Al-Qaeda Magazine Defends Jihad and Mujahideen in Iraq

Publication: Terrorism Focus Volume: 2 Issue: 11

On June 3, after a delay of three months, the second edition of Dhurwat al-Sanam (The Pinnacle) appeared on the web. This is the periodical issued by ‘the information department of the Organization of Qaedat al-Jihad in the Land of the Two Rivers (the full name for al-Zarqawi’s organization),’ and which deals with events largely through a doctrinal focus.

Once again, its contents shed some interesting light on the preoccupation of the mujahideen with issues of legitimacy that support their activities, and their strident reaction against anything that calls them into question. Hence the emphasis placed throughout the edition on the necessity and the propriety of jihad. After a brief preface on “jihad not being a path strewn with roses” and a homily on how jihad is the ‘pinnacle’ (Dhurwat al-Sanam) of the way to God, the religious propriety of their activity is taken up in the article “We have a Purpose”. Here the author, Shaykh Abd al-Karim al-Zubaydi, dismisses the challenge posed by “anti-jihad statements on the satellite channels which are nought but a method used by Global Disbelief to distract the world from the heroism of the mujahideen.” He urges the mujahideen in Iraq instead to “cast America under your feet, and let not her prisons, or intelligence agents, or Apache aircraft or smart bombs deter you! … Our Purpose will not stop, even if only one of us be left…”

The satellite discussion is clearly the main point of sensitivity, since it underpins the cover theme of “Rabbis and Monks at the heart of the Americans!” A dense six-page treatment appears on page 9 by the Legal Board of the Organization of al-Qaeda in the Land of the Two Rivers. The focus of the article is on the TV program, aired by the Al-Iraqiyya channel, where two leading Salafist thinkers, Abu al-Harith and Abu Sufyan, debated the lawfulness of jihad. The commentary describes how the two scholars, opprobriously referred to as ‘monks,’ “dealt deceitfully with the judgments of Islamic law, played with the texts of the Qur’an and the Prophetic Sunnah, followed dubious readings and distorted the meanings from their contexts”. In so doing, the commentator angrily states, the scholars “betrayed their Faith in a desperate attempt to blow out God’s light with their mouths.” The commentary goes on to deplore the service presented by the two Shaykhs to the “banners of the Crusaders … Shi’ism and Error,” their attempts to “sway opinion in favor of the Jews and the Americans, and their open call for war against the soldiers of the Faith.” Most importantly, the commentator notes the objections put forward by the scholars to the mujahideen’s claim to the legitimacy of jihad: that it can only be declared by qualified persons, that there must first be a recognized Emir under whom it is proclaimed, and that due consideration is to be given to the pragmatic issues of gain or injury to the community. He then goes on to detail a point-by-point refutation of these objections, ending the article with advice “that mayhap the two ‘monks’ will repent and return to the ranks of the Muslims and shun the path of those who will perish.”

Related to the issue of the propriety of jihad, is the article, on page 17, again prepared especially by the ‘Legal Board of the Organization of al-Qaeda in the Land of the Two Rivers,’ dealing with the legal issues concerning the acquisition and distribution of the spoils of war. The motivation for this is that, apparently, the modern mujahideen were showing some doubts as to the image of such practice in the modern world. However, the treatment occupies itself with medieval Islamic authorities and makes only uncertain application to modern day conditions.

The other theme of the issue is that of the conspiracy against Islam. This is illustrated through a selection of famous quotes supporting a conspiratorial view of US and ‘Anglo-Saxon’ political activity, the term ‘Anglo-Saxon’ being explained as “the race to which the majority of the British people and the whites in America belong, their elders believing that they are related to the Jews through the Prophet Joseph.” The role of the Anglo-Saxons is taken up by Nur al-Din al-Kurdi in the article “Between two Falsehoods.” Here the author divides the history of Iraq into two phases, the first of the ‘falsehoods’ being the formation of the state of Iraq in 1921 and the appointment of Faysal I as king. He notes that Iraq represents the first of the Arab lands to be overrun by the Crusaders and highlights a deliberate policy to force Muslims into a state of ‘lethargy,’ the better to control them. The ‘second falsehood’ is given as “the lie of elections and the setting up of the Iraqi president with a council of ministers.” This, he dismisses as a tactic “dripping with apostasy and collaboration,” whose design, once again, is to lead Muslims into a renewed state of lethargy.

The remaining pages of Dhurwat al-Sanam are taken up with lectures and sermons on jihad, in each case appending numerous citations in its defense from religious texts and classical authors, some poetry on a jihad theme, a homily to prisoners of the Americans, and ends with a sermon in the form of a testament of a martyr in Iraq from January 2005.