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June 6, 2013 Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 975

Following Nasrallah's Statements On Syria Fighting, Calls Emerge For Sunnis To Wage Jihad Against Hizbullah, Shi'ites

June 6, 2013 | By H. Varulkar, R. Green, and L. Barkan
Syria, Lebanon | Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 975

Introduction

Following Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah's explicit admission on May 25, 2013 that his organization is fighting in Syria alongside the Assad regime,[1] Sunni clerics and jihadi organizations began to call for jihad against Hizbullah and Shi'ites in general.

A significant escalation in the tone against Hizbullah and the Shi'ites was heard from the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) in Egypt and Sunni clerics throughout the Arab world. The latter, led by Sheikh Yousuf Al-Qaradhawi, called on Sunnis around the world to go to Syria and carry out jihad against the Assad regime and Hizbullah's fighters there. Al-Qaradhawi, who called Hizbullah "Hizb Al-Shaytan" – the party of Satan – wondered how it could be that 100 million Shi'ites were defeating 1.7 billion Sunnis, and called on Sunnis to not sit idly by. The International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS), which Al-Qaradhawi heads, warned against "the Safavid [i.e., Iranian Shi'ite] plot to destroy the Islamic world." Some clerics also called to fight the Shi'ite expansion.[2]

Salafi-jihadi leaders and jihadi organizations also called for jihad against Hizbullah and the Shi'ites, whom they referred to by derogatory names such as rafida[3] and infidels. Announcements and communiqués on jihadi websites claimed that the Shi'ites are infidels and that it is a personal duty (fard 'ain) of every Muslim to fight them. In addition, religious rulings were issued calling to carry out suicide bombings and acts of slaughter against Hizbullah fighters and strongholds inside Lebanon.

This report will review the Sunni calls for escalation and jihad against Shi'ites in general and Hizbullah in particular.

MB, Sheikh Al-Qaradhawi, Sunni Scholars Support Jihad In Syria

Egyptian MB: We Are Prepared To Send Fighters To Syria

A communiqué issued by the Egyptian MB on May 25, 2013 states that Hizbullah "has burned away its remaining credibility... and exposed its despicable sectarian face by sending its fighters to assist the oppressive sectarian [Syrian] regime... and by criminally participating in killing the Syrian people in Al-Qusayr and elsewhere. It has lost its status in the eyes of Arab and Muslim peoples, which it won by confronting the Zionist enemy."[4] On May 31, 2013, following the Friday prayers, the MB's Freedom and Justice Party organized a support rally in solidarity with the Syrian rebels, which was attended by hundreds of MB supporters. One MB official, Osama Al-Shafi'i, stated that the movement was prepared to send 12,000 fighters to wage jihad in Syria.[5]

Al-Qaradhawi Calls On Sunnis To Join Syrian Jihad: "How Can 100 Million Shi'ites Defeat 1.7 Billion [Sunni Muslims]?"

Sheikh Yousuf Al-Qaradhawi, the head of IUMS, also joined the attack on Hizbullah and called for jihad against it. In his Friday sermon on May 31, 2013, he called on young Muslims from around the world to travel to the Syrian city of Al-Qusayr in order to fight Hizbullah there, and said that it was illogical to abandon the Muslims (i.e., Sunni Muslims) in Syria while thousands were coming there to fight against them, referring to Hizbullah. Al-Qaradhawi added: "Anyone who can fight, should fight. I swear that if I could [fight] I would do so without hesitation." He even called the 'Alawites "bigger infidels than the Jews."[6]

In an IUMS conference held the same day in Doha, Al-Qaradhawi reiterated his call "to open the gates of jihad to Muslims, so they can assist their brethren who are being slaughtered by Bashar Al-Assad and Hizbullah," which he called Hizb Al-Shaytan ("the party of Satan," as opposed to the organization's real name, "the party of Allah"). Al-Qaradhawi added: "The leader of Hizb Al-Shaytan [Nasrallah] came to fight the Sunnis. The supporter of tyranny and oppression came to kill Sunni Muslims."

