Al-Qa'ida Central's (AQC; Qaeda, Qaida) media outlet, the Al-Sahab (Clouds) Media Foundation, has issued the audio message from its deputy leader and chief ideologue, Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri eulogizing the former senior leaders of the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), the amir Abu 'Umar al-Baghdadi and the prime minister and minister of war Abu Hamza al-Muhajir, who was also the head of Al-Qa'ida in the Land of the Two Rivers/Iraq (AQI). The audio message was recently released to Al-Jazeera, the preeminent Arabic language satellite TV station, which aired it. Background on al-Baghdadi and al-Muhajir, as well as the ISI, can be found in my guest editorial, "The Death of a Caliph: Will the Reported Killings of the Islamic State of Iraq's Two Senior Leaders Spell Out the End of the Self-styled Jihadi State?", on Prof. Juan Cole's Informed Comment blog.
Al-Zawahiri refers to al-Baghdadi and al-Muhajir as "the two shaykhs, the two amirs, the two heroes, the two leaders." Interestingly, he also accuses Iraq's Shi'is of betraying the family of the Prophet Muhammad, the Ahlul Bayt, which Shi'is claim to love. He says they have sold themselves to the Safavids in Iran, a reference to a Shi'i Turkic dynasty that ruled much of what is now Iran, and converted most of its population to Shi'ism, from the 16th to 18th centuries. Al-Zawahiri even references the third Shi'i Imam, Husayn bin 'Ali, who lost a battle against the more powerful Umayyad Caliphate at Karabala, Iraq in 680 C.E. In effect, he says that today's Shi'is have betrayed the memory of Husayn and the tradition of Islam. Al-Zawahiri labels today's Shi'is "Shi'at Bayt al-Abiyad", supporters of the White House.
Both were killed in a U.S. air strike on April 19 near the city of Tikrit. They have been eulogized by almost all of the major jihadi-takfiri groups including Al-Qa'ida Central, various Palestine-based groups, Al-Qa'ida in the Islamic Maghreb, the Yemen-based Al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula, the Somali jihadi-insurgent group Harakat al-Shabab al-Mujahideen (Movement of Warrior-Youth; Al-Shabaab), the major Iraqi insurgent group Jama'at Ansar al-Islam (Group of Islam's Partisans), and the Islamic Emirate of the Caucasus.
Click to play
Al-Zawahiri praises both al-Baghdadi, whom he compares to the founder of AQI, Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi, and al-Muhajir. I also found the choice of the introductory nasheed to be interesting. Previously, I have only seen it used in AQC's Wind of Paradise martyrdom video-biography series about the Afghanistan-Pakistan theater. In my view, the nasheed's lyrics are the best, most succinct description of transnational jihadis' views of martyrdom.
Partial lyrics: "Don't I only die once in my life, so why not make its finale martyrdom/self-sacrifice? When the soul of the martyr rises to approach Paradise and God raises it to a lofty status...In the bodies of the birds of Paradise, which are singing above the palaces, seven of which are won by the martyr to honor him...If you have a heart, then tell me what they are...Sin is forgiven with the first drop [of blood] and I see my high abode [in Paradise]...And I am secure from the torment of the grave, how delightful! And I am saved from the tribulation of Resurrection and receive a crown of dignity...And I am given the right of intercession on behalf of relatives, both near and distant."
After the nasheed is an audio recording of the late Abu Hamza al-Muhajir speaking about martyrdom.
The transcript of al-Zawahiri's eulogy is available via my Scribd account HERE.