In 1996 the leader of Al Qaeda, Osama Bin Laden, launched a first declaration of war to the West. Two years later, in a new fatwa, he made clear his ideological message . These two fatwas or declarations were the only ones before the terrible attacks of 2001 in Washington and New York.
Today, almost 20 years later, the ideology of the global jihad movement is still alive and has been embraced by other groups that were, in principle, focused more locally in their regions or countries. Obviously, this ideology has strengths that make it attractive to thousands of individuals, but these can become weaknesses in carrying out strategic movements, forcing them to change and adapt, taking advantage of opportunities at any time.
Al Qaeda, has been adapting almost since its creation showing great resistance to adverse circumstances.
Jihadist ideology, like any ideology, will seek to transform society economically, politically or culturally by trying to find the ideal society. In this quest, jihadist ideology will encounter the elements that clash in that ideology and try to change or eliminate them. The follow-up, of an ideology, leaves individuals with little freedom of action making them more controllable.
After the war against the Soviets in Afghanistan, the al Qaeda leadership turned to the United States and with a goal in mind, developed a new concept of jihad. A jihad without frontiers and against everything and all that collide with its strong ideology.
Jihad is understood, in Islam, as an effort or inner struggle, to be a better Muslim; But there is also jihad in its military side, the jihad of the sword (jihad bis saif) as a defensive war to protect the territory or in the defense of the faith.
Abdalah Azzam, considered the strategist of the jihad, defined it as offensive or defensive and explains the differences and obligations between one and another. According to Azzam, an offensive jihad is only fought when fighting in Kufr territory (unbeliever). Defensive jihad is carried out to expel the kufr from lands of Islam and it is the individual duty of each and the most important of the obligations, for a Muslim.
Azzam, emits a fatwa in which he declares that whoever opposes him is an unbeliever, and becomes takfir (thus he declares to all Muslims that stand in his way, as apostates and deserving of death). It is a concept, contrary to Muslim intellectualism and that favors Islamist militancy. “Takfir, is a key ideological weapon, among the tools of today’s militant jihadists” 1
Bin Laden and al-Zawahiri influenced by Azzam, in their speeches and publications, broadened their political ideology. Ayman Al-Zawahiri, is one of the most prominent Islamist ideologues and currently is the command of Al Qaeda following the death of Bin Laden in Abbottabad in 2011.
Based on his ideology and with the same goals as Hassan al-Banna (founder of the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt) and his disciple, Sayyid Qutb (one of the leading theoreticians of modern Islamism) makes a distinction between the distant enemy and the nearby enemy that has to be fought in order to achieve the establishment of a pan-Islamic state based on sharia.
The Near enemy are leaders in the Arab world that are considered kafir (apostates) and have to be replaced by Islamic honest leaders. The Far enemy are the Western leaders (United States, Israel and other leaders non-Muslims) that are responsible for the moral corruption and religious of Muslims. zawahiri, However, is contrary to Qutb in attack first to the near enemy, adapting as first strategy the far enemy2. Al Qaeda needed to create a enemy that would sense to that new global Jihad and goes to the far enemy (West) to weaken the near enemy (governments corrupt Muslim). to perform their basic approach and assumed by the umma (community of believers of Islam) must be visible. August 7, 1998 in Nairobi (Kenya) and Dar es salaamen (Tanzania) a terrorist attack in embassies American caused 5086 wounded and 224 dead, 12 them American, which resulted in missile attack Tomahawk the bases and training camps Afghan. in 1998, Osama bin Laden, established officially the Jihad against Jews and crusaders. movement of the global Jihad, ideology of Al Qaeda, has its roots in the “salafismo- jihadist”, a back to the times of the Prophet Muhammad by using armed struggle. the goal is to establish the Islamic state Universal (the caliphate), based on the strict Islamic law (Sharia) and using this movement of the global Jihad against West to which fault of all evil that has currently the people Muslim.
