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On September 11, 2018, Al-Qaeda media wing Al-Sahab released an audio recording of Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri marking the 17th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, titled "How To Confront America?"
In the 30-minute message, Al-Zawahiri reiterates the nature of the battle between Muslims and the unbelievers under the leadership of the U.S. and says that the U.S.'s enmity toward Islam stems from a "Zionist-Crusader bias."
Al-Zawahiri accuses the U.S. of being involved in a crusade against Muslims and Islam in every Muslim country and highlights some of the tools and strategies the U.S. uses to achieve its goals.
Al-Zawahiri lists 14 directives for Muslims to follow to better confront and eventually defeat the U.S. He presents the battle against the U.S. as inevitable, saying Muslims must either join the jihad against the U.S. or accept living in humiliation. Al-Zawahiri says that it is through this jihad, especially that which is directed at "bleeding [the U.S.] to death economically and militarily," that will force the U.S. to withdraw from Muslim lands.
Al-Zawahiri's message was released on Al-Sahab's Telegram channel and accompanied by Arabic and English transcripts. Below are excerpts from the English transcript provided by Al-Sahab.
"... Seventeen years have passed since Bush launched his Crusader war against Muslims – a war linked with the historical enmity directed toward Islam from its dawn to this very day.
"My dear Muslim brothers, we must understand the nature of the contemporary disbelievers' enmity toward Islam and Muslims in its correct perspective, so that we may be able to define a sound methodology to successfully repel and resist their aggression and thereby fulfill our duty of jihad. Behind all the conflicts involving Muslims one finds either the direct hand of the secular Crusader West in the leadership of America, or its silent approval, connivance, collusion, or intrigues.
"It is basically a religious enmity, even if other shades of hostility overlap with it, whether economic greed, the desire to establish hegemony over strategic geographic locations, and so on. It is essentially a religious enmity, even if the West tries to hide its religious nature with all shades of propaganda and lies.
"America – the number one enemy of Muslims – has its enmity for Muslims in spite of its professed secularism – rooted in the Judeo-Christian disposition widespread amongst Americans, in addition to their political and economic ambitions. Their religious enmity derives itself from a Zionist-Crusader bias, even if many in the West have abandoned Christianity and become secularists overtly, without adherence to any religion. Yet their souls remain fertile breeding grounds for the Crusader hatred directed toward Muslims.
"Therefore, when Trump insists on moving the American Embassy to Jerusalem as an open show of American recognition of Jerusalem as the eternal capital of Israel, his decision does not emerge from a vacuum; rather it is a clear-cut articulation of this Judeo-Christian bias. American enmity for Islam is part of the enmity deeply rooted in history that has been directed toward Muslims, and which will manifest itself in one form or the other for as long as the world lasts...
"The American enmity for Islam has touched almost the entire Muslim world. There is hardly a Muslim country except that America has meddled aggressively in its domestic affairs. Let us not forget that it was none other than America that played an active role in aborting the Arab Revolutions and moving into action against it anti-revolutionary forces of all shades.
"Oh Muslims who take honor in their religion! Look at India, which spills the blood of your brothers and sisters in Kashmir. Who supports India and openly declares it its favored ally in spite of all its crimes in Assam, Gujarat, and elsewhere? It is none other than America. America is India's partner in crime in its criminality against Muslims. The wound of Kashmir continues to bleed in our heart. Our people in Kashmir! We have not forgotten you, and we shall never forget you, with the permission of Allah. Consider Pakistan. Who encouraged the burning of the Red Mosque and the killing of students in Jamia Hafsa? It is none other than America. Who ordered, supervised and spent huge sums of money on the killings of thousands of Muslims in Swat and the tribal areas? It is none other than America. Who is busy killing Muslims in their thousands in Afghanistan? It is none other than America. Who turns a blind eye to the crimes of the Buddhist government against your brothers and sisters? It is none other than America. Who occupied parts of the Philippines, fought the Muslims and extended support to the fight against them therein during the last century and continues to do so to this day? It is none other than America.
"Consider Chechnya. Who approves Russian crimes therein? It is none other than America. Consider Bosnia. Who imposed the Dayton Accord after banning the entry of weapons for Muslims and prevented the establishment of an independent Muslim state? It is none other than America. Consider Iraq. Who destroyed the country to its core and handed it over to the Safavids? It is none other than America. Consider Syria. Who oversaw its division and who continues to turn a blind eye to the Russian-Safavid invasion? It is none other than America. Consider Safavid-Rafidhi Iran. Who colludes with it in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Yemen? And who avoids bombing the Houthis in spite of their fake slogan 'Death to America, Death to Israel.' It is America. Consider the Arabian Peninsula. Who robs it of its petrol? And who has imposed on it the criminal and corrupt family which in its war against Islam and Muslims and cooperation with Israel has finally exposed its true despicable face? It is America. Consider Egypt. Who has propped up the apostate, corrupt, and criminal system which is a mere subservient proxy of Israel? It is America. Consider Palestine. Who leads the gang of criminals who have violated its sanctity? It is again America.
