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Joas Wagemakers on al-Maqdisi & the Jordanian pilot negotiations

Friday, February 13th, 2015

[ by Charles Cameron — it’s so awkward when the top jihadist scholar in your own lineage doesn’t like your caliphate or your behavior! ]

Maqdisi on Roya TV Jordan via MEMRI

Maqdisi on Roya TV Jordan via MEMRI


In the Foreword to issue 7 of the IS magazine Dabiq, we find mention of Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, mentor of IS’ inspirational predecessor Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, along with a curious related footnote:

The Islamic State immediately requested for the release and transfer of Sajidah ar-Rishaw? – a mujahidah who was imprisoned by the Jordanian taghut for almost 10 years – to the lands of the Khilafah in exchange for Kenji Goto Jogo. The Jordanian regime recklessly complicated the process for the Japanese by attempting to include their pilot in the exchange deal, but the Khilafah explicitly refused such during the negotiations with the representative of the Jordanian taghut – ‘?sim T?hir al-Barqawi (AKA Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi [1]) – as there were other plans for the murtadd pilot. In the end, both al-Barqawi’s murtadd client and the Japanese prisoner were executed due to the negligence of both regimes in heeding the warnings of the Islamic State.

Footnote 1: Perhaps Allah will facilitate a detailed exposure of how al-Barqawi (whose campaign of lies carries on) represented the Jordanian taghut in these negotiations.


Their prayers are answered. I’m not sure of the exact timings, but their prayers may have been answered before they were even asked — or at least, published.

Joas Wagemakers, author of the highly reputed study A Quietist Jihadi: The Ideology and Influence of Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, takes us behind the scenes. On Jihadica, he posted Maqdisi in the middle: An inside account of the secret negotiations to free a Jordanian pilot:

It’s that time of the year again: the well-known Jordanian radical Islamic ideologue Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi is released from prison and speculation about why this happened and whether he cooperated with the Jordanian regime to get freed starts all over. I’ve commented on this before on Jihadica when he was released on a previous occasion and I’ve also briefly analysed his latest release in a Facebook post, so I won’t go into this here.

Wagemakers continues:

Much more interesting, however, are the recent statements al-Maqdisi has made on the execution of the Jordanian pilot Mu’adh al-Kasasiba, who had been captured by the Islamic State (IS) and was subsequently burned alive by them. These comments were made during a recent interview with al-Ru’ya, a Jordanian television channel, and a letter al-Maqdisi reportedly sent to IS’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. These give an inside account of the secret negotiations that have taken place to free al-Kasasiba and, as such, throw an altogether new light on them, showing that al-Maqdisi has likely been in the middle of this affair from the beginning.

Here, then, is a brief quote from that FB post on the point that Dabiq is interested in — the negotiations:

The well-known Jordanian Jihadi-Salafi scholar Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi was released from prison last week and just gave an interview to the Al-Ru’ya channel in which he was asked to comment on the execution of the Jordanian pilot Mu’adh al-Kasasiba. He says that he tried to negotiate on the pilot’s behalf by writing letters to “influential” people within the Islamic State (IS), like its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, its official spokesman Abu Muhammad al-‘Adnani and one of its main scholars, Turki al-Bin’ali. He says he tried to get IS to accept the trade-off between al-Kasasiba and the imprisoned Sajida al-Rishawi. All of these efforts failed, however, despite – al-Maqdisi emphasises this – his numerous attempts and even though – he later adds – the major Jihadi-Salafi scholars all supported the mediation efforts with IS.

Returning to Jihadica, here are some key passages from Wagemarker’ post, which is worth reading in full:

It was first reported on 5 February that al-Maqdisi had been released from prison a week before. A day later, he gave an interview on Jordanian television in which he stated that as soon as he heard about the capture of the pilot Mu’adh al-Kasasiba, which was reported on 24 December 2014, he wrote letters to IS to try to get them to engage in a prisoner exchange, trading the pilot for Sajida al-Rishawi, an Iraqi woman who had been sentenced to death for her involvement in the 2005 Amman hotel bombings that were ordered by former Al-Qa’ida in Iraq leader Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi. The latter, of course, was a former student of al-Maqdisi’s when the two were still in Jordan together in the 1990s and is seen by IS today as the godfather of their organisation.

