Taha Falaha (Abu Muhammad al-Adnani) is the governor Islamic State-held territory in Syria and oversees the foreign attacks, a roster of duties which indicates that Falaha so powerful that he is effectively the caliph’s deputy after the demise of Abd al-Rahman al-Qaduli (Abu Ali al-Anbari) in March. Falaha is also IS’s official spokesman, and on 21 May 2016 he gave a very significant speech entitled, “That They Live By Proof”. The speech, released by Al-Hayat Media Centre, is reproduced below with some minor alterations in transliteration, some important sections highlighted in bold, and some notes added for explanation.
Falaha made three major points. First, Falaha was especially adamant that territorial control by IS should not be considered a measure of IS’s success: it lost all urban holdings and went into the deserts last time, after the strategic defeat in 2008, but it held to its cause and America withdrew, and this ideological cohesiveness and determination led it to be more powerful than ever within five years. Second, Falaha made use of the savage conduct of the coalition made up of the Assad regime, Iran, and Russia—and the Western indifference to same—to argue for Sunnis to see IS as a protective barrier against such sectarian foes. And, third, Falaha called for foreign attacks by Western Muslims, saying that if IS’s loyalists were unable to journey to IS-held areas this should not be considered a problem since attacks in the West are “more beloved to [IS] than the biggest act done [within the caliphate]”.
All praise is due to Allah, the Strong and Mighty. May blessings and peace be upon the one sent with the sword as a mercy to the creation.
Allah said, “Indeed, the ones who oppose Allah and His Messenger—those will be among the most humiliated. Allah has written, ‘I will surely prevail, I and My messengers.’ Indeed, Allah is strong and mighty” (Al-Mujadilah 20-21). And our Lord said about the Jews, “And when your Lord declared that He would surely dispatch against them, until the Day of Resurrection, those who would afflict them with the worst torment. Indeed, your Lord is swift in penalty; but indeed, He is Forgiving and Merciful” (Al-A’raf 167). Abu Hurayrah narrated that Allah’s Messenger said, “The Hour [Day of Judgment] will not be established until the Muslims fight the Jews. The Muslims will continue killing them until the Jews hide behind stones and trees. Then the stone or the tree will say, ‘O Muslim, O slave of Allah, there is a Jew hiding behind me, so come and kill him'” (Reported by Muslim). He also narrated that the Prophet said, “The Hour will not be established until the Romans descend upon Amaq. Then an army from the city, from among the best people of the earth on that day, will head out to them. When they form ranks for battle, the Romans will say, ‘Make a way between us and those who took slaves from our people so that we can fight them.’ So the Muslims will say, ‘No, by Allah, we will not make a way between you and our brothers,’ and will then fight them. One-third of them will retreat and Allah will never forgive them, one-third of them will be killed and they will be the best of shuhada [martyrs], according to Allah, and one-third of them will never face any trials and will then reach Constantinople and conquer it” (Reported by Muslim).1
So woe to you, O Crusaders, and woe to you, O Jews. Whenever you arise, parade, oppress, and transgress, Allah comes at you from where you did not expect, as His slaves afflict you with the worst torment. This is what our Lord has promised us and Allah does not go back on His promise, may He be glorified. America the incompetent, together with its allies, thinks that it can scare the believers or triumph over the mujahideen. Certainly not! Indeed, the crusader coalition came to Iraq thirteen years ago, thinking that none would be able to overpower it and that strength is in numbers and equipment. Then, after only a matter of days, the idiot [George W.] Bush announced an end to military operations, alleged that the war was over, and claimed victory in all his delusion, falsehood, and conceit, and with the utmost level of deception and arrogance. So we informed him that his war had not yet begun, and it was only a short time before Bush’s lie and the mujahideen’s truthfulness became apparent and their war on America and its allies erupted. Thus, the coalition’s army was ground all over Mesopotamia and fell into the swamp of destruction, of which it would not get out, by Allah’s permission. Then, after eight years of a destructive war that devastated America’s economy and exhausted its army, the mule [Barack] Obama announced the crusader army’s withdrawal from Iraq, falsely claiming another victory. We informed him, again, that the battle had not yet intensified and we swore to them, saying, “If you leave, you will return.” So America and the mule of the Jews lied, while the mujahideen spoke the truth. And so here is the Islamic State, remaining, by Allah’s grace, and here is the defender of the Jews and the Cross, America, having returned with its army, entangling its very own sons in a war with the mujahideen, promising itself and its allies the destruction of the Islamic State and the end of jihad.
