An Interview With the Islamic State’s Leader in Libya

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on September 10, 2015

In the eleventh edition of the Islamic State’s English-language magazine, Dabiq, released on 9 September 2015, there was an interview with the leader of their forces in Libya, Abul-Mughirah al-Qahtani,[1] about the situation for the Islamic State in that country. The interview is reproduced below with some editions to transliteration, some notes added for clarification, and some interesting sections highlighted in bold.

Dabiq: How is the battle situation in the Libyan wilayat (province) of the Islamic State?

Abul-Mughirah: The battle situation in the Libyan wilayat is one of fighting the mushrikeen (idolaters or polytheists) altogether as they fight us altogether. The military situation in Libya differs from region to region, depending on the number of Khilafa (Caliphate) soldiers and the type of enemy in addition to the social composition and geography of the various regions. It also depends on the conflicts and coalitions that form in the ranks of the apostates themselves. “You think they are together, but their hearts are diverse” [Al-Hashr: 14]. But we reassure the Muslims in the eastern and western extents of the Earth that Libya will not be ruled except by Allah’s shari’a and that the Islamic State by Allah’s grace will pave its way quickly towards consolidation and expansion.

The Islamic State has military and security operations in Tarabulus (Tripoli), Misratah, Tubruq, al-Bayda, Sabratah, and Ajdabiya. The Islamic State is manifest with some control over neighbourhoods in Derna and Benghazi in addition to its complete authority over the seacoast region stretching from Buqarin to Binjawad, which includes a number of cities and regions, most important of which are Sirte, al-Amirah, Harawa, Umm Qindil, and an-Nawfaliyya.

Dabiq: What is the situation of the apostate “Libyan Dawn” group?

Abul-Mughirah: The “Libyan Dawn” is the official military wing for the “General National Congress” democratic government (with its “Islamic” shroud) represented by the “Muslim Brotherhood” and the “Libyan Islamic Fighting Group” led by Abdelhakim Belhadj. These apostate forces wage war against Allah’s religion by abandoning the shari’a laws and replacing them with manmade laws in addition to waging war against the people of tawhid (monotheism), dragging them to prisons, and handing them over to the crusaders. Due to their war against Allah’s religion and His awliya,[2] the Islamic State rose to repel their attacks against the Muslims and to implement the shari’a, spread justice, and save the prisoners from harm. They will continue to be a target for our swords, which we will not hold back until they repent from their kufr (disbelief) and their wala (loyalty) to Allah’s enemies from amongst the crusaders and the secularists.

Dabiq: What is the situation with the taghut[3] [General Khalifa] Haftar?

Abul-Mughirah: We have a number of fronts against the taghut Haftar, who is the head of the Libyan army under the Tubruq government in East Libya. The Islamic State fights the apostates of the Libyan army at a number of locations near the city of Benghazi, most important of which are as-Sabiri and al-Laythi. The Islamic State also has some frontlines against them near Derna, most important of which are Martubah and an-Nawwar. The Islamic State also targets their locations in the city of Ajdabiya. The secularist forces of Haftar are targets for the Khilafah soldiers wherever these forces might rest. We will not slack in fighting them until there is no more fitnah and the religion is all for Allah.

Dabiq: What is the situation with the murtadeen (apostates) of “Majlis Shura Derna”? And how did it all begin? And what is the history of this “majlis” with regards to Islam or kufr?

Abul-Mughirah: This council consists of two major elements: “Abu Salim Martyrs Brigade” and the “Libyan Islamic Fighting Group.” As for the “Libyan Islamic Fighting Group,” then its kufr is clear due to its participation in the Tarabulus government and the democratic process under the leadership of Abdelhakim Belhadj. As for the “Abu Salim Martyrs Brigade,” then it was a brigade that was once Salafi. Most of the soldiers of the Islamic State in Derna were from the brigade’s founders. They abandoned the brigade after it fell into a number of nullifiers of Islam, most infamous of which was its operating as part of the interior ministry in what was known as the “security committee.” This is in addition to their security for the taghut Mustafa Abdul Jalil, Chairman of the National Transitional Council, when he visited Derna and called to democracy. Since then, the people of proper manhaj (methodology) abandoned the brigade. They even killed leaders of the brigade who led it to the depths of kufr. All this was before the official expansion of the Islamic State to Libya. After Allah blessed it with expansion to Libya and most of the groups in Derna pledged bay’a (allegiance) to it, the Abu Salim brigade requested its opponents from the other groups refer to the court of the Islamic State for a resolution. After studying the condition of the brigade and what it fell into, the court of the Islamic State ruled that the brigade had committed apostasy and called its individuals to repentance. A number of its followers and leaders repented whereas the remaining gathered together with the “Libyan Islamic Fighting Group” to form what they called “Majlis Shura Derna.”

