ji·had·ica

Introducing the “Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria”

In an official statement issued yesterday, the al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) officially claimed Syria’s Jabhat al-Nusra (JN) as its own product and subsidiary. The audio message from ISI’s emir, Abu Bakr al-Husayni al-Qurashi al-Baghdadi, confirmed once and for all JN’s status as an al-Qaeda offshoot established by ISI—a link JN leaders have long played down or denied. It also significantly revised jihadi nomenclature for the region. The names of “the Islamic State of Iraq” and “Jabhat al-Nusra,” decreed al-Baghdadi, are hereby void; the two groups are now combined under the joint name of “the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria” (al-dawla al-islamiyya fi al-‘iraq wa-l-sham; ISIGS). Thus will the “banner” of jihad achieve further unity. A commitment to global jihad JN, according to al-Baghdadi, was from the first an “extension” and “part” of ISI. Providing little in the way of details, he explains rather matter-of-factly how ISI

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Are the Jihadi Forums Flagging? An Ideologue’s Lament

Last month prominent jihadi ideologue Abu Sa‘d al-‘Amili published a critical essay on the state of online global jihad. Released by Fursan al-Balagh Media (@fursanalbalaagh) on February 17, the eight-page essay stirringly lamented a general decline in participation in jihadi online forums (websites such as Shumukh al-Islam and Shabakat al-Fida’ al-Islamiyya) and pleaded with users to reinvigorate the forums as the proper centers of jihadi discussion and intellectual production online. (For the history of these forums and their important role in jihadi activity, including their ties to al-Qaeda and its affiliates, see here.) While it is certainly a stretch to say that the forums are falling into desuetude, al-‘Amili’s lament ought to be taken seriously, if only on account of the author’s status in jihadi circles. The pseudonymous shaykh is a prolific jihadi presence online, with numerous essays and fatwas and even a collection of poetry to his name. Who

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Al-Qaeda Advises the Syrian Revolution: Shumukh al-Islam’s “Comprehensive Strategy” for Syria

Three weeks ago members of Shumukh al-Islam, al-Qaeda’s premier online forum, began collaboration on a “comprehensive strategy” for the ongoing Syrian jihad. In a thread started by a certain “Handasat al-Qaeda,” several dozen members of the access-restricted site set down a plethora of observations and recommendations. A week later, on February 9, the same member to initiate the thread condensed these contributions into a single strategic document, intended to represent the forum membership’s thinking as a whole. The author identified the document as sensitive and not to be shared except via email with jihadis lacking access to Shumukh. (The Shumukh forum, which has direct ties to al-Qaeda, is password-protected and does not readily register new users.) In the spirit of transparency, I have taken the liberty of translating the document in its entirety (see below). In all likelihood, Shumuk’s so-called “comprehensive strategy” for Syria has less value for jihadis on

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Jihadism’s Widening Internal Divide: Intellectual Infighting Heats Up

Last year witnessed the outbreak of a major feud between two of the most prominent and active ideologues in the jihadi movement: the Syrian Abu Basir al-Tartusi and the Mauritanian Abu al-Mundhir al-Shinqiti. As Joas Wagemakers wrote in June and July of last year, the quarrel emerged in May 2012 following two perceived provocations by Abu Basir. First came the Syrian’s statements praising the generally secular Free Syrian Army (FSA) and criticizing the radical jihadi group Jabhat al-Nusrah; second was his critical letter to the Yemeni jihadi group Ansar al-Shari‘ah. Al-Shinqiti followed with a furious—and ceaseless—campaign of repudiation. Since last May the context of this dispute has changed significantly. Abu Basir has abandoned his London refuge, where he had lived for more than a decade, for the battlefields of northern Syria. Meanwhile, Jabhat al-Nusrah no longer enjoys a monopoly on Syrian Islamic militancy, as a large number of groups has

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Stealth Takfir: The Discreet Excommunication of Muhammad Morsi

[Editor’s Note: Jihadica is pleased to welcome Cole Bunzel to its lineup. Cole is a PhD candidate in Princeton University’s Department of Near Eastern Studies, which has become one of the world’s leading incubators of scholars of the jihadi movement.] Last week, resurfaced videos of Egyptian President Muhammad Morsi making anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist remarks stoked vigorous debate in American media. A week earlier, another resurfaced video of Morsi, this time making apparently anti-Islamic remarks, highlighted a quite different debate taking place in the realm of jihadi media: Is Muhammad Morsi a kafir (unbeliever)? In a recent fatwa, Abu al-Mundhir al-Shinqiti, the influential Mauritanian Jihadi-Salafi ideologue, betrayed a remarkable level of caution in taking up this question. His fatwa, along with his other writings on takfir (excommunication) of Morsi, is a revealing political statement. It has less to do with the theology of faith than with Jihadi-Salafi strategy in post-Arab Spring

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