Although this blog is primarily concerned with Iraq and Syria when it comes to matters of jihadism, I also generally track what other jihadist groups around the world put out and occasionally issue translations and overviews of such material. Last month al-Qa'ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) issued a statement concerning events in Algeria which I found to be interesting. In short, the statement argues that the people of Algeria need to do away with the ruling system entirely and not be content with a mere 'half-revolution' that might achieve some of the demands of the just protestors and free people of Algeria but in the end can lead to a harsh 'counter-revolution' that makes the situation worse than not having undertaken a revolution at all. AQIM says it suspended operations during the protests to prevent giving the Algerian government and security services a pretext for crackdowns in the name of counter-terrorism. However, the statement alleges various signs of repression and the maintenance of the old system of rule, and AQIM concludes with a call to jihad by various means as well as peaceful protests in order to do away with the system entirely. It is also to be noted that the statement confirms the death of an AQIM commander called 'Abu al-Ashbal al-Maghrebi.'
Below is my full translation of the statement. I have also included explanatory and context notes.
In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
al-Qa'ida in the Islamic Maghreb Organisation
Statement Concerning the Current Jihadist and Political Events in Algeria
Praise be to God who says: 'Were it not that God repelled people through each other, monasteries, churches, synagogues and mosques in which the name of God is mentioned frequently would have been destroyed. And God will certainly support the one who supports Him. Indeed God is powerful, mighty' (al-Hajj: 40).
And prayers and peace be upon the one sent with the truth before the hour and says: he said: 'And by the One in Whose hand is my life, you should indeed command what is right and forbid what is wrong, or indeed God will be about to send upon you a torment from Him, then you pray to Him but there is no response given to you'- narrated by al-Tirmidhi. He also said when he was asked which jihad is most virtuous, he said: 'A word of truth with a tyrannical authority.'
Our free people in Algeria, the people of consideration and review of the reality and history do not disagree that when the peoples undertake a half-revolution, its losses may be greater than those who don't undertake it at all! So these half-revolutions bring back upon them woes and disappointments, as the counter-revolution comes back stronger and fiercer and more tyrannical than what it was upon before! And all the free people have rejoiced at your intifada that has shaken the thrones of the ruling gang in Algeria, and which was a cause in all the free people in the world seeing some of the pillars of the criminal military regime that has made the people of Algeria taste woes plunging down into the darkness of the prisons that they so often filled with the innocents and oppressed. But when the roof of the legitimate demands of your intifada has been limited to reforming the ruling system, and not tearing it out from its roots, the criminal gang has taken inspiration from the Shayateen[i] of the counter-revolution, from the axis of evil in the Arabian Gulf, at the head of whom are 'Ibn Zayed'[ii] and 'Ibn Salman.'[iii]
This gang knew that the intifada does not constitute an existential danger to it, as it does not threaten its interests in-depth, and does not come up against its edifice from the foundations to destroy it. So it has worked to adopt some of the demands of the intifada, not in response to you, but in the framework of the conflict of the wings and leaderships, and to throw some dust over the eyes, and your mujahideen brothers have striven from the first day of your good intifada to support you, and stop any activity that the military gang may take up as a pretext to inflict damage and oppression against you! And despite the peaceful intifada and the lack of presence of what the gang can exploit, we see today and with all regret how it the free and people rising in the intifada are being jailed, on false accusations in reason and law, relying on a man-made constitution, designed on the dimension of the ruling clique, in order to ensure its hegemony and corruption. And what is the recent 'Ouyahia' scandal[iv] but a tip of the iceberg of the corruption spread in this system that has deprived Algerians- and for long decades- from enjoying the great resources of their land? And what is hidden is greater!
Our free people in Algeria, indeed the exit of the general 'Tawfiq'[v] from prison, and the return of the general 'Nezzar,'[vi] at the time in which the prisons of the gang are filled with free people: indeed this is a painful slap in the faces of tens of millions of Algerians to whom the criminality of this gang and its sabotage of religious, social, cultural, economic and political life over the course of decades are no longer hidden. And indeed you are not the only ones who will pay the tax of your silence, but also generations after you will pay it, and for you in the coup of 92[vii] is a lesson!