Launching Global Jihad
Declaration of war against the Americans, who occupy the land of the two Holy Places 3
In August 1996, Osama Bin Laden released this 30-page statement which is published by Al Quds Al Arabi, based in London. In this statement he reviews the places where the Muslim people are involved in conflicts: Palestine, Iraq, Lebanon, Chechnya, Bosnia, Tajikistan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, Kashmir …
The last and greatest of these attacks against Muslims since the death of the Prophet is the occupation of the land of the two Holy Places … by the armies of the American Crusaders and their allies … … the people of Islam have suffered aggressions, iniquity and injustice imposed by the alliance of the Zionist-Crusaders and their collaborators … releasing their holy places is the greatest of all Muslim issues , It is the duty of all Muslims in this world …
These paragraphs are directed to the feelings of the Muslims, appealing to the obligation to liberate the holy places of Mecca – Medina and Jerusalem. In this way the message is internalized and shared throughout the umma. These two points will be easily accepted by the Muslim people.
… it is no secret that using man-made law instead of sharia and supporting infidels against Muslims is one of the ten illegal acts that deprive a person of his Islamic status ….. The youngs of the land of the two holy places feel and firmly believe that the struggle (jihad) against Kufr in all parts of the world is absolutely essential …
You can not be a good Muslim under the law of men and if you can establish sharia, you do not, you lose the status of Muslim (this could lead to the declaration of kaffir apostate). Being declared a kafir can lead to death. This statement would put in focus all Muslim governments, in which sharia is not the only law.
He also recalls the words of Maududi (founder of Jamaat-e-Islami) in his book, Islamic Law and Its Introduction in Pakistan: “If an Islamic society deliberately resolves not to accept Sharia and decides to promulgate its own constitution and laws, or borrow them From any source other than Shariah, then such a society breaks its contract with Ala and loses its right to be called “Islamic” 4
… these young people believe in what was said by Allah and His messenger about the greatness of the reward for the Mujahideen and the Martyrs, Ala the Most Exalted said: those who are dead in the way of Ala. He will by no means allow his deeds to perish. He will guide them, improve their condition and make them enter the garden of paradise … … these young people know that: one has to kill or die (in any way) and the most honorable death is to die on the path of Ala .. . Your problem (that of the enemy) will be how to convince your troops to fight, while our problem will be how to contain our young people to wait their turn in the fight and in the operations. These young people are chosen and praiseworthy …
Carrying out jihad is the obligation of every Muslim and dying fighting in the cause of Allah provides the greatest rewards in the afterlife. Fighting in Ala’s army is the highest honor and its mujahideen are God’s elect. The superiority of fighting beside Allah will make the soldiers of God far superior and courageous in combat.
“With this communiqué, the terrorist leader hoped to become the standard bearer of the Islamic struggle against the Crusaders and Jews,” but this text only caused some stir in the radical environments, and passed almost unnoticed in the country to which Declared the war “5
After this first very focused statement to Saudi Arabia, a second one, more explicit to the west, was launched, calling war, a war of religion.
Declaration of war against Jews and Crusaders 6
Declaration, published on February 23, 1998, to declare holy war against the West and Israel. The fatwa was published in the daily Al Quds al Arabi and unlike the first fatwa, which was issued only by Osama Bin Laden, this fatwa was also signed by Osama bin Laden by his lieutenant Ayman al-Zawahiri, leader of the Jihad Group in Egypt; Abu Yasir Rafa’l Ahmad Taha, leader of the Islamic Group; Sheikh Mir Hamzah, secretary of the Jumiat, ut ulemas, e- Pakistani and Fazlul Rahman, leader of the Jihad Movement in Bangladesh.
The goals of the Americans behind these wars are religious and economic, the goal is also to serve the Jews and divert attention from their occupation in Jerusalem and the murder of Muslims … … fight against the pagans all together and fight against Until there is no more turmoil and oppression, and justice and faith prevail in God … … all these crimes and sins committed by the Americans are a clear declaration of war against God, his messenger, and the Muslims … … the decision of Killing Americans and their allies – civilians and military – is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do so in any country where it is possible to do so in order to free the al-Aqsa mosque and the sacred mosque (Mecca) … … we – with the help of God – call every Muslim who believes in God and desires to be rewarded and to fulfill God’s command to kill Americans and plunder their money wherever and whenever they find them … … we also call Muslim leaders, young men and soldiers to launch the attack on the American troops of Satan and the devil’s allies allied with them, and to displace those behind them, so they can learn a lesson …
This second statement is intended to establish jihad in the name of God and establishes two fronts, the forces of good (the Muslim troops of Allah) and the forces of evil (the American infidels and their allies).