Al-Maqdisi claims to have contacted IS’s leader al-Baghdadi, the organisation’s official spokesman Abu Muhammad al-’Adnani and its “scholar-in-arms” Turki al-Bin’ali, who used to be very close to al-Maqdisi before their disagreements over the Islamic State and its policies arose. His efforts to have IS exchange al-Kasasiba for al-Rishawi didn’t work out, however, since it turned out that the pilot had already been executed a month before, in early January. In retaliation, Jordan executed al-Rishawi (and another, Ziyad al-Karbuli, an Iraqi radical Islamist on death row). This turn of affairs caused al-Maqdisi to feel he had been betrayed by IS, with whom he had apparently negotiated in good faith. In the interview, al-Maqdisi calls IS “liars” and scolds them for equating jihad with slaughter and killing, the latest example of which is burning the Jordanian pilot alive, which is not allowed according to sayings of the Prophet Muhammad, he says.

Then there’s the letter:

Given al-Maqdisi’s previous criticism of IS and his long-held belief that jihad should be kept free from “excesses”, such comments are to be expected and sound familiar. What we did not know before, however, was that al-Maqdisi – if his statements are to be believed – was involved in negotiating al-Kasasiba’s release from the beginning. In fact, if he did indeed start writing letters to IS right after he heard about the pilot’s capture, he must have been involved in this as early as late December 2014, about a month before he was released from prison. If true, this not only means that there is less of a direct connection between his efforts on al-Kasasiba’s behalf and his own release from prison, but also that al-Maqdisi may have had a central role in this entire saga.

This is confirmed by the letter al-Maqdisi allegedly wrote to al-Baghdadi and which was recently published on the internet (including by the Jordanian newspaper al-Ghad). The letter is dated “Rabi’ al-Awwal 1436?, which coincides with the period 23 December 2014-21 January 2015, meaning that – if truthful – al-Maqdisi did indeed start negotiating with IS before he was released, which is said to have happened on 29 January 2015. It was also around that time – and not in early January, let alone late December – that the media started reporting about IS’s demands to have Sajida al-Rishawi released in return for the Jordanian pilot. Since hardly anybody had heard of al-Rishawi, many people wondered why on earth IS was suddenly so interested in this person and why they wanted her released. Al-Maqdisi’s alleged letter shows, however, that we may have consistently looked at this from the wrong angle.

Wagemakers comments:

In the letter al-Maqdisi is supposed to have written to al-Baghdadi, he never seems concerned with the fate of the Jordanian pilot at all. Citing the Prophet Muhammad and the 14th-century Muslim scholar Ibn Kathir, he states that it is a Muslim’s duty to free those who are suffering (either from imprisonment or otherwise), but does not refer to the pilot when saying this. On the contrary, he states that it is imperative that al-Baghdadi works towards releasing al-Rishawi. He emphasises that she is their Muslim sister, a close associate of al-Zarqawi’s and a mujahida, a female jihad fighter, for whom al-Baghdadi is responsible. Al-Maqdisi claims that al-Zarqawi himself had wanted to free her but was killed before he was able to. It now fell on al-Baghdadi, as al-Zarqawi’s successor, to finish what the latter couldn’t and free al-Rishawi. The key to this – as al-Maqdisi states repeatedly in his letter – is in al-Baghdadi’s hands: the Jordanian pilot Mu’adh al-Kasasiba.

If this letter is to be believed, al-Maqdisi thus wrote to al-Baghdadi to have al-Rishawi released and saw the capture (and possible exchange) of the Jordanian pilot as a golden opportunity to achieve this. IS’s interest in al-Rishawi thus appears to have come not so much from any specific desire on their part to have her back, but much more from al-Maqdisi’s wish to see her released. In fact, if al-Maqdisi had not brought up al-Rishawi’s name in his supposed letter to al-Baghdadi, we might never have heard of her at all. This means that while many of us were looking for ways to explain IS’s interest in this obscure woman, we should perhaps have looked at al-Maqdisi instead.

