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On October 18, 2020, the Islamic State's (ISIS) media arm Al-Furqan released a new speech by the organization's spokesman, Abu Hamzah Al-Qurashi.[i] Judging by the topics addressed, the speech was recorded after mid-September; its release may have been timed to mark the anniversary of the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi (according to the Hijri calendar).
Abu Hamzah begins by denouncing mainstream clerics in the Muslim states who prop up the rulers of these states and even sanction normalization with Israel.
However, the most significant aspect of his speech is his appeal to Saudi youth to attack Western targets in their country, as well as Saudi infrastructure and industry, and a similar call he directs to Muslims in several African countries.
Abu Hamzah also conveys messages to the fighters in the various ISIS provinces, urging them to increase their efforts and attacks. Referring to Iraq, he predicts that U.S. forces will soon leave the country, enabling ISIS to advance against the Iraqi army there. He also mentions attacks by ISIS in West and Central Africa that have "enraged France."
Conveying messages from the organization’s leader, Abu Ibrahim Al-Hashemi, the spokesman assures ISIS members that the leader is well, and reassures new recruits that he has accepted their oaths of allegiance. He says, on behalf of the leader, that the provinces must redouble efforts to free imprisoned ISIS members by breaking them out of jail.
Finally, Abu Hamzah delivers a defiant message to ISIS’ enemies, stating that the organization remains strong and resilient and is determined to defeat them.
The following are the main points of the speech:
Tirade Against establishment scholars who legitimize rulers of Arab states
The first part of Abu Hamzah’s speech is a lengthy tirade against the mainstream and establishment clerics and scholars in the Islamic countries who denounce ISIS and support the rulers of those countries, even as the latter normalize relations with Israel.
He says: “The [Islamic] scholars who serve the rulers [in the Islamic states] are corrupting their religion of the people. They have come out against Allah’s commands and misled the people. They have turned the infidel tyrants, who make [manmade] laws and fight the law of God, into legitimate rulers of the Muslims against whom it is forbidden to rebel...”
“They [also] falsely accused the Islamic State of being one of the arms of the Jewish statelet in the region [i.e., Israel] that carry out [the Israelis'] plots and destroy the lands of the Muslims. We ask you: Why did they swallow their [wicked] tongues… after the Emirati and Bahraini statelets announced normalization with the Jews, and after Aal Saloul [a derogatory name used by ISIS for the Saudi royal family] opened the skies to the passage of [Israeli airliners] as a first step towards [Saudi] normalization with [Israel] as well...[?]”
Continuing in a similar vein, Abu Hamzah attacks the “sheikhs of satellite channels," who criticized ISIS for not fighting Israel yet do nothing in the face of the Arab rapprochement with this state: "Yesterday those prostrating defeatists [i.e., the television sheikhs] gave us a headache, tempted people, deceived them and led them astray from the path of Allah, saying that if we [ISIS] were true in our jihad we would have fought the Jews in Palestine. Yet today, here are the Jews! They have come to you and are in your streets and in your areas. They are walking around, safe and secure, with the consent of your tyrants, relying on your fatwas. So go ahead, show us how your kill them...”
Abu Hamzah also slams the scholars for their silence in the face of the Saudi government’s support of Al-Kadhimi's government in Iraq, and its decision to allow the opening of bars and clubs in Saudi Arabia. He directs accusations at the Muslim Brotherhood as well, for supporting “the tyrants of Turkey, [who have] announced economic cooperation” with Iran.
In light of all this, Abu Hamzah urges the Muslims of the Arab countries to rise up against their rulers: “The tyrants of the Arabs, who rule the lands of the Muslims, even if they are not Jews by origin, were required to submit to [the Jews] and to all the sects of unbelief and apostasy before being allowed to sit on the throne of governance and legislation. Their actions and nature have become clear to you. What will you do, now that they have sold your [lives] and honor to the Crusaders and the Jews openly, right in front of your eyes? Will we see you rise up against the tyrants, attack them and burn their foundations and the foundations of their masters?... By Allah, if you do not fight today for the sake of your religion, honor, land and property, what will you fight for, and when?...”
