Al-Qaeda continues to praise Taliban founder Mullah Omar, calling him the “Emir of the Believers,” a title given to his successors as well.

Al-Qaeda’s general command (or senior leadership) has released a threepage statement praising the Taliban’s “great victory” over America and its allies in Afghanistan. This triumph was enshrined in the Feb. 29 withdrawal accord signed in Doha, according to the jihadists.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claims the Taliban agreed to “break” with al-Qaeda, while helping the U.S. to “destroy” Ayman al-Zawahiri’s organization in Afghanistan. The text of the written agreement doesn’t not call for that. Instead, the Taliban has supposedly agreed to prevent al-Qaeda and others from using Afghan soil to plot attacks against the U.S. and its allies — a promise the group has long made, but failed to keep. The Taliban’s political delegation also agreed to three provisions stipulating that the group would prevent terrorists who threaten the U.S. from operating inside Afghanistan. But the terms of those same provisions are vague, while no verification or enforcement mechanisms are set forth in the text released late last month.

Al-Qaeda’s new statement doesn’t indicate that a real break is forthcoming. The group continues to refer to Haibatullah Akhunzada, the Taliban’s top leader, as the “Emir of the Faithful” — an honorific implying that Akhunzada could one day rule as a caliph for all Muslims. Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda’s global emir, has sworn his own personal fealty to Akhunzada. Thus far, Akhundzada has not disavowed Zawahiri’s oath of loyalty (bayat).

Moreover, al-Qaeda calls on all Afghans and mujahideen to bolster the Taliban’s Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan — a totalitarian regime the jihadists have been fighting to resurrect since 2001.

Mullah Omar’s promise

In its new statement, Al-Qaeda’s general command reminds readers of Mullah Omar’s defiance in the face of American pressure in late 2001. Al-Qaeda’s senior leadership says Allah has fulfilled the word of the “Emir of the Believers Mullah Muhammad Omar,” who said: “Allah has promised us victory, and Bush has promised us defeat. The world will see which of these promises will be fulfilled.” (Al-Qaeda has used versions of this quote in its messaging previously.)

The statement’s authors continue by praising Allah for showing the “entire world” the Taliban’s “historic victory,” with the U.S. being forced “to withdraw its occupation” forces from Afghanistan. The U.S. was made to “accept the demands” of the mujahideen in the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan by signing an agreement to “end the occupation and withdraw all occupation” forces from Afghanistan. 

Al-Qaeda’s general command sends its “congratulations” to the current “Emir of the Believers,” Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada, as well as all of his “brethren among the mujahideen” of the Islamic Emirate. The authors also extend their congratulations to the Afghan people and the entire “victorious” unmah (global community of Muslims), saying America and its allies have been vanquished in a “humiliating defeat.”

The statement includes several references to the fact that the withdrawal agreement was signed by a “Republican” administration in the U.S.  Allah supposedly waited to confirm the mujahideen’s victory until during the time of the “Republican Trump administration,” which is allegedly known for its hatred of “Islam and the Muslims.”

Al-Qaeda crows that the U.S., with its superior military, aircraft and equipment, was still defeated by a “small number of stalwart believers” over the course three successive presidential administrations.

Calls to support the Taliban’s Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan

Ayman al-Zawahiri and his comrades in al-Qaeda’s general command call on all “scholars,” wealthy donors, and others “to support the Islamic Emirate” in its quest to found a “nation of Islam ruled by the noble sharia of Allah.” 

Muslims “brothers” elsewhere should “emulate” the Islamic Emirate and the Afghan people, al-Qaeda advises, because “there is no path to liberation” from foreign tyranny and oppression except through the “noble sharia of Allah” and obedience to him. Al-Qaeda’s general command says Muslims should “unite on the word of monotheism,” while waging a “true jihad for Allah.” 

Addressing the “honorable people of Afghanistan,” al-Qaeda’s general command advises everyone to unite under “the word of monotheism” and the “wise” leaders of Islamic Emirate, while also obeying the Taliban’s top men. Together, the people should serve a “just Islamic regime” that is ruled according to Islamic law and avoid “internal division.” The people should devote all of their efforts to “building and developing the Muslim land of Afghanistan,” which “has been violated” by decades of war. 

Addressing the “mujahideen in proud Afghanistan,” Al-Qaeda’s senior leadership reminds them that all are ethically bound by the withdrawal agreement with the U.S., as only the “Crusaders and their agents” are allegedly in the “habit” of breaching accords. The mujahideen should be “careful” and “hold onto” their weapons, because the “infidels” are looking to attack.

Al-Qaeda’s call for all to abide by the agreement between the U.S. and the Taliban obviously cuts against the idea that the Taliban is going to vanquish al-Qaeda from Afghanistan, as Secretary Pompeo claims.

Furthermore, al-Qaeda’s senior men advise people to “join the training camps under the leadership of the Islamic Emirate,” and learn from “the people of religion” wherever they are found.

Towards the end of the statement, al-Qaeda’s general command says its “advice” is the same as the “advice of the Emir of the Believers Haibatullah Akhundzada,” who released a victory message after the withdrawal agreement was signed. In short, the Afghan people and mujahideen should be thankful for their “decisive victory,” while remaining humble. 

The “mujahideen of the Islamic Emirate should” make efforts to more tightly “organize their ranks,” so that they can grow in power and achieve their “ultimate goal,” which is the establishment of an “Islamic regime” capable of serving the interests of the people and protecting them against all possible dangers. 

The statement concludes with a prayer for Allah to “guide” all of “our people” in Afghanistan, Palestine, the Islamic Maghreb, East Africa, the Levant, and all of the Muslim lands elsewhere. 

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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