After some further discussion, Wagemakers offers confirmation of the letter’s provenance and authenticity:

The above is confirmed by a document written by Abu l-’Izz al-Najdi, a presumably Saudi member of the Shari’a Council of al-Maqdisi’s website, who provides details of the negotiations taking place between al-Maqdisi and IS. He confirms the authenticity of al-Maqdisi’s letter and, given that al-Najdi’s document is posted on al-Maqdisi’s website, we may assume that the latter does so too. He also confirms that the Jordanian pilot was an apostate in al-Maqdisi’s eyes, but that an Islamically legitimate purpose could be served by setting him free because it would cause the Jordanian regime to release al-Rishawi. That it didn’t happen this way is, al-Najdi writes, ultimately IS’s fault and he therefore holds that organisation responsible for al-Rishawi’s death, as does al-Maqdisi.

Al-Najdi writes that while al-Maqdisi was engaged in negotiating al-Rishawi’s release with IS, the latter’s spokesman, Abu Muhammad al-’Adnani, didn’t even mention her in his audio messages to show that he cared about her. Al-Maqdisi, however, encouraged other jihadis to “send [letters] and put pressure on all those in IS in whom a remnant of good remains in order to rescue their sister Sajida [al-Rishawi]“, al-Najdi writes. A man named Abu Mahmud al-Mawsili eventually came to the fore, claiming to be a prominent member of IS who could mediate between al-Maqdisi and al-Baghdadi to get al-Rishawi released. This, al-Najdi writes, was “the first clear lie” since “it was confirmed to [al-Maqdisi] from week one that the pilot had already been killed, based on information that reached him from inside Iraq and Syria”. The mediator al-Mawsili said that this was a lie, however, and swore he was serious about this prisoner exchange. He also swore that the pilot was still alive, al-Najdi writes. Al-Maqdisi, unwilling to accept that a mujahid would lie about this, believed him.


There’s more, including al-Maqdisi’s critique of IS in its behavior and in its claim to the title of caliphate — both of which al-Maqdisi disputes in no undertain terms.

From the transcribed TV interview:

These people invented many bad practices. The first practice they invented – which they attributed to the Prophet Muhammad – was the public slaughtering of people. They slaughter their rivals, including several leaders and mujahideen in Syria.

People started to believe that slaughtering people was the Prophet’s norm. They cite the hadith: “Oh people of Quraysh, I have brought slaughter upon you.” The Prophet said this when these people mocked him. What they forget to mention is how the Prophet treated the people of Quraysh when he eventually captured them. Didn’t he say to hundreds of them that they were free to go? This way, he turned them from enemies into followers.

They ignore that and cite one thing that the Prophet said when he was mocked, and turn the slaughtering into a habitual practice of the Prophet. They have painted Islam, the Jihadi movement, and the mujahideen in red. They have made people think that Jihad can be waged only by killing and slaughter. [ .. ]

Then they came up with the practice of immolation. People will now follow them in this
practice. Immolation?! The Prophet Muhammad said: “Only the Lord of Fire torments with
fire.” They cite one quote by Ibn Taymiyyah, severing it from what precedes it and what
follows it. They give Ibn Taymiyyah precedence over the Prophet Muhammad.


If someone purports to have a caliphate but cannot provide the fruits of a caliphate, he leads the Muslims to dispersal. They have presented Islam in the image of slaughter and immolation. [ .. ]

Until yesterday, you were Baathists, torturing and killing Muslims, and today, you are leaders in the Caliphate?! What kind of a caliphate is this? [ .. ]

These people have distorted the image of the Jihadi movement. They have caused great
harm. They invent something new every day. First it was slaughter and now immolation. Let me tell you, this has nothing to do with Islam. Jihadi salafism has nothing whatsoever to do with this.


For further news on Dabiq issue 7, see New issue of ‘Dabiq’ features interview with widow of Paris gunmen today on LWJ.

Ahrar-ul-Hind, Ghazwa-e-Hind?

