In his article, "Defending Afghanistan: Is It Defending Islam or Defending al-Qa'idah?," in the newly released third issue of the Salafi jihadi cyber journal Jihad Recollections, Basheer al-Miqdad argues that al-Qa'ida "Central" (AQC) has been waging a defensive war to "protect Islam," with the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan serving as a prime example of this. He takes exception to those who, he says, have alleged that AQC is reaping the results of what it sowed by carrying out the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States. This allegation, says al-Miqdad, is based on a total misunderstanding of AQC's strategies and goals. The subject is "simple...yet complex," and al-Miqdad writes that he doesn't "intent to delve deep into the specific events that led to the invasion [of Afghanistan]," referring interested readers to British journalist Peter Bergen's narrative account of AQC, Holy War, Inc.: Inside the Secret World of Osama bin Laden.
Al-Miqdad lays out the "main points" about AQC's "defensive jihad" as follows:
(1) AQC is "fighting a war for the Ummah," the worldwide Muslim community, because, unfortunately the Ummah "was too lazy to mobilize itself due to many factors including their fear of the Tawagheet [idolators, a reference to non-Muslim aggressors] and love of the dunya [this world]."
The other main goal of AQC, he argues, was to ensure that "the specialties and abilities of the Ummah [did not] go to waste" so as to "combine the Muslim's [sic] efforts around the world into one massive endeavor in order to bring back the Shari'ah [law] of ar-Rahman ["The Most Compassionate," one of the 99 Names of God]."
Thus, AQC is not an "Arabonly" (sic) movement, it is a pan-Muslim movement, "a truly International Islamic Movement" (sic) that has been "a missing factor that disappeared after the Caliphate's abolishment" following the First World War and dissolution of the Ottoman Empire. The caliphate refers to the system of government, akin to other imperial systems, through which Muslim lands were governed. Salafi jihadis and some Sunni Islamist movements have developed a utopian conception of "the caliphate" that bears little resemblance to historical realities. They see "the caliphate" as the "perfect" system of governance, though most groups, both militant (jihadis) and not (Hizb ut-Tahrir), have only simplistic "paper" designs for how such a system would work in the real world.
Al-Miqdad says that "the closest" example of such a movement in "modern history" before the formation of AQC was the Muslim Brotherhood, which was first founded in Egypt and which then spread across the Arab world with the formation of other nation-based branches. Although the Brotherhood (Ikhwan al-Muslimeen) is technically a single movement, today in reality it is divided into autonomous national organizations, with, for example, the Ikhwan in Egypt being independent from the Jordanian Ikhwan. His highlighting of the Ikhwan is interesting, especially considering that AQC's chief ideologue, the Egyptian Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri, holds the movement in contempt for adopting nationalism, which transnational Salafi jihadis view as an "un-Islamic" concept.
(2) The war between AQC, which al-Miqdad has the gall to presume represents all "the" Muslims when in fact they represent a minority fringe, did not begin with September 11, 2001 or even with the AQC attack on the U.S.S. Cole in the southern Yemeni port city of Aden the year before. No, the current war began because of U.S. presence in Muslim lands, in particular the Arabian Peninsula, where the two holiest shrines of Islam are located. AQC's leaders and supporters have long said that this was one of several primary reasons for their opposition to the U.S. Al-Miqdad notes that the U.S. presence in Arabia long predates the 1991 Gulf War and argues, "Clearly, the aggressor here is America for if a foreign nation were to install their military bases and spying headquarters in your land, it would be an act of aggression, deception and most evidently war."
(3) The U.S. is a long backer of Israel, which occupies militarily Palestinian land, and the tyrants and autocrats who rule much of the Muslim world, which makes the U.S. an enemy of Muslims. The U.S.' clients in the Muslim world are "bootlickers" and apostates who are only interested in safeguarding their own authority and wealth.
(4) Because of its support of the aforementioned groups of aggressors and tyrants, the U.S. is thus an active participant in the "killing, maiming, and insult to injury of the Muslims but in a subtle way where they aren't caught." If it's so "subtle" one wonders how then al-Miqdad and other AQC supporters have been able to "discover" it. Perhaps it is because they, as he claims earlier in the article, AQC and other Salafi jihadis are the "true champions" and "leaders" of the world's Muslims [read: sarcasm].
(5) Al-Miqdad repeats alleged claims made by AQC and the Afghan Taliban that the U.S. had intentions of invading and occupying Afghanistan long before September 11, 2001, but provides no evidence or sources to substantiate them. Based on this, he argues, the September 11 terrorist attacks were a justifiable defensive response to U.S. aggression against Muslims. It was also part of AQC's plan using "the art of dragging," as al-Miqdad describes it. AQC wanted to drag the U.S. into Afghanistan, "a mountainous land in which they will stand toe-to-toe with the battle-hardened sons of the Haramain [land of the two holy mosques] whose hearts are ablaze for meeting Allah [God as Shuhada' [martyrs/witnesses]."
The U.S. under president Barack Obama is no different than past incarnations. "Because of 9/11, the thin line between America’s support for tyranny and their calls for human rights has completely disappeared. With the election of Obama in office, they seek to draw that line again without facing up to the responsibilities of their hideous actions, support for dictatorships, and military intervention in the Islamic world."
Al-Miqdad closes by repeating his claims that AQC is "defending" Muslims, while also blaming the majority of the Ummah for not rushing to support the group in its efforts: "The call of defending the Islamic lands against occupation is not a call to defend a certain group but a pro-active call to awaken the Ummah from its slumber. For the first time in our history, we have an invisible Caliphate. The only reason why no one can see it is because the Ummah is not rushing to bring it back."
In the end, he says, only the "procrastinators and the depisers of Paradise" [those Muslims who do not support AQC and non-Muslim aggressors] will "regret their own actions in the end."
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