Intro and Analysis
This document put out by the Shari’a Committee of Jaysh al-Mujahideen- a Salafi nationalist group aiming to overthrow the central government in Iraq and anti-Shi’a in outlook- is to be noted for the following:
1. The context of this lengthy condemnation of what is now the Islamic State was Abu Muhammad al-Adnani’s speech for what was then ISIS [the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham; now just the Islamic State or IS] as infighting had broken out at the start of January 2014 between ISIS and other rebel groups. Adnani characterized the infighting as part of a Syrian ‘Sahwa’ against ISIS based on the Iraq precedent.
2. Like most Sunni insurgent groups in Iraq over the course of the Iraq War, at least some members and commanders in Jaysh al-Mujahideen joined the Sahwa to push back against what was then the Islamic State of Iraq. However, the Sahwa phenomenon did not take hold among Jaysh al-Mujahideen’s ranks in the way it did among more ‘moderate’ groups like the Islamic Army in/of Iraq [IAI], which after the U.S. withdrawal tried to work within the system for a Sunni federal region. In contrast Jaysh al-Mujahideen appears to have remained consistently rejectionist, and hascriticised the IAI for trying to work within the system.
3. The criticism here of IS’ tactic of car bombings targeting Shi’a civilians was also affirmed by a Jaysh al-Mujahideen commander speaking to Niqash recently in a report on the unwillingness of Iraq’s Sunni insurgents to form a wider fighting force against IS. However, that should not negate the group’s vitriolic anti-Shi’ism: the fact is Jaysh al-Mujahideen condemns these bombings primarily because the group views the indiscriminate attacks as harmful to the cause of overthrowing the government.
4. See this post for examples of how the clear tensions between Jaysh al-Mujahideen and IS have translated to developments on the ground this year, most notably in the al-Karma area just northeast of Fallujah.
5. The use of the term ‘khawarij’ in reference to members of IS is common among Syrian rebels too. However, in keeping with the criticism of the Islamic State’s readiness to pronounce takfir and to steer clear of being accused of hypocrisy, Jaysh al-Mujahideen avoids pronouncing takfir on members of IS and calling them ‘kuffar’ (‘non-Muslims’/’disbelievers’), in contrast to many Syrian rebels. However, that should not negate Jaysh al-Mujahideen’s willingness to denounce as ‘apostates’ Sunnis actively working with the government (not directly mentioned, but strongly implied here).
6. The name ‘al-Halbusi’ (as in Sheikh Hatem al-Halbusi, a Jaysh al-Mujahideen figure killed by IS and mentioned in this document) points to the Fallujah area. Jaysh al-Mujahideen was in the city when it first fell out of government control in January 2014, but has since been subsumed by IS, which now dominates Fallujah city as part of its new self-declared ‘Fallujah Province’ (Wilayat al-Fallujah’) entity. If the sheikh was killed in Ramadan of 2013, then it points to competition between what was then ISIS and Jaysh al-Mujahideen for influence in Fallujah before the renewal of the wider Sunni Arab insurgency this year.
7. Though Jaysh al-Mujahideen mentions the issue of not publicising operations, the group’s capabilities do not compare with those of IS, something also demonstrated by IS’ forcing Jaysh al-Mujahideen out of al-Karma’s main urban area at the end of August of this year.
8. The reference to Camp Bucca [a U.S.-run prison camp during the Iraq War] as the nurturing ground for IS’ heavyweights is important. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi- IS’ current leader- is believed to have spent time in the prison in 2004.
Jaysh al-Mujahideen’s Shari’a Committee Presents: Document on the Islamic State between Truth and Falsehood
It was not our intention to put out a document at this critical time in which the Safavids, the Majus [Persian-Zoroastrians] and the Crusaders are marshalling to wage war on the Ahl al-Sunna in Anbar and Iraq, and we see the necessity of one line even with those innovators who resemble the khawarij from those who falsely call themselves “The Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham” against the Crusaders, Safavids and apostates, but they are a people of treachery who are ‘bound by no pledge and have no covenant.’ For we heard their media spokesman days ago- and in this situation in which the hearts have reached the throats and our youth in the field of tumult are clashing with the atheists- the descendants of Ibn al-‘Alqami: we heard him accuse us in the strongest and most outrageous terms, falsely, in a matter that hangs on our Tawheed and creed, of being the Sahwa forces of Ridda [apostasy], and by God who has no one beside Him, may we place the refutation of this evil, wicked, immoral lie in the hands of God Almighty and in this critical situation (day of the gathering of the parties)- may God turn their ruse on their heads.
