PART OF THE SERIES OF RESEARCH NOTES FROM MY CURRENT PROJECT, "The Art of the Martyr & Mujahid," (All Material Copyrighted) :
On April 23, the Iraqi government announced that it had captured Abu 'Umar al-Baghdadi, the shadowy (and some analysts have argued fictional) leader of the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), a loose umbrella of Salafi Sunni jihadi groups operating in the country. The ISI was "declared" in late 2006, following the assassination of Abu Mu'sab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian leader of al-Qa'ida in the Land of the Two Rivers (formerly Tawhid wa'l Jihad, or "Unity and Jihad"), in June of that year. The announcement of the formation of an "Islamic state," with al-Baghdadi, who al-Qa'ida "Central" (AQC) claims is from the tribe of Quraysh (a prerequisite some Sunni Muslims argue to be caliph, or ruler), was possibly a strategy to head off a severe drop in morale after the killing of al-Zarqawi, the iconic terror mastermind and architect of AQI's bloody campaign against Iraqi Shi'i Muslims.
Despite the claims of the Iraqi government, including prime minister Nuri al-Maliki, that al-Baghdadi has been captured, questions remain, as false claims about the ISI leader's death or capture have emerged before (such as in 2007). As of May 8, the U.S. military, through its top commander in Iraq, General Ray Odierno, said that it could not confirm al-Baghdadi's capture.
Late on Monday (May 11), an ISI statement was posted on the Ansar al-Jihad Network discussion forums denying that al-Baghdadi had been arrested. The short statement, which was first posted in Arabic and then, upon my subsequent checking, in English, says that the man in photographs produced by the Iraqi government is, "not known to us at all."
A banner advertisement for the statement
All praise is due to Allah, and may peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, and upon all his family and companions.
Whenever we see the Mujahidoon increase their strikes against the enemies of Allah [God], we see the pain and suffering associated with these strikes turn to fables and false hopes floating about in the ranks of the Crusader leaders and their aides, which then take the shape of lies and fabrications which they broadcast right and left in order to hide the huge losses they are suffering on the hands of the lions of Tawheed.
Since the announcement of the Islamic State of Iraq, TV channels and newspapers from time to time holler out some information that some leader of the Islamic State of Iraq has been killed or arrested. The latest piece of news was the announcement of some Iraq TV channels the Leader of the Islamic State, Sheikh Abu Omar Al-Baghdadi, may Allah protect him, has been captured.
For this reason, we in the Islamic State of Iraq would like to clarify that the news announced by the apostate Qasim ‘Ata is false, and the person whose picture was aired on Iraq TV stations is not known to us at all. All that was aired in this regards was mere theatrics written by the keepers of the "Black House", played out by the media of their aides.
We bring good tidings to the Islamic Ummah that the Leader of the Believers, Sheikh Abu Omar Al-Baghdadi, may Allah protect him, is well and fine.
We would also like to give good tidings that victory is looming over the horizon, Allah willing, and that [the Ummah] will pulverize the throne of the enemies of Allah, whether it be through honor or humiliation – honor which Allah grants Islam, or humiliation which Allah casts upon disbelief and its adherents.
And Allah is the Greatest.
The differences in spellings are due to the somewhat subjective nature of the transliteration of Arabic words into English. I have opted for a different style than the al-Fajr Media Center, the jihadi media network that provided the English translation of the ISI statement.
Abu 'Umar Al-Baghdadi Capture Denial (May 11)
...or click HERE.
UPDATE (1 a.m., May 12): Gulf News is reporting, based on materials provided by a for-profit private intelligence firm and not their own research, about the ISI statement. The ISI statement was located by Occident before this short story was published.
UPDATE 2 (2:03 a.m., May 12): The al-Falujah al-Islamiyyah discussion forums published an advertising banner and thread for the Islamic State of Iraq denial statement six hours ago (with a front page banner appearing recently.) The front page features an advertising banner and a "news flash" message in red (the red font does not show up in the PDF below.)
...View the al-Falujah thread HERE.
Baghdadi MAIN PAGE Falojah
...View the al-Falujah main page with advertisement banner & "news flash" HERE.
