The First Speech of Abu Hamza al-Muhajir

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 15 March 2021

Destruction at the Sadeer Hotel in Baghdad, 9 March 2005

The Islamic State movement, then-known as Al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia (AQM), used a suicide truck bomb to blow up the Sadeer Hotel, where many foreign contractors were staying, and the next-door Agriculture Ministry, on 9 March 2005, murdering three people and wounding forty, thirty of them Americans. Reporting at the time noted that “insurgents wearing police uniforms first shot to death a guard at the Agriculture Ministry’s gate, allowing the truck to enter a compound the ministry shares with the adjacent Sadeer hotel”, and these details were confirmed in a two-minute audio message released later in the day by Abu Hamza al-Muhajir, the veteran Egyptian jihadist who would take over AQM when its founder was killed in 2006.[1] A transcript of the brief speech is reproduced below.


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A Statement About the Sadeer Martyrdom Operation

27 Muharram 1426 – 9 March 2005

Output of the Jihadist Media Elite


In the name of God, the most merciful and compassionate.

Praise be to God Almighty, the wise, there is no aggression, except against the oppressors.[2]

I bear witness that there is no God but Allah who supports the believers …

As for what follows:

God Almighty said: “Fight them! God will torment them by your hands and disgrace them and grant you victory over them” [Tawba (9): 14].

Thanks be to God for granting success. After careful monitoring, around the clock, over a long period of time, of “Al-Sadeer” Hotel, there were recurrent reports about the residents of this nest, and it was surprising [who they were]: Jews, with their distinguishing beards and hats; the headquarters for the Sur Security Company, the largest employer out of these companies in Iraq; a secret outpost for the new Iraqi intelligence agency; and a significant number of agents for the CIA and American intelligence.[3]

After examining the area, and the barriers that inhibit execution of the goal, the leadership found that the most successful avenue to destroying the target was from the back, where they are less careful, by means of a garbage truck, as its presence in the area was appropriate. At the specified time, all the control points—the towers and the guard posts surrounding the site—were seized from all directions, and then, thanks to God first and foremost, and then to the high-quality training process, it did not take more than thirty seconds to storm the site.

And may God bless the company commander, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, for this operation.[4]

God is greatest and glory to Islam.

There is no aggression, except against the oppressors.

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[1] Abu Hamza’s real name is Abdul Munim al-Badawi, and his biography has few concrete points on it: he was in Afghanistan from 1999 at the Qaeda camps; he was in Baghdad in early 2002 with a senior cadre laying down the jihadist infrastructure while Saddam Husayn was still in power, he fought in Fallujah in 2004, and he took over AQM after Ahmad al-Khalayleh (Abu Musab al-Zarqawi) was killed in June 2006, before dissolving AQM into the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) in November 2006 and taking the position of War Minister, that is to say deputy, to Hamid al-Zawi (Abu Umar al-Baghdadi), the proto-caliph of the Islamic State.

This speech on the Sadeer Hotel attack comes at a moment when Al-Badawi’s position is less clear; it can be assumed he was one of the most senior people around Zarqawi, but not much else is known.

It is not clear if it was previously known that Al-Badawi was the one who issued the claim of responsibility over the Sadeer Hotel attack; I only discovered it in a document, created by the pro-IS “Jihadist Media Elite” outlet, which compiled all the speeches of Al-Badawi, Al-Zawi, Muharib al-Jiburi (the second spokesman after Abu Maysara al-Iraqi), and Abu Sulayman al-Utaybi (briefly the chief shari’a judge of ISI in 2007), plus a curious and somewhat random speech, dated May 2008, by “the media spokesman of Wilayat Ninawa”, which covers everything from Mosul reconstruction and refuting claims that ISI’s emir had been captured to the usual agitation against Shi’is and the Muslim Brotherhood.

[2] The word translated as “aggression” here is “adwan”. While “the oppressors” could also be given as “the unjust” or “wrongdoers”, the word used in the speech is “zalameen”, meaning “those who commit zulm”, and zulm refers to people who deny justice to others. The opposite of zulm is adel (justice). In Islamdom, these are the pair of words used about government with the same connotation as when Westerners speak of “free” and “unfree” governments (the word “free” in the Islamic context, at least until the late eighteenth century, was a legal term not a political one, nor really a social one; it simply meant “non-slave”.)

[3] The word used for “distinguishing” is “mashhura” (مشهورة), which could be rendered “renowned” or “well-known” or even “notorious”.

[4] The phrase used for “company commander” is “sarayat al-qayid”.

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