The Islamic State Explains Its Secret To Success

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on February 11, 2017


On 28 September 2008, the emir of the Islamic State’s predecessor, the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), Hamid al-Zawi (Abu Umar al-Baghdadi), released an audio statement, his twelfth such, entitled, “The Promise Of God”. An English version of al-Zawi’s speech was released by the Islamic State and is reproduced below with some interesting sections highlighted in bold.

ISI had been seemingly defeated by 2008, driven from its urban strongholds into the desert by a combination of American power and the Sunni Awakening, and ISI’s leadership apparently destroyed.

Al-Zawi’s speech laid out ISI’s view of the predicament, which was that the travails on the battlefield were incidental, part of the testing God visits on the believers—not least to expose the hypocrites. The most important thing, al-Zawi maintained, was that ISI had the correct belief and practice. In naming the State’s sources, al-Zawi drew on Ibn Taymiyya and his student, Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyya, the revered clerics of Salafism and Wahhabism. Most interesting was the mention of Sayyid Qutb, the Muslim Brotherhood luminary sent to the gallows in Egypt in 1966, who has been rather downplayed as an influence over the Islamic State of late because of the Islamic State’s extreme hatred for the Brotherhood as an organization and the increased emphasis on the Salafi component within Jihadi-Salafism that views the Brotherhood’s methodology in achieving an Islamic state as deviant. But Qutb’s concepts remain core to the Islamic State’s worldview, which is comprised of both the Salafi/Wahhabi aspect and the political-revolutionary ideas of the Islamists. God would not give the faithful more to cope with than they could withstand, al-Zawi contends, so victory was assured as long as the correct path was maintained.

Al-Zawi offered the Awakening forces a way back—and a threat should they continue allying with the U.S.-led Coalition and the Iraqi government. Al-Zawi also marked two years since the founding of “the State” by, among other things, listing the “honoured martyrs” from the ISI Shura Council who had been killed: the chief of staff and a former colonel in Saddam Husayn’s army Muhammad al-Nada al-Jiburi (Abu al-Bashair al-Jiburi), Abu Bakr al-Afri, Jarrah al-Shami, and the first ISI spokesman Muharib al-Jiburi.

Al-Zawi had given a speech about eighteen months before, in April 2007, that introduced the slogan “remaining”—later expanded to “remaining and expanding” after the caliphate declaration. The 2007 speech was reprinted in the Islamic State’s magazine, Dabiq, in November 2015 because it seems so prescient—and perhaps predictive. The Islamic State did withstand defeat in 2007-08, and a coherent ideology and commitment to spreading it was no small part of the reason. There was also the fact that al-Zawi knew what the Americans did not grasp: ISI was not as badly beaten as believed. The killing of ISI’s number-three, Mohamed Moumou (Abu Qaswara) in October 2008 revealed a revenue-gathering apparatus around Mosul that remained quite operational. There was no meaningful Awakening in Mosul, and a system of mafia-style extortion run by ISI took greater and greater hold of the city, keeping the movement alive through its darkest hour. ISI reassessed, realized its mistakes, and decided on co-opting the Awakening councils. This path was eased for them by the Iraqi government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, which was supposed to begin paying the Awakening as the Americans drew down but essentially never did. The Americans withdrew anyway, leaving the Awakening alone in the face of a very effective campaign of intimidation and assassination by ISI; the Awakening fell apart or fell in line. By the time ISI dispatched agents to Syria in the summer of 2011 to capitalize on the uprising in that country, it was significantly into a recovery within Iraq. The continued release of ISI captives under a regime that prioritized legalism over human security, plus a series of prison breakouts in Iraq and Bashar al-Assad emptying the prisons in Syria and Lebanon of jihadists at the outset of the uprising, would restore some of ISI’s most capable operatives to the field; the rest is history.

Reviewing this period offers some clues on the way forward, particularly on not mistaking the collapse of the Islamic State’s overt urban holdings for it having been uprooted and defeated for good.