So listen, O America! Listen, O Crusaders! Listen, O Jews! Our Lord said, “And Our word has passed for Our slaves, the Messengers, that they would be supported and that Our soldiers would indeed prevail” (As-Saffat 171-173). “Fight them, Allah will punish them by your hands, and He will disgrace them and give you victory over them, satisfying the hearts of a believing people and removing the fury of their hearts” (At-Tawbah 14-15). Indeed, we await what He has promised and we have confidence in Him. So your armies and your masses will never scare us. Your threats and your campaigns will not dissuade us. You will never be victorious. You will be defeated. Or do you think, O America, that victory is by killing one leader or another? Indeed, it would then be a falsified victory. Were you victorious when you killed Abu Musab [al-Zarqawi], Abu Hamza [al-Muhajir], Abu Umar [al-Baghdadi], or Usama [bin Ladin]? Would you be victorious if you were to kill [Abu Umar] al-Shishani, Abu Bakr [al-Baghdadi], Abu Zayd, or Abu Amr?2 No. Indeed, victory is the defeat of one’s opponent. Or do you, O America, consider defeat to be the loss of a city or the loss of land? Were we defeated when we lost the cities in Iraq and retreated into the desert13 without any city or land? And would we be defeated and you be victorious if you were to take Mosul or Sirte or Raqqa or even take all the cities and we were to return to our initial condition? Certainly not! True defeat is the loss of willpower and desire to fight. America will be victorious and the mujahideen will be defeated in only one situation. We would be defeated and you victorious only if you were able to remove the Qur’an from the Muslims’ hearts. How impossible a feat! How far off a task it would be! Rather, we are the People of the Qur’an, who sell their souls for Paradise.
Indeed, we are of that troop, those whose steeds
marched upon Khosrow with a swift, cool wind;
and plundered the crown of Caesar with spears,
and thus cleared the pathway leading to Rome.
How many an exalted noble we raised,
with bloody hands, though springtime, full of rain;
his fingers, were formed, for holding a sword,
to spend noble deeds atop a pulpit,
then meeting spears with his face and his heart,
and holding his head high, ready for war.
Listen, O Americans, and understand. What have you accomplished after these thirteen years of war against the mujahideen in Mesopotamia, and what have they accomplished? Indeed, you came to Iraq with tens, or rather, hundreds of thousands, while we were only a few hundred, or rather, dozens, more or less. It was only three years [i.e. in 2006] before [U.S. Defence Secretary Donald] Rumsfeld declared resignation, incapacity, and defeat; and the mujahideen declared the establishment of the Islamic State. “How many a small group was victorious over a large group, by the permission of Allah; and Allah is with those who persevere” (Al-Baqarah 249). Thus, America was defeated, as its army faced ruin and collapse, except that it was rescued by the sahwat [Awakening] of treachery and shame.
Then came the established way of Allah of testing and trying the mujahideen, so the trial increased and the tribulation intensified, until consolidation was lost in the cities. But this only increased the mujahideen in patience and certainty. It occurred to America that it was the golden opportunity to run away. So Obama the Liar declared victory and withdrawal.3 O you failed, defeated mule! Where is your alleged victory? Where is the new map of the Middle East brought by America? Have you forgotten or do you feign to forget? Or is it us who have drawn it, with your ruin and end coming imminently? Where is the “free, united” Iraq? Where is democracy? Do you deceive yourself, your people, and the world? Or do you now acknowledge the Islamic State? Where are the promised security, development, and prosperity? Were you lying, O America, or are you simply unable to fulfil promises? Have you made the world safer by waging war against us, America, or has fear and ruin become the norm? Let Canada, France, Tunisia, Turkey, and Belgium bear witness. Have you eradicated terrorism and extinguished the fire of jihad, or has it spread and risen, reaching into every land? Have you succeeded against the mujahideen, or have we declared the Khilafa [Caliphate] and are we blessed, by Allah’s grace, with consolidation!