"Let us consider Trump's stupidity of shifting the American Embassy to [sic. from] Tel Aviv. What does it imply? It implies the continuity of the crime of the major criminals of the world – America being the foremost – in setting up a heavily armed forward American military base equipped with nuclear weapons in the very heart of the Muslim world – namely Israel.
"Consider the Islamic Maghreb. Who has nurtured, financed and equipped the disgraced fool, [General] Haftar? It is America. And who supports the criminal and ruthless system in Algeria and steals its natural resources? It is America. Who has formed a Crusader alliance with France for the killing of Muslims in the Sahel region, the Sahara and West Africa? It is America.
"Our Muslim ummah! The battle in the Islamic Maghreb is an Islamic battle which we must support by all means. I call upon every Muslim able to help his Muslim and mujahid brothers in the Islamic Maghreb generally and in the Sahara, the Sahel, and West Africa specifically to rush forth for jihad. I specifically call upon the people of the Islamic Maghreb – whether they are residing in their respective countries or engaged in jihad in the different Islamic fronts – I call upon them to hasten in setting out for jihad in the front of the Islamic Maghreb for the sake of Islam and Muslims. They must not lag behind in fighting the Crusader American-French alliance with their lives, tongues, wealth, knowledge, expertise and dua [supplication].
"Oh honorable and zealous Muslim! Look at Somalia and Muslim East Africa. Who is the hindrance in the path to the establishment of the shari'a therein? Who finances the Crusader forces there and participates in their war with its intelligence agencies, finances, expertise, and personnel? It is America. Who partitioned South Sudan from its northern part? Who is spreading Israeli influence in Africa? It is America. Who honored the blasphemer, Salman Rushdie, who had insulted the Greatest of Prophets (peace be upon him); and then welcomed him in the White House? It is America.
"Therefore, we must understand the nature of the battle with the Americans, and its pervading and global nature. In the tribal areas in Pakistan, in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Palestine, Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia, Yemen, Mali, Somalia, and elsewhere, the war was never between the Muslims and the local governments only; rather it has always been between the Muslims and the system of the major international criminals – America being the foremost.
"Besides having an awareness of America's leadership of the war against Islam, and developing an understanding of the comprehensive and global nature of the war with America, we must also understand how America fights?
"Firstly: America assembles an alliance before initiating any hostilities, so that it may sustain the financial and human costs of war with the support of its tools and allies.
"Secondly: America strives to weaken its enemy – before and during the battle – using several means, which include the following: Fragmentation and dispersal of its enemy using the accumulated expertise of the Crusader inheritance vis-à-vis Islam and Muslims, most of which is a legacy of British colonial expertise in the Islamic East. It spends every possible effort through its propaganda mouthpieces, its intelligence agencies, or those of its proxies to dislocate its enemy. It strives to divide its rank using different techniques, which include using 'sincere' financiers, who promise and threaten as per the need. It turns a blind eye to deviant movements and lets them surge in an illusory manner so that their manpower is consumed in senseless battles and so that they keep the mujahideen engaged with their relentless attacks. After letting them off for a while so that they may wreak havoc in the ranks of the jihadi movement, America finally moves in to crush these movements with ruthless use of airpower. What transpired in Iraq and Syria is evident of this strategy.
"Therefore, everyone who sows discord in the ranks of the mujahideen, strives to break their unity and disperse their gathering, and everyone who ignites the fire of internal fighting and strife between the mujahideen, in reality, secures American objectives with his own hands. By doing so, he saves the Americans great effort, enormous expenses, human and financial losses – irrespective of the claims or doubts raised by the propagators of discord and seekers of power...
"If the ummah condemns the efforts of breaking unity, dividing ranks, violating sanctities, and spilling blood unlawfully, the perpetrators of these crimes will think a thousand times before committing them. Therefore, a broad consensus must be established in all segments of the ummah against those who commit these crimes so that the ummah's general opinion stands in the way of their evil designs.
"Among the tools used by America: enticement and intimidation. America allures some by giving the false promise that if they accept its conditions, it will help them reach the corridors of powers, while it threatens others with bombing and being listed as terrorist entities or sponsors if they do not bend to its dictates. Similarly, among the tools used by America is disrupting the objectives of its foe, causing it to deviate from its course so that it drifts away from its original goals. An example of this are the deals that were reached with several movements in Egypt using its local tool, the Military Council, so that these movements deviate from the objective of demanding the rule of the shari'a, sink in the abyss of the secular nation-state, and accept the peace agreements with Israel as well as civil and military cooperation with America. The drop scene of this drama was the clampdown against these movements by the puppet military.
"After America assembles an alliance and dislocates its enemy, it deals it a final blow with the use of air power, and the armies of the hypocrites which it pushes ahead of its own forces, thereby saving its strength and resources to the maximum. These are the general outlines of the American strategy; a strategy that has succeeded in several cases, and failed, by the grace of Allah, in others.
