Al-Qaeda’s General Command issued a statement on 8 January 2018, entitled, “And it is Due from Us to Aid Those Who Believe”. The statement is reproduced below.
The statement was a reiteration of al-Qaeda’s position on the Syrian war—encouraging insurgent unity, on condition they accept al-Qaeda’s jihadist ideology; that Syria is the central front of the Muslim struggle against the West; and trying to tamp down the public dissention emanating from Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham’s break away from al-Qaeda’s command structure. It was notable that the statement included two extensive quotes, one from al-Qaeda’s leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and one from Sayyid Qutb, the Muslim Brotherhood ideologue who was executed by the Egyptian dictatorship in 1966. Qutb’s book, In the Shade of the Qur’an, was a key inspiration for Usama bin Ladin, and Bin Ladin’s recently-released diary explain in the man’s own words how significantly the Brotherhood shaped his worldview.
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All praise belongs to Allah, and may peace and blessings be upon the messenger of Allah, his family, companions, and those who follow his guidance.
The contemporary battle between the nations of disbelief and our people in al-Sham [Syria] is a continuation of the war against Islam and the Muslims, from Afghanistan to Central Asia, from Burma to al-Quds [Jerusalem], and from the Peninsula of our Prophet Muhammad to the Islamic Maghreb. This is part of a larger scheme put into action by the global system of disbelief to uproot the very foundations of Islam from the hearts and souls of our Muslim umma [community], making it easier thereby to subjugate the Muslim masses, rein in their potential, and steal their resources.
To confront this blatant aggression and brutal occupation, it is absolutely vital to unite on the basis of the word of tawhid [monotheism], organize our ranks to fight in the cause of Allah, and transcend our disagreements and disputes, for such differences are not a novelty in any theatre of jihad, nor have they been so in any stage in the history of the Muslim umma.
We must understand that we are in for a long war; a battle of aqeeda [creed] and awareness before weapons and combat; a battle for the sake of upright conduct, inculcating ethics and abstinence from this world before carrying out explosions, assassinations, and ghanima [war booty].
So let us cooperate, come closer, join ranks, correct mistakes, and fill the gaps. Let us be honest with our Lord so that He may reward us with His help. Allah the Glorious says, “They ask thee [O Muhammad] about the spoils of war. Say: ‘The spoils of war belong to Allah and the messenger, so fear Allah, and adjust all matters of difference between you, and obey Allah and His messenger, if you are [true] believers” [Al-Anfal (8): 1].
We must know that the path to victory begins with repentance, and this is done by giving up sins, seeking forgiveness, and engaging in virtuous redemptory acts. No affliction strikes except because of sins, and it is not lifted except by repentance.
The True One says, “And what is the matter with you, when a single disaster smites you, although you smote [your enemies] with one twice [as great as] that, you say: ‘How did this come to us?’ Say [to them], ‘It is from yourselves [because of your evil deeds].’ Verily, Allah has power over all things.”
The martyr of Islam, [Muslim Brotherhood ideologue] Sayyid Qutb (may Allah have mercy on him) says in his explanation of this verse:
Allah has promised victory to his allies, his flagbearers, and men of faith. But he has made this victory conditional upon the attainment of the essence of faith in the hearts, the realization of the requisites of the faith in their social environment and conduct, and the completion of the preparation and exertion of efforts within their means. This is the divine tradition of Allah, and it does not favour anyone. But when they neglect any of these prerequisites, they must accept the results of this shortcoming. Their being Muslim does not imply a contravention of universal laws, and the annulment of all divine principles. They are Muslims precisely because they conform their lives to these laws and align their nature with divine principles.