All praise be to God. We thank Him, we seek His guidance and forgiveness. We seek His refuge from the evils of our souls, and the evil results of our deeds. Whosoever God guides, there is none to lead him astray, and whosoever is led astray by God, there is none to guide him. I bear witness that there is none worthy of worship but God, alone, without partner, and Muhammad is His slave and Messenger.

To proceed:

The American lies about achieving success in Iraq are increasing these days, and they claim that the game is about to come to an end. This happens with the agreement of the campaign of the leadership of the state of evil and tyranny (the Iraqi government).

Firstly, we say to them:

We are Muslims and we worship none but God, alone, without partner, and we are seeing you, O cross-worshippers, lower than flies turning over in our noses even if their din and numbers are high, and in spite of this, you chose to be a tyrannical and unjust nation. You came to our country, occupied our land, violated our honour, killed our youths and old men and robbed our money; you did this in a time of inattention from our umma (Muslim community or nation) and injustice from you, and we warn you of consequence of your tyranny and injustice.

God said in our Qur’an, preserved from falsification: “And for how many a township did I give respite though it was given to wrong-doing. Then I seized it [with punishment], and to Me is the [final] destination” [Al-Haj: 48].

He said also: “Such is the seizure of your Lord when He seizes the [population of] towns while they are doing wrong. Verily, His grasp is painful and severe” [Hud: 102].

And He said: “How many a town (community) that dealt unjustly have We destroyed, and raised up after them another people!” [Al-Anbiya: 11].

And He informed us about your consequence, O you, unjust people. Soon: “How many townships have We destroyed while it was given to wrong-doing, so that it lies [to this day] in ruins, and [many] a deserted well and lofty castle” [Al-Haj: 45].

He said also: “So their Lord inspired them [by saying]: ‘Verily, We shall destroy the zalimun (polytheists, disbelievers, and wrong-doers). And indeed, We shall make you dwell in the land after them” [Ibrahim: 13-14].

Our Prophet, who never lied, and him who doubted in his truthfulness like you is an infidel as confirmed in the truest books after the book of God, said: “God prolongs the oppressor’s life till He takes him without doubt”.

And he informed us of a saying God, his Lord: “O you my slaves, you can’t be useful or harmful for me, O my slaves even if all of you (mankind and jinns) are gathered and follow one of the most pious men from among you, this will never add something to my domination. O my slaves, even if all of you are gathered around and followed the most wicked man from among you, this will never decrease anything from my domination” . He did well, him who said: “The transgression destroys its people, and the injustice has bad consequence”.

God made us desirous of your fighting when He said: “Fight against them so that God will punish them by your hands and disgrace them and give you victory over them and heal the breasts of a believing people” [Al-Tawba: 14].

And He said: “Sanction to fight [against disbelievers] is given to those [believers] who are fought against, because they have been wronged; and God is indeed Able to give them victory” [Al-Haj: 39].

And He gave us best reward when He said: “Verily, God has purchased from the believers their lives and their wealth [in exchange] for the Garden (Paradise) that will be theirs. They fight in the Cause of God, so they kill and are killed. It is a true promise upon Him in the Taurat (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel) and the Qur’an. And who fulfilleth his covenant better than God?” [Al-Tawba: 111].

And in spite of this we are the ones to whom our poet has said: “Person who fears his honour to be disparaged, but never fear the sharp swords”. Another poet has said: “I see the hardships with my eyes clearly and I affront it, while the death is in front of me and behind I left disgrace”.

You [America] were secure in your country and the wealth of Iraq were reaching you obediently whereas you imposed upon us a mad governor who robbed our money, killed our men and fought our religion. So we were desirous of fighting you to heal our breasts; we were certain that you are the head of the snake and the provenance of the evil. The stage required that you turn your back to your agent [Saddam Husayn] and to hate him suddenly, you cut his neck and you sent him to God Almighty, the Avenger, and we attained what was never to be expected: we saw your soldiers before our eyes and on our land in a case of injustice from you and a desire arose in us to fight you. Then the men of Islam in Mesopotamia stood up to defend their religion and aqeeda (creed or ideology); they cut your heads and roasted your flesh, and every one among us wanted to kill some of you, to achieve it and in each manner he wished.