"Here, I would like to briefly address the issue of America's tools. Who are the tools of America? The tools of America are all governments and groups that have an alliance or agreements for military cooperation with America; that have American bases on their soil and cooperate with America in the field of intelligence sharing; that hand over prisoners after interrogation and obtaining information from them using torture and the filthiest of means. The tools of America are those who have an open or secret relationship with Israel. The tools of America are those who openly declare time and again that they are participants in the war of the major international criminals – foremost being America – against what they falsely term terrorism. The tools of America are those who participate in American-led coalitions against Muslims in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Mali, or elsewhere. The tools of America are those to whom America extends aid so that they fight in its ranks and protect its interests. The tools of America are those who act as guardians over its theft of Muslim resources and suppress their people for the sake of the biggest theft in human history. The tools of America have several deceptive means at their disposal. They have muftis, scholars, and media channels; in fact, they even have at their disposal some financiers of the mujahideen. In addition, they have mediators who facilitate negotiations using backdoor channels for the sake of protecting American interests. Among the scholars and muftis at their disposal is a category that has positions in the governments and jobs in ministries. Yet there is another type that is much more dangerous. It benefits from the client regimes while posing itself as independent and neutral; whereas in reality it receives direct or indirect support from these regimes.
"If we understand America's war strategy against Muslims and understand how the American system works, it becomes easy for us to know how we can inflict damage on this system. For in the end Americans are weak, humble human beings like the rest of mankind.
"If we wish to lay out the broad outlines of our struggle against America, I would prefer to concentrate briefly on the following points:
"First: We must realize the ideological dimension of our enemy's enmity toward us.
"Second: We must wage the war – in any part of the Islamic world – as if it is a single war with different fronts against a united enemy.
"Third: We must wage the war as Muslims fulfilling their duty of jihad in the way of Allah for the supremacy of the word of Allah.
"Fourth: We must not fight the battle on the enemy's pitch. We must not fight the battle by abiding by [the enemy's] constitutions and secular laws, for this implies defeat and will only result in loss in both worlds. Experience, especially recent experience during the Arab revolutions, is testimony to this fact.
"Fifth: We must know that the way to victory in our battle is the way of da'wa [preaching] and jihad, and not weak pacifism, elections, or accepting the crumbs thrown at us by America's tools – the client regimes.
"Sixth: The way to victory in our battle is knowing our enemy.
"The secular militaries in Pakistan, Turkey, Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Algeria, Yemen, Somalia, Bangladesh, and elsewhere have only proven themselves to be tools in the hands of international criminals – specifically America. And those who wanted to arrive at an understanding with them and accept their rule only reaped loss in both worlds. Secular movements are simply not worth compromising for at the cost of the rule of the shari'a; for they did not accept even Muhammad Morsi, [Rached Al-]Ghannouchi, and Hamas in spite of the flood of compromises that came from them.
"Seventh: We must not seek help from America or help America in fighting Muslims; even if it is against innovative extremists who declare takfir on us [a reference to the Islamic State] and deem our blood permissible, and against whom we may be forced to fight. This is so because we must obey Allah regarding them, even if they disobey Allah regarding us.
"Eighth: We must be aware of hired beards of the Salafiyyah of riyals, dollars, interior ministry, and intelligence agencies who obey the wali ul amr [the leader or master] – the one who calls for the unity of religions, legalizes usury, steals natural resources, wages campaigns against hijab, spreads immorality, and recognizes Israel.
"Ninth: We must wage the battle together. Those who stand in the way of unity and work to break or weaken it, knowingly or unknowingly secure American interests, even if they claim otherwise.
"Tenth: We must create a general consensus amongst the ranks of the mujahideen for the revival of the duty of enjoining good and forbidding evil so as to create a barrier against every seeker of power who seeks to empower himself by sowing discord and violating the blood and sanctities of Muslims.
"Eleventh: We must realize that the tools of America cannot help Islam and Muslims against America, even if they temporarily facilitate some matters for the sake of their own temporary interests.
"Twelfth: We must understand that the Safavid Rafidhi forces, from the beginnings of this movement to this day, have not changed their orientation in the least. They will only be satisfied with the annihilation of the ahl as sunna [Sunnis], and they have no qualms about cooperating and working with the Americans for the achievement of this goal, in spite of all the enmity between them.
"Thirteenth: The battle is massive, and the lessons learned from the Arab Revolutions prove that without pressurizing America and bleeding it to death we will not achieve victory, because America will try to nip any Islamic movement in the bud.
"Fourteenth: Our battle with the leading criminals – foremost being America – demands collaboration among all Islamic forces, specifically the scholars, leaders and mujahideen. It demands from the ummah that it supports its mujahideen, learns the art of warfare, and returns to jihad. It demands a mindset that promotes fear of God, and rises to the level of the responsibility imposed by the nature of the conflict, for there is no room for feeble pacifism, vain secular elections, trying to establish authority over one another or stirring mutual strife; rather the need of the hour is unity, organization and mobilization.
"My Muslim brothers! The battle against America has become inevitable; it leaves us with one of the two choices: honor in confronting the aggression, or humiliation in accepting ignominy. And we shall not – with the help of Allah – accept a life of humiliation.
"This is how we shall wage our jihad with full awareness; hitting hard at America, bleeding it to death economically and militarily, until it departs from our lands defeated, with the permission of Allah, just as it had departed from Vietnam, Aden, Iraq, and Somalia..."