The Announcement of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on April 2, 2014

Al-Qaeda expelled the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) from its ranks on February 3, 2014. This was the culmination of a dispute that broke into the public eye with ISIS’s declaration in April 2013, an effort by ISIS’s emir, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, to formally subsume the secret Syrian wing of the then-Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), known as Jabhat an-Nusra, under his own banner, and the rejection of both al-Nusra’s leadership and al-Qaeda’s to this move. In truth, the schism between ISIS and al-Qaeda has its roots all the way back to the beginning, when ISIS became al-Qaeda’s Iraqi branch, al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia (AQM), in 2004.

Below is the transcript of the audio address by al-Baghdadi, released by al-Furqan on 8 April 2013, entitled, “Give Good News to the Believers: The Declaration of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria”. Some transliterations have been altered, the syntax has been cleared up, and some interesting or important sections highlighted in bold.


“O you who believe, fear God with the care which is due to Him, and do not die unless you are Muslims. And hold fast to the covenant of God and do not become divided. And remember the favour of God upon you when you were enemies, then He united your hearts so by His favour you became brethren. You were on the brink of a pit of fire, then He saved you from it. Thus, does God make clear to you His verses that you may be guided the right way. And from among you there should be a party [that arises] who invite good, enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong, and these it is that shall be successful. Be not like those who became divided and disagreed after the clear proofs had been brought to them; these it is that shall have a grievous punishment” [Ali Imran: 102-5].


We send a glad tiding to the Islamic umma [(Muslim) community or nation] in the midst of the events which we were established in it and for it, Alhamdulillah [praise be to God] and support and success is from Him, so I say seeking assistance from God Almighty:

Ascending from a lower level to a higher level is from the graces of God Almighty on the jihadi groups, and it is a proof for their blessed work, as decline and retreat is a proof for a malady; we seek refuge with God.

And the high levels aren’t so except by the grace of the level or levels that preceded it because it is the paver and grader, and this ascending is only thought by who is given a great deal of searching for the stances which please God Almighty so he goes to it quickly, and this ascending is only thought by who is given by God Almighty farsightedness and knowledge of public interests and what the umma is waiting from the mujahideen for the sake God Almighty. This ascending is only thought by whom God Almighty gave him the knowledge of the stances which enrage the kuffar [unbelievers] and apostates.

The Almighty says: “Nor do they tread a path which enrages the unbelievers, nor do they attain from the enemy what they attain, but a good work is written down to them on account of it; surely God does not waste the reward of the doers of good” [At-Tawbah: 120].

The Messenger (peace and blessings of God be upon him) was keen to enrage the polytheists of Mecca, so he kept the she-camel which he took as ghanima [war booty] in the Ghazwa [Battle] of Badr to the sixth year after the blessed hijra [migration from Mecca to Medina in 622], to take it to Mecca to slaughter it as an offering to God Almighty, and that she-camel was known to the people of Mecca that it was owned by Abu Jahl, Ibn Qayyim—rahimahullah [God have mercy on him]—said in Zad al-Ma’ad:

“And from the fiqh [jurisprudence] benefits from the treaty of Hudaybiya is that the prophet peace and blessings of God be upon him offered among his offerings a camel that belonged to Abu Jahl, which had a silver caryopsis in his nose to enrage the polytheists”. End of his words, rahimahullah.

This ascending, superiority and sublimation needs that we overcome our feelings and minds because it is a shari’a demand, and the shari’a has a priority over both of them.

The names of the jihadi groups aren’t names revealed from the sky or names of tribes or clans which cannot be abandoned or changed or replaced, rather they are names that were founded due to the legitimate necessity, and the supreme legitimate necessity permits to cancel and replace it with others to be at the level of growth and sublimity.

This ascending needs new names that carry the fragrant of Islam in its expansion and extending and spreading for the umma to carry the hope of returning.

New names require forgetting the previous names, despite our sympathy with them, and it was so in the jihad of Iraq. Our previous shaykhs—may God Almighty accept them—have been assisted by God Almighty to take the jihad forward. The mujahid Shaykh Abu Musab al-Zarqawi [real name: Ahmad al-Khalayleh]—may God accept him—was given success by God to inflict severe losses on the enemies of God Almighty among the kuffar and apostates, and beside that blessed work he worked to unite those in whom he saw goodness, righteousness, and sincerity in supporting the religion of God Almighty.

