Justifiying Martyrdom in German

Editor’s note: I am glad to introduce Nico Prucha as a new regular contributor to Jihadica. Nico is an German Arabist who has followed the jihadi Internet for a long time and has written several articles on the topic for Jane’s and other publications.]

In mid-April Elif Medya published a 30-page document in German justifying martyr operations. The text is essentially a significantly expanded translation of an English-language document published by Tibyan Publications a few years ago and attributed to the Saudi ideologue Yusuf al-Uyayri (d. 2003). The Tibyan text in turn was based on an Arabic text that al-Uyayri wrote for the Sawt al-Qawqaz website in late 2000 following the first suicide bombing in Chechnya (perpetrated by a woman named Khava Baraeva).

Signed by “your brothers of the German Taliban Mujahideen”, the document has two parts. The first is a translation of the abovementioned Tibyan text. The second part presents writings on martyrdom by three other figures, namely Nasir al-Din al-Albani, Muhammad bin Uthaymin and Sulayman al-Ulwan. The latter is a notorious  Saudi jihadi cleric while the first two are more mainstream (and deceased) figures of Salafi Islam.

As a whole, the text provides a German-language assessment and justification for suicide missions. The treatise distinguishes between the concepts of “suicide”, “self-sacrificial” and “martyrdom” (istishahdiya) operations, highlights a definition by Yusuf al-‘Uyairi on who can be considered a “martyr” (shahid), and throws in a wide mix of historical sources to illustrate and support the argument.

The main significance of the document is that it is in German and thus accessible to German speaking audience. It is the latest addition to a very rapidly growing body of German-language jihadi literature. Of all these new texts, the jihadist defense of ‘martyrdom’ operations by Elif Medya and the German Taliban Mujahideen may well be one of the most important.

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