Hold on, America; the war is not over and you have yet to win. By Allah’s permission, you will be defeated, so wait. Wait, for our swords have not been sheathed, our arms have not become weary, and our resolve has not weakened. We have not become bored nor frail;4 rather, by Allah’s grace, our strength has multiplied exponentially since the beginning of your war, America. Every day that passes, we gain strength, by Allah’s grace, and you become weaker. We take firm steps forward, and by Obama’s failed plan, you but stumble.
O Muslims! O umma [Muslim community] of Muhammad! Syria has exposed them. The reality has become as clear to you as the sun. So whoever perishes, perishes by proof, and whoever lives, lives by proof. This is the whole disbelieving world that has gathered, joined in an alliance, and rushed madly into fighting the Islamic State. They made waging war against it, defeating it, and annihilating it their first priority. By what means? What is their goal? What is the reality? What is the rallying cry? Why have dozens of disbelieving nations gathered to wage war against the Islamic State? Why have America and its allies launched some twenty-thousand airstrikes against us? Yes. Some twenty-thousand airstrikes! Why do they spend billions of their wealth on their war against us? Why do they train and arm armies, gangs, and militias? Why do they carelessly send their sons from overseas to fight us? Why do they not train, arm, back, or support any fighters except those who are vetted? Ask them, if they would answer, or answer, if you can already comprehend.
The whole world has not come together to wage war against us except because we command the worship of Allah, alone without partner,5 and we incite others to do so. We make wala6 based upon it and we declare the disbelief of those who abandon it. We warn of shirk in the worship of Allah, and we are severe against it. We make enemies based upon it and we declare the disbelief of those who engage in it. This is our call. This is our religion. For this alone, we fight the world and they fight us.
It is not a mockery that America claims to fight us to support the oppressed and aid the feeble, or to defend the “freedom of the people” or the “citizenry.” The only mockery is that this is actually believed by the mindless beasts who attribute themselves to Islam, especially those who saw what happened in Syria against the Muslims. It is not a mockery that America claims to fight us in defence of Islam or to protect it from extremist alteration, nullifying imitation [bid’a], or ignorant interpretation. The mockery and greatest calamity is that the donkeys of knowledge—who are falsely counted as mujahideen—pass fatwas against the mujahideen, declaring that the vetted apostates are actually mujahideen for Allah’s cause, fighting against the renegade Khawarij!7 Indeed, Allah’s curse is upon the oppressors.
O Muslims! Truly, the mujahideen are victorious—victorious by the sword and arrow head, by the evidence and proof. This is the small group striking armies and nations of the world, enduring these long years. It did not enter any land except that the tawaghit [tyrants] were unable to crush it and end it therein. No army fought it except that it caused them to become weak, to bleed, and to weep. And indeed, the mujahideen have refuted all doubtful arguments, despite the mobilization of every evil scholar against them, and despite the use of every form of media. There remains no excuse for anyone after the war in Syria. The truth has appeared clearly for both the learned and the commoners. There are only two armies, two camps, two trenches. It is the war between kufr [disbelief] and iman [faith]. It is the war of wala and bara.8 Any other war is nonsense, no matter the slogans raised by the disbelievers in their war, and no matter the goals they have claimed.