Indeed the exit of 'Tawfiq' and the return of 'Nezzar' are no less of a burden in the view of every person of mind than the coup of 92, because of its symbolic value and consideration in the turn against the demands of the honest and all the free people from the Algerians, who desire to live in a just system in which the Shari'a should be the rule between the people, and the weak person's right is taken for him from the powerful, a system in which there is no hegemony and sovereignty for the wings and 'lobbies' but rather sovereignty is in the hand of the people in accordance with the law of God Almighty.
And the ruling system has striven to exploit all the political means of leverage, in order to acquire the recognition of the international system, at the head of which is the United States and France, fearing that it will be replaced by another besides it, just as has happened in other countries like Iraq, Yemen and others. So the Tawagheet[viii] of the military strive and in a feverish way to depict themselves as purely devoted servants of the international system by claiming to combat terrorism (Islam). And from that is their mandate to send your sons to fight in the states of Africa instead of the French and European soldiers, and from that also is what the Tawagheet have promoted from seizing a sum of 80,000 euros and their false claim that it is from the money of the exchange operation that our intrepid mujahideen brothers undertook in occupied Mali. So the Tawagheet of the military in Algeria have not left alone any paper to prove their loyalty and to obtain the credentials from their masters in the 'White House' and the 'Élysée Palace'![ix] The matter has reached this point with them for lying and deception!
And despite the halting of our operations against the Tawagheet and their soldiers during the Hirak,[x] in response to the demands of our free people, and to cut the way for the Tawagheet of the military to take revenge on you, as there did not occur from us any operation during the mass demonstrations (despite the slipping away of the control of the Tawagheet at the time), nonetheless the generals are striving in an intense way to terrify the people away from the return of the Hirak, exploiting sometimes the 'corona' epidemic and by claiming to combat terrorism at other times, and this is a lie that no longer deceives anyone!
And the Tawagheet of the military have intensified their campaigns recently in a number of areas of the proud mountains of Algeria, and during these campaigns a number of the soldiers of the criminal gang have been killed and a number of the best of the mujahideen have departed to the positions of the martyrs- we reckon them as such and God is their reckoner- in Jijel[xi] and Taybaza[xii] and Khenchela.[xiii] At the head of them was the working mujahid Sheikh 'Hussein Abu Mousa' al-Jijeli known as 'Abu al-Ashbal al-Maghrebi'[xiv] (may God accept him among the martyrs), while there departed going forth and not fleeing a group of some of his brothers in the defiant 'Jijel' mountains. He left behind him a good heritage of directive, awareness-raising and educational articles. We call on every mujahid and every free person to read them and benefit from them. We ask God that they should be in the balance of the good deeds of that man (may God accept him).
And in this place we offer our sincere condolences to the family and relatives of our brothers who have departed. We ask God Almighty to grant them patience and to bridle their hearts, and to gather them with them in the Hereafter in the Paradise of the Highest Heaven. And we say to the families of our brothers: it is your right to take pride in your sons, who were not content with merely condemning the Tawagheet of the military in heart or tongue, but rather they knew that half-solutions are no use with these people as some of the 'good' or naïve try to imagine, and that the jihad against these people is of the great jihad in this age, and it is like the jihad of Abu Bakr and the Companions with him- may God be pleased with them all- when they protected the religion by their fighting of the traitors and apostates.
And in the same context we would like to make clear to the internal and external public opinion that the recent explosion in which five hunters died and others were injured[xv] in the province of 'Tébessa'[xvi] is rather- according to our reliable sources- a landmine that the mujahideen normally plant in the mountainous and forested regions to protect and guard their positions, and those places are according to the laws of the Tawagheet military zones people are forbidden to enter or explore. But the Tawagheet deliberately send their personnel and helpers to track the footsteps of the mujahideen under the cover of hunting or cutting trees or the like, so they fall by fate into the landmines. For it is not of the disposition or ethics of the mujahideen to kill innocents and defenceless ones of the people as the Tawagheet and their evil media wish to portray the mujahideen, but rather the mujahideen are among the most pious and merciful of the people towards all creation.