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

[ by Charles Cameron — in which the “second shoe” of Islamist eschatology will land on India ]


Bill Roggio, over in Long Wars Journal a day or two ago, posted an article titled Pakistani jihadists form Ahrar-ul-Hind, vow to continue attacks. In it, he introduces the group, Ahrar-ul-Hind:

A new global jihadist group that is unwilling to negotiate with the Pakistani government has announced its formation and vowed to continue attacks in the country despite the outcome of ongoing peace talks. The group, which is calling itself Ahrar-ul-Hind, said its goal is the establishment of sharia, or Islamic law, and that the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan are still “our brothers” despite separation from the group.

Ahrar-ul-Hind emailed two statements to The Long War Journal on Feb. 9: one from its spokesman, and another that outlined its “aims and objectives,” according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which translated the communiques. Ahrar-ul-Hind has also posted both statements on its Facebook page.

He has much more to say about it, but what caught my eye was one observation in particular:

In the statement announcing its “aims and objectives,” Ahrar-ul-Hind threatened to wage war on the “Indian subcontinent” and beyond, with the ultimate goal of imposing sharia worldwide.

“We aim to carry an armed struggle on the Indian subcontinent with an aim to establish Islamic Shariah in the whole world,” one bullet announced.

A final, significant detail:

Mansour identified Ahrar-ul-Hind’s emir as Maulana Umar Qasmi


Readers of Zenpundit will be familiar with the idea of a Pakistani jihad aiming to take over India — the Ghazwa-e-Hind, about which we have written, among other posts:

  • One hadith, one plan, one video, and two warnings
  • So many browser tabs, so little time
  • Pakistan’s Strategic Mummery
  • Khorasan to al-Quds and the Ghazwa-e-Hind
  • In the last of those I quote from a discussion Ambassador Haqqani had with Bill Roggio:

    And then the other part is this famous Ghazwa-e-Hind, and the Pakistani groups use it – actually, just as jihad is the war, a holy war or war for religious purposes, ghazwa is a battle — and there is ostensibly a saying of prophet Muhammad that before the end times, the final, biggest war between good and evil and between Islam and kufr is going to take place in Hind, which is India, which is the land east of the river Indus.

    So Khorasan takes care of what is today Afghanistan and some parts of central Asia, and all of that – it means a lot to people who believe in it, these end times prophecies etcetera. So one of the unwritten books it has been my desire to write, I wrote a piece on it once, an article I think, which said, that, you know, Americans pay a lot of attention to their own end time prophecies, but getting into that whole theater, they have totally neglected this.

    And so far as recruitment is concerned I am totally agreeing with you, that failure in Afghanistan is going to be a big boon for both. The TTP — the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan — and the Pakistani groups are going to start saying, Right, now is the time to start recruiting, and fighting in that famous Ghazwa-e-Hind –let’s get ready for that. And the Arab groups are going to say, Ah, salvation is coming by joining up with the folks who are fighting in Khorasan.

    You might say there are two “shoes” to the end times jihad — one foot marching from Khorasan / Afghanistan with Jerusalem its objective, the other marching from Pakistan to take India. We have discussed the “army with Black Banners from Khorasan” theme, too, in these pages:

  • Iran or Afghanistan? The Black Flags of Khorasan…
  • Ali Soufan: AQ, Khorasan and the Black Banners
  • The matter of the Black Banners and Benghazi
  • Twitter combat, al-Shabaab, black banners, Tahrir and more
  • An army in Sham, an army in Yemen, and an army in Iraq
  • Those black banners / AQ flags, revisited
  • and pointed to Aaron Zelin, writing on al-Wasat:

  • On Flags, Islamic History, and al-Qa’ida
  • I am always on the alert for news of that second shoe…


    Many people treat Syed Zaid Zaman Hamid, the loudest proponent of the Ghazwa, as a joke — there’s even a satirical blog attacking him — but our blog-friend Omar Ali put things in perspective in a comment here not so long ago:

    The major mistake of Western (and Western educated Pakistani left-liberal academics) is to regard this nonsense as so nonsensical that no sane person could possibly take it seriously.