Where are the Kafir West’s alleged defence of “civilians” and protection of “human rights” and “freedom”? Indeed, the false and deceiving mask of nobility has fallen, showing its ugly face under the Nusayri [Alawi, i.e. Assad regime] barrels of death, destruction, and gas. America and its allies do not ache and feel pain, except when the mujahideen advance and gain victories. The world does not weep at the Russian and Nusayri massacres each day against the Muslims. The sentiments in Europe, America, and other disbelieving nations are not moved nor shaken by the displacement of millions. They are not disturbed by the hunger, disease, suffering, and death of thousands of helpless and besieged children, women, and elderly people. America and its allies did not care about those in Ghuta, Zabadani, Madaya, and Ma’adamiya. They only cared about those besieged in the city of Khayr [Deir Ezzor]. So they were quick to aid them, throwing heaps of food each day to the Nusayriyyah. The people of Europe and other lands of kufr do not shudder at the Russian destruction of hospitals and residential zones, though they are afflicted by sleeplessness and insanity whenever the Islamic State decapitates some of the disbelievers, causing them to shiver, tremble, flare up, bombard, and rally. This, and their ears are deaf and their eyes are blind to what the crusaders, the Hindus, and the atheists do by way of massacres, crimes, and atrocities against the Muslims in Burma, Turkistan, Indonesia, Kashmir, the Philippines, Palestine, Bosnia, Central Africa, Chechnya, the Sunnis of Iran, and the Muslims everywhere else. So it is not transgression, criminal, or terrorism unless it is perpetrated by a Muslim; just as it is not transgression, criminal, or terrorism if the victim is a Muslim.
Yes, O Muslims, “That whoever perishes, perishes by proof, and that whoever lives, lives by proof” (Al-Anfal 42). As for the evil scholars, the shuyukh of dollars and dinars, and the assembly of sorcerers, hypocrites, and agents, then the falsity of their fatwas, which they vomit, has become clear. The doubts they affirm have been unveiled and proven false, and they will not benefit their masters after today, by Allah’s permission. They will fail, no matter how earnest and active they might be. Everyone knows their reality. When their masters gain strength and tighten their grip on the peoples’ necks, they pass fatwas on the obligation of obeying them and the prohibition of disobeying them and waging jihad; no matter how much they have fallen into kufr, tyranny, wrong, and spreading corruption. Then, when the mujahideen gain a foothold in some city, ruling therein by what Allah revealed, their blood boils and they burst in anger, regurgitating their vomit and passing the fatwa to disobey the mujahideen and to fight them, expel them, and to uproot them, no matter the cost of Muslim blood, ruin, and destruction, and permitting—even recommending—seeking support from the kuffar in this regard. Yet whatever the disbelievers do to the Muslims of slaughter, torture, devastation, and displacement, these evil scholars are deaf, dumb, and blind. There is no fatwa, no condemnation, and no criticism. But when the mujahideen kill a kafir in a distant land or respond to some transgression, the donkeys of knowledge clamour and mobilize without shame to disavow, condemn, criticize, offer condolences, wail, and lament. All while the tawaghit rulers of usurped Muslim lands have not left a single nullifier of Islam, except having committed it, and these evil scholars have not left any “evidence” in their defence, except that they altered its meaning, whitewashed it, and exploited it. The mujahideen do not practice a ritual, revive the Sunnah, implement a ruling, or establish a hadd, except that the palace scholars find fault with them, revile them, criticize them, and spread suspicions in order to avert people from the cause of Allah
Woe to you, O evil scholars, of the Day of Gathering, the day when secrets are tested and you have no excuse. Woe to you! You altered the meanings of words and replaced the truth with falsehood. You made the mercy of Islam to mean taking the kuffar [unbelievers], tawaghit, and mushrikeen9 as allies! You made the assailing enemy, in their military bases inside Muslim lands, people of dhimmah (contractual protection) and refugees! You made the disbelief and shirk of democracy a legitimate form of shura [consultation]! You made being silent of the truth and accepting of falsehood, when being afraid to deny it, a form of praiseworthy patience! You made taking the apostate rulers as allies and relying upon the oppressors a form of wisdom, forbearance, and correct consideration! You made speaking the truth to a disbelieving, tyrannical ruler a form of rebellion against those in authority! You concealed what Allah revealed and you forbade jihad, making its incitement equivalent to sedition! You made killing the enemy kuffar equivalent to permitting sanctified blood! You made the mujahideen, those who stand for righteousness, as renegade Khawarij! And the apostate secularists, nationalists, democrats, agents of America, and their dogs, you made them mujahideen! You made disbelieving in taghut a great fitnah, making wala and bara a crime, and you made the tyrant, kafir, apostate rulers leaders of guidance, authorities of justice, and Muslim rulers! You cast Allah’s book behind your backs, sold His verses for a miserable price, and discarded the signs of Allah and His religion. Your likeness, O apostates, is the likeness of the dog and that of the donkey carrying books. You sold guidance for misguidance and forgiveness for punishment. Upon you is the curse of Allah, the angels, and all of mankind.
