As Israel faces a growing threat from extremist al-Qaida-affiliated terror
groups in Sinai and Gaza, al-Qaida published a statement this week purportedly
written by its leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, which urges Muslims to liberate
“occupied Muslim lands” – including “Palestine.”
house, the As-Sahab Foundation for Islamic Media Production, distributed the
document on Tuesday on major jihadist forums, including the Shamukh al-Islam
In the statement, obtained and translated by The Jerusalem Post,
Zawahiri says that the Muslim nation is facing “the most powerful crusade in its
history” and urges Muslims to work to recreate the medieval
Zawahiri says the Muslim people have tried to gain their
independence under Shari’a (Islamic law), but the forces of secularism and
crusaders tried to stop “these historic changes taking place in Muslim
The al-Qaida leader said that in these circumstances, the
Muslim ummah, or nation, should unite itself around the |word of Tawhid,” the
Islamic doctrine of Allah’s unity.
Addressing Muslims, Zawahiri said that
“your brothers in the Qaida community” have established a set of objectives
designed to achieve their goals.
These objectives include adopting
Shari’a to resolve disputes and rejecting judgement by “any other principles,”
including the United Nations, which Zawahiri says is “controlled by five
arrogant powers [the United States, China, Russia, Britain and France – the five
permanent members of the UN Security Council] who impose their will on the rest
of the world’s peoples.”
The UN also allowed non-Muslim states to take
over Muslim lands, Zawahiri says, citing “Russia’s takeover of the Muslim
Caucasus, China’s [takeover] of Eastern Turkistan, Spain’s [takeover] of Ceuta
and Melilla and Israel’s of Palestine.”
Zawahiri says that the UN has
issued “tens of decisions that legalized assault on Islamic lands, such as the
decision to partition Palestine and the decision to recognize the State of
The statement also says that the UN had agreed to impose
sanctions on Iraq and “legalized the Crusader invasion of
Western nations are “looting the wealth of Muslims,”
The al-Qaida leader called on Muslims to work toward the
reestablishment of an Islamic caliphate which “does not recognize the nation
state” but would be a “Caliphate on the lines of Prophethood” – a reference to a
hadith by Sunni scholar Musnad Ahmad ibn Hanbal that says the Caliphate will be
established for a second time.
The caliphate would unite Muslim lands,
“remov[ing] the limits imposed on them by their enemies,” spread justice and
support the liberation of all Muslim lands, Zawahiri says.
He also urges
Muslims to spread the word about these “Islamic goals.”
reestablishment of the Islamic Caliphate, the first Islamic system of government
encompassing the Muslim ummah and governed by Shari’a, is one of al-Qaida’s main
The Egyptian-born Zawahiri, who took over as leader of al-Qaida in
May 2011 following Osama bin Laden’s death, has previously said that once the
caliphate is restored and Islamic rule reestablished, “history would take a new
turn, God willing, in the opposite direction against the empire of the United
States and the world’s Jewish government.”
Al-Qaida’s decision to publish
Zawahiri’s statement is the latest sign that the terror group is making efforts
to spread its ideologies by taking advantage of the power vacuum in Arab states
after the upheavals of the Arab Spring.
In an interview with Lebanese
in August, Bruce Riedel, a Brookings Institution researcher who
worked on Middle Eastern affairs with the CIA for 30 years, said that al-Qaida
had taken advantage of former Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman’s death
to “establish infrastructure in the Sinai.”
The Washington-based Middle
East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) said last month that extremist
Salafist-Jihadist groups have emerged in several other Arab countries, including
Yemen, Libya and Tunisia, following the upheaval in the Arab
Israel’s neighbor, Jordan, has also seen a rise in al-Qaida-related extremism. Last month, Jordanian security forces said they had
foiled a massive terror plot, arresting 11 locals “with clear ties to al-Qaida.”
Days earlier, a Jordanian Salafist cleric with ties to al-Qaida said that
jihadists had planned a suicide attack against Israel.
Islamists with al-Qaida ideals are similarly taking advantage of the increasing
lawlessness in the Sinai peninsula to carry out an increasing number of terror
attacks against Israeli interests.
Since the Egyptian revolution, several
extremist Salafist-Jihadi groups have emerged in the peninsula whose ideals,
experts say, match those of al-Qaida even though they are not – at least for now
– formally affiliated with the terrorist group.
The most active of those
groups, Ansar Bayit al-Maqdis, claimed responsibility of the September 21 border
attack that killed an Israeli soldier. Another group, the Mujahadeen Shura
Council of Jerusalem, claimed responsibility on Sunday for many of the rockets
fired from Gaza in the recent round of violence.
The growth of
al-Qaida-affiliated groups in Sinai also means Israel faces increased threats
from the growth in weapons smuggling from Iran via Egypt, including across the
country’s 1,200-km. border with Sudan.
The Shin Bet (Israel Security
Agency) has said that Iran provides Sudan with weapons which are then
transferred via Sinai to Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza.
growth in weapons smuggling, combined with increasing Salafist-jihadi activity
in Sinai, has led to fears that Sinai terrorists could also obtain trafficked
weapons and use them against Israeli and Egyptian targets.
IDF spokesman Yoav Mordechai said that Palestinian terror groups Hamas and
Islamic Jihad had smuggled Iranian weapons into the Gaza Strip.
continuously smuggling weapons, Hamas and Islamic Jihad have turned Gaza into a
frontline Iranian outpost,” Mordechai said.
Also on Wednesday, Channel 10
reported that four Katyusha rockets had been fired from the Egyptian town of
Rafah and had hit Eshkol in the Negev.
There have been conflicting
reports in the Egyptian media regarding the rocket attacks. On Wednesday
afternoon, Al- Masry al-Youm
cited an unnamed military source as confirming that
four rockets were fired from Rafah in Sinai. The report said the Israeli side
had requested the formation of a joint military commission to investigate the
circumstances surrounding the rocket fire.
The unnamed sources said in a
statement to the daily that the formation of the commission is ‘under way’ to
determine the circumstances of the incident and prevent a recurrence.”
a slightly later report, Al-Masry al- Youm
cited “high level security officials”
as dismissing Israeli reports that the rockets came from Rafah and noted that
Israeli security officials were investigating the matter.
the apparent firing of rockets from Sinai was discussed on al- Qaida linked
jihadist forums, although as yet no group had claimed responsibility. •