    Manan Ahmed, a Pakistani historian blogging at Chapati Mystery, describes him as having:

    from most accounts, secured a niche similar to Glenn Beck in Pakistani media – combining ultra-nationalism with a taste for finding Zionist or Hindu involvement in the Pakistani sphere.

    And the “500 Most Influential Muslims” listing for 2013-14 includes him:

    One of the most influential television personalities in Pakistan, Zaid Hamid is a security consultant and strategic defence analyst by profession. He is also a popular political commentator, and is the founder of Brass Tacks, a Pakistani think tank on global politics. Hamid also hosts ‘BrassTacks with Zaid Hamid’ on News1 Channel Although he has been deemed by some as a conspiracy theorist, he maintains a substantial audience.


    It is unlikely that Zaid Hamid would be enthusiastic about Ahrar-ul-Hind, since they are a TTP offshoot and Hamid has decried the TTP as khwarijites, ie sectarian extremists — and also because Hamid clearly sees himself as the leader of the Ghazwa, and Maulana Umar Qasmi, the emir of Ahrar-ul-Hind, is not Syed Zaid Zaman Hamid.

    Nevertheless, the appearance of a group specifically not affiliated with Hamid, but preaching the Ghazwa, may in fact represent a more serious and bdeadly version of Hamd’s vision — for as Omar Ali notes:

    What Zaid Hamid is saying is just an extreme version of the mainstream Paknationalist framework.


    Also of possible note in this context is the late, brilliant, not always reliable Syed Saleem Shahzad‘s interview with Ilyas Kashmiri in Asia Times [Note: 2 pp.], in which the following exchange took place:

    “So should the world expect more Mumbai-like attacks?” I [Shahzad] asked.
    “That was nothing compared to what has already been planned for the future,” Ilyas replied.

    Once again, Bill Roggio noted this particular exchange (making this a triple hat-tip) — though his focus was more on Kashmiri’s interest in the American “far enemy” — in his report on LWJ, Asia Times interviews al Qaeda commander Ilyas Kashmiri.


    Tying Ilyas Kashmiri and AQ’s 313 Brigade more closely into the “Ghazwa e-Hind” context from an Indian perspective, we have this article from Rediff News in 2009:

    Ilyas Kashmiri’s Ghazwa-e-Hind plans to spread terror in India
    Last updated on: October 16, 2009 20:47 IST

    Dreaded terrorist Ilyas Kashmiri runs Al Qaeda’s 313 Brigade. A few weeks ago the United States declared that Kashmiri had been killed in a drone attack. However, Kashmiri resurfaced with an interview to Asia Times this week, declaring he had survived the attack.
    In the interview Kashmiri said the 26/11 Mumbai attacks were nothing compared to what was really planned. While India has maintained that the attacks were masterminded by the Lashkar-e-Tayiba, Kashmiri’s statement has come as a surprise.

    Syed Saleem Shahzad, chief of Asia Times’s Pakistan bureau who interviewed Kashmiri, told rediff.com that the 313 Brigade is Al Qaeda’s commando force which trains youth for terrorist operations.

    Indian Intelligence Bureau sources suspect Kashmiri is planning terror strikes on the lines of the Mumbai attacks, but much larger in scope.

    Kashmiri’s statements indicates that the 313 Brigade was involved in the Mumbai attacks. Indian intelligence sources believe that while the Lashkar undertook a major part of the operation, including identifying the terrorists who participated in the attack, the 313 Brigade was also involved.

    Them’s the breaks, I guess

    Tuesday, July 30th, 2013

    [ by Charles Cameron — a quick round up of prison breaks in Iraq, Libya and NW Pakistan ]

    Mourners pray at the coffin of a victim killed during an attack on a prison in Taji, during a funeral at the Imam Ali shrine in Najaf, 160 km (100 miles) south of Baghdad, July 22, 2013 / credit: Reuters


    On July 22 2013, eight days ago, AP reported Hundreds escape in deadly insurgent attacks on Iraq prisons holding al-Qaeda militants:

    Iraqi security forces locked down areas around the infamous Abu Ghraib prison and another high-security detention facility on Baghdad’s outskirts Monday to hunt for escaped inmates and militants after daring insurgent assaults set hundreds of detainees free.