To the creditor of the Day of Debt we go,
and unto Allah all litigants assemble.
You will know, based on the account, when we have met
tomorrow, before our Lord, who is blameworthy
O Muslims! Indeed, we do not wage jihad to defend a land, nor to liberate it, or to control it. We do not fight for authority or transient, shabby positions, nor for the rubble of a lowly, vanishing world. If our goal were one of these heaps of debris, we would not have fought the world with all its sects, creeds, and peoples. If we were able to avert a single fighter from fighting us, we would do so, saving ourselves the trouble. However, our Qur’an requires us to fight the entire world, without exception. We have done no more than to establish the law of our Lord. If it were an issue of choice, we would have changed. If what we follow or fought for were mere opinion, we would have recanted. If it were a whim, we would have replaced it. If it were a constitution, we would have modified it. If it were some fortune, we would have haggled. If it were but fate, we would have been content. But it is the Qur’an and the guidance of our Prophet. “Then is the one who is upon clear proof from his Lord like the one whose bad deed was beautified to him? And they followed their desires” (Muhammad 14). What drives us to this is that our Lord said, “Combat was prescribed upon you” (Al-Baqarah 216), “March forth, light and heavy” (At-Tawbah 41), “Respond to Allah and to the Messenger when he calls you to what gives you life” (Al-Anfal 24), “And what is wrong with you that you do not fight for the cause of Allah” (An-Nisa 75), “If you do not march forth, He will torment you as a punishment” (At-Tawbah 39), “So do not turn your backs to them” (Al-Anfal 15), “And fight the polytheists altogether” (At-Tawbah 36), “Do you fear them? Then it is more rightful that you fear Allah, if you are believers” (At-Tawbah 13), “Fight them, Allah will punish them by your hands” (At-Tawbah 14), “Fight those who do not believe in Allah and the Last Day, who do not forbid what Allah and His Messenger forbade, and who do not obey the religion of the Truth of those who were given the Book, until they pay the jizyah by hand, while they are humiliated” (At-Tawbah 29), “And when you meet those who disbelieve, then strike their necks” (Muhammad 4), “And fight them until there is no fitnah and the religion is entirely for Allah” (Al-Anfal 39).
We will fight, and fight, and fight until the religion is entirely for Allah. We will never beg people to accept the religion of Allah and to rule by Allah’s shari’a. Whoever is content, then this is the shari’a of Allah. Whoever dislikes it, is discontent with it, and refuses it, then we will continue in spite of him. This is the religion of Allah. We will declare the apostates as disbelievers and disavow them all. We will take the disbelievers and polytheists as enemies and hate them. “Indeed, there is a good model for you in Ibrahim and those with him, when they said to their people, ‘Verily we are innocent of you and what you worship beside Allah. We have disbelieved in you and there has appeared between us and between you enmity and hatred forever, until you believe in Allah alone'” (Al-Mumtahanah 4).
We cannot take allies from the disbelievers and apostates of the national military councils or democratic and secularist factions and boost them up as the apostates of those groups with Islamic names have done. Allah said, “And whoever allies with them of you, then he is of them” (Al-Maidah 51), “And truly He sent upon you in the Book that when you hear the verses of Allah being rejected or mocked, then do not sit with them until they engage in other talk. You would be, in that case, like them. Verily Allah will gather the hypocrites and disbelievers altogether in Hellfire” (An-Nisa 141). We are not able to flatter them and overlook them, thereby not rejecting their shirk and not declaring our enmity and hatred to them, and instead showing them brotherhood, love, and allegiance, just as al-Qaeda in Syria, the Jabhat al-Riddah (Apostate Front) losers, have done. If we do not show enmity and hatred to the kuffar, then wala and bara will be lost, along with the religion, and the disbelievers would be mixed with the believers.