So he declared in Iraq the name, “[Jama’at] al-Tawhid wal-Jihad [The Group of Monotheism and Holy War],” and the hearts got attached to that name, and the eyes looked at that group and its work, and the ears heard its news. And after that group had a presence in the media and battlefield, the shaykh moved to a superior location and higher level and gave bay’a [a pledge of allegiance] to the mujahid emir of Tandheem Qaedat al-Jihad,[1] Shaykh Usama bin Ladin (may God accept him).

And I have been told by those who heard from the Shaykh Abu Musab: “When I gave bay’a to Shaykh Usama, I swear by God I didn’t need from him money or weapons or men, but I saw in him a symbol for the umma to support the religion of God Almighty, so I placed myself under his command”.

So, the blessed bay’a to Tandheem Qaedat al-Jihad happened.

A requirement of this transfer was changing the name of “al-Tawhid wal-Jihad,” with which the jihad in Iraq was associated, and despite seeking the pleasure of God Almighty and sublimation and superiority and enraging the enemies of God, it was hard for those who established and belonged to it to give up the name “al-Tawhid wal-Jihad,” since it was the name of the group established by Shaykh al-Zarqawi in the land of the Afghans in the mid-nineties of the past century.

The hearts that associated that name with jihad for the sake of God responded to that blessed expansion from the circle of Iraq to be associated to the global jihad circle, and the jihad in Iraq became associated to the supreme new name Tanzim Qaedat al-Jihad fi Bilad al-Rafidayn.[2] When Shaykh Abu Musab—may God accept him—gave bay’a to Tandheem Qaedat al-Jihad, he knew how much this bay’a will cost ahl al-sunna [the Sunnis] in Iraq, and how much it will it cost his mujahid sons and brothers, but pleasing God Almighty was above all human assessments, so God sufficed him the needs of the people.

Our mother Aisha (may God be pleased with her) said: “I heard the Messenger of God (peace and blessings of God be upon him) say: ‘Whoever seeks God’s pleasure by the people’s wrath, God will suffice him from the people. And who ever seeks the people’s pleasure by God’s wrath, God will entrust him to the people” (Narrated by Tirmidhi rahimahullah).

But the high spirits were still searching to ascend the jihad to the places where God Almighty loves to gain his contentment and enrage His enemies, so the shaykh extended his hand to the working groups in the arena, which hold the [correct] aqeedah [creed or ideology] of ahl al-sunna wal-jama’a,[3] and laid on them the condition that they not abandon arms, no matter what the nature of the taghuti[4] government that will be formed, until God decides between us and them with the truth, or we are killed before that.

And the emirs of those groups responded to the call of the shaykh. There was an agreement, and there was a determination so there was a new formation and a new name al-Majlis Shura al-Mujahideen[5] and the group abandoned the name “al-Qaeda,” which had terrorized the enemies of God, has global resonance, and is associated to the name of the mujahid shaykh Usama bin Ladin (may God accept him). Also, the other groups gave up their names—may God give them the best reward—for the sake of Muslim unity and God Almighty, for whose sake they are fighting. The ascent of the group was interrupted when the mujahid shaykh Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was graced with martyrdom by God Almighty, after he had infused the manhaj [methodology] of superiority for the pleasure of God in the hearts of those whom he left as commanders and emirs, so they resumed the march in his blessed footsteps. The mujahid shaykh Abu Umar al-Baghdadi [real name: Hamid al-Zawi] and his war minister, the mujahid shaykh Abu Hamza al-Muhajir [real name: Abdul Munim al-Badawi], may God accept them, began a new stage and blessed step with the assistance of their brothers and the support of the good sons of the tribes and their shaykhs. The result of that was the Islamic State of Iraq, Alhamdulillah.

After that the name of Mujahideen Shura Council faded away and disappeared. It is the vision of the senior shaykhs who are concerned about uniting the ranks of the mujahideen and inflicting severe losses in the enemies of the religion to raise the clear tawhid [monotheism] to seek to expand the arenas of dar al-Islam [the abodes of Islam] to clash with the enemies of God. So, let Shaykh al-Zarqawi be tranquil in his grave, since the road which he walked, and whose features he set and guided, is walked by those who came after him who are following his tracks, inshallah [God willing].