    Clint Watts quoted Reuters in a post titled Al Qaeda in Iraq’s Prison Break – Not Good!, two days later:

    Monday’s attacks came exactly a year after the leader of al Qaeda’s Iraqi branch, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, launc hed a “Breaking the Walls” campaign that made freeing its imprisoned members a top priority, the group said in a statement.

    and commented:

    Well, at least we didn’t see this coming.

    Laconically, AP also noted:

    Jailbreaks are relatively common in Iraq

    — a phrase eerily reminiscent of AFP’s comment:

    Jailbreaks and prison unrest are relatively common in Iraq

    from way back in 2011, in a piece which included a reference to 2006:

    Zambur said this was the third attempted jailbreak from the prison.

    The first was in 2006, when about 50 members of the Mahdi Army, radical anti-US Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr’s now-deactivated militia, managed to escape.

    Maybe it’s never-ending, this story.


    Wind back just a year from today, though, to Bill Roggio‘s report Al Qaeda in Iraq claims nationwide attacks that killed more than 100 Iraqis in the Long War Journal, July 25, 2012:

    Baghdadi had originally announced the offensive in an audiotape released on July 21, just two days before the attack; it was his first audiotape announcement since becoming emir in 2010.

    “We give you glad tidings of the commencement of a new phase from the phases of our struggle, which we begin with a plan that we have dubbed, ‘Destroying the Gates.’ We remind you of your top priority, which is to release the Muslim prisoners everywhere, and making the pursuit, chase, and killing of their butchers from amongst the judges, detectives, and guard to be on top of the list,” Baghdadi said in the July 21 statement that was translated by the SITE Intelligence Group.

    So there we have it: “to release the Muslim prisoners everywhere” is Baghdadi’s “top priority” for the campaign.

    In the event, the targeting of that first wave of 2012 attacks was more widely drawn:

    In today’s statement, the ISI said that its “War Ministry” organized the offensive and deliberately targeted the military, government agencies, and both Shia and Sunni groups that have opposed al Qaeda.
    “The chosen targets were accurately distributed over governmental headquarters, security and military centers, and the lairs of Rafidah [Shi’ite] evil, heads of the Safavid [Iranian] government and its people, and its Sunni traitor lackeys [Awakening councils and Sunni political parties] who sold the religion, the honor and the land, and made the lands of the Muslims permissible along with their cities to the dirtiest people on the earth and the lowest of evils,” the statement continued.


    About three months later, on October 12, 2012 Roggio wrote in LWJ Al Qaeda in Iraq claims credit for Tikrit jailbreak:

    The Islamic State of Iraq, al Qaeda in Iraq’s political front, claimed credit for a complex assault on the Tasfirat prison in Tikrit that freed more than 100 prisoners, including dozens of terrorists.

    In a statement that was released yesterday on jihadist Internet forums and translated by the SITE Intelligence Group, the Islamic State of Iraq said it executed the Sept. 27 prison break. The terror group said the operation was part of its “Destroying the Walls” campaign, which was announced at the end of July by Abu Du’a, the Islamic State of Iraq’s emir. In that statement, Abu Du’a said that emphasis would be placed on efforts “to release the Muslim prisoners everywhere.”

    Now that’s what you might legitimately call “first priority” targeting.


    So that’s our background, up to about a week ago when the latest Abu Ghraib prison break took place.

    And since then?

    Well, as reported on July 27, More than 1,000 inmates escape from Libyan prison near Benghazi in mass jailbreak — and Reuters reports:

    Officials said there had been an attack on the facility from the outside, as well as a riot


    And AP reported on the 29th, updated early this morning, Pakistani Taliban fighters overwhelmed guards in prison attack:

    DERA ISMAIL KHAN, Pakistan — Prison guards said Tuesday that they were totally overwhelmed when around 150 heavily armed Taliban fighters staged a late-night attack on their jail in northwest Pakistan, freeing over 250 prisoners including over three dozen suspected militants.