You think religion is just lip service,
prayer and combat alongside anyone,
“Make peace and mix” with those who hate the faith?!
What is religion but love, hate, wala,
and bara from every straying sinner?
“And those who disbelieve are allies to one another. If you do not do (wala and bara), there will be fitnah in the land and great corruption” (Al-Anfal 73). If we knew that any of the righteous predecessors surrendered a hand span of land to the kuffar, using the claim of popular support or to save buildings from being destroyed or to prevent bloodshed, or any other alleged interest, we would have done the same as the Qaeda of the Fool of the so-called umma.10 But this is an honourable, noble Qur’an, a pure Sunnah and upright methodology, a monotheist religion that does not accept concession or alteration. We will fight to the death, even if crops are destroyed, houses are demolished, honour is disgraced, people are killed, and blood is shed. Either we will live in the might of our religion as noble masters, or we will die for it with honour. O soldiers of the Islamic State! It is not hidden from you that crusading America and its allies, with every kafir nation behind it and the apostates of your own people in front of it, have gathered and mobilized against you, threatening you. Every day they claim that the end of the State is near and that this campaign will undoubtedly be the crusher. They threaten you and try to scare you, but your Lord said, “Is not Allah sufficient for His slaves? They try to scare you with those beside Him. And whoever Allah causes to stray will never have a guide. And whoever Allah guides will never have a cause to stray. Is not Allah mighty and takes revenge?” (Az-Zumar 36-37).
Certainly! Allah is sufficient for His slaves, and Allah is mighty and takes revenge! All power belongs to Allah. If you are believers in Allah and are working for Him, nothing will frighten you, no matter what it is, other than Allah. Everything other than Allah is beneath you. Everything other than Allah is a fading force, weak, and frail. From the moment we announced the establishment of the Islamic State, the apostates, the crusaders, and the atheists hoped that they would destroy it in a few days, but they waged war after war, followed by campaign after campaign, each attack met by a counterattack; so they became weary and failed, Allah disgracing them each time. So their threats are not new and their disgrace is not far. And furthermore, situations change every day, and war goes on. And whoever thinks that we fight to protect some land or authority, or that victory is measured thereby, then he has strayed far from the truth.
We fight in obedience to Allah and to become closer to Him. And victory is that we live in the might of our religion or die upon it. It is the same, whether Allah blesses us with consolidation or we move into the bare, open desert, displaced and pursued. It is the same, whether one of us is carried off to prison as a captive, or spends the night with his family, safe and sound. It is the same, whether we are unharmed and take ghanima [war booty] or we are wounded or killed, as victory—according to us—is to live as muwahideen,11 to disbelieve in taghut, to fulfil wala and bara, and to establish the religion. If this exists, then we are already, and under all circumstances, victorious. This is the reality, by Allah, and not mere slogans. Those who were truthful soldiers and leaders of the State wrote this with their blood. Whoever thinks otherwise, even if he is in our ranks, is not of us. He will inevitably be cast out or leave, even after some time.
“Then fight, for the cause of Allah, those who purchase the worldly life for the hereafter. And whoever fights for the cause of Allah and is then killed or conquers, then We shall give him a great reward” (An-Nisa 74). Abdullah Ibn Amr narrated that Allah’s Messenger said, “There is no raiding party that raids, retrieves ghanima, and returns safely except that they have hastened a third of their rewards. And there is no raiding party that raids, loses ground, and is wounded except that they receive all of their rewards” (Reported by Muslim). So O soldiers of the Islamic State, examine and tend to your intentions! Mend your thoughts! And be happy with the news that you are supported, by Allah, for verily we are upon clear guidance and we were not deceived. By Allah, we were not deceived. Give the news to Al-Salul [the Saudi government] of that which will soon harm them, by Allah’s permission. They will be the first to be defeated, if Allah wills. Nafi Ibn Utbah said that he heard Allah’s Messenger say, “You will raid the Arabian Peninsula, so Allah will conquer it (for you); then you will raid Persia, so Allah will conquer it (for you); then you will raid Rome, so Allah will conquer it (for you); then you will raid the Dajjal [Devil], so Allah will conquer him (for you)” (Reported by Muslim).
