Jihadi Ideologue Justifies Attacks on Muslim Governments

Publication: Terrorism Focus Volume: 4 Issue: 23

A recent posting in the Islamist internet forum alfirdaws.org demonstrates the points of contention among the proponents and detractors of the jihad. The posting, entitled “To Those Hostile to the Mujahideen and their Methods,” is authored by the user al-Jethami, who refutes allegations that the mujahideen’s practices are not in accordance with Islamic doctrine. Al-Jethami begins his post with the assurance that he will “prove that the people of jihad are the most profound in knowledge and the closest to following the religious proof.” He then examines a litany of criticisms and provides rebuttals.

Al-Jethami responds to questions such as why the mujahideen bomb Muslim land; rebel against Muslim rulers; accuse Muslim rulers of infidelity and threaten to kill them; fight Muslim governments; and contradict the fatwas of Islamic scholars. Al-Jethami explains that “the mujahideen fight these [Muslim] governments because they do not apply Islamic laws…they abandoned the words of Allah…they invented a Sharia which contradicts that of Allah.” He claims that corrupt Muslim governments have been leading people away from Islam by “forcing people to be infidels because whoever follows their man-made laws, while knowing that they contradict Allah’s commands, is considered an infidel.” He outlines how Islamic scholars, especially theologian and legal scholar Sheikh Ibn Taymiyyah (1263-1328), have assured that fighting corrupt Muslim governments is permissible in order to force them to return to the true path of Islam.

Al-Jethami then responds to criticism about the mujahideen’s tactics. Moderate Muslims have argued that jihadi fighters disobey the Quran by killing Muslims during attacks on security services. Yet, al-Jethami contends that “some of these soldiers may be believers and some may be ignorant, but this does not prevent fighting and killing them because they appear to be taking up arms on the side of the infidels.” He argues that it is simply not possible for the mujahideen to “follow every one that they fight to see if he is a believer or a real enemy because this would hinder the jihad.”

He also counters the accusation that the mujahideen kill innocent Muslim civilians during their attacks. Al-Jethami asserts that the mujahideen “have always warned Muslims and advised them not to come close to the locations and forts of the apostates.” He resolves that if innocent Muslims are killed by jihadi fighters, then “those killed Muslims would be considered martyrs. Obligatory jihad must not be abandoned for the fear of killing such martyrs.” Nevertheless, al-Jethami was careful to distinguish between collateral damage and the direct targeting of Muslims civilians, recognizing the political damage that the latter acts have caused to the mujahideen; this was evident in the wake of the 2005 Amman hotel bombings, which eroded Muslim support for al-Qaeda. He stated, “I would like to stress the fact that the attack and killings that gravely harm Muslims without affecting the enemies cannot be included within this category.”

The importance of al-Jethami’s posting is that it demonstrates how supporters of the jihad are constantly striving to establish Quranic legitimacy for their controversial targeting choices and tactics. While it is easier for jihadi ideologues to defend attacks against foreign troops on Islamic territory, it is more difficult to justify attacks on Muslim governments and on fellow Muslims.