We have been left by those who preceded us from among our shaykhs on a road where we can only walk in their blessed footsteps since they have drawn for us a way that doesn’t recognize borders and sketched for us a methodology that doesn’t belong to a nation or race, and its journey of ascending doesn’t stop. As for Iraq, they [al-Zarqawi’s successors] continued the journey of ascending by their declaration of the Islamic State and as for Al-Sham [Syria] they have formed cells that are limited for preparation and aid, awaiting the chance to continue the journey of ascending [through the levels of jihad], which has to continue.

When the situation in Syria reached the point of bloodshed and violating honour, and the people of Syria called for help, and the people of earth abandoned them, we were obliged to rise up to support them. We deputized [Abu Muhammad] al-Jolani, who is one of our soldiers, with a group of our sons, and pushed them from Iraq to Syria to meet with our cells in Syria and set for them the plans and drew for them the policy of work, supplied them with half of what is in the treasury every month, and supplied them with men who had battlefield experience from among the muhajirun [“emigrants”; foreign fighters] and ansar [“supporters”; local jihadists], so they did well next to their brothers from the ardent sons of Syria. The influence of the Islamic State expended to Syria, though we didn’t declare that for security reasons, to allow people to see the reality of the State away from the distortion, forgery, and fabrication of the media. The time has come to declare before the people of Syria and the whole world that Jabhat al-Nusra is merely an extension of the Islamic State of Iraq and a part of it. We are determined, after making Istikhara to God and consulting whom we trust in his religion and wisdom, to continue in the journey of ascending the group, by-passing all that will be said [in criticism] since the pleasure of God is above everything, and it is no matter what happens to us because of that. We declare, keeping our trust in God, the abolition of the name of the Islamic State of Iraq and the abolition of the name of Jabhat al-Nusra, and the joining of them under one name, “The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria,” a united banner which is the banner of the Islamic State—the banner of the Caliphate, inshallah.

“Is not God sufficient for His servant? And they seek to frighten you with those besides Him; and whomsoever God makes err, there is no guide for him” [Az-Zumar: 36].

Jabir ibn Abdullah (may God be pleased with him) said: “A group of people from my umma will continue to fight in obedience to the Command of God, remaining dominant over their enemies. Those who will oppose them shall not do them any harm. They will remain in this condition until the Hour [Apocalypse] overtakes them” (Narrated by Imam Muslim, rahimmhullah).

With this declaration the name of Islamic State of Iraq and the name of Jabhat al-Nusra will fade away, God willing, and disappear in our dealings and they will be part of the history of our blessed jihad, as the previous names have. We, at the same time, extend our hands wide and open our arms and hearts to the factions doing jihad for the sake of God and the proud tribes in the beloved land of Syria who fight to make the word of God the most high and ensure the people and land are ruled by the laws of God, without anyone other than God having any share in the rule. The Almighty says: “And fight with them until there is no more fitna [strife] and [until] the religion, all of it, is only for God” [Al-Anfal: 39]. So welcome to those who agree with us not to lay down arms until they establish the rule of the shari’a of God Almighty and who will be responsible for [administering] that, inshallah, on the Syrian side, from this group and from the sons of Syria who gave their souls to God Almighty next to their brothers the muhajirun. The matter isn’t who preceded who but who is sincere, so whoever combined both of them [ISI and al-Nusra] has gained what serves the religion of God. As for you our people in Iraq and Syria, we put on you this responsibility and you are worthy to carry that and defend the religion of your Lord and the sunna of your Prophet and the honour of the Muslims and their money and blood.

As for the sincere ulema [clerics], we ask for your support to the religion and call on you to join us. Hasn’t time come to dust your feet with the soil of the land of jihad for the sake of God? Hasn’t time come for you to hear the sound of the bullets over your heads? I swear, by God, you will find that fear for the sake of God is better from the comfortable bed which you sleep in.[6]

As for you, our people in beloved Syria, do not be like the butterfly that goes to the fire following its colleagues. You have experienced dictatorship and injustice for long years, so beware of replacing these years of injustice with the injustice of democracy. The people of Iraq have preceded to it, and it has been implemented in Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya—and look at their condition! What has become of them? Beware of being stung from the same the hole from which the Muslims in those countries have been stung. Abu Hurayrah—may God be pleased with him—narrated that the prophet (peace and blessings of God be upon him) said: “A believer should not be stung twice from the same hole”.[7] Do not make democracy the outcome for the cost of thousands who were killed among you. Do not make democracy the outcome for the cost of the carnage that has ruined so many homes, which were demolished from over the women, children, and elderly. Do not make democracy the outcome for the cost of so many displaced from their homes and living in tents. Do not make democracy the outcome for the cost in the honour of our girls and women that were violated. I swear by God, democracy is the worst cost and the worst gain. Beware, O people of Syria, from corruption. Corruption is to be ruled by man-made laws after all these sacrifices.