Though the fuqaha [jurists] of old differed about the meaning of conquering the Arabian Peninsula, its meaning today is very clear! Our Prophet was truthful and did not lie. Determination! Determination! You—on behalf of the umma—are fighting against all nations. If you are resolute, you will win. If you flinch, you will fail and lose. Ahead of you are battles that the insolvent or cowardly will not be able to handle, and there are goods that have no source but combat and war. You are its people, by Allah’s permission. Ramadan has come near, and it is the month of raids and jihad, the month of conquest. Prepare yourselves and get ready. Let each of you hope that he passes it fighting for Allah’s cause, seeking and hoping for Allah’s reward. Let all of you make it, by Allah’s permission, a month of suffering for the kuffar everywhere; and we specifically direct this to soldiers and supports of the Khilafa in Europe and America.
O slaves of Allah, O muwahideen! If the tawaghit have shut the door of hijra in your faces, then open the door of jihad in theirs.12 Make your deed a source of their regret. Truly, the smallest act you do in their lands is more beloved to us than the biggest act done here; it is more effective for us and more harmful to them. If one of you wishes and strives to reach the lands of the Islamic State, then each of us wishes to be in your place to make examples of the crusaders, day and night, scaring them and terrorizing them, until every neighbour fears his neighbour. If one of you is unable, then do not make light of throwing a stone at a crusader in his land, and do not underestimate any deed, as its consequences are great for the mujahideen and its effect is noxious to the disbelievers. It has reached us that some of you do not act due to their incapacity to reach military targets, or their finding fault with targeting those who are called “civilians,” so they leave harming them, doubting the permissibility thereof. Know that inside the lands of the belligerent crusaders, there is no sanctity of blood and no existence of those called “innocents.” This is not the venue for mentioning all of the evidences, for the list is too long; the least of which is dealing with them in just, as their warplanes do not distinguish between one who is armed and another who is unarmed, nor between a man and a woman. Know that your targeting those who are called “civilians” is more beloved to us and more effective, as it is more harmful, painful, and a greater deterrent to them. So go forth, O muwahideen everywhere! It might be that you attain great reward, or even shahada [martyrdom], during Ramadan.
Racing to Allah without provision,
except taqwa, work for the hereafter,
and then patience for Allah in jihad.
Every provision is of depletion,
except taqwa, duty, and right guidance.
O Allah! Let us reach Ramadan. Help us upon Your obedience. Make us steadfast. O Allah! We do not fear other than You. We do not seek other than Your pardon and contentment. O Allah! The whole world has allied and rushed against us, O Allah! They only retaliated against us because we said that our Lord is Allah! So protect us from them, O Allah! Through You alone do we seek protection. Help us, O Allah! Through You alone do we seek help. O Allah! Support us against America and its allies of the Jews, Crusaders, Rafidah, atheists, groups, fronts, and apostate factions, and against the Nusayriyyah and their allies, and against all of Your enemies. There is nothing worthy of worship except You. Glorified are You. Indeed, we were among the oppressors. O Allah, send prayers upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and all of his companions. And all praise is due to Allah, Lord of the creation
 This is the apocalyptic narrative—drawn from the Hadith—that IS has used, and which has been particularly successful in drawing in foreign volunteers. The story says that the “Romans” will descend upon Amaq or Dabiq, and it is Dabiq that is usually emphasized by IS. IS’s English-language magazine is called Dabiq, and opens with the famous quote of IS’s founder, Ahmad al-Khalayleh (Abu Musab al-Zarqawi): “The spark has been lit here in Iraq, and its heat will continue to intensify—by Allah’s permission—until it burns the crusader armies in Dabiq.” Perhaps Falaha’s omission is driven by Dabiq being a recognizable town that IS holds and which is under threat from the Syrian rebellion, while Amaq is an unclear location in Turkey. There will be some explaining needed if and when IS is ejected from Dabiq and the world goes on; doubtless IS will manage it, and de-emphasizing Dabiq’s centrality to IS’s conception of history seems like a good start, propagandistically.
