Ibn al-Siqilli gave me a heads up that the new Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) video, which falls into their ‘Shade/Shadow of Swords’ series, features excerpted footage of Abu Yahya al-Libi as well as Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
Specifically, the AQIM’s new media group, Al-Andalus Establishment for Media Production, distributed by Al-Fajr Media, put out a new video 2 days ago entitled, entitled, “Attacking Ziama Mansouria.” The video covers an attacks on Algerian army barracks in the town of Ziama Mansouria.
Like other AQIM videos, this one relies not just on ‘the proof is in the pudding’ video footage of things blowing up, but on ‘kiss-the-ring’ narratives. Sometimes these include ‘shout-outs’ to Lord Vader and the gang back on the Deathstar. Other times, they feature cameo excerpts. It’s curious to me that this video relies on excerpted footage from just Abu Yahya and Al-Zarqawi.
Abu Yahya is quoted from his recent Eid al-Fitr khutba saying,
“O brothers, nothing will work in this era except the two swords: the sword of Umar that killed the man who rejected God’s ruling, and the sword of Abu Bakr, by which he led his companions to the battlefield in order to fight those who stopped paying the alms. Nothing will work with those groups that reject applying the ruling of Almighty God, not begging, not humiliation, and not flexibility. The only thing that will work is fighting, patience, and perseverance until God judges between us, for God is the best to judge.”
Good quote to choose – but lest we forget that they had nearly 40 minutes of possible quotes to pull from in that khutba and that’s what they chose. This isn’t random – we should pay much better attention to when a regional command cites a High-Command figure and, more importantly, what it is they choose to quote.
Then AQIM quotes Abu Musab al-Zarqawi:
“O mujahidin, jihad is a venue through which God eases sorrow and worries, and paradise lies under the shadow of the swords. God has opened the doors of paradise for you, and brought forth your enemy to open the jihad market for you. May God have mercy on Ibn al-Qayyim, [a distinguished Muslim scholar who lived in the second century after the Prophet] who said, ‘God allows wars to take place so that he can choose the martyrs from amongst you.’ Or as he said [...] And the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad, peace and prayers of God be upon him said, ‘I swear by the one who holds my soul in His hands, I will fight them to prove my case until my head splits from my body, and let God have his will.’ So, know that your struggle is ongoing, and your fight will continue until God clears the clouds and removes the oppression from the nation.”
Later in the video, al-Zarqawi is quoted again:
O descendants of Sa’d, Al-Muthannah, Khalid, and Abu-Ubaydah…O lions, and knights of the battlefield, defend your faith and guard your honor, draw your swords and fight for the sake of your religion with reliance on God. And think of Khalid, may the blessings of God be upon him, when he addressed his soldiers in the battlefield, saying: ‘O people of Islam, strike without mercy, strike without mercy, and attack them, for if you fight them relying on God, and for God, they will not be able to withstand you for an hour.”
Followed by a second Abu Yahya al-Libi quote:
God Almighty said: ‘Allah hath purchased of the believers their persons and their goods’ [Koranic verse, Al-Tawbah, 9:111]. In return for what? ‘For theirs (in return) is the garden (of paradise)’ [Koranic verse, Al-Tawbah, 9:111] so that they will be rewarded with paradise in return for their lives. Brothers, think of this deal. These souls that God Almighty ‘buys’ from us were created by Him, and he will return it to you and with the garden [of paradise] that is as broad as heaven and earth. He only wants from you to prove the truthfulness of your love for God Almighty. He only wants from you to prove, what? To prove your truthfulness in surrendering the commodity that He asked you for. A commodity that God Almighty does not need.”
Again, this isn’t that profound that AQIM is citing other AQ figures. It’s that I’m using this video as a vehicle to point out this bigger trend that has gone moreless unstudied in our community. Just for some quick historical context of the trend, remember that:
In June 2007, AQIM emir, Abd al-Wadud mentioned in a speech:
“Before I end this message, I would like to convey my warmest salutation to the groups of mujahidin in the land of Palestine and to the knights who are united in the land of Afghanistan, to our amir and the amir of the believers Abu Abdullah Usama Bin Ladin, to Mullah Mohammad Omar, our shaykh and beloved Dr. Ahmad Al-Zawahiri, our shaykh Abu Yahya al-Libi and their brothers.
Commander Mukhtar Abu al-Zubayr, from al-Shabaab put out a message in June 2008, where he kisses the following rings:
“Greetings to Mullah Muhammad Omar, the emir of the believers, who patiently has endured for the sake of God. Greetings to the mujahid Usama Bin Ladin, our shaykh and amir, and greetings to Shaykh Ayman al-Zawahiri, our steadfast veteran shaykh who has lived for jihad by jihad, and greetings to Shaykh Abu Yahya al-Libi, who revived the Al-Usra Army, and whose words have had a stronger impact than 1,000 jihadist soldiers in your brothers’ battle against the global Crusade. May God reward him.”
That’s some pretty heavy petting he gives Abu Yahya al-Libi, no? Check out Shaykh Abu Ubaydah Yusuf’s message in October 2008, where he ring kisses:
May God salute the Emir of the believers Mullah Muhammad Omar. May God protect him and may he turn him into a lump in the throats of his enemies. May God salute his good companions and soldiers. I direct a special salute to the beloved immigrants, the Arab mujahidin, and others who joined under the banner of their brothers the Taliban in response to the order of God and to anger the enemies of God and at their head our beloved emir and respected Shaykh Abu Abdullah Usama bin Ladin and to the doctor of the ummah, Shaykh al-Zawahiri and to the speaker of the mujahidin Abu Yahya al-Libi.
In Jan 09, Al-Furqan (the media group for the Islamic State of Iraq) cameo’d Abu Yahya al-Libi, excerpting the following quote:
“America’s nose will be mired in the dust. America will be humiliated like the empires before it were humiliated. It is God’s religion; it is the religion of the One”
And in April 2009, AQIM gave a long excerpt to Abu Yahya quoting him as saying:
This is how we should deal with any idol worshipped instead of God. It must be crushed. It must be destroyed; i ncluding those in it. Are not they idols worshipped instead of God? This is the Sunnah of our father Abraham. Nobody should disapprove us when we blow up a parliament that enforces laws in conflict with God’s Shari’ah since we are following the Sunnah of Abraham. When we crush the building of the United Nations, we are following the Sunnah of Abraham. When we crush the building of the Security Council; the council of terrorism and fear, we are following the Sunnah of Abraham. This is the Sunnah of Abraham that we follow. As for those who follow the international legitimacy, follow your religion and we will follow ours. As for those who follow the laws of the Security Council, follow your religion and we will follow ours. As for those who follow the resolutions of the international community, follow your religion and we will follow ours. As to us, we will follow the Sunnah of Abraham.”
I have all sorts of questions regarding whether the regional groups need to run this up the flagpole before they use it (some sort of jihadi right-to-usage policy), who selects the quotes to use, when/how groups choose whom to excerpt. But this would make a much better dissertation topic (hint hint grad students out there!!) than it would a blog post.
Then there’s the whole question of when we actually see real cameo appearances, like how Mustafa Abu al-Yazid and Abu Yahya al-Libi have been doing for some of the Central Asian dudes (IJU).
Anyway, point is – who cites whom how, when and where matters – we should really pay a lot closer attention to proverbial ring-kissing in Al-Qaida.