Two of the very few pictures of Hamid al-Zawi (Abu Umar al-Baghdadi) in existence. The picture on the right, taken after al-Zawi was killed in April 2010, is most often used in Islamic State media.
Hamid al-Zawi (Abu Umar al-Baghdadi), the first emir of the Islamic State when it was founded in 2006, gave his third speech—”Say, I Am Aware of My Lord” or “Say, I Am on Clear Proof from My Lord”—on 13 March 2007. An English transcript of the speech was released online by the Jihad Media Battalion and a video of part of the speech was released, entitled, “This Is Our Doctrine”, a neat encapsulation of the speech’s content. The speech is an interesting first-hand statement of what the Islamic State actually believes, and is reproduced below. Continue reading →
Since the Syrian rebellion went to war with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in January, there has been a parallel campaign of political warfare by the rebels and al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria, Jabhat an-Nusra, to delegitimize ISIS. This has often taken the form of referring to ISIS as Kharijites or the Khawarij.
This Khawarij are an ancient sect who broke from the Rashidun (Rightly-Guided) Caliphate in the name of righteous revolt in 658, and continued their campaign against the caliphate—by then in the hands of the Umayyads—for a century and more. Regarded as perhaps the first terrorists in Islamdom (by another definition it would be the Nizaris, a.k.a. “The Assassins”), the connotations of the Khawarij label are extremism and deviance, particularly a tendency to excommunicate (make takfir against) Muslims not only for sins that do not merit excommunication, but simply for reasons of political exclusivism. Continue reading →