And by the grace of God, your arrogance was broken and your force was deteriorated; the whole world witnessed your teardrops, your blood, and our heroes’ laughs over your limbs. Your cowardliness has appeared and we unmasked the myth of your army and equipment, you withdrew [into your bases], defeated in the cities of Ahl al-Sunna (the Sunni people) until we blockaded you in your bases, which couldn’t avoid our hits. Then the men of Islam and the knights of jihad and their scholars realised that this stage is the opportunity to found the State of Islam in His land, to rule with His Shari’a, so they announced the Islamic State of Iraq. That troubled your soldiers, who began asking yourselves: How could those people found an Islamic State on the ground of Islam despite the existence of legions of evil and disbelief from all nations of the world, while they couldn’t do this in the epoch of their Ba’athi agent!

This fact disturbed other people who thought and declared that the fruit of our jihad will fall into their hands, and they forgot that we are monotheists not thick-headed, and we learned well the lessons of the past, and we denounced those people who fought under the banner of a corrupted aqeeda and with distorted thoughts of fanaticism to the tribe’s prestige. So, the desire of the Zionist-Crusader occupier met with the desire of the nationalist losers to frustrate and overthrow the State of Islam.

To all these we say: God, who is our Lord and the one in whose cause we have been fighting, sacrificing our blood to defend His religion, promised us to push your cunning away from us and to lessen your evil against us. He said: “Truly, God defends those who believe. Verily, God likes not any treacherous ingrate to God [who obeys Satan]” [Al-Haj: 38].

He, the Most Generous, imposed a duty upon Himself, and He did it out of His generosity and graciousness, and emphasized it in an obvious manner that didn’t leave any kind of confusedness or ambiguity.

He said: “And as for the believers, it was incumbent upon Us to help them” [Al-Rum: 47].

And He said exactly before that: “We took vengeance on those who committed crimes [apostasy, shirk, etc.]” [Al-Rum: 47].

Verily, He is the All-Mighty, the Compeller and the Avenger, we have no doubts at all about this, but His promise gives us confidence and puts us at ease. He also promised us victory over the enemies on the battlefield, in addition to the one in the persuasion and evidence field, and this victory will be an explicit one and an obvious triumph that has no dubiety.

He, the Almighty, said: “And, verily, Our Word has gone forth of old for Our slaves, the Messengers, that they, verily, would be made triumphant, and that indeed Our soldiers will be the victors” [Al-Saffat: 171-3].

He also said: “Say [O Muhammad] to those who disbelieve: ‘You will be overcome and gathered together in Hell, an evil resting place” [Ali Imran: 12].

Your future, O infidels, is dispersal and separation, and this good news is brought to us by God when He said: “This [is the fact] and surely God weakens the deceitful plots of the disbelievers” [Al-Anfal: 18].

Sayyid Qutb, may the mercy of God be upon him, said: “In addition to what’s just been mentioned, God’s planning isn’t only limited to killing your enemies by your hands, hitting them by your Prophet’s throw, and granting you bravery in order to reward you in return. God adds to that the weakening of plots, arrangements, and expectations of the infidels, so there is no reason anymore to be defeated or turn your backs when you face the enemies”.

We firmly believe, out of our religion and aqeeda, that one of this victory’s features is to see the word of God Most High supreme and the word of the infidels the lowest, and to implement His rulings in His land, so His religion is put into practice among His slaves fully and with no minimizing. We have seen this feature, all praise be to God, in the Islamic State in Mesopotamia. However, the great victory may sometimes be delayed as Sayyid Qutb, may the mercy of God be upon him, said: “Peoples consider things in a way that differs than God’s way; they understand situations in a different way too. But God is the All-Wise, Well-Acquainted with all things. He fulfills His promise in the time and way He likes and knows well. The reason behind this predetermined time may be revealed for people, and it may not be, but still His will is the good, His timing is correct, and His promise is definitely fulfilled and is being awaited by the patient ones who feel confident and sure about it”.

