Al-Qa'ida "Central's" (AQC) media outlet, Al-Sahab (The Clouds), yesterday released a full version of the audio message from AQC chief Usama bin Ladin that was aired by Al-Jazeera in early June of this year. The audio release was delivered to Al-Jazeera by courier, unlike most media releases today produced by AQC and other Salafi jihadi groups that are released on the Internet. Thomas Hegghammer, an academic focusing on Islamism in Saudi Arabia and jihadi movements, has suggested that this may be evidence that bin Ladin may be switching locations more often or have increased his security precautions. Hegghammer also argues that the audio message was probably recorded several weeks before its release, given bin Ladin's lack of commentary on (then) recent events.
In the audio message, entitled رسالة إلى اخواننا في باكستان , "Letter to Our Brothers in Pakistan," bin Ladin addresses the then new (and currently ongoing) Pakistani military campaign against Pakistani, primarily Pashtun, radical groups in and near the Swat Valley. These groups, together with Pashtun groups operating in the autonomous tribal regions in northwestern Pakistan, such as the North West Frontier Provinces (NWFP), which include Waziristan, are generally collectively called the "Pakistan Taliban," though they are really not a single organization or movement.
There are regional divisions among the groups, which have separate leaderships. In other words, the radical groups operating in the Swat Valley, many of which are loyal to Maulana Fazullah, the leader of Tehreek-e Nafaz-e Shari'at-e Muhammadi (Movement for the Enforcement of Islamic Law), are not the same as those radical groups operating in, for example, South Waziristan, which are loyal to Mullah Nazir Ahmad, though they are allied and are probably cooperating (they certainly have similar goals). Fazlullah, according to some reports, was badly wounded in an airstrike and may soon die. However, these reports have been denied by his allies.
Bin Ladin begins his message:
"My brother-Muslims in Pakistan, peace and the mercy and blessings of God be upon you. I wish to speak to you about the war taking place between the (Pakistani; the adjective does not appear in the Arabic transcript) army and the Mujahidin in Swat and the Tribal Regions. The Messenger of God [Prophet Muhammad], peace and blessings be upon him, said:
[He is quoting a hadith, or tradition, associated with the Prophet from Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim, the two most widely-used Sunni collections of ahadith, or traditions.]
Listen to the saying of the Truth [the Qur'an, the Revelation from God]:
[Surah al-Nisa', verse 65]
[Surah al-Mujadilah, verse 22]
O slave of God, safeguard yourselves and your religion, and do not let the life of this world deceive you. Beware of the grave, for indeed it is a heavy affair.
Whoever is not pleased with the Shari'a, much worse wages war against it, God will not please them, and they will regret at a time when regret will bring no benefit. Whoever is pleased with Islam as a religion, it is obligatory upon him to physically reject Zardari and his army’s war against the Shari'a. If he does not have the ability, he must verbally speak against it. If he is unable to do even this, he must hate and reject it in his heart, and there is not even a mustard seed’s worth of Faith after this."
Bin Ladin bluntly says to the Muslims of Pakistan, the vast majority of whom oppose the radicalism of the various armed militias grouped under the umbrella name "Pakistan Taliban," that, according to his interpretation of the Qur'an and Ahadith, they will be punished with Hellfire if they do not support the "mujahidin," so-called, and continue to support the Pakistani government and, by extension, the United States. He quotes several Qur'anic verses and ahadith, which I have not reproduced here but which can be seen in the full official English language translation linked-to below. The Pakistani government and military are described by bin Ladin as the epitome of evil:
"Zardari and his army are the allies of Satan. This refutes those who rebuke, asking, 'How can the Mujahidun [the different ending is due to a different case ending; Arabic, unlike English, has case] fight the army of Pakistan? claiming it to be a Muslim army. What adds to this fact is that it is the army of Pakistan who came to the Tribal Regions to fight them, aiding the cause of America and fulfilling their demands. It is not unknown that if a Muslim sides with the infidels and aids them against the Muslins, his faith is nullified and he becomes an apostate infidel. Just like there are things which nullify the ablution, there are things which nullify Faith, this being one of them. What clarifies this fact is the saying of God:
[Surah al-Ma'idah, verse 5]
This is the Islamic ruling: 'Whoever takes them as allies, he becomes one of them.' [This sentence is highlighted in the original] In another words, he had become an infidel like then. Who are the ones who have sided with Christian America and support it? Is it not Zardari, his government, and his army? What is wrong with you that you judge in this way? Those who side with the infidels are from them, and it is obligatory to fight them, even if they pray, fast and think themselves to be Muslims."