    It was the second such attack by the Taliban on a prison in the northwest within the last 18 months. But even so, the security forces were totally unprepared for the raid, despite senior prison officials having received intelligence indicating an attack was likely.

    As Clint Watts said way up above, so say the Pakistani security folk:

    Well, at least we didn’t see this coming.

    Of Omar Hammami — and dying more than once?

    Friday, April 26th, 2013

    [ by Charles Cameron — dying more than once in hadith, in press reports, in Rumi and John of the Cross ]

    The American mujahid in Somalia, Omar Hammami [see his Wikipedia bio], who has been tweeting back and forth with various “U.S. national security professionals” [see this Wired piece], reported yesterday that he had been shot in the neck “by Shabab assassin” [see this piece by Clint Watts at Selected Wisdom]. JM Berger, who has been in close correspondence with him, tweeted:

    Omar has indeed been in dispute with Shabab, the group he originally joined [see this LWJ post], and his own most recent tweets, sent eighteen hours ago as I write this, were these:

    Omar Hammami may or may not still be among us, although recent reports suggest with caveats that he survived the attack…

    That’s the background.


    From my point of view, the most interesting discussion anyone had with Hammami in the last day or two was this exchange between Hammami and Jeremy Scahill, whose book Dirty Wars has just hit the stands:

    Characteristically, Omar has a light tone — yet speaks to the issue in the context of his theology…


    There are, it seems to me, basically three ways that one might imagine dying more than once. The first — and it’s the one Hammami himself was referring to — is found in the hadith in Bukhari [Volume 4, Book 52, Number 54]:

    Narrated Abu Huraira:

    The Prophet said, “… By Him in Whose Hands my life is! I would love to be martyred in Allah’s Cause and then get resurrected and then get martyred, and then get resurrected again and then get martyred and then get resurrected again and then get martyred.

    Let the intensity of that hadith — and Hammami’s reference to it, a little earlier [?] on the same day he was shot — sink in.


    The second, “secular” way to have “died” more than once is through faulty intelligence and / or journalism — and that’s what JM Berger is on about when he tweets:

    Indeed, such reports led to the 2011 release of a nasheed in his name, though he may not have sung it himself:

    Now Hammami has apparently resurfaced, with two new a cappella songs that appeared on the web earlier this week. In “Send Me A Cruise,” Hammami begs to be plastered by a tank shell, a drone attack or a cruise missile, so that he can martyred like some of the heroes he names, including Al Qaeda leaders Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and Abu Laith al-Libi. In his trademark tuneless drone, he claims “an amazing martyrdom” is what he “strive(s) for and adore(s).” “Send me a cruise like Maa’lam Adam al Ansari/ And send me a couple of tons like Zarqawi,” chants Hammami. “Send me four and send me more, that’s what I implore.”

    More generally, false reports of AQ leaders dying hither and yon have become so common that I posted a DoubleQuote about it last year:


    Here’s where it get’s most interesting…

    For a third view of dying more than once, we can turn to the mystical tradition. Thus the Prophet Muhammad is credited with the hadith “Die before death” by Jalaluddin Rumi, who in his Mathnawi, VI, 3837-38 writes:

    The mystery of “Die before death” is this, that the prizes come after dying (and not before).
    Except dying, no other skill avails with God, O artful schemer.

    The death before death here is the death of the nafs, the “self” — the true martyrdom of the greater jihad. As Peter Lamborn Wilson puts it in his Introduction to the Sufi Path:

    Man’s authentic existence is in the Divine; he has a higher Self, which is true; he can attain felicity, even before death (“Die before you die,” said the Prophet). The call comes: to flight, migration, a journey beyond the limitations of world and self.

    Of course, St John of the Cross wrote in much the same vein:

    This life I live in vital strength
    Is loss of life unless I win You:
    And thus to die I shall continue
    Until in You I live at length.
    Listen (my God!) my life is in You.
    This life I do not want, for I
    Am dying that I do not die.