We are confident of you are near defeat and loss, O Zionists. That is because I believe that those in the Islamic State of Iraq who fight the invaders are the allies of God on His land, who have taken the responsibility for today’s obligation, despite the fewness and disappointment of the other followers of the religion of God. So, if this one who fights in the cause of God and blows up himself to defend His religion and render it victorious is not God’s wali (pious man loved by God), so tell me who would he be?!

The Prophet said in Sahih al-Bukhari: “God said: ‘Whoever shows enmity towards a wali of Mine, I declare war against him. My slave does not draw close to Me with anything more loved by Me than the religious duties that I have enjoined on him, and My slave continues to draw close to Me with supererogatory performance, so that I will love him. When I love him, I am his hearing with which he hears, seeing with which he sees, his hand with which he strikes and his foot with which he walks. Were he to ask (something) of Me, I would surely give it to him, and were he to ask Me for refuge, I would surely grant it to him’.”

So, this is a warning sent to you from God, O you traitors, agents and cross-worshippers. If you ignore it, so await a war launched by God against you, and what do you think will happen to those whom God—the All-Mighty, the Compeller and the Avenger—fights? Could any sensible person think that there is someone who could win if he is fought by the Lord of the Earth and Heavens? Al-Hafidh said in his book al-Fath: “Al-Fakahani said: ‘This is a stern warning because whom God fought is surely destroyed. It is some kind of eloquent figuration, because it means that whoever hates the one loving God, he opposes God, and him who opposes God is surely challenging Him, and him who does that is definitely destroyed. If this is proved in the enmity side, it will be too in the supporting one. So, whoever supports the allies of God, he will be graced by Him”.

Al-Tokhi said: “Because God’s wali saves this relation with obedience and devoutness, God responds to that with protecting and granting him victory. And it’s conventional that the enemy of my enemy is my friend, and the friend of my enemy is my enemy. As a result, the enemy of God’s wali is God’s enemy; anyone acting hostilely to God’s wali is just like fighting Him, which means having this fight with God”. We swear by God that we have seen God’s Presence in fighting you and seen many miracles that would have turned us to Muslims if we weren’t, so how much effect do you expect they have on the mujahideen who fight in the cause of God? I really hope that one of our brothers will devote himself to collect the miracles of this jihad.

The Prophet said: “Be sure that if the umma were to gather together to benefit you in some way, they could not do so unless God has decreed that for you, and if they were to gather together to harm you in some way, they could not do that unless God has decreed that for you. The pens have been lifted and the pages have dried”. Though we have assured that God promised us of victory with the physical regard, but we should shed light on the concept of triumph and how it may include or be included within the physical victory. The author of Adwaa al-Bayan said: “The victory God showed to be destined for them is particular compared with the triumph because it is a particular triumph, and the victory means ‘getting over’ and the triumph means the help of the oppressed, so it is necessary to explain this general by this particular”.

To those who value the matters with their external appearance, or those who became tired because of length of the way and its hardship, or think that the right is valued by its great number of followers: to those we say what the Prophet, has said in al-Sahih: “The nations were presented to me and the prophets were passing, among them him who passes with one follower and some with two followers and others with a group of followers, then there was a prophet who was passing alone without any follower. Then I saw a great number of people and I wished they were my umma but I was told that he were Moses (Musa) and his followers. Then I was asked to see somewhere and I saw a great number of people here and there, a lot of people, and I was told: those are your umma among them seventy-thousand who will enter the paradise without reckoning”. It is mentioned in al-Hadith that there was a prophet with one follower and others with two and others alone without any follower, despite this we don’t doubt for a moment that the prophets are victorious.

God said: “Verily, We will indeed make victorious Our Messengers and those who believe during this world’s life and on the Day when the witnesses will stand forth (Day of Resurrection)” [Ghafir: 51].

