The following report is now a complimentary offering from MEMRI's Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor (JTTM). For JTTM subscription information, click here.
On August 25, 2023, Australian rapper Iggy Azalea caused a stir during her performance at the Gamers8 Esports tournament in the Saudi capital, Riyadh. After she sang a song which included the lyrics "preaching about prophets, it ain't no one man can stop us, bow down to a goddess" and then ripping her trousers onstage, Saudi authorities prevented her from finishing her performance.
The incident led many Muslims inside and outside Saudi Arabia to condemn the concert as un-Islamic and to accuse Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of corrupting Saudi society by allowing such events.
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) also issued a condemnation of the Saudi regime, calling for Saudis to revolt against it and for Muslims worldwide to condemn and encourage jihad against the kingdom. On September 4, the group republished a February 2023 video by its Shahed media outlet accusing the regime led by MBS of waging war on Islam, collaborating with enemies of Islam, and corrupting Muslim society, and urged Muslims to rise up against it.
On September 5, AQAP's official Al-Malahem Foundation released a ten-minute 50-second audio message and a five-page written statement, both containing the same text, with the title "To Be Free from Your Lord's Blame, And So Perhaps They May Take Heed" (Quran 7:164). Accusing the current Saudi government of challenging Muslims' most basic values in an attempt to apostatize them from their religion, the statement calls on Muslims in the country to rise up against the regime and for believers and clerics everywhere to harshly condemn its actions and incite jihad against it.
Saudi Rulers Seek To Lure Their People Away From Islam; They Were Emboldened To Their Latest Actions By Muslims' Silence To Their Previous Ones
The statement opens with Quranic verses suggesting that Allah destroys corrupt nations, but only if no one protests their corruption: (11:117) "And your Lord would never destroy a society unjustly while its people were acting rightly"; (17:16) "Whenever We intend to destroy a society, We command its elite [to obey Allah] but they act rebelliously in it. So the decree is justified, and We destroy it utterly." It also quotes from the hadith to prove the obligation of protesting corruption and taking action to end it, as one hadith states that people will appear "who say and do not act and do what they are not commanded, so one who wages jihad against them with his hand is a believer, one who wages jihad against them with his tongue is a believer, and one who wages jihad against them in his heart is a believer."
Addressing Muslims in the "land of the two holy sites" [i.e. Saudi Arabia, home of the sacred cities Mecca and Medina] and worldwide, AQAP condemns the "great calamity" in which "Ibn Salman and his henchmen […] brought that prostitute to speak insolently against God Himself and the noble prophets – peace be upon them – and openly call for polytheism," in an act unprecedented in "the cradle of prophecy and source of Muhammad's message" and "a flagrant challenge to Allah and a great trial for the Islamic ummah [nation] from one end [of the earth] to the other." In the jihadi group's view, allowing the performance was akin to the Saudi authorities saying: "We will change your religion, offend your sanctities, trample on your values, and break every essence of your life, and what will you do?"
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The statement asserts that "this criminal taghout [literally "false deity," a reference to rulers who govern by manmade law] and his vile myrmidons" would never have dared to allow such challenges to Islam had there been enough "condemnation and resistance" to their previous acts of replacing shari'a laws, allying with "enemies of Allah," imprisoning scholars and mujahideen, and opening the country to "every enemy of this religion," including U.S. soldiers as well as "atheists" brought in to "shake Muslims' conviction in their religion."
Islamic Scholars Must Issue Fatwas Calling For Jihad Against Saudi Regime
AQAP asks Muslims: "After all these crimes against our God, religion, prophets, and everything holy to us, will we patently allow the Saud family to remain, with this taghout [King Salman] and his son ruling this pure country?" The statement decries that Islamic scholars throughout the world have not found the courage to issue a "clear, explicit fatwa about the obligation of revolting against this corrupt taghout regime" and still expect the Saudis to "correct their path."
The statement calls on clerics and preachers everywhere to take a "strong stance" against the Saudi regime and all other "taghout regimes in Muslim lands" by "coming to the fore and leading the ranks in […] uprooting these regimes," particularly the Saudi regime which "crouches on the chests of the Muslims in the holiest Islamic region on earth." AQAP calls on them to "stand to the death in the battlefield to resist their legions," following the example of the Caliph Abu Bakr, who conducted wars against apostate Arab tribes; Ahmad bin Hanbal, who resisted the Mu'tazilah; and Ibn Taymiyah, who called for jihad against the nominally Muslim Mongols because they ruled by the Yasa law code rather than shari'a.
