ji·had·ica

al-Qaida on the Arabian Peninsula
Tore Hamming

‘O Mujahideen in the West’: Interview with Hurras al-Tawheed

Within Jihadi propaganda, terrorism in the West against ‘the crusaders’ or ‘the infidels’ features prominently. The AQAP-produced magazine Inspire specialized in calling for action and advising al-Qaida supporters on how to attack in addition to providing religious justification. The latest issue of Inspire was published in summer 2017, and since then a string of new magazines and supporter organizations calling for terrorist attacks has emerged. One such example is the Wolves of Manhattan magazine that has so far published three issues.  In February 2022, another new magazine started to be shared on encrypted platforms carrying the title ‘O Mujahideen in the West’. Until now, the group behind the magazine, Hurras al-Tawheed, has published six issues and a Ramadan special issue. Initially, the magazine did not stand out for its calls for jihad in the West. What really caught my attention was how it positioned itself within the Jihadi current and its way of communicating.

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The Propaganda of Jihadist Groups in the Era of Covid-19

Since the very beginning of the pandemic, jihadist groups have been addressing and discussing the issue of Covid-19 in their propaganda, seeking to interpret it for their constituencies and exploit it for their cause. As we shall see in detail below, these groups have sought to use the pandemic as an opportunity to denigrate their enemies, spur recruitment, and inspire attacks. They have also tried to cast the pandemic as a warning from Allah to mankind, including Muslims, and in many cases have detailed strategies for preventing the virus’s spread. Jihadist messaging regarding the pandemic has not been uniform, however, as the following survey of the different groups’ propaganda will show.[1] The main difference is seen between those groups focused more on stopping the spread (e.g., the Taliban, Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham) and those focused more on exploiting the pandemic to stoke violence and amplify their message (e.g., the Islamic State,

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Kill the Caliph! The Islamic State’s evolution from an integrated to a fragmented group

In 2016, the two scholars Haroro Ingram and Craig Whiteside argued in an article on War on the Rocksthat we should not try too hard to kill the leader of the Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. In fact, they said, it would be better to leave him alive. Their view was that it would be wiser to leave al-Baghdadi as the caliph in charge of the demise of the group’s territorial caliphate, essentially positioning him as the authority in charge of its collapse and hopefully leaving him as an unpopular figure with little sway among group members and little ability to lead its resurgence. Well aware that this is an entirely theoretical discussion—if we obtain knowledge of al-Baghdadi’s whereabouts there is no chance that he will not be killed—I agreed with the authors at the time the article was published. But as the context has now changed I am increasingly convinced

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AQ Central
Bernard Haykel

Messages to Arabia: Al-Qaida Attacks MBS and the Saudi Monarchy

Since the early 1990s, al-Qaida has routinely vilified the Saudi royal family and its government for being un-Islamic and illegitimate, describing the monarchy and the princes as apostates who should be attacked and toppled from power. The gist of al-Qaida’s condemnation of the Saudi rulers is that they are lackeys of the West who only pretend to be Muslim and therefore need to be fought and deposed. The Saudi royals have consistently undermined Islam from within and are delivering Islam’s wealth to the West—Arabia’s vast oil and gas reserves—at well below market value. Because of this, the Saudi dynasty’s real nature has to be revealed and the Saudi state destroyed. Every al-Qaida leader has vilified the Saudis in this way, from Usama bin Ladin to his son and putative heir, Hamza. The latter, in 2016, launched a six-part audio series seeking to expose the Saudi royal family’s history of “betrayal.” Anti-Saudi

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From Goods and Services to Counterterrorism: Local Messaging in Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham’s Propaganda

[Editor’s Note: Jihadica is pleased to welcome Lina Raafat and Charles Lister. Lina is a research assistant for the Extremism & Counter-Terrorism Program at the Middle East Institute. Her research focuses on militant propaganda with a particular focus on foreign fighter mobilization and logics of martyrdom. Charles is a senior fellow and the director of the Extremism & Counter-Terrorism Program at the Middle East Institute.] The fall of southwestern Syria to Bashar al-Assad’s regime marked a significant turning point in the Syrian conflict, effectively shifting attention to the northwestern province of Idlib, the last remaining opposition stronghold. Home to a wide array of armed resistance groups, including groups with former and current ties to al-Qaeda, as well as defeated opposition fighters recently exiled from elsewhere in Syria, Idlib’s dynamics are incredibly complex and warrant special consideration. As the threat of an impending regime offensive continues to develop, with both Russia and

