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memri
June 7, 2005 No.
917

Abu Mus'ab Al-Zarqawi: Collateral Killing of Muslims is Legitimate

A speech titled "The Return of Ibn Al-'Alqami's Grandchildren" was posted on Islamist message forums by the media division of Al-Qa'ida in Iraq on May 18, 2005. [1] The main point of the speech was to justify collateral killing of Muslims as well as non-combatant non-Muslims, according to Islamic religious norms. The following are excerpts:

Seeking Martyrdom is the Answer to the Discrepancy in Numbers and Arms between Mujahideen and Crusaders

"... Ever since the beginning of creation, there has been a conflict between truth and falsehood, [and this will continue] until Allah inherits the earth and everyone on it... Another chapter of this conflict is taking place now in Iraq, represented by the worshippers of the Cross [Christians], and they have openly declared it to be a Crusade... They violated women's honor and desecrated that which is holy and transgressed against the inviolable, and they are being helped in this by their Shi'ite brethren, who have always been the spearhead in every war against Islam. This is taking place while the rulers of this [Islamic] nation have committed apostasy and the 'ulama of evil [i.e., 'ulama who serve the government] have betrayed their duties... and faithful believers are not fully aware of the significance of this battle and its [true] dimensions...

"[In view of] the frightening discrepancy in numbers and in arms, the Mujahideen found it necessary to find a way to overcome this discrepancy... So the brigades of martyrdom seekers rushed forth, competing with one another to reach Paradise, and they crushed the fortresses of heresy and destroyed the great armies of idolatry...

"[Those of our people who collaborate with the Crusaders] turned their tongues and pens to criticize the jihad fighters, accusing them of grave crimes under the pretext that these [martyrdom] operations sometimes involve the killing of those described as civilians or innocents... Since I know that the jihad fighters...fully observe the obligations of Islamic law in these operations – and how could it be otherwise – … I want here to clarify the position of the Shari'a regarding such incidents in which Muslims are killed incidentally... There is no doubt that Allah has ordered us to target the unbelievers, to kill them and to fight them, by any means that can achieve this goal, even if [those hurt] by these means include [not just] those infidels against whom war is being waged – who are the intended targets – but also those who are not intended as targets, such as women, children, and other such infidels whose intentional killing is not permitted. This is what the Muslim jurists conventionally define as 'collateral killing.'

"The legitimacy of these [means] has been established even if [their use] results in the killing of a number of Muslims even if it is known that they are likely to be there at the time, for whatever reason. This is justified under the principle of Dharura [overriding necessity], due to the fact that it is impossible to avoid them and to distinguish between them and those infidels against whom war is being waged and who are the intended targets. Admittedly, the killing of a number of Muslims whom it is forbidden to kill is undoubtedly a grave evil; however, it is permissible to commit this evil – indeed, it is even required – in order to ward off a greater evil, namely, the evil of suspending jihad. To claim that [such means of war] are not permissible here, especially in light of the present form of fighting, means inevitably suspending jihad and stopping it – indeed, burying it alive and completely shutting the gate of jihad.

"This inevitably means surrendering the land and the believers to the hands of unbelievers who bitterly hate Islam and its people, allowing them to impose at will humiliation and inferior status on Islam and its people, and to drive the Muslims en masse, once they have turned them into obedient slaves, to the slaughter, or to heresy and apostasy, while falsifying Islam and totally transforming it...and reshaping it in a new form such that it becomes a religion that is different from that which was revealed by him who was sent with the sword [i.e., Muhammad]. This is their highest goal, that for which they strive, and they find those who collaborate with them in this among fools who claim to profess Islam and among the corrupt so-called 'ulama. Which evil then is the greater?..."

The Evil of Heresy is Greater Than the Evil of Collateral Killing of Muslims

"Islamic law states that the Islamic faith is more important than life, honor, and property. Indeed, it is the most important of the five inalienable rights, [2] and their very basis, and safeguarding it takes precedence over safeguarding them. It should be noted that all of these inalienable rights can not be safeguarded except through assuring the observance of the Islamic faith...

"Interpreting His words [in the Koran, 2:191] 'Temptation [Fitna] is worse than killing,' [the commentator] Mujahid says: 'For a Muslim, apostasy into idolatry is worse than death'...

"Allah stated [in the Koran] that heresy and idolatry, according to His law and His faith, are worse than killing. This is the Koranic basis for giving the safeguarding of the [Islamic] faith precedence over the other four inalienable rights, the first of which is life. To safeguard those [other] inalienable rights by forfeiting Islam... – this is the real temptation against which Allah warns...

"The evil of the temptation of heresy and idolatry is greater than the evil resulting from the unintentional, collateral killing of Muslims [in the course of a Jihad] intended to destroy the Fitna of heresy and idolatry and to cleanse the universe of it.

"Sheikh Al-Islam ['the authority of Islam'] Ibn Taymiyya said: 'Complete piety means that man should be able to recognize the better of two good things and the worse of two evils, and that he should know that the basis of Islamic law is that one should [strive to] achieve beneficial things and perfect them and to stop evil things and diminish them...

"He [Ibn Taymiyya] also said: 'Allah made it lawful to kill people as much as necessary for the good of humanity. As He said [in the Koran, 2:217]: "The temptation [of idolatry] [fitna] is worse than killing." [This is so] because, although killing is evil and wrong, there is more evil and wrong in the temptation of heresy'..."


[1] Ibn Al-'Alqami, the Shi'ite vizier of the last 'Abbasid caliph in Baghdad, Al-Musta'sim, was accused of opening the gates of Baghdad to the Mongol armies. It should be noted that this is a common slur used by Sunni Islamists against the Iraqi government and its supporters.

The speech appeared on http://www.alhesbah.com/v/showthread.php?t=23027, among other message forums.

[2] The five inalienable rights in Islamic law are: religion, life, honor, property, and the right to procreate.