The leader of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, gave an untitled speech on January 19, 2014. It was a response to the Syrian rebellion having launched a full-scale offensive against ISIS on January 3, 2014, which had driven them from large swathes of territory in northern Syria and was ongoing at the time. The rebel offensive continued for six months—until Mosul fell to ISIS in June, and the captured resources were fed into eastern Syria, breaking the rebels. Al-Baghdadi struck a relatively conciliatory note, though did accompany this with threats, should the rebels continue resisting the jihadists. A translation of the speech was made by Pieter Van Ostaeyen, and is reproduced below.
It’s from God’s tradition and wisdom that the rows of believers and mujahids is mingled with hypocrites. God will not leave this row mixed with those hypocrites and pretenders and therefore creates fitna [strife] and trials for them. The row must be melted so that the maliciousness leaves, and be pressured so that the weak building blocks crumble and the lights must shine at it exposing the intricacies and inner personalities.
Struggle between truth and falsehood will never end and with it fitna and trials, except that the believer will always win at the end. This does not increase the fighter in God’s path except in purity and fineness and determination and steadiness. So persevere, O Islamic State, and have patience and don’t be saddened by the let down of the close ones or the collusion of the enemies. And don’t be saddened by this fierce campaign against us, for God will help his soldiers, and will defend those who believe. God knows who is the mujahid and who’s the pretender; who’s the lair and who’s truthful; who’s sincere and who’s a hypocrite. Know that this trial in Syria that has fallen upon you will be good for you, and it will be a great bestowal.
As for Islamic State in Syria: God knows that the Islamic State tried everything in its power to stop this war that was launched against us by some rebels. God knows that you did not want this war, nor were prepared for it, and those benefiting from it are the Nusayris [Alawis] and Rafida [Shi’is, Iranians]. We were forced into this war and for days we tried to end it, even though the betrayal was blatant. This continued until the deceived ones, who thought that Islamic State was something of the past and that they could take us down because they were following the lies of the media, were forced to wage this war, and Allah is Sufficient for us and the Best Disposer of affairs. Know this, O Islamic State, and have faith in God, as victory is for you if you fear him, and don’t oppress and don’t betray. We tell you to stop fighting against those who stopped against you and pointed their weapons away from you, regardless of their crimes against you.
And forgive and reconcile so you can fight a licentious enemy that is watching the Sunnis. So if you tried your best to stop this war and fight only the Rafida and Nusayris and you failed, then put your faith in God. Then fight this war, for you are capable, and be certain that this is a good thing, as this is God’s plan. And don’t oppress anyone, and if anyone oppressed someone then let him hasten to return the rights and repent. For we respond to every injustice that reaches us and we clear ourselves to God for every injustice perpetrated by one of Islamic State’s soldiers. And we order our soldiers to return every injustice, and may God not bless someone who heard of an injustice and did nothing.
This is a message to every mujahid in God’s path, from all the groups in al-Sham [Syria], soldiers and leaders. This battle is a battle of the entire Muslim umma [nation], and the ones targeted are all the mujahideen. The Islamic State is a door from which they can reach you; if it’s breached they will reach you, so do not let a day come where you will regret it. Repent to God, for you have stabbed us in the back while our soldiers were at the front. Today you have seen our punishment and strength, and you have seen the difference between yesterday and today. Yesterday you were walking safe, sleeping assured. Today you are in constant fear and apprehension, staying awake at night guarding yourselves. So here is the State extending its hand to you, so you can stop fighting it, and we will stop fighting you, and we can fight the Rafida. And if not then know we have soldiers that do not sleep, near and far.
As for the people in Syria: You have God, everyone trades with your blood, racing each other so that they can sit on your shoulders, or even on your corpses. The Nusayris kill you, claiming to fight terrorists to protect you. The Crusaders and Jews are plotting against Islam and against the mujahideen in your name and in your cause. Arab regimes are buying followers and recruiting them under the name of relief. Thieves and thugs are stealing your money and possessions under the name of defending you and protecting you. You have God and glad tidings if you are patient, for God will take care of you.
As for us, we can say only that your blood is our blood, and your destruction is our destruction. We fight in God’s path and for his satisfaction and we do not fear the blame of blamers. Don’t be deceived by the media, for you will find us the kindest towards you and the harshest towards your enemies. God knows that we tried our best to defend Muslims, and then overnight we are accused of making takfir [excommunication] on the Syrian population. God knows that we were the only ones that fought off criminals, and overnight we turned into murderers and put our people in mass graves? God knows that thugs and thieves fled from every area we entered, and overnight we are accused of terrifying the local population? God knows that we opened our arms towards every group, and then we are accused of not recognizing any mujahid but ourselves? God knows we left our families and our homes to establish shari’a, and overnight we are accused of not turning towards shari’a?
God knows that we are the harshest people towards the Rafida, and even they know that. God knows that on the night of the treachery, we had an army in Deir Ezzor led by Abu Omar al-Shishani to free the entire province. And that we know we had a force in Aleppo, on the western frontlines, to free the entire city. And that we had another force coming together to storm the Nusayris’ from the eastern frontlines. And that we had another force ready to storm Hanano [in Aleppo] and sleeper cells ready to launch attacks at the same time in regime areas. And that we had a prepared force in Idlib ready to raid eleven regime checkpoints and thereby liberate Wadi al-Dayf. And another force getting ready in Hama for a campaign against the Nusayris. God knows this, and all of this stopped on the night of treachery, and then we are accused of being regime agents? The prophet said a time will come where the liar is believed, and the trustworthy deemed a liar.
As for our people in Iraq: Today you see the Rafida for what they area. And you have finally picked up your arms. This is your chance and don’t waste it. If you do you will not have a say again. Your war with the Rafida is an ideological war, as admitted by [Iraqi Prime Minister] Nuri al-Maliki when he described the battle as holy. So gather around your sons, the mujahids, for you have today become a fortress for the Sunnis, so make sure the Rafida don’t reach them.
As for Islamic State in Iraq: Be in the frontlines against the Rafida, and march towards Bagdad and the South, keep the Rafida busy in their own areas. Know that the entire Sunni population and the brothers in Syria are watching you.
Our last message is to the Americans: Know, O protector of the crusade, that this war by proxy in Syria won’t help you like it didn’t in Iraq. Soon we will be in a direct confrontation and the sons of Islam have prepared for such a day. So watch for we are with you, watching.