The previous post on the Islamic State (IS) presence in Yemen looked at a sample ‘Shari’a Committee’ document from a declared Wilayat Shabwa, reflecting on the activist nature of the IS presence. Other documents that have emerged from IS declared provinces in Yemen bear similar implications. Note that the next statement below from ‘Aden Province’ (not marked with a shadowy ‘Shari’a Committee’ label), while pointing out the vast array of enemies (including the Yemeni national army), focuses primarily on the sectarian dynamic of the perceived Houthi [Shi’a] threat to Sunnis. The statement explicitly draws an analogy with the notion of protecting Sunnis in Iraq and that narrative Abu Mus’ab Zarqawi had in mind in aiming to provoke Sunni-Shi’a sectarian civil war. There is indeed little hint of the issue of American drone strikes, which, of course, have targeted IS’ rivals in al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and so are a grievance for AQAP to play on. With AQAP’s lengthy rationale for rejecting the Caliphate declaration, there is also no notion of common solidarity with AQAP in the face of the drone strikes and other threats to jihadis.
It remains to be seen whether IS in Yemen can realize its promise of attacks on Houthis. I am inclined towards skepticism as AQAP can play on the perceived threat of Houthi expansionism to bolster its support. There is no local dynamic in particular about IS in Yemen that should necessarily make it more attractive on the ground than AQAP. Nonetheless, policymakers should remain vigiliant as more evidence emerges.
[Update: here’s testimony from an AQAP member on the IS presence in Yemen, which points to military operations in at least one instance against a Houthi checkpoint, though not of great significance. H/T: Miriam Goldman & Ben Decker].
Specimen B: Aden Province Statement
Date: 5 Jumada al-Awwal 1435 AH [c. 24 February 2015]
Thanks be to God, the Powerful, the Strong, who lowers the disbelievers by His vanquishing and elevates the Muslims by His victory. And prayers and peace be upon the one He sent by the sword as a mercy to the worlds. As for what follows:
This is a statement from the soldiers of IS in Yemen bearing in their folds and sides good tidings, news and words with denseness that will be translated to deeds written in blood, covered in corpses, to be a lesson/admonition to the disbelievers and to heal what is in the believers’ chests.
So to our people the Ahl al-Sunna in Yemen, the land of help and support, we say:
However much you have been harmed by the gathering of the apostates against you from the Rafidite Houthis and others besides them from the idolatrous army, know that victory is for the patient mujahideen Muslims and the religion of God is victorious in great glory or despised humiliation, so seek aid in God and be firm until you should inherit the land that God promised to His just servants. God said: “Moses said to his people: Seek God’s help and be patient. The land belongs to God: He causes it to be inherited for whomsoever He wills, and the outcome is for the righteous. They said: We have been harmed before and after you came to us. He said: Perhaps your Lord will destroy your enemy and grant you succession in the land so He is seeing how you will fare.”
And know that the religion of God, even if those waging war on it be numerous, grows stronger, and if they abandon it, it expands; and know that God is able to do without whoever apostasises. The victory for this religion is to be realized only from God whoever the enemy may be and whatever their numbers or ammunition may be, so do not fear them or despair and you are the supreme, victorious ones by your faith and might in realization of your Lord’s promise.
So, oh Ahl al-Sunna, your blood is our blood, your honour is our honour, so to support you is among our foremost obligations. So we will not abandon you as easy prey for the Houthi servant of the Majus, for by God do our eyes well up in tears with sadness at what we see from the dominance and supremacy of your enemies over you, the disgrace to your honour, and indeed our ears reverberate from the screaming of our women and children. And indeed our hearts beat in blood that has only wished to be spilled in support of you. And be sure that all this will not pass without reckoning or consequence. And this promise of ours is not mere ink on paper but you will see from us in the coming days how your chests will be gladdened by God’s permission.
And our defence of you will not be a defence of the cowards of partisanship in hotels but a defence of the men of the rifle in the trenches to raise supreme your religion and take revenge for you as like the revenge of our brothers in Iraq against the filthy Rafidites [Shi’a] and feeding their corpses to the dogs until there will be no seeing or hearing of a dog hungry in a land soiled with the corpses of the Rafidites.
If the Zarqawist knives took revenge for the Ahl al-Sunna in Iraq, so you should see the plates of Yemen taking revenge if God wills, for we have sworn not to sleep over the injustice against an oppressed Muslim, degraded from his religion and honour. And indeed we will take revenge for him even if after a while we will indeed take revenge and come for you oh enemies of God with men who love killing and martyrdom just as you love the material world and leadership. And indeed the dominant soldiers of the Caliphate will have on their side by God’s permission the Living, the Everlasting, the One Powerful [i.e. God] over everything, for He is our Lord, whereas you have no lord and what you worship and assert without it has no power over anything.
So take heed, oh heretic Houthis, you who have reviled and declared to be disbelief the glory of the companions whom our Lord commended in the Noble Qur’an whose ayat [verses] you reject, declare to be disbelief, and by which you purchase a small price. So take heed and expect a torment that will wound you from God or at our hands. Indeed we lie in wait for you.
And we warn our Muslim brothers not to approach the bases and gatherings of the Houthis, not to attend their occasions or ride in their cars with them, for indeed the Houthis and whoever supports or mixes with them is a legitimate target for us and our coming attacks by God’s permission. And God is predominant over His affair but most people don’t know it.
Specimen D: Lahij Province Statement (identical to B)