With respect to Saudi clerics, the statement declares their obligation to be even greater, as they "raised the banner of Salafism and exported it to the Islamic world" by spreading the teachings of Muhammad bin 'Abd Al-Wahhab, while MBS aims to "wage war on the religion and its adherents" by combating Wahhabism and those who "take it as a means of defending the religion." Quoting Quranic verses such as (2:159) "Those who hide the clear proofs and guidance that We have revealed – after We made it clear for humanity in the Book – will be cursed by Allah and all those who curse," the statement asserts that Allah has entrusted them with spreading the truth, so they have no right to "conceal the truth and remain silent to falsehood."
Muslims Everywhere Must Condemn Saudi Rulers Or Face Divine Retribution
Addressing all Muslims, AQAP warns that "if vice occurs among one of the nations and it does not change it and confront those who perpetrate it, then punishment from Allah will come upon the entire nation." Adducing quotations from the Quran and hadith, the statement adds that "none will escape this threatened [punishment] except one who fulfills his duty regarding this vice and confronts its perpetrators according to his ability."
The statement accordingly urges all Muslims to confront the Saudi regime and condemn its actions by whatever means. It echoes the words of jihadi cleric Khaled Al-Rashed – a "captive prisoner in the jails of the Saudi taghouts" since about 2006, who gave a sermon after Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published cartoons mocking the Prophet Muhammad, in which he declared: "O ummah of Muhammad, your prophet is being insulted, so what will you do?" – and asks: "The Saudi regime led by Salman and his son is committing aggression against our God, our prophets, and the Muslim creed, in Muslim lands and in the country of the two noble mosques, so what will you do?"
Muslims Must Prepare For World Domination As The World Undergoes Changes
The statement tells all Muslims, clerics and laypeople: "The world today is entering a process of change […] and awaiting the results of a struggle between axes within it. So where is our role? […] Will we stand as [mere] observers, until we leave subservience to the Western axis and enter subservience to another axis, as if we are not an ummah that dominated the nations for a long time – by Allah's correct Book and the Sunnah of our noble prophet? We were feared by all the nations of the earth, and our conquering Islamic armies – by Allah's grace alone – stole sleep from the [Byzantine] emperors and Persian kings and their huge armies."
AQAP urges Muslims: "So make preparations and ready yourselves to plunge into difficulties. Place before your eyes the goal of returning to lead mankind again […] Do not hesitate, so we remain in the darkness of the labyrinth in which we lived previous decades." The statement concludes with Quranic verses such as (13:11) "Indeed, Allah would never change a people's state until they change their own state" and (47:7-11)"O believers! If you stand up for Allah, He will help you and make your steps firm. As for the unbelievers, may they be doomed and may He render their deeds void […] Allah is the Patron of the believers while the disbelievers have no patron."
In a recent AQAP video, senior Sudanese-born official Ibrahim Al-Qousi aka Khubayb Al-Sudani similarly asserted that recent world events indicate the impending end of "the oppressive secular world order" and the disintegration of the superpowers, starting with the U.S., which he called a "homosexual nation."
Since Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri was killed in a U.S. drone strike in Kabul in July 2022, opponents of the organization, including rival jihadis, have alleged that his succession by the Iran-based Sayf Al-'Adl, whose real name is Muhammad Salah Al-Din Zaydan, has turned Al-Qaeda affiliates, particularly AQAP, into pawns of Iran. Al-Qaeda supporters have rejected these allegations and defended the group's approach. It should be noted that Al-Qaeda has officially acknowledged neither Al-Zawahiri's death nor his succession by Sayf Al-'Adl.
 Telegram, September 4, 2023.
 See MEMRI JTTM Report: Al-Qaeda In The Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) Video Describes Saudi Regime As Enemy Of Islam And The Muslims, Calls For Jihad To Overthrow It, February 6, 2023.
 September 5, 2023.
 See MEMRI JTTM Report: In Speech Marking Eid Al-Adha Holiday, Senior Al-Qaeda In The Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) Official Urges Muslims To Continue To Wage Jihad Against “Enemies Of Allah” And Prepare For End Of “Oppressive Secular World Order” And Disintegration Of Superpowers, Starting With U.S., July 3, 2023.