April 10, 2016 Special Dispatch No. 6381

The Islamic State: Although It Leads Global Unbelief, The U.S. Is An Enemy Like All Other Enemies

April 10, 2016
Special Dispatch No. 6381

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

Recently the Islamic State (hereafter ISIS) published an article in its official newsletter Al-Naba[1] assailing the concept that the Muslims must prioritize war against the U.S.. The article, titled "Jihad Against America -Above All a Matter of Religious Law," explains to the organization's militants and supporters and to the broader Muslim public, that the war on the U.S. is subordinate to the organization's religious and theological outlook that the U.S. is one enemy out of a long series of enemies of Islam, tyrants who must be destroyed. The article is part of ISIS' polemic with competing Islamist streams, particularly Al-Qaeda, that essentially view the U.S. as Islam's primary enemy and therefore jihad's current main target.[2]

In contrast, ISIS presents its approach, which assumes that the war against the internal and nearby enemies requires priority, as one that stems from a sound theological standpoint. The article details ISIS' position that views the U.S. as an infidel country and the "tyrants'"  leader by disseminating and imposing unbelief worldwide. The anti-U.S. jihad is intended to install Islam on U.S. territory itself and throughout the entire world; this contrasts with the position taken by other Muslim organizations whose jihad against the U.S. has political or strategic origins.

The article criticizes Islamic movements who have granted the war against the U.S. supreme importance, and thereby ISIS claims they have established "a new religion". Those parties are guilty of using tribal zealotry to motivate their war on the U.S. while neglecting the requirement of a legitimate Islamic foundation. The article emphasizes that just as the U.S. should not be considered a greater enemy than others so the U.S. cannot be considered an auxiliary ally against other enemies. Nevertheless, the article takes pride that ISIS inflicted on the U.S. in Iraq the "greatest defeat" in American history.

Selected passages from the article follow:

The article leads with a theological explanation: "the Tawhid [the Islamic concept of monotheism] stands on two pillars - the worship of Allah alone and rejection of the Taghout..."[3] The article emphasizes that the actualization of this principle has both a positive and negative aspect. The positive aspect is the obligation to believe in Allah and worship him. The negative aspect is the obligation to actively renounce unbelief, idolatry and tyranny. "[As for] anything subsumed under the definition of Taghout, the Muslim must keep away [from it], reject [it] be inimical to it and declare any of its worshippers an apostate, renounce them, be their foe and fight them until they repent from their idolatry and purify [their] worship of Allah."

Hinting at those movements which elevate the religious obligation of war on the U.S. more than the war against other enemies, the article notes: "It is wrong to reject only one category of tyrants and not others; or to renounce only one type of polytheists. The [proper] order of priority in fighting them necessitates the Muslim to begin by fighting the ones who are adjacent to him, followed by the next [nearest], and continuing with those who are next, until the fighting has embraced every polytheist in the world. Allah said: 'Oh you who have believed, fight those adjacent to you of the disbelievers' [Quran, 9:123] this was the path of Allah's Messenger in his war against the idolaters in the Arabian peninsula and this is the path of His companions who succeeded him...

"However, what we see in our era, in which the nations of unbelief rule over the entire world, except for some countries under the caliphate [ISIS] rule, is the appearance of a new religion that prefers fighting against some of the infidels over the [principle of] Tawhid. This religion defines several groups of apostates as Muslims in order to justify not fighting them and on the contrary to [justify] forging an alliance with them against the [true] Muslims. They argue that by doing so the war against the [true Muslims] will not cause a distraction from the war against America, the head of unbelief, to the extent that in the minds of many of these people the Islamic religion is confined to war on America. They appraise how near or distant [a person or group] is to Islam by the degree of enmity to America instead of by the degree of compatibility with Islamic law. [For such people] loyalty [is defined] on the basis of enmity to America and not on the basis of actualizing the Tawhid, to the point that for these people [the essence] of religion has become [only] rejecting America without the other tyrants and without actualizing the Tawhid.

"The [rules] that apply to other actions by believers apply to enmity to America and to the war against it.  Therefore [these matters] must necessarily derive from shari'a... Many of those who are enemies of America today claim that the war against it represents jihad for the sake of Allah without being familiar with the shari'a rulings on jihad against America. Their war against it has become no more than a war of jahilliya [pre-Islamic ignorance][4], [fought] on the basis of tribal zealotry or for benefit exclusively in this world.

"America today is a Taghout that is worshiped instead of Allah by the [very] fact that it is an infidel government that rules its people with laws that are not Allah's laws and practices the polytheist religion of democracy, fights Allah's rule by permitting all prohibited things, beginning with unbelief in Allah in the name of [religious] freedom and concluding with prostitution, homosexuality, alcohol, gambling, usury etc. It is the head of global tyranny by imposing the infidel laws on the entire world either in the name of the infidel United Nations Charter or by appointing tyrants who rule counter to Allah's laws, supporting them, financing them, arming them in their war on Islam and Muslims, and defending them and the laws of polytheism whenever the Muslims rebel against them.