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The role of ideologues

This is the fourth Q&A of the interview series with Ahmed Al Hamdan (@a7taker), a Jihadi-Salafi analyst and author of “Methodological Difference Between ISIS and Al Qaida“. Al Hamdan was a former friend of Turki bin Ali, and a student of Shaykh Abu Muhammad Al Maqdisi under whom he studied and was given Ijazah, becoming one of his official students. Also, Shaykh Abu Qatada al Filistini wrote an introduction for his book when it was published in the Arabic language. The interview series contains contains five themes in total and will all be published on Jihadica.com. You can find the first Q&A here, the second here and the third here. Tore Hamming: Part of the struggle between IS and AQ happens through ideologues either part of or sympathetic to one of the two movements. AQ has consistently been supported by major ideologues like Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, Abu Qatada al-Filastini and Hani Siba’i, while IS

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A Little-Known Syrian Jihadi Magazine

In various previous posts, I have paid attention to the Syrian-British Jihadi-Salafi ideologue Abu Basir al-Tartusi, for example because of his criticism of other jihadis and his support for the Free Syrian Army at the expense of Jabhat al-Nusra. His position, differing somewhat from that of other major radical scholars, was interesting because it was more conciliatory towards non-Islamists and remnants of previous regimes and also because it was less dismissive of the widespread calls for democracy that the Arab Spring showed. The Arab Spring also pulled Abu Basir out of the semi-isolation that he was in when he was still living in Britain. Since the early protests against the Syrian regime, he has been very active in promoting the downfall of President Bashar al-Asad, with an unprecedented amount of footage of his speeches, lessons, etc. appearing on YouTube. Part of this greater exposure in the media was a Facebook

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Al-Qaida Advises the Arab Spring: Egypt

The number of jihadi publications on the Arab Spring is increasing dramatically as the months go by and my time has – as always – been very limited, hence my recent absence from Jihadica. I have several posts about al-Qaida’s advice to the Arab Spring lined up, however, including this one about Egypt. Scepticism When one thinks of Egypt and jihadis, the first person that comes to mind is probably Ayman al-Zawahiri. Al-Qaida’s leader has issued many a “letter of hope and good tidings to our people in Egypt” since the beginning of the Arab Spring and although that title may sound as if these epistles contain Christmas greetings to the country’s Coptic community, they offer nothing of the sort. In part three of his series of letters to the Egyptian people, al-Zawahiri spends most of his time warning his countrymen about the supposedly evil intentions of the United States

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English-Speaking Jihadis Lose Principal Propagandists

According to U.S. and Yemeni officials, Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan have been killed in an airstrike. Awlaki was the spiritual leader of the English-speaking jihadi community and Samir Khan was its chief propagandist. Both men joined al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula over the past few years and have been responsible for producing al-Qaeda’s English-language magazine, Inspire. Awlaki also had an operational role directing AQAP’s external attacks and the current head of AQAP reportedly asked Bin Laden to make Awlaki the group’s leader. This is yet another major blow against al-Qaeda and seriously damages its ability to recruit and attack in the West. The open source case for Awlaki’s role as head of foreign ops and the case against. The impact of Awlaki’s death. Big Deal (here, here, here, here, here, and here). No big deal (here, here, here, and here). Counterproductive (here). Mix of all three (here). The legal case for killing Awlaki (here, here, here, and here). Case against

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Strategic Theory of the Second Generation of Jihadis

Three days ago, Abu Hafs al-Sunni al-Sunni, a member of the Atahadi forum, posted an article he titled, “The Strategic Theory of the Second Generation of Jihadis: Propagandistic Foundations and Operational Methods.” Despite the title, it is less about strategy and operations and more about the public relations problems plaguing the jihadis. Here are his main points: The first generation of jihadis did not do an adequate job of winning over ordinary Muslims. This left the field open to the quietist Salafis. Jihadis need to engage commoners by showing them videos of the suffering of Muslims and gauging their interest in doing something about it. However, one has to be careful so as not to be accused of inciting terrorism. Jihadis need to avoid actions that alienate the masses, like beheadings, and demonstrate how much more ethical they are in waging war than the Americans. The second generation of jihadis is

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