    Khorasan to al-Quds and the Ghazwa-e-Hind

    Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

    [ by Charles Cameron — expecting the unexpected — transcribing Bill Roggio on “something that everyone is overlooking” and Ambassador Haqqani on “one of the unwritten books it has been my desire to write” ]

    I’ve talked about the “Black Banners” hadith and the Mahdi‘s victorious army marching from (roughly) Afghanistan to Jerusalem more than once, and perhaps less frequently, the other prong of the jihad, the Ghazwa-e-Hind, which flows from Pakistan into India. In the video that follows, Bill Roggio of the Long War Journal talks with Husain Haqqani, one-time Pakistani Ambassador to the US — and both have some striking things to say.

    We pick up the conversation close to the end of the first half of a two-tape session at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies — and I’ve provided a transcript after the video, for easier quotation and annotation.



    One of Al-Qaida’s propaganda since it took a beating in Iraq was, that they made the Khorasan, which is an old Islamic empire basically in central Asia and South Asia, they said that this is where we are going to beat them, and once we win in the Khorasan, we’re going to move towards the Levant. So this has become a key part of AQ’s propaganda. What do we think is going to happen when we lose in Afghanistan, when the second superpower loses? That is going to be a huge recruiting boom for foreign terrorists operating in Afghanistan. I think this is something that everyone is overlooking as we’re running for the doors in Afghanistan.

    That’s a pretty powerful prediction, though prediction itself is a high risk enterprise. And it bears repeating that the Khorasan hadith is explicitly an “end times” prophecy. Ambassador Haqqani then doubles up on Bill Roggio’s concern, adding in the Ghazwa-e-Hind, which he describes as both “famous” and “the final, biggest war between good and evil and between Islam and kufr”…

    A lot of people make fun of the Pakistani analyst and Youtube personality, Zaid Hamid, who seems to be the main public proponent of the Ghazwa — take a look here to see a wild sampler! — which is why I find Ambassador Haqqani’s response particularly impactful.


    You know, there are days when I think I should have stayed in the scholarship business and written some of that stuff I was writing at that time. This was one of the things, even before Iraq, I had pointed out. For example, bin Laden had given a statement at that time about Americans being the new Mongols, and nobody could understand what he was talking about, and I said he’s talking about the 1258 conquest of Baghdad, and he’s playing on Islamic history and Islamic mythology.

    And so Khorasan was an important element in that because, if you remember, the Abbasids rose to power through Khorasan, because that was an important element, they overthrew the Umayyads based on the argument that there is a hadith – which in my opinion is of relatively weak significance, but I am taking off my hat of a theologian since I never completed my religious training – but anyway, they used that, that there is a hadith, that the people from Khorasan will come and save the people of the Levant or whatever. And so that was used, and that was used again, and that has been part of the Al-Qaeda thing.

    And then the other part is this famous Ghazwa-e-Hind, and the Pakistani groups use it – actually, just as jihad is the war, a holy war or war for religious purposes, ghazwa is a battle — and there is ostensibly a saying of prophet Muhammad that before the end times, the final, biggest war between good and evil and between Islam and kufr is going to take place in Hind, which is India, which is the land east of the river Indus.

    So Khorasan takes care of what is today Afghanistan and some parts of central Asia, and all of that – it means a lot to people who believe in it, these end times prophecies etcetera. So one of the unwritten books it has been my desire to write, I wrote a piece on it once, an article I think, which said, that, you know, Americans pay a lot of attention to their own end time prophecies, but getting into that whole theater, they have totally neglected this.

    And so far as recruitment is concerned I am totally agreeing with you, that failure in Afghanistan is going to be a big boon for both. The TTP — the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan — and the Pakistani groups are going to start saying, Right, now is the time to start recruiting, and fighting in that famous Ghazwa-e-Hind –let’s get ready for that. And the Arab groups are going to say, Ah, salvation is coming by joining up with the folks who are fighting in Khorasan.

    And both those fronts are going to be a source of a lot of problems.

    Increased jihadist recruitment, and India as a second major front for the jihad — that’s quite a left lead and right cross combo…


    Do you recall the opening of Aldous Huxley‘s final novel, Island?

    “Attention,” a voice began to call, and it was as though an oboe had suddenly become articulate. “Attention,” it repeated in the same high, nasal monotone. “Attention.”

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