Jihad against this Taghout should be waged from this point of departure. God's faithful are distinguished in this point of departure from others in their war on America, for their war is [fought] to remove this tyranny and consolidate Islamic rule in its stead, either within America itself or in the world which it tyrannically rules.

We know from studying history that the atheist communists were the greatest avowed enemies of the U.S. and they are followed by the Shi'ites, supporters of Khomeini who attached to it [the U.S.] the nickname 'the greatest Satan', as well as by some Arab tyrants who feel that the U.S. threatens their throne. It is known that the latter's [the Arab tyrants] hostility to the U.S. derives from the [Americans'] desire to remove their tyrannical rule in order to appoint alternative tyrants in their stead, such as a tyrant of the Communist cult of materialism [stripe i.e. Russia] and the Shi'ite theocratic rule [type i.e. Iran] and the like. Therefore, according to these new deviant norms [of the Muslims who created a new religion], should we consider the bogus hostility of these [Russia and Iran] to the United States and their war against it a jihad on Allah's behalf? Are the hundreds of thousands, if not millions of infidels worldwide, who gave their lives in wars against the U.S. or against its agents, holy martyrs whose [deserved] place is in the most exalted status of Paradise?

The preachers of the newfangled religion claim that all the Muslims' problems will be solved once the U.S. stops intervening in the Muslim lands because then the Muslims will be able to vanquish the tyrannical rulers, establish Islamic states and Emirates and then unite them into one entity that will be called the caliphate. [These preachers] are oblivious that the world is filled with tyrants, and every one of them is as hostile to Islam as the U.S., and not one of them would agree to the establishment of an Islamic state. If the U.S. should decide to isolate itself from the world, stop intervening in the Muslim lands and supporting the kings, presidents and the tyrannical Jews who rule them, to whom will they [then] transfer the nickname 'the great Satan'? Would it be to Russia? To China? Or perhaps India or to any country that will rule the world after the U.S.?

The recent events in Syria definitely prove that should the U.S. stop its intervention in Muslim countries, the ruling tyrants will find many substitutes to avail them in their war on the Muslims. Hence, after the sahwat factions [i.e. the rebel forces in Syria] did their utmost to propitiate the U.S. hoping to receive assistance from it and fearing that it would pulverize them. After they succeeded to some degree, they were surprised by the Russian planes that aided the 'Alawite regime in fighting them and provided an aerial umbrella for its advance towards their regions.

On the other hand, although the U.S. is the party that assists the greatest number of ruling tyrants in the Muslim countries, if we were to tour other countries we would find that anti-U.S. hostility is declining... Moreover, for some of the parties [who pretend] to belong to Islam it [the U.S.] has become a friend or an ally in their struggle with other governments, who killed more Muslims in these countries..." The article cites Pakistan that due to its enmity towards India seeks aid from the U.S., members of the Uyghur people who view the U.S. as an ally against the Chinese government and the Muslim states in Central Asia, who view the U.S. as an ally against Russia, as examples.

The article takes pride in ISIS' achievements in the war against the U.S.: "ISIS, thanks to Allah alone, dealt the largest blow to the U.S., because in Iraq, Allah granted its [ISIS'] mujahideen success in inflicting upon the U.S. the greatest defeat in its history. ISIS did not act like those who transformed the war on the U.S. into an idol that they worship aside from Allah and on whose behalf they abandon the principles of religion and ally with the apostates.

It is wrong for someone speaking in the name of the entire Muslim nation, to evaluate its interests from the perspective of the land where he lives or speak in its name in a language intelligible only to his nation understands. For Islam's issues are general and he must include all the Muslims. Therefore motivating [the Muslims to jihad] should be [targeted] against all Islam's enemies to avoid sowing confusion amongst the people so they will come to think that internecine hostility between tyrants transforms them into defenders of Muslims and strips them of the apostate and polytheist title. The path will be clarified exclusively in this way."


[1] Al-Naba, 23, March 22, 2016.

[2] The war against the U.S. was the basis for Al-Qaeda's establishment, as emerges from the document "Declaration of War Against the Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holy Places" (1996) published by Osama bin Laden and the "Declaration of the Islamic Front for Jihad against Jews and Crusaders" (1998). Al-Qaeda views the U.S. as Islam's main enemy and the head of apostasy, whose defeat will automatically result in the collapse of the Arab states' secular regimes. Al-Qaeda's leaders have repeatedly emphasized this position. Thus, for example, in lecturing his fighters in Yemen, Qassem Al-Rimi, the Al-Qaeda leader in the Arabian Peninsula, explained that it was natural to strike the enemy in his head. See MEMRI JTTM, AQAP Leader Qassem Al-Rimi: We Must Focus On Fighting The U.S., December 24, 2015.

[3] Idol, person or entity that is worshiped and venerated instead of Allah. The radical Salafis use the concept inter alia for leaders, states and other entities, who allegedly prevent the institution of Islamic laws.

[4] In other words an invalid war devoid of proper Islamic essence.


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