He claimed that the Iranians want a constant and systematic slaughter of Sunnis, and said: "Iran provides [the Assad regime with] weapons and men, so should we [Sunnis] sit idly by?... How can 100 million Shi'ites defeat 1.7 billion [Sunnis]? It is because the [Sunni] Muslims are in a state of lethargy." Al-Qaradhawi conceded that not all Shi'ites support the Assad regime and that there are moderate Shi'ites in Iran, such as former president Mohammad Khatami and his followers, who object to Bashar Al-Assad's current actions.[7] He also said that he had been wrong in the past when he expressed support for Hassan Nasrallah, while the Saudi sheikhs had been right to oppose Nasrallah.[8]

Nasrallah shown as a vampire and pirate (image: Facebook.com/DierElZorReeveNews)

IUMS: A Safavid Plot Against The Islamic World

Religious scholars attending the Doha conference also called "to open the gates of jihad in order to liberate Syria from the Assad regime." They claimed that the events in Syria are "a Safavid [i.e., Iranian Shi'ite] plot to destroy the Islamic world," and called on Muslims to recognize the plots being hatched against the Islamic ummah. Dr. Hassan Al-'Alami, a Moroccan preacher and thinker who attended the conference, said that the 'Alawites had revealed their cruel face and called on the Islamic ummah to wake up to "the Safavid plan that strives to establish the Shi'ite crescent in place of the Sunni crescent." Sheikh Sa'id Al-Lafi, a representative of the Iraqis who are protesting against the Al-Maliki government, said that "the Sunnis are not a sect but a massive nation that has begun to awaken, and that will not stop spreading until the liberation of Bayt Al-Maqdis [i.e., Jerusalem]." He called on Muslims to support the Syrian revolution with money and arms, and help it withstand the Shi'ite expansion.[9]

Jihadis Call To Fight Hizbullah And Shi'ites

Hizbullah's open involvement in the fighting in Syria also drove the Salafi-jihadi movement to call on Sunnis to embark on jihad there. A statement posted on the website Minbar Al-Tawhid wal-Jihad ("The Pulpit of Monotheism and Jihad"), which is associated with Jordanian Sheikh Abu Muhammad Al-Maqdisi, states: "Hizb Al-Shaytan has promised to send thousands of its dogs to Syria. Will the lions of monotheism not set out to defend their brothers and sisters there?"[10]

Statement on Minbar Al-Tawhid wal-Jihad (Tawhed.ws)

Salafi-Jihadi Cleric Permits Suicide Bombings Against Hizbullah Inside Lebanese Territory

In addition, the website issued a fatwa encouraging suicide bombings against Hizbullah targets in Lebanon. The fatwa was signed by Sheikh Abu Mundhir Al-Shinqiti – a senior religious authority for the website – on behalf of the website's Shari'a Committee. It came in response to a question by a user who expressed the desire to carry out a suicide bombing against Hizbullah centers in Lebanon and asked for religious permission in light of the potential harm to Shi'ites that are not part of the organization. In his response, Al-Shinqiti ruled that such an action was permitted, and that "any attack [on Hizbullah] at this time will have significantly positive consequences." According to him, "the time has come for us Muslims to enter into an open war with the rafidis, since today they are waging war against us in a clear and obvious manner in all their areas of influence. Hence, we no longer need to [avoid an attack out of] fear of sparking a conflict with them. On the contrary, [an attack] will crystallize the distinction between the Sunnis and Shi'ites, thus enabling the mujahideen to gain the support of the general Sunni public and to mobilize the Muslim masses against the rafidis." Al-Shinqiti listed the benefits of such an attack:

a. A wider recognition in the greater Sunni public of a Sunni-Shi'ite war, which has yet to occur.

b. Expanding the scope of action against Shi'ites would attract attention to the war against them.

c. Attacks on Hizbullah would constitute a legitimate response to its interference in Syria.