All the prophets, peace be upon them, got the clear proof and rhetoric from God, as well as the success and wisdom in all their sayings and deeds, in spite of this there were a prophet who died without being believed in, or being followed by one or two persons and this belief might be after the death of this prophet. Can any monotheist say that the prophet was not successful in his da’wa (proselytism)? Or the prophet didn’t choose the best way to do this? Or he is unsuccessful in al-dunya (the temporal world)? Him who says like this is surely not a Muslim because he accuses the evident religion of lying.

So, there must be another triumph other than the concept of the previous victory. Al-Tabari, may the mercy of God be upon him, said explaining this aya (verse), “Verily, We will indeed make victorious Our Messengers and those who believe during this world’s life and on the Day when the witnesses will stand forth (Day of Resurrection),” that there are two explanations, both of them are true. First: “Verily, We will indeed make victorious Our Messengers and those who believe during this world’s life”: “it can mean that God will make them victorious by raising them above those who accuse them of lying till they defeat them and make them low by this victory”. His saying, may the mercy of God be upon him: “Whether by Our revenge on those who disbelieve is by killing them while saving the prophets as God did to Noah and his people, He made them sink and saved his Prophet Noah; the same thing happened with the Prophet Moses and Pharaoh, where God annihilated the people disbelieving in Moses and saved him and his followers. Or [it could be] by revenge against them in this world’s life after the death of the prophet of God”.

There is one sure-fire sign of the Muslim’s triumph, which is that he finds pleasure and quietude in his heart towards the right. For God said: “Those who believe [in tawhid (monotheism)] and whose hearts find rest in the remembrance of God, verily, in the remembrance of God do hearts find rest” [Al-Ra’d: 28].

The quietude as Ibn al-Qayyim [al-Jawziyya], may the mercy of God be upon him, explains: “It is the ease of heart without any disturbance or worry”.

There is nothing better than a person’s feeling of ease towards the promise of God to grant him victory, help, and support, so he gets an advantage by quietude in his heart, which gives him a power to endure the ordeal and a light which illuminates the way for him to see the right as right and the wrong as wrong and to make distinction between them. For as God said: “He it is Who sent down reassurance [or tranquillity] into the hearts of the believers [so] that they may grow in faith along with their [present] faith. To God belong the hosts of the heavens and the earth, and God is Ever All-Knower, All-Wise” [Al-Fatah: 4]

The real victory begins with the firmness of the manhaj (methodology) and patience on the path of right, being happy on it, and then the ease and quietude towards the promise of God. Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyya, mercy of God be upon him, said: “There is a paradise in al-dunya, the one who didn’t enter it he can’t enter the paradise of the hereafter”. This is what we feel, O you enemies of God, happiness, gratitude to God for His guidance, and contempt towards al-batil (falsehood) and its method. As for you, O infidels and agents, we know that your life is a hell, and we saw your teardrops and disturbance, so still you consider the happy one as unhappy and the downhearted as victorious? These facts can’t be comprehended by eyes but by hearts of the rightly-guided winners.

Thus, the victory can’t be limited to this perishable world’s life; the real victory is eternal life, where faces will be whitened and others will be blackened. Every sincere believer and monotheist is considered victorious whether in his life or after his death. For God said: “Verily, We will indeed make victorious Our Messengers and those who believe during this world’s life and on the Day when the witnesses will stand forth (Day of Resurrection)” [Ghafir: 51].

So, if you claimed, O you cross-worshippers and occupier’s agents, that our capture is an insult and our death is a defeat, we tell you, O tyrants, the saying of him who had few followers, but God destroyed all the infidels on the earth. It is the saying of the Prophet of God Noah: “… He said: ‘Verily, I call God to witness and you to bear witness [yourselves] that I am free from that which you ascribe as partners to God in worship (shirk). So plot against me, all of you, and give me no respite. I put my trust in God, my Lord and your Lord! There is not a moving (living) creature except that He has grasp of its forelock. Verily, my Lord is on the Straight Path” [Hud: 54-56].