However, their being Muslim does in no way go in vain. Their submission to Allah, their carrying his flag, their determination in obeying Him and following his divine methodology will eventually reap wellbeing and blessings—even in return for their mistakes and shortcomings—but only after the passing of sacrifice, pain, and injury, which results thereof. Mistakes and its consequences are thus made useful lessons and experience that further refine the creed, cleanse the hearts, and purify the ranks, capacitating them for the promised victory and concluding eventually with good fortune and blessings; they do not banish the Muslims from the protection, care, and attention of Allah, rather they offer provision for the journey … no matter how great the agony, pain, and difficulties faced in the course of their journey.
We must realize that the universal laws of Allah cannot be suspended. Truth prevails and falsehood is crushed, inevitably with the permission of Allah. We only need to reflect on the divine laws of Allah concerning change and empowerment. The most important of these is the Sunna of trials and purification of the ranks. A trial outwardly severe is, in reality, a blessing, because it distinguishes the truthful from the liar, and the evil from the virtuous. Allah the Glorious says: “Do men imagine that they will be left alone because they say, ‘We believe’, and will not be tested? We tested those who were before you, and Allah will certainly make it known who is sincere and who is lying” [Al-Ankabut (29): 2-3]. So this, indeed, is the divine tradition from which there is no escaping; there is no option but to be truthful and patient. So be thoroughly steadfast, for victory hinges at times on just an hour of patience, followed then by the promised empowerment. We see the disbelievers are steadfast upon their falsehood, so how greatly are we in need of steadfastness on the truth that we believe in from our hearts.
We must understand that the obligation of the hour is preparation for war, a general call to jihad, ribat [guarding the frontiers], and repelling the aggressor on the war fronts extending throughout the occupied Muslim Lands generally, and in Syria, the land of ribat, specifically. Allah says, “March forth, whether you are light [healthy] or heavy [ill, old], strive hard with your wealth and your lives in the cause of Allah. This is better for you, if [only] you knew” [Al-Tawbah (9): 41]. So the mujahideen must not abandon their positions alongside those who cooperate with them amongst the Muslims, whomever and wherever they may be. They must not hesitate in guarding the frontiers. They must not lag behind in any general offensive against the enemy, nor should they discontinue any work or effort initiated for the sake of Allah.
Borrowing from the words of Shaykh Ayman [al-Zawahiri], we would like to repeat and reiterate our previous call once more:
You must be the first of the people in exertion and giving [sacrifice] and stitching together the mujahideen and the Muslims, and be first in exertion against evil and conflict and discord.
This is a clear-cut order from me to you: cooperate with your mujahideen brothers, with whom you agree and disagree on jihad, in fighting the Ba’thists and the Rafida and the Safaween and the Crusaders and the rogue Khawarij.
But at the same time, I forbid above all, and emphatically warn above all warnings, against cooperating with anyone who is among the unjust—in oppression, aggression, and transgressing the rights of Muslims and the rights the shari’a has endorsed for the disbelievers. Do not shed forbidden [i.e. Muslim] blood, do not take protected wealth, and do not violate the dignity, honour, or the glory of a Muslim, and do not harm a disbeliever where the shari’a protects his rights. And if you fail to do so, we are absolved from any blame for your actions. O Allah, have I conveyed the message? O Allah, be the witness.
To conclude, we ask Allah to show us the truth as the truth, and guide us to following it, and to show us falsehood as falsehood, and to guide us away from it. We pray to Allah to grant this umma a righteous era in which His obedient slaves are honoured; an era in which those who disobey Him are humiliated, righteousness is commanded and evil is forbidden, justice becomes the law of the land, truth is fearlessly proclaimed, and the flag of jihad flutters high in the skies, returning to the umma its lost dignity and glory. We pray to Allah that the flag of tawhid is raised once more above every infringed Muslim land. We ask Allah to grant us rectitude in our words, righteousness in our actions, guide us to what pleases Him in al-dunya [this worldly life], and bring our lives to an honourable ending at the [appointed] time of death. For verily, He is capable of this, All-powerful over His affairs.
Our last prayer is that all praise belongs to Allah, Lord of the Worlds.