In this way, he turns the war into a timeless one until the good triumphs and the satanic troops and their allied devils disappear. It offers a way to participate as soldiers in the war. Every Muslim has an obligation to attack the enemy in any country.
Bin Laden calls war a religious war. A war between Islam and the rest of the non-believers, the kufr (all peoples who do not practice Islam). In order to help break the moral obstacle involved in causing death to another human being to fulfill God’s command, especially with terrorist methods, in this statement, drafted in religious terms, as war in defense of Islam, war between the forces of Well and the evil forces of the crusaders, is described as Satan and devils allied with the enemies, in clear attempt to dehumanize them.
Mark Juergensmeyer (an American expert in religious and sociological studies) calls this process satanization and is common to all terrorist groups with a religious character. 7
Thus, we find mujahideen, with moral superiority and ready to fight without fear of death, that to produce will give them the best of eternal rewards, paradise. Jihad is a timeless holy war, whose end can only be victory. Ala’s final defeat is not possible. You can only be with them or against them. Individual struggle makes the message attractive, for anyone can be a soldier of God.
There is a strong ideological base, Islam is a religion unjustly attacked by the United States, Israel and its allies. With the objectives to be defined (to establish a caliphate with Sharia as the only law), the obstacles that stand in its way Infidels and puppet Muslim rulers) and how to eliminate them (through global jihad against the US, Israel, and allies).
Jihad, like holy war, gets more support than if the motives were only social. It is the only one that can give moral legitimation, even above the states themselves, because no one can be above God.
The Strengths and Weaknesses of the Jihadist Ideology
The great strengths of the global jihadist ideology are based on the fact that it is capable of:
- Explain to us the problem of the Muslim world (United States, Israel, their allies and corrupt Muslim regimes)
- Give us direct solutions on how to overcome these problems (Collective or individual jihad is obligatory for every Muslim until the establishment of the universal Islamic state, The Caliphate)
- Divide the world between good and evil (only adhering to this ideology is on the side of good) By placing us next to the good gives us a feeling of moral superiority (there can be no mistake in Ala’s decisions)
- Promise you personal transformation and paradise (being the purest of Muslims and immediate reward in case of death)
- To be exciting to feel in a global war against the demonized enemy (to be immersed in a timeless war where the forces of good, the Muslims, finally reached the victory)
- To be easy to participate as a soldier regardless of the individual situation (be a woman male child you are allowed to participate regardless of where you are)
In this way we have a just cause. The most just cause, because it invites us to fulfill a divine mandate. The soldiers, mujahideen, are the strongest, the purest and following the path of Ala, can not be wrong. No one can be like a mujahideen, except for another mujahideen. Ala’s wishes must be fulfilled.
The weaknesses of jihadist ideology are found in these same strengths as by absolutely radical positions:
- It prevents them from being able and able to negotiate, because there is no mistake when you are in possession of absolute truth and total victory will be achieved thanks to divine help.
- Survival will only be guaranteed with the elimination of the opponent.
- Precipitation in fulfilling as a pure and superior Muslim, therefore, sharia must be applied in all areas dominated by Islam at the risk of being declared an apostate (the worst thing that can happen to a Muslim believer).
- Ala’s superiority as fighters leads to errors underestimating the enemy.
- The perfection of a good Muslim is very high and anyone who does not come will be considered as deviating from true Islam or apostate and aim to eliminate if he does not convert and adopts the “pure” practices of the true Muslim.
Some examples of the performance of Al Qaeda in which taking advantage of its strong ideology is this same strength that makes them weak in carrying out their strategy:
Absolutely radical attitudes and inability to negotiate
Abu Musab al-Zarqawi vowed allegiance to Osama bin Laden; From then on it changed its name by the one of Al-Qaeda in Iraq. Received with ample expectations the irruption of Al Qaeda in Iraq, ended up in disenchantment before a group that wished to impose to the tribal groups demanding obedience to them.
In an attempt to provoke a civil war, he not only devoted himself to the indiscriminate massacres of Shiites, but also Sunnis, if they did not bow to his leadership.
“Al Qaeda in Iraq has not only tried to brutally force women to cover their faces, banning music, tobacco, alcohol and even ice, under the surprising argument that they did not exist in the time of the Prophet, Has also launched a campaign of extortion against all those who do not join the ranks “8
Errors underestimating the enemy
September 11, 2001 marked a turning point in how the world viewed terrorism. For the global jihad was a success, to get carried out an attack inside the territory of the infidels, the United States.