It should be mentioned that Al-Shinqiti stressed that all actions should be coordinated with the jihad organizations in Syria, and that special care should be taken to target only Hizbullah fighters and avoid harming women and children. He also stressed that the attack should be lethal, and not just as a warning that would serve as a pretext for Hizbullah to escalate its activity against Sunnis in Syria.[11]

Hizb Al-Shaytan (the party of Satan) instead of Hizbullah (image: hasterya.com)

Egyptian Salafi-Jihadi Movement: Shi'ites Are Infidels And Every Sunni Must Fight Them

The Al-Farouq Foundation for Media Productions, the official media company for Egyptian Salafi-jihadis, issued an anti-Shi'ite communiqué by 21 Salafi-Jihadi clerics in the country, chief among them Muhammad Al-Zawahiri, the brother of Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri, and Ahmad Salama Mabruk, who was one of the heads of the Egyptian jihadi organization. The communiqué, which was posted on the jihadi forum Shumoukh Al-Islam and on the website of the Egyptian daily Al-Yawm Al-Sabi', states that it is the duty of any Muslim who can carry arms to embark on jihad in order to stop the attack by the Syrian regime and its supporters on the city of Al-Qusayr, and that anyone who cannot do so must donate money for the cause. This, in order to prevent the realization of the ultimate goal behind the attack, which is to establish "a Nusayri[12] -Alawite-rafidi mini-state on the coast, in preparation for carving up the region into four small states: Nusayri, rafidi, Jewish, and Druze, which will besiege the Sunnis." According to them, this will enable Hizbullah and Iran to create a "Shi'ite Crescent" state spanning the Gulf states, eastern Saudi Arabia, southern Iraq, Azerbaijan, and South Lebanon, and thereby take over most of the world's oil. Egyptian Salafi-Jihadi clerics also ruled that the Shi'ites are infidels and that it is an individual duty (fard 'ain) to fight them, and even called on Sunnis in Shi'ite-controlled countries, and especially the mujahideen, to move the campaign into their own countries.[13]

The Egyptian Salafi-jihadi communiqué (Shamikh1.info)

Sheikh Nael Misran, head of the Ibn Bazz Charitable Islamic Society in the Gaza Strip, delivered a sermon stating that all Sunnis must assist the mujahideen in Syria as much as they can – in words, sermons, jihad, and material and military support. He stated further that Sunnis in Lebanon must open a front in their own country and carry out jihad to assist their brethren in Syria.[14]

Jordanian Salafi-Jihadi leader: Target Hizbullah Leaders and Strongholds

Jordanian Salafi-jihadi leader Muhammad Al-Shalabi, aka Abu Sayyaf, issued his first open call to Sunnis in Syria and Lebanon to fight Hizbullah and target its leaders and strongholds, explaining that "it is a duty [to carry out] jihad [against] any attacker, especially when the attack includes killing and spreading the Shi'ite [religion] by force." He called on senior Sunni clerics to announce that "Iran's gang" must be fought, and explained that it constituted self-defense since Hizbullah was the one that had invaded Sunni villages in Syria. According to him, he has solid information that many Shi'ites from Pakistan, Bahrain, and other Gulf states are fighting alongside Hizbullah and the Syrian regime. However, Jabhat Al-Nusra will fight them with all its might, he said.[15]

Hizbullah flag which reads "Hizb Al-Shaytan Are The Losers" (instead of "Hizbullah Are the Winners") (image: dawaalhaq.com, May 28, 2013)

