January 13, 2004 Special Dispatch No. 642

Interview with Algerian Terror Leader Associated with Al-Qa'ida: The Islamic State Will Arise Only Through Blood and Body Parts

January 13, 2004
Algeria, North Africa | Special Dispatch No. 642

The Arabic-language daily Al-Hayat published an interview with Nabil Sahrawi, also known as Abu Ibrahim Mustafa, a leader of the Salafi Group for Da'wa and Fighting in Algeria. This group has been linked with Al-Qa'ida. Prior to publication, the interview, which is Sahrawi's first, was posted on Islamist websites.

At the beginning of the interview, Sahrawi tells about his organization, which was founded in early 1999, and states that it supplanted the Armed Islamic Group. According to Sahrawi, his group was formed after the Armed Islamic Group was taken over by Antar Zawabiri, who diverted it from its previous path. The following are excerpts from the interview : [1]

Who's Killing Whom?

"Question: 'In Algeria, there was a great debate over the question of who is behind the massacres of innocents. Is there an answer to the well-known question in Algeria of who is killing whom?'

"Sahrawi: 'The Salafi Group for Da'wa and Fighting thinks that the Algerian people is a Muslim people which according to religious law must not be harmed, in blood or property, and that anyone who kills it or plunders its property is carrying out something that Allah has forbidden. The massacres of innocent and defenseless people are abhorrent crimes to which no Muslim who attests 'There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah' can agree.'

"There are two types of people who carry out massacres: The first type are [the members] of [Antar] Zawabiri's group, who accuse [society] of unbelief, and they are like the Khawarej, [2] and they barely exist in the field. The second type is the [Algerian] regime, which stands behind most of the massacres. There are some motives causing the regime to carry out these massacres, including intimidating the people in order to prevent them from supporting the Mujahideen…"

The Rulers of Muslim Lands are Apostates

"Question: 'Several times, the Algerian press has revealed contacts between your group and the regime. What is the extent of the truth of these reports? Does the Salafi Group for Da'wa and Fighting believe in a solution by means of negotiation and dialogue with the regime?'

"Sahrawi: 'The rulers of the Muslim lands today are a gang of apostates [and] criminals, the most evil creatures created on the face of the earth, whose crimes are known to all, and they are a paradigm of treachery, deceit, misleading, and repression. How many commitments have they given their people, only to then fill their graveyards and prisons with them? They have replaced Shari'a law, and they rule Muslims with the laws of Europe and America. They have shed blood and violated the religious prohibitions. They have wasted the property of the Muslims on forbidden things. All that interested them was their bellies and their enslavement to the West. They are not [protected] by any pact. Anyone who wants a lesson [on the results] of dialogue with the apostates, let them learn the lesson of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, the lesson of the Islamic Front of Salvation in Algeria … and so on.

"The Salafi Group for Da'wa and Fighting is fighting the regime in Algiers because of its unbelief and apostasy… Fighting the apostates takes precedence over fighting others from among the original infidels, and the punishment of the apostates is harsher than that [of the original infidels], both in this world and in the hereafter. Pacts must not be formed with these rulers; they must not be given security; there must be no reconciliation with them, and there must be no truce with them. We will accept from them either repentance or the sword…"

The Al-Qa'ida Connection

"Question: 'Some see your most recent communiqué as an announcement of allegiance to the Al-Qa'ida organization. What do you think about Sheikh Osama bin Laden? What is the truth about your connection to Al-Qa'ida and the other Jihad organizations in the world?

"Sahrawi: '… Our connection to Al-Qa'ida and the other Jihad organizations in the world is based on two things:' [3]

"First, the operation of the Salafi Group for Da'wa and Fighting in the realm of preaching and Jihad is an operation integrated with that of the other groups, because as noted in the [organization's] charter … the Salafi Group for Da'wa and Fighting is a phased means aimed ultimately at establishing a group of Muslims – the Caliphate – and it sees this as a sacred goal that all Muslims must strive to attain…

"Second, one of our goals is also to educate the Muslims about the principle that loyalty to Islam and to the Sunna must take precedence over loyalty to all the other frameworks… The Muslim is the brother of the Muslim, even if their countries are distant from each other. Every Muslim is entitled to the support [of other Muslims]… We support those who support Allah, His Prophet, and the believers, and we act with hostility towards those who act with hostility towards Allah and His Prophet, even if he is from among the closest of the close."

Response to Inclusion on U.S. Terror List

"Question: 'After the September 11 raid, America put you on the list of organizations it is fighting. What is your response to this?'

"Sahrawi : 'We classified ourselves even before America classified us. The world is divided into two parts: the part of belief, and the part of unbelief and falsehood. There is no third part. Anyone who desires Islam and a regime in accordance with the Qur'an is classified by the infidels on their list of enemies and opponents… Anyone who says 'There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, ' is on this list, and his turn will come, whether he is armed or not…

"Question: 'Is there a final message you want to send to the Algerian Muslim people in these difficult times…?'

"Sahrawi: 'The conflict in the world today is a conflict between belief and unbelief. The war in Palestine, in Afghanistan, in Iraq, in Algeria, in Chechnya, and in the Philippines is one war. This is a war between the camp of Islam and the camp of the Cross, to which the Americans, Zionists, Jews, their apostate allies, and others belong.'

"The goal of this war, which they falsely called a war on terror, is to prevent the Muslims from establishing an Islamic state whose regime will be in accordance with the Qur'an and the Sunna of the Prophet, and which will constitute a source of pride and strength for the Muslims. America and its allies the Jews, the Christians, and the apostates will not cease their war on Islam before they remove the last Muslim from his religion and bring him into apostasy. We must be wary of this terrible plot that the enemies of Islam aspire to realize.

"During this time, Jihad is one of the greatest personal commandments. Every Muslim must know that defending Islam and the Muslims in this war is an obligation incumbent upon him, with his soul, his money, and his tongue. Support for Muslims is an obligation. The Islamic State will not arise through means of slogans, demonstrations, parties, and elections, but through blood, body parts, and [sacrifice of] lives…"

[1] Al-Hayat (London), January 9, 2004.

[2] The term "Khawarej, " a reference to those who rebelled against the heirs of the Prophet Muhammad in the seventh century, is used today to condemn groups such as Zawabiri's as rebellious religious radicals.

[3] Ellipses at the beginning of this paragraph appear in the original Arabic.

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