In November 2014, the Islamic State’s [IS] leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi announced the acceptance of pledges of allegiance from Algeria, Libya, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Sinai to herald the creation of new IS ‘provinces’ (wilayat) ostensibly on the model of administration in the wilayat of Iraq and Syria, which have seen regulations from education to sanitation and real estate. Of these external ‘provinces’, Libya has thus far shown the most promise for the growth of the IS brand abroad, foremost exemplified in the IS presence in the eastern city of Derna. The ‘Sinai’ province has some potential too on account of the pledge of allegiance of Jamaat Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis. In contrast, the IS presence in Algeria is limited to a small and rather insignificant break-off from al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb known as Jund al-Khilafa, whose only notable act to date has been the murder of a French hostage. In Saudi Arabia, the tight security apparatus that has hindered al-Qa’ida activity means that open manifestations of the IS presence would be difficult to realize.
Yemen presents a more interesting case. The country is in total chaos with the collapse of the central government, the growth of the Houthi rebel movement’s power, the southern separatist movement, and long-term environmental and overpopulation pressures. Yet Yemen has had a very well-established and powerful al-Qa’ida brand for years in the form of al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), together with its front group Ansar al-Shari’a. AQAP more recently has been drawing further popular support in playing on concerns about Houthi expansionism. This thorough grounding of AQAP in the local milieu provides a natural hindrance for the growth of the IS brand in Yemen, regardless of the sympathies expressed for IS’ predecessor the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) by AQAP figures like Ma’mun Hatem and thesolidarity for IS declared by AQAP in the face of the U.S.-led coalition.
Indeed, there has been hardly any evidence until recently of an IS presence in Yemen. The signs that have just emerged point- unlike Sinai and Libya- to the IS brand as primarily activist in nature, not IS as a viable military force. For example, below is a photo of propaganda material distributed in support of IS in the Hadhramaut area.
The main other form of recent evidence of the IS presence in Yemen exists in statements distributed in the various declared ‘wilayats’ within Yemen. Below is one notable example from Shabwa Governorate. The concept of a generalised ‘Shari’a Committee’ should be compared with ISIS’ ‘Shari’a Committee’ for Mosul in the days before it controlled the city. That is, a body still lurking within the shadows. The other statements that have emerged and will be displayed in a subsequent post should be regarded in a similar light, at least until more high quality media production come from IS ‘media offices’ for Yemen provinces.
Specimen A: Statement from Shabwa Governorate
6 Jumada al-Awal 1436 AH [25 February 2015]
The Importance of the Caliphate
Thanks be to God the Powerful, the Strong, who makes Islam mighty by His victory and lowers disbelief by His vanquishing…and prayers and peace be upon the one God made high as the light of Islam by his sword. God Almighty has said: “This Ummah of yours is one Ummah and I am your Lord so be aware/fear.”
On the authority of Abu Huraira- may God be pleased with him: the Messenger of God said: “Whoever obeys me has obeyed God and whoever rebels against me has rebelled against God. And whoever obeys the amir [al-mu’mineen] has obeyed me and whoever rebels against the amir has rebelled against me, and indeed the imam is a shield behind whom one fights and by which one seeks protection.”
For the Muslims without a Caliph leading them and an imam guiding them are a defeated Ummah, an oppressed Ummah, a humiliated Ummah, an Ummah robbed of dignity, an Ummah in the rear of the nations drowned in humiliation and degradation…and indeed the greatest of reasons for this humiliation and degradation is the factionalism, separation, division into factions and distance from the Caliphate and Caliph; and oppression and degradation won’t be removed for them except by returning to God’s religion and gathering under the authority of one imam who leads the people by the book of their Lord and the Sunna of their Prophet and the guidance of their just predecessors. Thus are the garments of shame torn from them and the shame of humiliation removed from them…God Almighty has said: “And when your Lord has said to the angels: ‘I am placing a khalifa [caliph/successor] in the land..’ Imam Qurtubi, may God have mercy on him, said: “This ayah is the origin of the concept of an imam and caliph: who is to be heard and obeyed, through whom the word is gathered and the rulings of the Caliph are implemented. And there is no disagreement on the obligation for that among the Ummah or the Imams…”
The enemies of God have engaged in a massive effort to avert the Ummah of Muhammad from realizing their [?] unity and dignity, thus the Islamic Ummah has been intentionally prevented from realizing the Caliphate for a long periods and has been averted from it for many years. But now God has made the Ummah of Muhammad noble and blessed it with the rise of the Islamic State and the appointment of a Caliph over the Muslims who is the mujahid Sheikh, knowledgeable, working, pious..scion of the house of Prophethood Ibrahim bin Awwad bin Ali bin Muhammad al-Badri al-Qurashi [..?] al-Husseini: al-Samarra’i by birth and grew up in Baghdad as a student of ‘Ilm [Islamic knowledge]…and thus an Imam and Caliph for the Muslims in every place.
Thus we warn the Muslims that with the announcement of the Caliphate it has become obligatory on all Muslims in every place to pledge allegiance and support Caliph Ibrahim- may God protect him. Thus the legitimacy of emirates, states, provinces [i.e. those outside Caliphate], organizations and groups is nullified. Imam Ahmad [ibn Hanbal]- may God have mercy on him- said: “Whoever overcomes them by the sword such that he has become Caliph and is called Amir al-Mu’mineen, it is not permitted for anyone who believes in God to remain and not recognize an Imam, regardless of whether he is pious or immoral.” So fear God oh servants of God and listen to and obey your Caliph. Gather round him and support your state so that you may return as you were: eternal of fate, kings of the earth, knights of war. Come, realize your state, your glory, your dignity, your victory. Come, that you may live glorious, dignified, happy and noble, that the east and west may be subjected to you. God Almighty has said: “And do not dispute and thus you should fail and your spirit departs…” And the Almighty has said: “Cling to God’s rope entirely and don’t separate…” And the Messenger of God informed Hadhifa bin al-Yaman on the requiremen for the assembly of the Muslims and their imam, for he said: “The Muslims and their imam must assemble”- narrated by Muslim.
And on the authority of Abdullah bin Omar: he said: the Messenger of God said: “Whoever dies without a bay’ah [pledge of allegiance] on his neck, dies in a state of ignorance”- narrated by Muslim. So a believer who believes in God and the Last Day is not allowed to remain for one night without a bay’ah to the amir al-mu’mineen Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi- may God protect him- and there is no legitimate obstacle or excuse that prevents or delays the obligation of bay’ah for the time is the time of the Caliphate and the era is the era of the Supreme Imamate. And the Caliph- may God protect him- has carried on his shoulder the jihad in God’s path, the establishment of the religion, the rule of Shari’a, fighting the enemies of the path, waging war on the disbelievers, and the struggle against the idolatrous Rafidites [Shi’a].
So fear God oh Muslims and do not relinquish Islam, for what will you do and say to your Lord if you do not stand in the line of Islam? For the Jews, Christians, Crusaders, secularists, socialists, and the apostate Rafidites have stood in one rank to bring down the Islamic Caliphate. And were it to fall, the Muslims would suffer humiliation after humiliaton, and this is so even if the Muslims were to have triumph after truimph, and to God is the matter before and after, and God is predominant over His affair but most of the people don’t know it.
And thanks be to God the Lord of the Worlds and may God’s peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad and all his family and companions.