AQAP Leader Batarfi In Part I Of New Video Interview: The Taliban's Victory Belongs To The Entire Ummah; Criticizes Hamas And PIJ For Collaborating With Iran; Claims The West Empowers The Houthis, Some Groups Hinder AQAP's Fight Against The Houthis

November 12, 2021

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On November 13, 2021, Al-Malahem Media Foundation, the media arm of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), released a video featuring an exclusive interview with the group's leader, Khalid Batarfi, aka Abu Al-Miqdad Al-Kindi, discussing the latest developments in the region, including the Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan following the U.S. withdrawal.[1]

This is the third video appearance from Batarfi since the February 4, 2021, UN Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team published a report that suggested he was arrested during an operation in Al-Ghaydah city, Al-Mahrah Governorate.[2]

Back on February 10, 2021, Al-Malahem released a new video featuring Batarfi discussing several topics, including the events at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021.[3] A second video was released on May 18, 2021, and showed him calling on the people of Yemen to revolt against UAE-backed forces.[4]

Titled "An Exclusive Interview with Sheikh Abu Al-Miqdad Al-Kindi (Khalid Batarfi) – May Allah Protect Him – Regarding Recent and Ongoing Events on the Ground – Part I," the one-hour, one-on-one interview showed a well-dressed Batarfi seated in a studio, wearing his traditional Yemeni dagger at his waist. A black jihadi flag can be seen behind him. 

'The Taliban's Victory In Afghanistan Is A Victory For The Entire [Islamic] Ummah'

Facing the interviewer, the AQAP leader answered the first question about his thoughts "on the recent victory of the Taliban in Afghanistan against Crusader America."

Praising the Taliban for harboring and championing mujahedeen fighters, Batarfi commended slain Taliban leader Mullah Omar for refusing to hand over slain Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, and for empowering him to launch attacks on the U.S..

"Actually, the victory that took place in Afghanistan was the outcome of the efforts and sacrifices of men who fought for two decades or more. It started when these men took control of Kabul, or even back when the group first emerged to support the religion of Allah [...] They [the Taliban] became a safe harbor for all oppressed believers, particularly the mujahideen who left their countries and lands in support their religion. The Taliban and the brave Afghan people were a safe harbor for those mujahideen."

Batarfi continued: "Then we saw the Taliban's steadfastness, and particularly that of the Emir of the believers, the sheikh Mullah Omar, may Allah have mercy on him, who set the best example of supporting Muslims when he refused to compromise his religion and refused to hand over sheikh Osama Bin Laden [...] to the Crusaders. Therefore, the nations of unbelief rallied against him. What's more, he gave Sheikh Osama and Al-Qaeda the opportunity to launch attacks on the sponsor of apostates, America, which in turn resulted in attacks such as those in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, the attack on the USS Cole in Aden, and the 9/11 attacks, which the Taliban paid the price for, when their state fell, because they supported a state that believes that there is no Lord but Allah, [and that] Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah."

Next, Batarfi praised the Taliban for their sacrifices, saying that they ultimately led to a victory belonging not only to the Afghan people or the Taliban, but to the Islamic nation as a whole, noting that it will set an example for other Muslims to follow their footsteps.

"This is a victory for the whole Ummah, not only a victory for Afghans or the Taliban, because it will have further ramifications, Allah willing. This victory will serve as a significant lesson for the nation of Islam, [teaching them] to rely on Allah almighty, to follow the appropriate course for [creating] change, and to avoid means and paths that bring nothing but hardship."

Congratulating the Afghan people and the Taliban for taking over Afghanistan, Batarfi said: "We thank Allah for bestowing this victory on the Afghan people and the Taliban and pray that Allah blesses your endeavors."

'The Taliban Will Not Surrender To Western Pressure, Will Not Accept Anything That Violates Shari'a'

When asked about how he perceives the pressure exerted on the Taliban by Western governments regarding women's rights and the freedom of speech, and pressure to allow political parties to take part in the political process, Batarfi praised the Taliban for insisting on their Islamic principles, saying that he shares their position:

"Our position is the same as the Taliban's position. As we saw in the past, they are not willing to compromise. They demonstrate steadfastness, a refusal to accept anything that violates shari'a, and an insistence on remaining in line with the principles of Sunnah [the Prophet's sayings] and the book [Quran] when it comes to the issues that you [the interviewer] just mentioned." 

He further denied media reports suggesting that the Taliban have changed and are showing more flexibility, saying that the group has not changed when it comes to their institutional principles, expressing strong faith that they will never stray from their original ideology.

"They [the Taliban] even refused to include the issue of their adherence to shari'a [on the agenda] as part of the talks, when they first sat down at the negotiating table with the Americans. [...] Our advice is that they stick to this approach," he said.

When asked how the Taliban's experience compares with the experiences of other Islamists who sought to establish Islamic shari'a through other means, Batarfi denounced Islamic groups, alluding to the Muslim Brotherhood, who adopt democracy as means to assume power, with the goal of ruling by shari'a. Stating that democracy violates the principles of Islam, he said: "Therefore, these groups will fail and will never succeed. If these [democratic] means were legitimate, the Prophet would have implemented them."

He further urged groups who pursue the path of democracy with the goal of implementing shari'a to correct their course and return to the path of jihad, by equipping and training their members to "terrorize their enemies," as mentioned in the Quran.