Dabiq: What is the situation with Ansar al-Shari’a?

Abul-Mughirah: Many of the leaders and soldiers of Ansar al-Shari’a were from the first to pledge bay’a in Libya to the Islamic State. This group continues to have men who wish to implement the shari’a despite the groups’ abandonment of the lost obligation of the era and its preference of division to unity, most clear in its lack of a bay’a to the Caliph and in its unity with “revolutionary” movements linked to the apostate regime of Tarabulus in some regions as well as its acceptance in other regions of suspicious aid from filthy hands. It also has contradictory stances from region to region due to the different orientations of its leaders and the alignments of its soldiers. Some of the contradictory stances are also due to the closeness of some of their leaders towards those of “al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghrib” (AQIM) present in Libya.

Dabiq: How is the situation in the Libyan wilayat with respect to governance?

Abul-Mughirah: In Libya, the Islamic State continues to be a young mission as its presence has not completed a full year. The Islamic State, for example, was able to rule Derna by shari’a despite the presence of obstacles and bitterness manifest in deviant parties and divided factions who ignored to pledge bay’a to the Caliph. The result of enforcing shari’a laws upon the strong and weak and enforcing repentance upon the apostates with the presence of some of these deviant and divided factions in the region led to the Islamic State being fought by these parties altogether and their announcement of war against it.

In the cities and regions that it controls, the Islamic State has laid down the proper foundation. It knows that the establishment of the religion and implementation of shari’a cannot be properly achieved with the presence of deviant and divided groups, organizations, and parties within its territory. “Establish the religion and do not be divided therein” [Ash-Shura: 13]. And so it works to rid the lands of this menace while implementing the shari’a.

Dabiq: What is the story of what took place in Derna?

Abul-Mughirah: The treachery of the Sahwat in Derna is due to the difference of religion, the conflict of methodologies, and the arrogance of some “revolutionary” leaders present in Derna. The Islamic State embittered these people with its pure methodology and clear path. It was able to achieve in a month what they were unable to achieve in the three years that passed. It openly declared the kufr of the apostates and called them to repentance, including the Abu Salim brigade. The word of truth and its declaration angered them. It also removed the evils, enforced good, and banned evil. So they began their filthy steps with a plot for treachery. They coordinated with the apostate “Libyan Islamic Fighting Group” to make a formation, which they named “Majlis Shura Derna.” They also deviously took critical locations in the city in preparation to strike the Islamic State. They attempted to contrive problems so as to be an excuse to battle the Islamic State. The beginning of their treachery was their targeting of two checkpoints near the western and eastern entrances to the city. They laid siege to the Islamic court building, justifying that with flimsy excuses. “And Allah does not guide the plan of betrayers” [Yusuf: 52].

The Islamic State withdrew from the city centre of Derna in the beginning of the battle and made the eastern entrance to the city (the area of al-Fata’ih) a launch ground for its operations against these Sahwat. Thereafter, “Majlis Shura Derna” announced the launching of the “Battle of Nahrawan” to take al-Fata’ih area with the aid of forces called “Shuhada’ al-Jabal,” who belong to the Libyan Haftar army. The Islamic State continued to advance towards the centre of Derna. In the last few days, it retook areas of the eastern coast side of Derna. All praise is due to Allah. And the battle carries on.

Dabiq: What is the story of what took place in Sirte?