UPDATE 3 (3:09 a.m., May 12): A similar advertising thread was published on the Haneen network forums about seven hours ago. One member, Abu Mus'ab al-Mujahir, writes about the news: "Thank you, God Thank you, God...God save our beloved Shaykh [leader], Abu 'Umar al-Baghdadi..."
Baghdadi (Haneen Forums)
...View the Haneen thread HERE.
UPDATE 4 (1:13 p.m., May 12): An audio file was posted on the al-Falujah forums which al-Furqan Media (an al-Qa'ida-connected media outlet) claims is from Abu 'Umar al-Baghdadi. The speech reportedly centers around Iraq's Shi'i Muslims and the recent surge in terrorist attacks against Iraqi and Iranian Shi'is, particularly near their sacred shrines. Some of the comments in the thread also focus on Shi'is.
Banner advertisements announce the availability of the audio file in all of the individual forums (for example, the legal issues forum, the "general" forum, and the "Muslim family" forum, etc.)
Baghdadi Audio (May 12)
...View the al-Falujah thread HERE.
The initial poster (مراسل الفجر, literally, "correspondent of dawn"), who provided the dozens of links to file-share sites where the audio file was uploaded, writes, among other things [I am in a bit of a rush, so apologies for not being able to translate more...one day, it will be fast(er), i'A!]:
اهزم الروافض الحاقدين والصليبيين المتصهينين
"[God,] defeat the rejecters [of true Islam, i.e. the Shi'a] (who are the) haters, and the Crusader-Zionists..."
Advertising banner #1 from al-Falujah for the audio file.
Advertising banner #2 from al-Falujah. The banner announces that the speech is in the voice of the "Commander of the Faithful [a title for the caliph or, for Shi'is, their first Imam, 'Ali], Abu 'Umar al-Husayni al-Qurayshi al-Hashemi al-Baghdadi." They are emphasizing his (purported) descent from the tribe of Quraysh, which I discussed earlier in this post. They are also emphasizing his descent from the Prophet Muhammad's family (denoted by the surname al-Hashemi, "The Hashemi," or man from the line of Hashem).
This banner advertisement is the one being used at the top of all the forums in the al-Falujah network.
User جزيرة العرب (Arab Peninsula) writes:
اللهم إحفظ أمير دولة العراق الإسلامية وجميع المجاهد
"May God protect [them] the Islamic State of Iraq's amir [prince, leader] and the mujahideen [as a group]."
User قناص الجزيرة (Peninsula's Sniper) writes:
الله اكبر...الله اكبر...والعزة لله ولرسوله وللمجاهدين
"God is greater [than anything], God is Greater...and His honor/dignity and that of His Prophet and the mujahideen"
User Insurgent (a user who frequents several forums and who has produced their own signature artwork) writes:
الله اكبر الله اكبر الله اكبر الله اكبر و لله الحمد
اللهم احفظ اميرنا الشيخ ابو عمر البغدادي و وزرائه و جنده و أنصاره
"God is greater (4x)...May God protect [them] our amir, the shaykh Abu 'Umar al-Baghdadi, and his ministers and his soldiers and his supporters."
UPDATE 4 (3:03 p.m., May 12): The news wires have picked up the story about the ISI statement and audio file. The Reuters story includes selected quotes from the audiotape (reproduced below). Read the full story HERE.
Al-Baghdadi audio file quotes:
"Everyone has been surprised by the lies of the rulers," the purported voice of Baghdadi said in the tape, posted on Islamist websites, and called on Sunnis not to support the Shi'ite-dominated Iraqi authorities.
"Sunnis, the Shi'is are your enemies. Their history is full of treacheries and plotting against you. Don't trust them or let their honeyed words fool you."
UPDATE 5 (4:47 p.m., May 12) : Similar advertising threads for the ISI audio file were posted on the Somali al-Qimmah al-Islamiyyah (Islamic Summit) forums seven hours ago, and on the Anti-Imperialist forums, which advertise jihadi releases, at 3:02 p.m. today.
....View the al-Qimmah thread HERE.
...View the Anti-Imperialist thread HERE.