And we in this regard direct a general notification to all who enter the prohibited mountainous and forested areas for any person: avoid doing that and keep away from them, for they are laid with mines, laid with mines. Oh God bear witness that we have conveyed.
And in conclusion, we say to our people and our beloved ones in Algeria and in all the countries of the blessed revolutions: indeed your contentment with mere half-revolution and mere half-Hirak will render the old system stronger than it was before, after it gains the immunity and guaranteeing means by the abortion of your blessed revolutions. For as long as you have come out and arisen in the path of God and against oppression, one must enter upon the door of the tyrants, and assault their fortresses, and change the ruling system from their roots, and rebuilding anew, but those things will not happen for the land and the servants, so long as the same hands and faces hold sway and have hegemony over the political, social and cultural life in our countries. For these faces are the creation of the occupation that claimed to leave, but it left for us those who are of our ethnicity and speak in our tongues, and through them it rules and has hegemony over the land, and they are preachers for the gates of hell. Whoso obeys them, they throw him into it. The Almighty has said: 'Two men from those who fear and were blessed by God said: enter upon them through the gate. If you enter it, you are those who overcome. And upon God you should thus rely if you are believers'- (al-Ma'ida: 23).
So these tyrants, half-solutions are no use with them, and here you have begun from now to see some of the ramifications of your return and abandonment of the squares and fields. And you have begun to reap some of the fruits of that, for after the gang made a conciliation with you at the height of the Hirak, there it has returned to bare its teeth, and their prisons have become filled with the free and reformers of you. So by God, by God support your religion, freedom and land.
So oh our people, arise in the revolt of one man, and restore it green again, for whoso is capable of waging jihad against these Tawagheet by the life, let him wage jihad against them. For that is obligatory and only rendered otherwise by inability, and whoso is incapable, let him wage jihad by the money and tongue. And here are your mujahideen brothers who have revolted against this criminal regime since more than a quarter century, so support them and be in their rank. And whoso is capable of marches and sit-ins and demonstrations and the like, let him do those things, for by the peaceful and armed resistance, if God wills, we will regain our rights, for a right behind which a seeker is has not gone to loss.
Oh God the Revealer of the Book, Mover of the Clouds, Harsh of Punishment, and Defeater of the Parties: defeat the soldiers of apostasy and collaboration, and grant us victory over them. Oh God show us among them a black day as the day of 'Ad and Thamud.[xvii] Oh God indeed they have sold the land, and they have oppressed the servants, and they have been tyrannical in the land.
Oh God, show us among them the wonders of Your power. Oh God, indeed they have sold their religion and their Ummah to their masters the Jews and Christians, so expose them on the heads of the crowd, and shake the land from under their feet, and enable the honest ones to overthrow them.
Oh God, give victory to Your religion and Your Book and the Sunna of Your Prophet Muhammad and Your just servants. And God's blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad and all his family and companions and the last of our prayers is that praise be to God the Lord of the Worlds.
al-Qa'ida in the Islamic Maghreb Organisation
Al-Andalus Foundation for Media Production
4 Jumada al-Akhira 1442 AH corresponding to 17 January 2021 CE.
[ii] Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the current president of the United Arab Emirates.
[iii] Muhammad bin Salman, the current crown prince of Saudi Arabia.
[v] Mohamed Mediene, who headed the Algerian state intelligence (DRG) and was imprisoned in 2019 but was acquitted by a military appeals court at the beginning of this year.
[vii] Referring to the Algerian military coup in 1992.
[viii] 'Idolatrous tyrants.'
[ix] The residence of the president of France.
[x] Referring to the popular protest movements in Algeria that arose in 2019.
[xi] Province in northern Algeria on the Mediterranean coast.
[xii] Tipaza: a province in northern Algeria on the Mediterranean coast.
[xiii] Province in northeast Algeria.
[xiv] The news of his death came in late 2020.
[xvi] A province in northeast Algeria on the border with Tunisia.
[xvii] Ancient peoples who are mentioned in the Qur'an were punished by God.