Al-Qaeda’s Leader Calls on Syria’s Opposition to Shun the West, Rely on the Jihadists

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 23 April 2017

Al-Qaeda’s leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, released a speech today entitled, “Sham Will Submit to None Except Allah” or “Syria Will Submit to None Except Allah”. The short speech—around five minutes in length—was part of the “Brief Messages” series, “Brief Messages to a Victorious Nation 6,” to be exact. An English transcript of al-Zawahiri’s speech was released by As-Sabha Media and is reproduced below with some editions in transliteration, explanatory notes added, and interesting sections highlighted in bold.

Al-Zawahiri’s central message was that the Syrian insurgency should adhere to a globalist jihadist course, not a nationalist framework, and shun the West since the West will remain an enemy to a Muslim revolution, no matter what. While this was clearly aimed at the mainstream insurrectionists who are increasingly moving toward a head-on confrontation with al-Qaeda in Syria, this can also be read—and has been by some pro-Qaeda jihadists—as an oblique attack on Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), the current iteration of Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda in Syria’s original format. Al-Nusra ostensibly separated itself from al-Qaeda last year—with the blessing of al-Qaeda—in order to better integrate into the insurgency and pull it into the jihadi column. The events surrounding that supposed schism and what al-Zawahiri signed-off on are now a matter of some controversy.


In the name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful.

In the name of Allah. All praise belongs to Allah alone, and may peace and blessings be upon the Messenger of Allah, his family, Companions, and those who follow them.

My dear Muslim brothers the world over,

May peace, mercy and blessings of Allah be upon you. To begin with, I would like to tell our beloved people in Sham [Syria] that your wounds are the wounds of the entire umma [Muslim community or nation], and your pain is the pain of the entire umma. You are in our prayers at every moment, and we wish to sacrifice our souls for you. If anything stands in our way, it is the fact that we are engaged in fighting the same Crusader enemy which you are up against, though on a different front. Our Muslim umma in Syria, the land of ribat and jihad: Know that the only reason you are being targeted is that you want Islam to rule over the land of Syria, and the International Satanic Alliance will never accept this, and it will spare no effort to stop this Islamic tide.

Our dear people in Syria: You must therefore prepare yourselves for a protracted war against the Crusaders and their Rafidhi [Shi’i] and Nusayri [Alawi] allies. So remain steadfast, for verily victory comes with patience, ease with hardship, deliverance with affliction, and know that victory is often just a matter of timely perseverance. “So lose not heart, nor fall into despair, for you shall be victorious, if you indeed are true Believers.” [Al-Imran: 139]

You are those who have taken up the path of jihad in the way of Allah to raise the flag of Islam and jihad on the land of Syria, and to liberate it from oppression, tyranny and corruption. So do not backtrack. Know no wavering or compromise. Die honourably, but never accept a life of humiliation. Unite and close your ranks with your Muslim brothers and mujahideen not just in Syria, but the entire world, for it is a single Crusader campaign being waged against Muslims the world over.

Our brothers in Syria: Watch out for the progeny of Abu Righal, who wish to deceive you into buying the myth that only if you were to change your jihad to an exclusively nationalist Syrian struggle, the leading international criminals would be pleased with you, for this goes against what the Qur’an has clearly explained: “Never will the Jews, nor the Christians be pleased with you, until you follow their creed” [Al-Baqarah: 120]. My people and my brothers in Syria: I would like to offer here a few words of advice as a reminder to you and myself.

First: We must constantly review our actions, and retract ourselves from everything which is capable of hindering victory. For we can never be better than the Companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him), who were denied victory when they disobeyed. Critical reassessment and correction of mistakes is the first step in the path to victory.

Second: In my humble opinion, the strategy for jihad in Syria must focus on a guerrilla war aimed at wearing down the enemy and bleeding it to death. This has been the weapon of choice of the oppressed against arrogant transgressors in every age. Do not occupy yourselves with holding on to territory, instead focus on destroying the morale of your enemy. Take the enemy to the point of abysmal despair by inflicting unrelenting blows and unbearable losses on its forces.

Third: The cause of Syria is the cause of the entire umma. We must not present it as merely a cause of the people of Syria, and then further narrow it down to a cause of Syrians alone, for this is precisely the enemy’s plan and his much sought after objective. The enemy seeks to transform the jihad in Syria from a cause of the Muslim umma to an exclusively nationalist Syrian cause, then turn the nationalist cause to an issue of specific regions and localities, and finally reduce this to an issue of a few cities, villages and neighbourhoods.

It is incumbent upon us to confront this evil strategy by declaring that the jihad in Syria is the jihad of the Muslim umma aimed at establishing the rule of Allah in the land of Allah. This must coincide with encouraging the entire umma to participate in the Jihad of Syria with its sons, wealth, efforts, and energies. And let us not forget here that those who defended Syria earlier in history were none other than the likes of Salahuddin, Qutz, Bebres, Muhammad bin Qalawoon, and the Ottoman Turks—none of whom were Syrians, but were Muslims and mujahids before anything else.

We must not submit therefore to the dictations of the leading criminals, who seek to intimidate us with accusations of ‘terrorism’ and ‘extremism’. These are the same forces that did not even spare Muhammad Morsi, in spite of the fact that he had given them all they had asked for [by participating in elections in Egypt]. I ask Allah to give our people in Syria steadfastness. May Allah bless them with His victory and support, and guide them to take a common stance alongside their Mujahideen brethren the world over against a common united enemy.

And our last prayer is that all Praise belongs to Allah alone, the Lord of the Worlds, and may peace and blessings be upon our Master, Muhammad, his family, and Companions. May peace, mercy and blessings of Allah be upon you.

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