Abul-Mughirah: As for Sirte, then the story was not so much one of treachery but that the Islamic State had gained recent control over the city and there remained pockets in the city belonging to the supporters of the taghut Haftar and others belonging to the supporters of the taghut Gaddafi, as they consider Sirte his birthplace. There was also resistance from some of the Madkhali Murji’ah, who carried arms against the Islamic State. The destruction of these pockets of resistance was achieved and their arms and wealth was taken as ghanima (booty). The repentance of those who repented was also acknowledged. All praise is due to Allah.

Dabiq: What kinds of needs do the Libyan wilayat have in terms of personnel (scholars, doctors, engineers, fighters, etc.)?

Abul-Mughirah: The Islamic State here in Libya is still young. It is in great need of every Muslim who can come, especially medical, shar’i, and administrative personnel, in addition to fighters.

Dabiq: What is the importance of the Libyan wilayat regarding the future of the Caliphate and the Islamic umma (community or nation) and the war against the crusaders and apostates?

Abul-Mughirah: Libya has a great importance for the Muslim umma because it is in Africa and south of Europe. It also contains a well of resources that cannot dry. All Muslims have a right to these resources. It is also a gate to the African desert stretching to a number of African countries. It is important to note also that the Libyan resources are a concern for the kafir West due to their reliance upon Libya for a number of years especially with regards to oil and gas. The control of the Islamic State over this region will lead to economic breakdowns especially for Italy and the rest of the European states.

Dabiq: We’ve seen the messages from our ansari (“partisans”; local fighters) brothers in Libya inviting Muslims around the world to perform hijra (migration) to the Libyan wilayat of the Caliphate. Which regions of the world do most of the muhajirun come from?

Abul-Mughirah: All praise is due to Allah. The muhajirun (“emigrants”; foreign fighters) come from all places to the Islamic State especially from Africa, the Islamic Maghrib, Egypt, and the Arabian Peninsula and occasionally from Western nations.

Dabiq: Are there any difficulties involved in performing hijra to Libya?

Abul-Mughirah: There is no reward without hardship, especially when it comes to jihad and hijra. But it is easy for those for whom Allah makes it easy. Those who have resolved to perform hijra should purify their intentions, rely upon Allah, and make very much du’a (supplication). They should remember that despite the difficulties of hijra, “Whoever leaves his home as a muhajir to Allah and His Messenger and then death overtakes him—his reward has already become incumbent upon Allah. And Allah is ever Forgiving and Merciful” [An-Nisa: 100].

Dabiq: What advice do you have to those Muslims who wish to perform hijra to Libya?

Abul-Mughirah: We begin with advice to the Muslims in general to have zuhd (ascetism) towards the dunya (temporal world) and its pleasures. They should not incline nor adhere to the Earth. They should be ansar of Allah, perform hijra, and strike the enemies of Allah. The supporters of the religion should know, “And whoever performs hijra for the cause of Allah will find on the earth many locations and abundance” [An-Nisa: 100]. We call them to march forth and incite them to support us.

Dabiq: What advice do you have to the muhajirun in general, and to the muhajirun in Libya in particular?

Abul-Mughirah: My advice to the muhajirun in general is that they should not become proud by their hijra nor should they consider their jihad a favour they have done for Allah. They should make their intentions sincere, for there were those who performed hijra to the Prophet for the sake of Dunya and a woman to marry, such as the man who was called “Muhajir Umm Qays.” So we call you, our brother, to perform your hijra for Allah and in support of His religion. Your path will be disturbed by difficulties and great obstacles. The actions are but by intention and comfort is not achieved by comfort.







[1] The name is also rendered Abu Mughira al-Qahtani, and al-Qahtani is also known as Abu Nabil al-Anbari, the former Islamic State wali of Saladin Province, who, among other things, oversaw the Camp Speicher atrocity. Abu Nabil’s name would in time be revealed as Wissam al-Zubaydi, and he was found to have at least one more kunya: Abu Yazan al-Humairi.

[2] Alwiya is the plural of wali, which is often given as “governor” because of the way the Islamic State use it in their leadership structure, but more accurately refers to “custodian” or “friend”/”supporter” (of god). Thus in general use it refers to historical figures of especial piety and for Sufis the alwiya are effectively saints.

[3] Refers to a ruler who had transgressed the boundaries of Islam by committing shirk, the setting up of equivalents to god—in this case by ruling through man-made laws when god’s law should be supreme.

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