And the Prophet, brought glad tidings to us when he said: “How strange is the matter of the believer, all his matters are good and it is an advantage which cannot be acquired except by the believer, if he was in joy he thanks his Lord and it is better for him, and if he was in sorrow he endures and takes patience and it is better for him”. O tyrants, do you think that we will leave our religion, aqeeda, and jihad because of a fear of being captured? We welcome imprisonment if it is necessary and never will we leave the jihad. It is the thing God chose for one of His Prophets, Yusuf (Joseph) when he had to choose between the sin and prison; he said: “O my Lord! Prison is dearer to me than that unto which they urge me” [Yusuf: 33].

The Prophet, guided us to one of the believer’s signs and said: “He (the believer) dislikes returning to disbelief after God saved him from it like disliking to be thrown in the hellfire”. Al-Saadi, may the mercy of God be upon him, said: “When Yusuf controlled himself from falling with al-Aziz’s wife despite her promise to him of privileges and superiorities in al-Aziz’s palace and his presidency, and he got patient in the prison, and loved it and wanted it to exclude him from women and seduction, God Almighty compensated him by giving him the full authority in land, to take possession therein, as when or where he likes and enjoys whatever he wants of what God allowed him to of money, power, and women. Also the people of al-Kahf (the Cave) when they left their people and what they worship [none] but God, God spread His mercy upon them and provided them with the facilities and comfort and gave them a reason to guide those who were astray”.

We worship God in distress as well as in prosperity, so God sees in our distress a breakage and supplication between His hands, and lacking and need to Him. Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyya, may the mercy of God be upon him, said: “What revenge can my enemies can on me? My garden and paradise are in my heart, killing me is martyrdom, expelling me is tourism, and imprisonment provides me privacy”. Imprisonment to those deprived from martyrdom is privacy in which he worships his Lord, study His Book, and calls others to Him, as did the Prophet Yusuf when he called the youths for monotheism in the simplest words, he said: “O [my] two companions of the prison! Are many different lords [i.e. polytheism] better, or God, the One, the Irresistible?” [Yusuf: 39].

Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyya wrote the most important and greatest of his books in prison, and died in prison. His books still guide those who are hesitant and misguided, and call (proselytize) for God the Lord of the worlds. Where are the books of his enemies and enviers? Life as a whole is what our Prophet said: “Life is a prison of believers, and a paradise of infidels”. When Shaykh al-Islam was put in prison and saw its iron doors, he read on his captors what God almighty said: “A wall will be put up that separates them, with a gate therein. Inside it will be mercy, and outside it will be torment” [Al-Hadid: 13].

His captors were in agony and he was in God’s mercy, for he was prepared for reward in the hereafter. Yet, the jailed mujahid is one among men who fought against you, shed your blood, deemed dirty your methods and never leave their weapons to be servile slaves to you or mount of your desires. “Among men I knew my value, under the whips, I experienced my secrets, highly proud mount I am, never fear the culprit, hatred of the enemy prolongs my nails”.

Thus, hero mujahideen should exhort one another by good. This is a Muslim Iraqi man, from the Arabs of the desert, who recommends Ahmad ibn Hanbal, the Imam of Ahl al-Sunna, who said: “I have not heard since the beginning of this matter something stronger than a word of a Bedouin man. He said it to me in Rahba Tawq, a town between al-Raqqa and Baghdad on the shores of Euphrates, he said: ‘O Ahmad, if the truth kills you, you will be a martyr, and if you live, you will live with honour,’ then he strengthened my heart”. And none of you be less in manhood or magnanimity than that thief who said to Imam Ahmad: “I was jailed for [stealing] ten dirhams, ten times. I steal then get jailed, then get out and then return back again. You will only feel the pain of the first and second whip, then you will feel nothing after that”. Thus, his words had significant impact on the firmness of the Imam of Ahl al-Sunna and the lack of fear of torture. Everyone must realise the seriousness of the word and its impact, especially in times of adversities. The Prophet, was promising the treasures of Khosrow and Caesar in the days of fear, days of digging the trench, also was promising the coming security during torture in Mecca, so obey God and do not say except good words.