Call On Youth In Saudi Arabia To Attack Oil Pipelines And Installations
In the same vein, Abu Hamzah urges the young people of Saudi Arabia to attack Westerners and Western interests in the country, as well as infrastructure and the government’s sources of income: “Oh youth of the Peninsula of Muhammad... your brothers were in the vanguard on the battlefields of the Islamic State in the provinces of Iraq and Syria... Those of you who are unable to emigrate [and come] to the battlefields of jihad, [notice that] the citizens of the countries of the Cross [i.e., Christian foreigners] are right in front of your eyes. They fill the land. So seek help from Allah the Great in killing them and crushing them, burning them and suffocating them, and work to harm the economy of the state of Aal Saloul, who provide financial support for every war against the monotheists [ISIS]. Seek Allah’s assistance against them, for the targets are many, and the tactics and means to destroy and damage them are, with Allah’s permission, readily available and easy to obtain. Start by striking and burning the pipelines that carry fuel, the factories and installations that are the source of the tyrants' income. Take part in destroying and burning the bars and clubs...”
Call On Muslims In Africa To Attack Western Companies
Abu Hamzah then addresses a similar call to the Muslims in Africa, exhorting them to join ISIS and attack Western targets, and also to fight their governments, which, he says, promote Christian missionary campaigns and steal their countries' wealth:
“O Muslims in Nigeria, Mali, Burkina Faso, Congo, Kenya and Chad, how long will you be afraid to face the tyrants who took over your [countries] at the instruction of their masters, the Crusaders, and who stole and plundered your wealth[?]... Why this silence in the face of their crimes and oppression against you? Why do you avoid supporting your religion...?
"Stand up to the Crusader campaigns and to the collaborating, apostate governments that promote the [Crusaders'] projects in your areas. Join the soldiers of the caliphate [ISIS], for they, with Allah’s permission, are your true fortress in face of all the religions of unbelief. Start by setting fire to the companies of the Crusaders who have come to steal your wealth, humiliate and subjugate you...”
Messages To ISIS Provinces
The speech continues with messages for ISIS' fighters in the various parts of the Middle East, Africa and Afghanistan. Addressing the fighters in Khorasan province (Afghanistan), Abu Hamzah praises their steadfastness in resisting "the Crusader campaigns" and "the campaigns of the democratic apostate Taliban," particularly celebrating ISIS' August 2020 raid on the Jalalabad prison, in which ISIS operatives were freed.[ii] He assures the fighters in Khorasan that Allah will reward them by easing their suffering and granting them further victories, just as the mujahideen in Iraq were granted great victories after carrying out a series of prison breaks in 2014.[iii] The Jalalabad prison break should be "the starting point of your blessed raids to free [more] Muslim prisoners from other prisons," he says.
Praising the organization's fighters in Sinai for their attacks on the Egyptian army, Abu Hamza tells them that "the Pharaoh of Egypt is at a loss to stop you and repel your jihad." He exhorts them to continue their war against Egypt and to "raid them in their very homes", presumably encouraging them to launch attacks in the Egyptian mainland and not just in Sinai.
Message To Fighters In Yemen: Accept Your Difficult Misfortune
Addressing the organization's fighters in Yemen, ISIS's spokesman urges them to patiently accept their "difficult misfortune and take leave of the friends and loved ones [who have been killed]", and reminds them that "blood, bodies and lives" must be sacrificed in order to advance Islamic monotheism. He adds that the Houthis thought they would overtake Yemen after the defeats suffered by "the organization of those who refrain from jihad" (i.e., Al-Qaeda), but they did not realize that "the soldiers of the caliphate were lying in wait for them". It should be noted that, in late August 2020, ISIS tacitly admitted that its fighters had been driven out of their stronghold in the Qayfah region of Yemen's Al-Bayda' governorate, and it seems that ISIS' rivals, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), have also been defeated in that area.[iv]
Abu Hamzah then praises ISIS' fighters in Iraq for withstanding the campaigns of the "apostate Rafidites" (i.e., the Iraqi government). The Iraqi forces, he stresses, are " lowly cowards who have gained strength against you [by receiving aid from] the dogs of the East and West", but that, "if they meet you face to face they will withdraw crying and wailing". He predicts that "the Crusader backer" (i.e. U.S. forces) will not remain in Iraq for much longer, and that after its withdrawal, the Iraqi forces will be no match for ISIS.