Bin Ladin then identifies all the governments and militaries of all countries in the Muslim world of essentially being apostate institutions, the "near enemy" referred to in jihadi writings in the 1970s, 1980s, and first half of the 1990s, before al-Qa'ida "Central" (AQC) turned its attention to the "far enemy," the U.S., Europe, Russia, China, and those countries which occupy Muslim lands or oppress their Muslim minorities. He singles out Egyptian autocrat Hosni Mubarak, though not by name, for closing his country's borders with the besieged Gaza Strip:
"I also remind you of the fact that the Russians also used the Afghan army to fight the Mujahidun, and today, America is doing the same. The armies and military forces of every country of the Islamic world have become tools in the hands of the enemies of the Ummah, those inside, outside or both. Thus it is impermissible to join them. This also became very clear in the last war against Gaza, The Arab military forces participated by besieging our fellow Muslims from the side of Rafah, while armies of the other bordering nations prevented the Mujahidun from coming to the aid of their brothers in Palestine. The Mujahidun before fought against the Russians and the Afghan army together, for they fell under the same ruling. The [Muslim religious] scholars of Pakistan and other countries of the Islamic world gave the verdict that they must be fought, even if they prayed, fasted, and thought themselves to be Muslims, for they fought from the trenches of the infidels. Let the intelligent learn from this. The same can be said today of the Pakistan army, for they are fighting from the same trench as America in the war against Islam. Thus, it is an obligation upon the true Muslims to fight them. Whoever claims that they are being compelled to kill Muslims, this type of compulsion is not religiously valid. Many Muslims are tricked by this claim, to the extent that Zardari’s men say that they are compelled to fight Pakistanis in the western border regions, or America will encourage India to launch a war against Pakistan. Regretfully, some Muslims repeat this same claim without any understanding or proper thought. It is like a tyrant who threatens to kill you if you do not kill your children and brothers. Will you kill them or will you fight him? Even if we suppose that you are unable to fight him, this is a calamity that has stricken you alone. It is not permissible for you to take the life of an innocent soul in order to save your own. This is the Islamic ruling in this case. As for propagating this claim of compulsion and being tricked into believing it, it will result in allowing the apostate ruler to destroy the religion of God and exchange it with that of his own desires and those who he fights for. This is in total opposition to the message of God and His Messengers, may peace and blessings be upon them all, as well as the commandment of God that the whole religion be for God alone."
Pakistan's President Zardari and chief of the Army, Ashfaq Parvez Kayani (transliterated as "Kiyani" in the original) is identified as being "outside the fold" of Islam, which makes opposing them, says bin Ladin, the duty of all of the country's Muslims:
"In summary, [President] Asif Zardari and [General] Ashfaq Kiyani have continued to divert the army from its first priority, which is protecting Islam, its followers and its lands, and instead use it to wage a war against Islam and those who demand its implementation. They have directed it to murder and wage war against the Pashtun and Baluchi tribes. Most of the Pakistan people are against this unjust war. Zardari only did this to fulfill the demands of his bribers in the White House, not with ten percent, but many times more. Indeed this is a great betrayal of the trust, for he has betrayed the religion and the Ummah. Not only has he devastated the Pakistani economy in this war, he has done something much more dangerous. With this war, he has placed the religion, security, and unity of Pakistan in jeopardy, implementing a Zionist-American-Jewish conspiracy, making it easy for India to suppress the disunited provinces of Pakistan one by one and take control of them, as they did with East Pakistan before or even worse. With this, America will be relieved of their worry over Pakistan’s nuclear weapons, even more it will have India participate with them in their war against the Mujahidun. It is obligatory upon all Muslims in Pakistan to work together against Zardari and his army who threaten their religion, security, unity and economy, and to continue their struggle to remove him and hold him to account. Despite the great harm cause to Pakistan by Pervaiz [former president Pervez Musharraff], the harm which will result from Zardari’s actions is far worse. The only way to end his and his army’s trial is to wage Jihad in the Cause of God against them."