Al Qaeda became already world-renowned and the supporters of its cause increased in number. The mistake, calling the war against terrorism the campaign launched by the Bush Administration after the attacks, was used to present it by the terrorists as a war against Islam and ultimately a war of religion.
But the ideology of the jihadists, in this case, despite their successes in the operation led them to that feeling of superiority, which makes them underestimate the forces of the enemy. They were wrong if the idea was to attract the Americans and repeat a victory like the one they attributed to the Soviet Union. This time, it only served to make Al Qaeda almost decimated and with little chance of acting.
Precipitation in fulfilling as a pure Muslim
Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), in the Mali conflict, try to impose its ideology rather than conquer territory. Imposing sharia, in the areas they occupied. That contradiction, in fulfilling the sacred duty and strategy, made the MNLA (National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad), which at first had been its ally, become in His enemy.
In Tombuctú, patrimony of the humanity, they destroyed sixteen mausoleums and more than four thousand ancient manuscripts. Something, which is according to their ideology, made them be repudiated by society and lose an important first alliance.
The same Abdelmalek Droukdel (leader of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb) makes a constructive criticism, as it appears in documents recovered in Timbuktu, in January of 2013. 9
- The declaration of an “Islamic State of Azawad” was premature since establishing a people’s Islamic sharia regime exceeds the capabilities of any organization or movement now active in Azawad.
- The extreme speed with which Shariah was applied … in an ignorant environment of religion was a mistake, because our previous experience showed us that the application of sharia in this way, regardless of the environment will give Place people to reject religion and generate hatred of the mujahideen.
- The destruction of the shrines in Timbuktu will have negative repercussions because internally we are not strong and there is a possibility of external intervention.
- The application of hadd (religious punishment) … and the prohibition of women leaving and children playing, and registering the houses of the population … in contradiction with the policy of the Salaf (our ancestors ).
Eliminate the enemy if he does not convert and adopts the “pure” practices of the true Muslim
The Arab Spring has shown that it is possible or at least one can attempt, without the violence unleashed by Al Qaeda, to bring about a change in Muslim regimes, leading to greater freedom for its citizens.
Al Qaeda does not seem to have understood and even notes as success the movements of the so-called Arab Spring. The Arab revolts have shown that the evil of all their tribulations is not the West, and that they themselves can bring about change without violence.
It has meant a rise of Islamism, but political participation is an advance for some groups, such as the Muslim brothers, an important group in the twentieth century of gestation of the jihadist movements, if opt for less radical positions.
- ABOUL-ENEIN Youssef LCDR The Late Sheikh Abdullah Azzam’s Books Part III: Radical Theories on Defending Muslim Land through Jihad., MSC, USN The Combating Terrorism Center United States Military Academy West Point, NY http://www.ctc.usma.edu
- Krieg Andreas: from the banna to Qutb ‘to zawahiri – how the ideology of the banna set the Foundation for modern terrorism publications in contemporary affairs (bite) © 2010 http://www.thepicaproject.org/?page_id=191
- http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/military/july-dec96/fatwa_1996.html traducida por PBS
- MAUDUDI, Syed Abdul Aala, Islamic law and its introduction in Pakistan. .Lahore, http://hdl.handle.net/10739/327. Http://dspace.jgu.edu.in:8080/dspace/bitstream/10739/327/1/Maulana_Maududi_The_Islamic_Law_an d_its_intro_in_Pak.pdf
- TORRES SORIANO, Manuel .R. Evaluación del impacto de la propaganda de Al Qaeda sobre la opinión pública musulmana INTELIGENCIA Y SEGURIDAD 7 (DIC. 2009-MAYO 2010). PAGINAS 165-196. ISSN: 1887-293X
- http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/military/jan-june98/fatwa_1998.html translated by PBS
- JUERGENSMEYER Mark: Religious Terrorism: The Global Rise of Religious Violence 21st Century, 2001. isbn : 9788432310751
- The unstoppable decline of Al Qaeda in Iraq http://spanish.safedemocracy.org/2008/01/14/el-imparable-declive- Of-al-Qaeda-in-iraq
- COMBELLES SIEGEL Pascale AQIM’s Playbook in Mali. Academy West Point, NY http://www.ctc.usma.edu