Calls To Attack, Slaughter Shi'ites On Jihadi Forums

Calls to carry out attacks against Hizbullah inside Lebanon also appeared on jihadi forums. A prominent writer on the jihadi forum Shumoukh Al-Islam, Mu'awiya Al-Qahtani, called to act against Hizbullah inside Lebanon in order to force it to stop fighting in Al-Qusayr: "Occupying Hizb Al-Lat[16] with side-battles outside Syrian territory is the best and fastest way to end the siege on our people and disperse its soldiers... There is no choice but to ignite Lebanon until the enemy disperses and splits in two – a split it cannot withstand." He called to send mujahideen groups to Lebanon that would "target rafidi villages loyal to Hizbullah and its supporters, inside and outside the Dahiya, with explosives that will shake the very earth there...; attack [Hizbullah's] headquarters, offices, bases, and blow up the homes of its military commanders; and assassinate important [Hizbullah] figures, such as religious, political, or high-ranking military personnel."[17]

Another member on Shumoukh Al-Islam calling himself Al-Fajr Qadim, who apparently writes from the Gaza Strip, warned against "the Iranian-rafidi-Masonic plan to turn the Muslims from worshipers of Allah to worshipers of Satan, and cause them to question their religion by any means," as well as against "the Iranian-Pentecostal-Khomeinist plan to transform the Arab Gulf into a Persian Gulf." He claimed that the Iranians have understood that if they do not hasten to assist the Assad regime they will lose, and called on Sunnis everywhere to embark on anti-Shi'ite action in order to stop them: "Now that the rafidis have begun to mobilize and gather from all corners to assist their 'eye' in the region [the Assad regime], we must also start individual or group action in every region and all countries. [To maximize our resources,] we must make sure that a cell includes no more than two people, or three [at most], if necessary. [The actions will include:] 1) attacking sensitive targets of the rafidi entity... 2) kidnapping and assassinating rafidi officials; 3) [acts of] slaughter... that will bring sorrow to the enemies of Allah...

"I [announce] that those who stand by Iran or the rafidis in general, chief among them Hizb Al-Lat, will face the same fate as [Iran and the rafidis]. I decisively suggest [carrying out] acts of slaughter... [and say to] the brothers in other countries: start today [by attacking] anyone related to these attacks, anyone who supports them, and anyone who wants to harm Sunnis. My brothers, today you have two options: you can either disperse the rafidis or allow them to turn the Arab Gulf into [their] colony..."[18]

Images from a video distributed by Syrian rebels showing the detonation of a holy Shi'ite site in Syria. To watch the video, see: http://youtu.be/9KeAVkpQdFg)

* H. Varulkar is Director of Research at MEMRI; L. Barkan and G. Green are research fellows at MEMRI.

Endnotes

[2] Arab press associated with the Sunni axis countries, especially the Gulf states, published articles attacking Hizbullah and warning that the organization was dragging the region into a Sunni-Shi'ite war. See for example Al-Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), May 28, 2013; Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), May 27, 2013

[3] Literally "rejectionists." Sunni writers use this term and others like it (see below) as a derogatory term for Shi'ites because the Shi'a rejects the legitimacy of the rule of the first three Caliphs, claiming that 'Ali was the legitimate successor of the Prophet Muhammad.

[4] Ikhwanonline.com, May 25, 2013,

[5] Aksalser.com, June 1, 2013.

[6] Al-Raya (Qatar), June 1, 2013.

[7] Al-Raya (Qatar), June 1, 2013.

[8] Al-Raya (Qatar), islamtoday.net, June 1, 2013.

[9] Al-Raya (Qatar), June 1, 2013.

[10] Tawhed.ws, May 28, 2013.

[11] Tawhed.ws, May 29, 2013.

[12] A nickname for the Alawite sect, which Sunnis consider to be part of the Shi'ite sect.

[13] Al-Yawm Al-Sabi' (Egypt), May 27, 2013; Shamikh1.info, May 26, 2013.

[14] Facebook.com/Nael.G.Mosran, May 26, 2013.

[15] Al-Hayat (London), June 3, 2013.

[16] According to Islamic tradition, Al-Lat was one of the three goddesses worshipped by Arabs in pre-Islamic times.

[17] Shamikh1.info, May 23, 2013.

[18] Shamikh1.info, May 24, 2013.

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