In conclusion to my speech, there must be words on the occasion of the second anniversary of the establishment of the State of Islam in Iraq:

My first word is to the heroes of the State who established it by their blood and built it by their bodies, so may God bless you and guide you to the right path. I can’t say nothing but: I ask God that you may find it in your paper in the Day of Judgment, the day whereon neither wealth nor sons will avail. You built a State for Islam and you were its loyal soldiers. You were not affected by verdicts of the disappointed and defeated ones, or the stabs of the relapsed traitors, or the severity of mighty prowess of the agents and occupiers. And may God bless the blood of the honoured martyrs of the State, in particular, Abu al-Bashair al-Jiburi, commander-in-chief of the State of Islam, Abu Bakr al-Afri, al-Jarrah al-Shami, and Muharib al-Jiburi, members of Shura council of the Islamic State. I am sure that God will bless all the blood spilled under the banner of this State in defending the religion of God and His legislation. And I ask God to grant us firmness until we meet Him without changing or altering.

My second word is to those who were apparently with us in the field of fighting the infidel occupier, yet after the announcement of the State of Islam, they went in alliance with the Crusaders and Shi’a to fight the men of the Islamic State alongside the cross-worshippers. O folk:

When we thought you were on the right path, we were protecting you with our lives and covering you by our eyelids. When we found apostasy and abandonment from you, our hearts were broken with pain and grief. If I lost my father, my sons, and all of my family, this would be lesser grief to me than the apostasy of any one of you; how then by this combination of so many! O fear God, you who were misled by bad Imams and warlords. Fear God, O you ex-soldiers and the subsequent ones of the political council, and in particular the liars in their claim of belonging to al-manhaj al-salaf (methodology of the ancestors, i.e. salafism). O Leave your banners that lead you to hellfire and the worst destination. Listen not to warlord-users, or betrayer agents trading by your religion and blood, remember that you will be reckoned alone in the Hereafter and at that time you will hear: “Did we drive you away from guidance after it had come to you? Nay, but you were mujrimun (criminals, polytheists, and sinners)” [Saba: 32].

By God, your repentance is lovelier to me than the whole world, and I am only a faithful adviser for you. You know well that the spiteful Shi’a and infidel occupiers will never forget that you were the enemies of yesterday. They already began their stabs to you, so return back to us, we will not forget that you were friends of yesterday, and there is great difference between the two labels. If you fall into our grasp before repenting, then by God to kill the apostate is more likely to me than cutting the heads off a hundred crusaders, and you know our might, and the length of our arms, and that the mantle of the Shia and the Cross of the occupiers will not be useful to you.[1]

Finally, I say to all those who contributed and still contribute in building this State all over the world:

May God give you the best reward, and in particular the unknown soldiers: coordinators, the heroes of smuggling and counterfeiting, and the sincere men of Media who advocate the honour of their brothers, and fellow fighters in the most ferocious fronts. There must be a word of appreciation and greetings to the unknown pious scholars who supported us by advice, opinion, and money, and I ask God to keep firm the soldiers of Islam and the armies of God in Afghanistan, Chechnya, the captive Somalia, Algeria, Syria, and everywhere there is jihad to make the word of God the highest: “There is no true God but God”.

“And God has full power and control over His Affairs, but most of men know not” [Yusuf: 21].

Your brother,

Abu Omar al-Qurayshi al-Hussayni al-Baghdadi






[1] Abu Umar’s address to the Sahwa or Awakening forces puts a noticeable stress on how upset he is that the Sunni insurgents and tribes have turned on ISI, and invites them back. But he also threatens them. The reference to the “length of our arms” refers to how thoroughly ISI has penetrated the Sunni community and can reach anti-ISI Sunnis. At this moment in 2008 that dynamic of ISI’s entanglement with the Sunni population was working in reverse: backed by the U.S., the anti-ISI Sunnis were confident enough to go after the ISI agents in their midst. But in time, after the American withdrawal and the Iraqi government’s effective repudiation of the Sahwa units, the advantage would revert to ISI, which struck down more than thirteen-hundred Awakening militiamen between 2009 and 2014, and co-opted much of the remnants by terror and inducement.