Indeed the one from afar and the one near have known what these extremist criminals have done in Iraq and al-Sham, and what we know about them is long-established fact: killing the best of the people on false grounds, takfir on unrighteous grounds, lies, falsehood, slander, ignorance, grandeur, delusion, deception, oppression, corruption, sowing corruption, stupidity, and impudence, showing no reverence for anyone learned or respected, and not knowing the strength of the people of precedence in knowledge and jihad. They show no knowledge of Shari’a politics or fiqh al-muwazanat, and are no good at talk except in challenging the mujahideen and slandering and disparaging them. They do not listen to the advice of the people of precedence, and they do not recognize jihad besides their own- ‘death, dumb and blind’: you see how one of them has embraced prayer months ago and now he issues rulings on matters as though Omar- may God be pleased with him- were asked about them to gather together upon those matters the people of Badr. They have caused much trouble for the field of jihad in Iraq and they have been the greatest reason for hatred of jihad among the general populace, and today they are trying to destroy the field of jihad in al-Sham…[T]hey have offered a most great service for the Nusayri atheist [NB: Arabic zindaq, could also be rendered ‘freethinker’ or ‘heretic’ etc.; ‘atheist’ used here].
Did they not announce that they intend to abandon their positions in the field of jihad before the Nusayri army if their demands are not met?! Have you seen depravity or ignorance like this? Are you not the ‘Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham’, so how come you threaten to withdraw from the frontlines of your state that you claim? They attack the mujahideen and commit aggression against them, so when the people defend themselves, they have become apostates?
They have killed the best of our group’s leadership in knowledge, work, ethical conduct, abstinence, religion, and causing damage to the Crusaders and the Majus, and whoever does not know from the people of jihad in Iraq…Sheikh Abu Qutayba al-Jumaili…[or] Taha al-Ani, and others of the noble God-fearing ones- it does not harm them that people don’t know them (‘we reckon them thus’)- all of these people and others besides them from the other jihadi groups were killed by this immoral group [ISIS]. We took a great number of them prisoner after they killed the courageous, gallant one who taught the Crusaders lessons they will never forget: Abu Zayd al-Qarghouli, and when we did not know the direct source for the killing, we told the brothers to release all of them, but they did not cease committing transgressions and offences against them. Another thing they did against our group occurred in Ramadan of this year! [He is]…Sheikh Hatem al-Halbusi, who was among the best of people in Iraq in abstinence, constancy, and ethical conduct as we reckon him; and the general populace witnessed his honesty, uprightness, jihad and his distance from the material world and matters of doubt…and the reason for their killing him was the love of the people for him in his area and their listening to his words, but these people of extremism don’t want to listen to anyone except themselves.
Indeed these people have committed transgressions in spilling the blood of the people of knowledge, da’wah and jihad in such a way that we are certain that their program is closest to the thought and deeds of the khawarij, and by God we have not endured their offenses and transgressions with weakness and cowardice, but rather we have been in the greatest confrontation of fate with the Safavids and Crusaders. And it is not from wisdom in a state like the state of Iraq or Shari’a politics that a group reckoned among the Ahl al-Sunna fights, and the Crusaders, Safavids and apostates are strengthened, and with this critical situation, there appears against us an ignorant claimed ‘official spokesman for the state of falsehood, lies and deception’ […]
Indeed what these people are doing today in abandoning the fight against the Nusayri atheists and directing their guns at the hearts of the mujahideen or the general populace of Muslims is the height of decline in ethical conduct and thought. And whenever we remember how a Muslim dares to blow himself up amid another jihadi group, we realize with certainty and without a shadow of a doubt that Iblis [Satan] is the ruler of the minds and hearts of these people. This is what should make the conscious, mature Muslim be most strongly wary of them and never trust them so long as they persist in this crooked thought that has brought disaster after disaster on the Ahl al-Sunna in Iraq and al-Sham. For many of their random acts and car bombs that target the masses of the Rafidites who are not waging war and have no link to them, the heads of the atheists- the descendants of the Majus- exploit these acts in marshalling these masses against the Ahl al-Sunna. The principle is that fighting should [only] be against those waging war from among these atheists, and it is among the most elementary Shari’a political principles in this situation of ours that you try to neutralize [elements] of the enemies as far as you can, and not doing that leads to the breaking of the thorn of the Ahl al-Sunna…
If these people like the khawarij had a grip on their minds, they would know that our Safavid, apostate, Majus and Crusader enemies are coming together and marshalling forces together to destroy us, so you must be men and not backstab the mujahideen, and you should not issue statements and speeches attacking them, but it suffices you to be descendants of Dhu al-Khuwaisara al-Tamimi, and we strongly advise you not to be like the treacherous munafiq Ibn Abi Bin Salul.