 It is possible that Abu Zayd and Abu Amr refer to IS leaders that are as-yet unknown, but it seems much more likely that Falaha was making a rhetorical point about the ineffectiveness of killing off IS’s leaders, and these names were used, as Cole Bunzel put it, in the manner English-speaking populations would use “Tom, Dick, and Harry”.
 Stripping away the rhetoric, Falaha is not wrong. IS understood the Surge-and-Sahwa as a set-back in a long-term campaign. The United States administration viewed the achievements of 2008 as a completed transition to be used to declare victory and leave, rather than part of a process and an opportunity that could be built on.
 This is a favourite theme of Falaha’s. In his first speech, “The Islamic State Will Remain Safe,” announcing himself as the official spokesman (IS’s first in four years), on 7 August 2011, Falaha, addressing the Awakening tribes, said: “How long are you going to [live by] stay[ing] on guard day and night?! … Do you think we may vanish some time?! Do you think we may get bored or tired?! No! We will remain, God willing, until the Day of Resurrection”.
 Worshipping god “without partner” is a reference to the strict Jihadi-Salafist interpretation of tawhid (monotheism) that IS has, wherein, for example, any reverence for leaders, past or present, let alone worship at graves or shrines is considered setting up equivalent figures of worship to god—which is shirk, idolatry or polytheism, and those who practice it are mushrikeen.
 Wala usually occurs in Salafist and Jihadi-Salafist discourse as al-wala wal-bara (loyalty and disavowal), which means adhering to what and who god approves of (namely other Muslims) and distancing from everything else (particularly infidels).
 The complaint here is about the leadership of the jihadi world siding against IS in its war with al-Qaeda. The “vetted apostates” here is used to cover insurgents in Syria, but it is primarily directed at Jabhat al-Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham, neither of which have been vetted by the covert CIA program that provides (minimal) support to Syrian armed opposition groups. Al-Nusra is al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria, which not only has a foreign agenda—the restoration of the caliphate, to which Syria is peripheral—but is a foreign-led enterprise (even if the emir, Abu Muhammad al-Jolani, is, as appears likely, Syrian) and the membership is about one-third foreign. Ahrar can claim to be Syrian, though it has accepted foreigners—unlike most mainstream rebel groups. More pertinent, Ahrar comes from Jihadi-Salafist origins and veteran jihadists linked to al-Qaeda have shown up in Ahrar’s senior leadership. The old-school jihadi clergy (“the donkeys of knowledge”), notably Issam al-Barqawi (Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi) and Umar Othman (Abu Qatada al-Filistini), have sided against IS and given their support to al-Qaeda/al-Nusra and quite often to Ahrar as well, at least tacitly.
 See note 6.
 See note 5.
 The idea here, other than calling Ayman al-Zawahiri a “fool,” is that IS’s method—occupying urban zones and retaining them even in the face of incoming forces—cannot be blamed for the destroyed cities and the massacres and depopulation because rebel groups in Syria and even al-Qaeda have negotiated “ceasefires” with the pro-Assad coalition suffer the destruction of property and massacre of people on a horrendous scale regardless.
 Muwahideen refers to strict monotheists, used often by IS in place of jihadists or mujahideen. There is a historical reference within the word to the First Saudi State in the mid-eighteenth century.
 The original hijra is the migration of Muhammad’s followers from Mecca to Medina; it is used by IS to refer to the movement of Muslims to the territory controlled by IS.
 The phrase “retreat into the desert” (inhiyaz ila al-sahra), the connotations of inhiyaz (retreat) being those of a temporary situation, would become increasingly salient in IS’s propaganda in the second half of 2016.