Bin Ladin then quotes part of verse 39 from Surah al-Anfal to support his argument. This part of the verse is also highlighted in the "advertising" thread for the audio release that appeared on the Salafi jihadi online forums. It is perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of his message because he purposefully shortens the verse, changing its meaning in order to suite his own ideological purposes.
Bin Ladin recites the verse as:
[Fitnah refers to social discord; Kufr to "unbelief (in Islam)", and Shirk to polytheism or the distortion of God's religion, Islam]
Such "editing" or "abridgement" of the Qur'an is not uncommon for Salafi jihadis. I posted on the use and misuse of the Qur'an by them in a recent post.
According to bin Ladin, the "mujahidin" (so-called) are the sole "true defenders" of Pakistan, whereas the Pakistani military is nothing but an apostate force led by a murtad (apostate) president:
"You must understand that the army that has the audacity to fight to prevent the establishment of the Islamic Shari'a is an apostate army which has no good in it. If it pays no importance to the matter of the Islamic Shari'a, a matter which is most important to us, it will pay even less importance to lesser things, such as our blood, honor, land and wealth. None can depend upon it except the ignorant and the hypocrites. It has not recovered Kashmir, and now it is allowing Pakistan itself to fall from its hands, The only ones who will defend Pakistan are its fellow Mujahidun, God willing."
"Let those wise and just in the various research centers, study groups etc, understand what I say about the reasons so many people are eager to fight America and seek revenge, although these words may fall upon deaf ears of the agents of the conglomerates in the White House. I say: indeed the liberated souls who carried out the attacks on 9/11 did not taste the bitterness of suppression and expulsion from their homes and lands, seeking shelter in tents, begging for food. Rather, those nineteen individuals only heard of the oppression their brothers in Palestine faced by American weapons in the hands of the Zionists. Thus, they left their schools and universities at the first opportunity they had to defend the oppressed in Palestine. What if they had tasted their calamities and woes? Obama ordering Zardari and his army to prevent the people of Swat from the implementation of the Shari'a by murder, war, bombardment and devastation has led to the emigration of almost a million Muslims from the elderly, women and children from their villages and homes, now homeless, seeking shelter under tents, when they previously lived honorably in their homes. Simply speaking, Obama and his administration have sowed new seeds of hatred for America and the desire to seek revenge. The number of seeds equals the number of afflicted and homeless in Swat and the Tribal Regions of North and South Waziristan, in addition to the number of those who sympathize with them. With this, Obama has followed the footsteps of his predecessor in increasing the spite of the Muslims and the number of those who fight America, and creating new lengthy wars. So let the American people continue to reap the fruits of the trees planted by the leaders of the White House in the years and decades to come."
Finally, bin Ladin remarks:
"I encourage my whole Muslim Ummah to stand by the Mujahidun and help them all over the world, taking note that the leader of international forces of infidelity has announced that the main battlefield in the war against our nation has shifted to Afghanistan and Pakistan. Thus, the share of Zakah [obligatory charity] and support in this region must be in accordance to the size of the Christian Crusade against it."
Listen to the audio message (in Arabic).
Usama Letter to Pakistan (Arabic) July 12
Read the Arabic transcript here.
Usama Letter to Pakistan (English) July 12
Read the official English translation here.
KEYWORDS: Usama bin Laden; Osama bin Laden; Osama bin Ladin