Al-Qaeda’s General Command released a statement on 12 September 2017 on Telegram, entitled “Burma Calling” or “Burma is Calling for You”, reproduced below, which incited jihadists to travel to Burma to protect the Rohingya Muslim minority that has come under assault from the state in recent days.
It was hoped that the appointment of Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi to the position of “State Counsellor” (roughly Prime Minister) in April 2016 had put Burma on a path to reform and stability, but these hopes have been dashed.
In October 2016, a series of attacks were carried out by insurgent group, the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), a group previously known as Harakah al-Yaqin, and on 25 August 2017 the ARSA staged a coordinated offensive that left dozens dead. Two days later, the military responded by marching into Rohingya areas, backed by armed non-Rohingya civilians from nearby villages: “Survivors described how soldiers shot and killed several residents, while people from a neighbouring village armed with swords and knives hacked and, in some cases, beheaded Rohingya residents, including children. Soldiers reportedly arrested a large group of Rohingya men, marched them into a nearby bamboo hut, and set it on fire, burning them to death.” It is believed that 1,000 Rohingya have been killed and up to 400,000 displaced in a campaign that Human Rights Watch described as having all the hallmarks of “ethnic cleansing”.
Forced to break her embarrassing silence, Ms. Suu Kyi made lavish excuses for the Generals, insisting that they are conducting a legitimate counterterrorism operation and that reports to the contrary are merely evidence of a misinformed international press corps.
This crisis did not come from nowhere. The reports of hideous mistreatment of Muslims by the military-dominated, Buddhist-chauvinist Burmese regime are years old, and the guarantee was that if this did not cease, it would open the space for forces that vowed to fight back. This was a situation into which jihadists and other extremists would intrude, as al-Qaeda is now trying to do in a manner not dissimilar to what has happened in Syria.
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All praise be to the One who says, “But if they seek your help in religion, it is your duty to help them except against a people with whom you have a treaty of mutual alliance, and Allah is the All-Seer of what you do” [Anfal (8): 72].
It is mentioned in the Hadith, “Whoever helps a Muslim in a situation in which he is humiliated and his honour is violated, Allah will help him in a situation in which he would love to be helped” [narrated by Abu Dawud].
The crimes being committed in the Arakan Province [or Rakhine State] today with vindictive international blessing—murder, burning, ripping apart of bodies, destruction of homes with their occupants inside—are the continuation of a conspiracy hatched by the forces of International Disbelief against Islam and Muslims, a conspiracy marked by the usurpation of the rights of Muslims, occupation of their lands, and defilement of their holy places—all under the guise of fighting terrorism!
The usage and espousal of the term “the war against terrorism” has become the latest trend with which every ruler must keep up, as a pledge of allegiance and devotion to the powerful in the [international] system—a sacrament of penance to secure remission of all of his crimes and failings, and to be rewarded perhaps with the Nobel Peace Prize, a badge worn by every professional criminal and murderer.
The savage treatment meted out to our Muslim brothers in Arakan by the government of Myanmar under the guise of “fighting rebels”—as the Saudi media loves to depict the situation—shall not pass without punishment, and the government of Myanmar shall be made to taste what our Muslim brothers have tasted in Arakan, with the permission of Allah.
Helping the Muslims of Arakan is a shar’i obligation and a religious necessity. Allah the Glorious says: “And what is wrong with you that you fight not in the Cause of Allah, and for those weak, ill-treated, and oppressed among men, women, and children, whose cry is: ‘Our Lord! Rescue us from this town whose people are oppressors; and raise for us from You one who will protect, and raise for us from You one who will help’” [An-Nisa (4): 75].
It is mentioned in the Hadith that the Prophet said: “A Muslim is a brother of a Muslim; he does not oppress him, nor betray him. Whoever helps his brother in need, Allah will be sufficient to fulfil his needs; whoever alleviates the suffering of a Muslim, Allah will alleviate his suffering on the Day of Judgment; and whoever covers up the weakness of a Muslim, Allah will cover up his sins of the Day of Judgement” [narrated by Bukhari and Muslim].
We call upon the mujahid brothers in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, and the Philippines to set out for Burma to help their Muslim brothers, and to make the necessary preparations—training and the like—to resist this oppression against their Muslim brothers, and to secure their rights, which will only be returned to them by the use of force.
The Muslim umma (community or nation) must come to the aide of their Muslim brothers in Arakan. The Muslims of Arakan are in need of every support—money, food, clothing, weapons—in addition to raising awareness about their plight and presenting it in the correct perspective so that the umma may recognize its enemy.
Allegiance to the Muslims—and supporting them—is among the strongest bonds of faith. Allah the Glorious says, “The believers, men and women, are auliya (protectors or supporters) of one another, they enjoin al-Ma’ruf (all that Islam orders i.e. what is just), and forbid [people] from al-Munkar (all that Islam forbids i.e. disbelief and evil of all kinds); they perform as-Salat (regular prayers) and give the Zakat (charity), and obey Allah and His Messenger. On them, Allah will pour His Mercy on them, for Allah is All-Mighty, All-Wise” [At-Tawba (9): 71].
It is mentioned in the Hadith that on account of [Abu Abdillah] al-Numan bin Bashir that the Prophet said, “The parable of the believers in their mutual love, mercy, and sympathy is that of a single body. If any part of the body falls ill, the entire body becomes restless and ill”.
Military support becomes necessary in such a situation. If the enemy attacks a Muslim land and the people of that land are unable to repel the aggression because of their weakness or numerical inferiority, the obligation turns from fard al-kifaya (a communal obligation) to fard al-ayn (an individual obligation).
The scholars of the Hanafi madhab (school) have opined that if the disbelievers attack a Muslim land, jihad becomes a compulsory obligation on every individual of that land, and if the people of that land are unable to fulfil the obligation themselves, show negligence, or disobey Allah in this regard, this obligation extends to those nearest to them, and it continues to extend in a circular manner until jihad becomes an obligation on all Muslims in the East and the West.
It is therefore obligatory on Muslims all over the world to take urgent steps to rescue their brothers and spend in this cause their souls and wealth, for this is the greatest of virtues, which brings man closer to Allah.
O Allah, be with our oppressed brothers in Arakan and all over the world. O Allah, help them with Your Divine help, and give them victory over their enemies. You are the Powerful One, the Almighty!
And our last prayer is that all praise belongs to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds.
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UPDATE: On 21 September 2017, al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) released an official statement, “Burma: A Call To Action”, via its spokesman, Ustaz Usama Mahmud, which echoed the same themes as the statement above on the need for Muslims in neighbouring states to journey to Burma for jihad.
On the same day, an important pro-al-Qaeda jihadi-salafist cleric living in London, Hani al-Sibai, released a separate statement, “Slaughter and Burning of the Rohingya Muslims in Burma”. Al-Sibai mirrored the official al-Qaeda statements, referring to the torture and massacres by “the Buddhists” right “in front of the eyes of the world”, which was content to allow these pogroms to continue. Al-Sibai included a polemical assault against Buddhism in his treatise, and accosted the governments of Muslim-majority countries with their impotence in the face of these atrocities, particularly those governments like Pakistan that have verbally protested Rangoon’s conduct, while not even withdrawing their ambassador.