[Scott Sanford] On 23 August 2008, Ekhlaas member Assad al-Jihad2 (أسد الجهاد2), or the Lion of Jihad 2, posted a statement concerning the state of al-Qaida in the world today. He started the statement with a 13 December 2001 news report about the battle in Tora Bora and how it seemed that al-Qaida was on the brink of total destruction. However, he argued, “In only seven years…they [al-Qaida] were able to…triumph over the world alliance against them.” He based this assertion on several events he attributed to al-Qaida:
- Many United States government officials were forced to leave their posts after their failure to defeat al-Qaida
- American historians have claimed that President Bush has been the worst president in American history
- Al-Qaida weakened the most powerful country on Earth in “the Badr of the [21st] century” (This is a reference to the 624CE Battle of Badr where approximately 300 Muslim soldiers defeated the much larger Meccan army of approximately 1000 soldiers. Muslims believe divine intervention granted them victory.)
- Al-Qaida brought down the Spanish government after its 11 March 2004 attacks
- Al-Qaida brought down the British government after its 7 July 2005 attacks
- Al-Qaida defeated the Musharraf government after it attacked Islam
Assad al-Jihad2 (AJ2) did admit that after September 11th, al-Qaida did not expect “the great betrayal of the Pakistani government” or “the betrayal of the scholars of evil.” (The scholars are likely prominent Salafi ideologues like Sayyid Imam al-Sharif (Dr. Fadl) or Salman al-‘Awda, who turned against al-Qaida’s bloody methods.) However, regardless of the supposed betrayals, he stated that today one can find al-Qaida in Iraq, North Africa, Somalia, Saudi Arabia(where he claimed that al-Qaida has huge human reserves), and Yemen. He also stated that the Palestinian Territories are merely in need of a “spark” for al-Qaida to show its presence there.
Normally I do not give much credence to such reports emanating from the forums, but this one is important for two reasons. First, it is possible that AJ2 is a military commander for al-Qaida. The blogger and Jordan University professor Akram Hijazi stated in a reference to one of AJ2’s statements, “It is not inconceivable that [AJ2] is one of al-Qaida’s military commanders.” (Hijazi is an al-Qaida supporter and his blogs are regularly posted on takfiri websites. He is the “senior researcher” at the Arab Researchers’ Center, which sells takfiri videos and statements that are otherwise free on the Internet. Fu’ad Husayn, who wrote a biography of al-Zarqawi and spent time with him in prison, runs the center. The website for the Arab Researchers’ Center is Arabresearchers.net.) Additionally, the fact that AJ2 often times posts through the al-Qaida-affiliated Global Islamic Media Front (GIMF) and Ekhlaas has given him the title of “innovative pen 1,” which is one of the highest titles one can achieve on Ekhlaas, adds credibility to Hijazi’s assertion.
Second, in a January 2008 statement, AJ2 stated that the Palestinian territories will be the primary front for terrorists graduating from Afghanistan and Iraq. He claimed that due to Hamas’ suppression of al-Qaida-inspired militants in Gaza, al-Qaida cannot announce its presence in the Palestinian Territories at this time. However, he added that al-Qaida will announce its presence sometime after the current US presidential cycle. He then mentioned that the battle with Israel will begin between 2010 and 2013. Finally, he claimed that al-Qaida has already begun preparing for war with Israel and he gave advice for how the Palestinians should prepare. In this context, AJ2’s recent remark about al-Qaida needing a spark to start operations in the Palestinian Territories takes on more significance. It is unclear what exactly this spark could be, but it does seem that AJ2 is again indicating that al-Qaida is preparing to engage Israel.
Regardless of AJ2’s views, I remain skeptical that al-Qaida will be able to gain a significant presence in Gaza and then maintain that presence. After Hamas forced the al-Qaida-inspired Army of Islam (AI) to release BBC reporter Alan Johnston, the two organizations have been at loggerheads, which has been at the detriment of AI. If an indigenous group of terrorists with backing from a prominent Gazan clan, the Dughmush, cannot operate relatively freely in Gaza, I doubt a group of foreign al-Qaida operatives will do much better.
Document (Arabic): 8-23-2008-Ek-ls.org-AJ2-After-the-Fall-of-Pervez
Document (Arabic): 2-18-2008-Ek-ls.org-Akram-Hijazi-Blog
Document (English): 8-27-2008-Arabresearchers.net-about-the-Arab-Researchers-Center
Document (English): 8-27-2008-Arabresearchers.net-Research-by-the-Arab-Researchers-Center
Document (Arabic): 29-01-2008-Ek-ls.org-AJ2-GIMF-Statement