Ibn Taymiyya, rahimahullah, said in the fatwa: “Who implements on earth other than the Book of God and the sunna of His Messenger, then he has spread corruption on earth.”

Do not accept corruption because in your reform is the proof for the goodness of the umma of Islam. As the most truthful have said in the Hadith narrated by al-Tayalisi, in his Musnad from Muawiya (may God be pleased with him), the Messenger of God (peace and blessings of God be upon him) said: “When the inhabitants of Syria become corrupt, then there is no good for you.” So beware, O people of Syria, that the umma of Muhammad (peace and blessings of God be upon him) is not defeated from your side, since the clouds are about to disappear from the skies of our dear umma and the bright sun of Islam will rise, carrying warmth, safety, security, pride, and wealth for every Muslim and Muslima and every boy and girl because all of them have a right in the treasury of the Muslims. So, muhajirun and ansar from the sons of the State of Islam, I advise you to be good to the people of Syria and Iraq.

O God, bring together the hearts of the muhajirun and ansar, as you brought together the sahaba [companions] of your Prophet. O God, make those from among the muhajirun who make hijra to Iraq and Syria find goodness. O God, make the people of Iraq and Syria who follow the ansar find goodness. O God, accept our dead among the martyrs and heal our wounded quickly. O God, release the Muslims from captivity. O God, shelter their displaced. O God, give us a good end by martyrdom for your sake, do not make our calamity in our religion, and use us in obeying you. We seek refuge with your Noble Face, our Lord, that you pour down upon us patience, and make our steps firm and assist us against the unbelieving people. Amin, O Lord of the Worlds.

Your brother,

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi al-Husayni al-Qurayshi


[1] Also rendered Tanzim Qaedat al-Jihad, or “The Base of Jihad Organization”—the full name of al-Qaeda.

[2] “The Base of Jihad Organization in the Land of the Two Rivers (Mesopotamia),” better-known as al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia (AQM) or al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI).

[3] “The people of orthodoxy and community,” i.e. Sunnis.

[4] Taghut is used to refer to the Arab governments and is often translated as “tyrant” or “tyrannical”. The strict meaning is a ruler who goes beyond the bounds of Islam by practicing shirk, idolatry or polytheism—the setting up of rivals in worship to God. In this case, imposing man’s law where only God’s law (the shari’a) should be enthroned.

[5] Al-Majlis Shura al-Mujahideen (MSM), usually given as the Mujahideen Shura Council (MSC), was formed on 15 January 2006, and included AQM, Jaysh al-Taifa al-Mansura (The Army of the Victorious Sect), Saraya Ansar al-Tawhid (Monotheism Supporters’ Squad), Saraya al-Jihad (The Jihad Squads), Saraya al-Ghuraba (The Strangers’ Squad), Kataib al-Ahwal (The Calamities or Horrors Brigade). Jaysh Ahl al-Sunnah wal-Jama’a (The Army of the People of Orthodoxy and Community), led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, joined MSM on 29 January 2006.

[6] This demand that clerics join ISIS and get involved in fighting goes all the way back to the group’s founding. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi rejected the advice of his old mentor, Issam al-Barqawi (Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi), regarding the treatment of prisoners and other matters where al-Barqawi thought al-Zarqawi was going too far because, according to al-Zarqawi, one who was not on the field of jihad did not have the true experience and knowledge to issue religious rulings. By contrast, ISIS’s first shar’i leader, Umar Yusef al-Juma (Abu Anas al-Shami), who was of far lesser stature than al-Barqawi in the world of Salafi-jihadism, nonetheless was more influential on ISIS and its leader because al-Juma was involved in fighting, including the first round in Fallujah in 2004.

[7] This saying of the Prophet’s has appeared before. In April 2007, Abu Bakr’s predecessor, Abu Umar al-Baghdadi, gave an important speech that introduced the slogan baqiya (remaining), now expanded to baqiya wa tatamadad (remaining and expanding). Abu Umar included in the speech the line: “The believer is not to be stung from the same hole twice.”

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