'Palestinian Factions Who Collaborate With Iran Are Hurting Sunni Muslims'

Moving on to discuss "the central cause of the ummah – Palestine," the interviewer asked Batarfi for his thoughts on recent events in Gaza, Jerusalem, and Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Batarfi responded by praising the Palestinian people, saying they have proved themselves as the best guardians of the "holy land" and the Al-Aqsa Mosque, adding that recent events pleased the hearts of Muslims, because they demonstrated that when Israel attacks Gaza, the entire ummah will rise up in support of the Palestinians. "This demonstrated that [Islamic] conviction and the brotherhood of Islam is still going strong within the ummah. [...] What happened broke the determination of the Jews, who every now and then think they can take action to oppress the ummah," he said.

He then noted that recent events in Gaza proved to those who seek normalization with Israel that their efforts to establish ties with Israel are hopeless. 

Responding to a question about the loyalty to Iran shown by some Palestinian factions, Batarfi sharply criticized Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) without naming them, saying: "Such acts are hurtful to any genuine Muslim and do not serve the interests of Islam. Iran is one of the powers that are currently hostile to Muslims in the region. The enemies are trying to make the issue of Iran and its arms in the region into an issue which all Muslims must accept and deal with. So when these [Palestinian] factions do what they do with Iran, they are losing the support of Muslims, especially the support of those who were hurt by Iran and its arms in the region."

He went on to add that Palestinian blood is as precious as the blood of Iraqis, Syrians, Yemenis, and Lebanese, referring to countries where Iran-backed militias have been targeting Sunni Muslims.

However, Batarfi continued, even if "these groups" find religious justification for accepting support from Iran, they should still refrain from praising them in public, because doing so is a betrayal of the Sunnis who are being hurt by Iran. He stressed that support in the fight against the "Jews" should only be sought from Allah, and not from the enemies of the Muslims, such as Iran.

Batarfi then claimed that Iran is assisting these Palestinian factions not in order to serve the interests of Muslims, or because they hate Israel, but only in order to gain legitimacy as leaders of the Islamic ummah.

Citing Iran's support to President Bashar Al-Assad in Syria and its strong ties with Shi'ite militias in Iraq, Lebanon, and Yemen who attack Sunnis as examples of Iran's hypocrisy, Batarfi urged the Palestinian factions to follow the Taliban model, calling on them to accept support only from Allah. He noted that support from Allah empowered the Taliban to liberate their land within a relatively short period, in comparison with the long ongoing efforts to liberate Palestine from the "Jews."

'The Western And Arab Coalition In Yemen Empowers The Houthis'

Shifting to the situation in Yemen and the recent talks of a U.S. initiative to end the conflict, Batarfi said that the talks about ending "this six-to-seven-year conflict" coincided with the arrival of the U.S. Special Envoy for Yemen, Tim Lenderking, suggesting that such talk is intended as a smokescreen. "In reality, talk about ending the war emerges from the desire of the West, and these administrations, to empower Shi'ite minorities in the Islamic world, as was the case in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon. Now they want the same thing to happen in Yemen," he said.

Batarfi stated that regional and "international powers are intervening in the fight in Yemen in order to serve their own interests, not the Yemeni people. They want to spread immorality in Yemen." He claimed that Yemen is the last standing bastion of Islam in the Arabian Peninsula. He then pointed out that the Yemeni people are naturally equipped with faith and weapons to preserve their Islamic traditions, noting that "children, once they are physically capable, carry weapons."

Praising the tribal structure of Yemeni society, Batarfi said that Yemenis remain committed to their Islamic principles and to their rejection of the oppression of tyrant regimes, emphasizing that they are well-equipped with arms.

"[Abdul-Malik] Al-Houthi, if he were left alone, would not be able to stand up to these tribes, not even for a year," claimed Batarfi. He also accused the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia of obstructing AQAP efforts in Yemen to defeat the Houthis, which, he claimed, are also supported by the West. 

Batarfi then argued that the military intervention of the UAE and Saudi Arabia in Yemen often targets innocent Yemeni villagers, claiming that such attacks push these Yemenis to collaborate with the Houthis. Nevertheless, he expressed faith that Yemeni tribes will not surrender to despair and will continue to fight against the Houthis until Sunni Islam becomes the only ideology in Yemen.

Citing examples of the "U.S. military supporting the Houthis in Yemen," Batarfi claimed that during the Obama administration, the U.S. often handed over air surveillance information to the Houthis, before the latter launched attacks on AQAP areas. He noted that despite their collaboration with the U.S., the Houthis continue to use fake slogans, pretending that they are enemies of the U.S.

He said: "Houthi shouts 'death to America' or 'death to Israel' but he never launched a war on America or Israel, the Jews. The sea is wide open for Houthis to target American ships, whether civilian or military, but they never do. The same can be said about their airspace. Houthis have drone and ballistic missiles, yet we never saw them target U.S. bases, even though they are so close, like the one in Djibouti. The U.S. Embassy – when they entered Sanaa, they did not target it."

'Some Parties In Ma'rib Limit AQAP's Fight Against The Houthis'

Speaking on AQAP's fight against the Houthis, Batarfi justified recent failures by saying that the group has adopted a "special" way of fighting, i.e., guerrilla warfare, adding that AQAP has taken part in significant attacks from Yemeni tribes on the Houthis, which "no one can deny."

He nevertheless noted that AQAP was "stabbed in the back" by some parties (which he did not name) who captured AQAP fighters, especially in Ma'rib, thus "limiting their participation in the fight." He stressed that AQAP can "punish and discipline" these unnamed parties, but that he does not want to create discord among anti-Houthi tribes.

Batarfi concluded by denying any connection or relations with the Houthis, asserting that AQAP has fought against them before any other group.




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