The organization's fighters in Syria also receive copious praise from Abu Hamzah, for their sustained attacks on the various "vile parties of apostasy", particularly their assassinations of "tribal sheikhs who allied with the atheists" (i.e. with the Syrian Democratic Forces). He asserts that ISIS started targeting these tribal leaders only after repeatedly warning them not to cooperate with ISIS' enemies, and expresses astonishment that, despite these warnings, "each of them insists on digging his grave with his own hands and getting his head cut off and placed between his shoulders". He also commends the fighters' attacks on "the Sahawat of disgrace" (i.e anti-ISIS rebel groups) and on "the apostate Nusayris and the Crusader Russian army", mentioning an August 2020 incident in which a Russian general was killed by an ISIS land mine.[v]
Attacks In Africa Have Enraged The Nations Of Unbelief, Chiefly France
Addressing the organization's fighters in West and Central Africa, Abu Hamzah applauds them for their operations that have enraged "the nations of unbelief, chief among them the Crusader France", as well as local government forces who have agreed to serve as France's "subjects and pack animals." He celebrates the "great conquests" achieved by ISIS fighters in Mozambique, such as the capture of the port town of Mocimboa da Praia in early August 2020,[vi] and urges the fighters in Mozambique: "Trample the government of the taghout [infidel tyrants] and the constitutions it has enacted". He commends ISIS' fighters in Somalia for assassinating "the heads of apostasy from among the police, the armed forces and the apostate parties", urging them to continue their operations against these enemies without "giving them a chance to catch their breath".
Leader Abu Ibrahim Al-Hashemi sends his greetings
The spokesman then conveys greeting to the fighters in all provinces on behalf of ISIS leader Abu Ibrahim Al-Hashemi, and adds: "The Commander of the Faithful – may Allah protect him – charges you to follow in the footsteps of your brothers in the Khorasan province by demolishing the walls of prisons and freeing imprisoned Muslims everywhere". Addressing new members who recently joined ISIS, Abu Hamzah assures them that "the Commander of the Believers… has accepted your pledge of allegiance and sends you special greetings", as well as the following message: "Do not be hasty to pluck the fruits. Choose your targets carefully [when you] terrorize the parties of unbelief and apostasy", because small but lasting achievements are better than large ones that are temporary.
Warning all ISIS members not to lose their resolve, Abu Hamzah adds that, "in the past, events and developments revolved around Iraq, Syria, and a few other areas," where ISIS gained power and implemented the rule of the shari'a, but today "the entire world is witnessing many changes, for Allah the Generous is preparing the world for a great matter, of which He knows more than we do". He therefore urges the organization's members to "be fully prepared to seize the moment and emerge anew".
U.S. forces will soon withdraw from Iraq
ISIS' spokesman concludes his speech by telling the "nations of unbelief," and all those who believe ISIS has been defeated, that they are mistaken. He states that ISIS "is what Allah decreed for you, so we will come to you from places you do not expect and make you suffer in your very homes, while you are failing and lost, afraid and terrorized, humiliated and degraded, cowardly and miserable". Addressing the U.S. soldiers in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan, he tells them they will soon withdraw in disgrace, due to the "continuous losses you have encountered at the hands of the monotheists (i.e. ISIS and its forerunners) over the course of a decade and a half". He concludes with a prayer: "O Allah, protect Your servants, the monotheists, in all places, and drive away from them any affliction and plague. O Allah, grant us a strengthening victory and a great conquest… Free our prisoners, heal our wounded, cure our ill, and accept our martyrs".
[i] Telegram.me/ Nashir News Agency, October 18, 2020.
[ii] See MEMRI JTTM Report, ISIS Claims Prison Break In Jalalabad, Afghanistan, August 3, 2020.
[iii] See MEMRI JTTM Reports ISIS Publishes Newsletter Documenting Its 2013 Military Operations In Iraq, March 31, 2014; ISIS Announces Conquest Of Mosul, Acknowledges Death Of Senior Leader, June 11, 2014.
[iv] See MEMRI JTTM Report ISIS Weekly Acknowledges Its Fighters' Defeat In Bayda’ Governorate In Yemen, August 23, 2020.
[v] See MEMRI JTTM Report ISIS Claims Responsibility For Death Of Senior Russian Officer In Syria, August 21, 2020.
[vi] See MEMRI JTTM Report ISIS Weekly Describes Takeover Of Important Mocimboa Da Praia Port In Mozambique, August 28, 2020.