And among what pains us a lot is that they know our efforts in fighting the Safavids and apostates…and they know very well that it is not among our political principles to publicise our operations against the atheists in the name of ‘Jaysh al-Mujahideen’ but rather other names for our effort, for if we score a hit, it’s from God, and if we err, it is from ourselves and Satan. Despite all this, they make accusations against us. Truly it is strange that we have not come across a brother in his land of this deviant sort of person [i.e. of the IS type] except that he himself is noted for the qualities and maladies of the soul that we have seen in our land and mentioned previously. The vast majority of them have no good direction in chastity and prayer even such as to know the principles of the Ahl al-Sunna. Despite this they do not refrain from talking on the most minute and dangerous questions of law. And among the principles that they were teaching to their followers in Bucca prison: ‘The obligation of fighting the banners of jihad that have not pledged allegiance to the Islamic State’- deciding on that while we were in a state that makes the heart bleed, and the judgment is in the hands of the chickens of the Majus, and the extremists decide on the obligation of fighting against the jihadi groups! What stupidity and ignorance is this?! Is not your fighting the mujahideen helping the kuffar even if you don’t realize it? And is it without doubt that those afflicted know this!? Indeed amazement at what these people do is never ending!
Truly the heart is afflicted with pain when we see how many of the Muslim masses on account of those like the khawarij have begun to hate the term ‘The Islamic State’- and how great a term it is- and this call of ours is from the smoothness of our nails, and this aim and wish of ours is from our da’wah and jihad, but these people of ignorance, liars and sowers of corruption have wrought great, overwhelming harm to this divine demand. We do not blame many from the intelligent-minded who believe that crossing the line with these people has been of such a great extent, because many of their deeds especially in the most recent time have been serving the Safavids and Nusayris, whether or not they have crossed the line to such a great extent. For the result of their deeds is one- it will lead to the destruction of the jihadi project and the destruction of the Ahl al-Sunna if God does not guide us with His mercy and we address the causes.
Before we conclude, we say to the ‘keyboard’ mujahideen: we know very well that we will hear from some of you slander, derision and false accusations, but this does not afflict us, for putting out a statement of the truth about these deviant people- who are like the khawarij- is necessary, and we ask God to forgive us for putting off the issuing a statement of the truth about these criminals who have abandoned the fight against the Nusayris and the Majus, killing the people of Islam, to the joy of the atheists!
We say to them and address them: the Muslim who loves jihad and wants the victory of Islam, and we don’t mean the men of the mukhabarat [intelligence services]- the dogs who want to stir up fitna among the mujahideen and write in their name. And they are shoes for the forces of taghut [tyranny/idolatry] and have sold their religion for one besides their own.
We say to the honorable ones: Be aware of God, and remember the words of Him- the Exalted One- “Man does not utter any word unless there is an observer with him ready [to record it]” [Qur’an 50:18]…and God knows that we are firm in what we say about them, but what we have said is less than the truth about them, but we have seen that we are progessing gradually with the reader in making a statement on the corruption of their program.
So don’t defend these ignorant, lying murderers when you don’t know their state of affairs. We speak about them as we have also with favour to God the nearest approach to Shari’a knowledge that makes us suitable to speak about these issues, thus we have precise knowledge about their personalities and circumstances.
Finally we say: The attacks and accusations their media spokesman made against us are falsehoods and lies. And what they are doing today in al-Sham in killing the people of Islam and abandoning [lines] to the atheists is the reason we published this document at this critical time. The Almighty has said: “Whosoever takes vengeance after being wronged, they have no cause [for blame]” [Qur’an 42:41]. And I say to my mujahideen brothers from all the jihadi groups and tribes what God- Almighty and Exalted is He- said: “Oh you who believe, be patient, endure, remain steadfast and be aware of God: perhaps you will prosper” [Qur’an 3:200]. For jihad is jihad: may your goal be directed towards the Almighty, and may your arrows be directed at the hearts of the Safavids and apostates.
Jaysh al-Mujahideen Iraq
12 January 2014