Pro-ISIS Video Condemns Saudi Leadership For Implementing De-Radicalization Reforms, Participating In War On Terror

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March 7, 2022

The following report is now a complimentary offering from MEMRI's Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor (JTTM). For JTTM subscription information, click here. 

On March 4, 2022, a pro-Islamic State (ISIS) media outlet released a nine-minute video titled "Apologize To Your Lord," which discusses the alleged "un-Islamic" actions of the Saudi royal family, carried out both locally and globally.[1]

The video criticizes the Al-Saud family for its cooperation with countries such as France and Iraq in the global war on terror, specifically against ISIS. It also denounces the longstanding Saudi-American relations and military cooperation, and current Saudi reforms addressing internal religious radicalism and the implementation of improvements to the kingdom's tourism and entertainment industries. The video also condemns the UAE and Bahrain for establishing normalized relations with Israel and the alleged "secret Saudi role" in that process, saying it might "lead to Saudi-Israeli normalized relations" in the future.

The video began by criticizing Saudi leadership for its global role helping other nations in the war against terror. The video shows archival news footage of a meeting between Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud and Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, in which the two discussed a future partnership between the two countries. This was followed by archival footage of a meeting between the French Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman Al-Saud as part of the French minister's tour to the Gulf countries covering issues of terrorism, its sources of funding, and joint efforts to combat it.

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Denouncing the relationship between Saudi Arabia and the U.S. the video continued with archival footage of then-President Donald Trump's visit to Saudi Arabia, paired with on-screen text of a Quranic verse, reading: "Oh you who have believed, do not take the Jews and the Christians as allies. They are [in fact] allies of one another. And whoever is an ally to them among you — then indeed, he is [one] of them. Indeed, Allah guides not the wrongdoing people. (Quran 5:51)."

A narrator then described the "war on the mujahedeen everywhere, [waged] by the cross-worshipping countries and their minions... such as the country of Al-Saloul[2]... who disobeyed Prophet Muhammad's orders not to make the Arabian Peninsula a home for Christians and Jews."

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Supporting its critique of Saudi-American relations, the video showed archival footage from an interview by a Saudi-funded television channel with Saudi national Walid Al-Sinani,[3] who was convicted of terrorism. In the clip, Al-Sinani criticized Saudi-American relations, calling Saudi Arabia "The Secular American Kingdom of Saudi Arabia," while calling the Al-Saud family "kafirs [infidels], who are proud of their infidelity."

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Arguing that the Saudi government is biased, the video claimed that lately it has been favoring Shi'ite and other Islamic sects while tightening its grip on the Salafi Sunnis, who were once backed by the Saudi government.

In that regard, the video showed footage from the mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, featuring Shi'ite pilgrims practicing their rites, which are rejected by Sunni Salafis. The caption read: "The Rafidites[4] in the holy mosque." This was followed by footage from a viral video shot at the mosque, in which a Saudi national, who was later arrested by the Saudi police, shouted "May Allah champion the Islamic State." The on-screen text read: "Assaulting and capturing a supporter of the Islamic State in the holy mosque."

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The video then argued that the Saudi government directed its religious authorities to depict ISIS as a fraudulent organization, luring Muslim youth to their death. Footage then showed Saudi scholars stating that ISIS's leadership includes anti-Sunni Shi'ite senior figures who lure Muslim youth, "who do not know any better," to fight for ISIS. This was followed by a recorded speech by slain ISIS spokesman Abu Hamzah Al-Muhajir describing how ISIS is being attacked by such "accusations."

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Al-Muhajir went on to condemn the UAE and Bahrain for their newly-established normalized relations with Israel and the role of the Saudi government in "opening its airspace to Israeli flights" crossing UAE and Bahrain. Footage was then shown of the UAE's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan welcoming the Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to Abu Dhabi,[5] followed by footage of former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pointing at a map of the Gulf, dated September 2, 2020.

Audio from Al-Muhajir's speech continued, disapproving of the Saudi government's de-radicalization reforms. Footage showed  Saudi religious scholar and Secretary General of the Muslim World League, Muhammad Al-Issa leading a delegation of other senior Muslim leaders in praying for the victims of the Holocaust in Auschwitz, Poland as part of a visit that took place on January 24, 2020.[6]

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The video then called on the youth of the Arabian Peninsula, and specifically of Saudi Arabia, to wage jihad locally if they cannot join ISIS's operatives in Syria and Iraq. The video showed  footage from some Saudi entertainment events, paired with audio of an ISIS speaker stating that all such events are against Islam and are destroying the faith of youth and women. The video continued with various archival ISIS footage, apparently showing the group's operatives of Saudi nationality, while Abu Hamzah Al-Muhajir can be heard calling on supporters from the Arabian Peninsula to wage jihad just like "their brothers" in the footage who "were pioneers in joining the battlefields of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria."

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Al-Muhajir continued to incite supporters in the Arabian Peninsula by asking them to attack Christians on sight: "If you were unable to immigrate to the battlegrounds of war, then attack the citizens of the Crusader countries in front of you, as they have filled our land. Ask Allah for assistance in killing, crushing, burning, or choking them."

As a proof that such attacks can actually be carried out in Saudi Arabia, the video showed a statement released by ISIS's A'maq News Agency, dated November 12, 2020, reporting an attack carried out by ISIS operatives who detonated an IED targeting European diplomats, wounding some of them, in the city of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

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Al-Muhajir added that targeting Saudi strategic locations is part of jihad: "There are many targets and many ways to detonate, and districts are accessible — thanks be given to Allah. Start by attacking and burning the pipelines transporting fuel, and the factories and the establishments which are the source of revenue for the tyrant government." A still image showed Saudi and U.S. military officials, suggesting they are potential targets, followed by various footage of potential Saudi targets such as oil facilities and institutions.

In an effort to present the Saudis as the enemies of ISIS and other jihadis, the video showed an archived news headline reading: "The Pentagon: Saudi Arabia is a partner in the war on terror... and we support it in defending its sovereignty."

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The video ended with Al-Muhajir directing Saudi supporters to attack Saudi centers of tourism and recreation.

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[1] Telegram, March 4, 2022.

[2] Al-Saloul (the Saloulis) a pejorative name for the Saudi royal family taken from the last name of Abdullah bin Abu-Salul who was known as the leader of hypocrites because he converted then remained disloyal to Islam.

[3] Walid Al-Sinani who is known for his Anti-American sentiments after Saudi Arabia hosted U.S. forces in the First Gulf War and was sentenced for terror changes by the Saudi court.

[4] Rafidites (a pejorative term for Shi'ites meaning rejectionists of the true practices of Islam according to the Sunni Salafis). 

[5] The Israeli Prime Minister visited the UAE on December 12, 2021.

[6] The Independent, Muslim leaders join Holocaust survivors to pray at Auschwitz in ‘groundbreaking’ visit, January 24, 2020.  

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