For prior parts in this series, see here.
This piece is a refutation of Abd al-Rahim Atoun's "The Six Issues" by al-Qaeda loyalist Sami al-Oraidi, who makes the following key criticisms:
- Atoun is actually the one acting like the Islamic State's leaders in his threatening language.
- Atoun is inconsistent and contradicting himself on multiple issues. For instance, his logic on the military council goes against past behaviour when e.g. Jabhat al-Nusra rejected joining the Islamic Front coalition in 2013 and withdrew from the north Aleppo countryside in rejection of fighting against Islamic State with direct Turkish backing alongside Syrian rebels.
- Abu al-Khayr al-Masri did not rule that the weapons belong to Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS). Even if he did, the appropriate action is to resort to independent arbitration. HTS' leaders have the relevant documentation.
- After al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri's message had come in which he affirmed his rejection of the Jabhat Fatah al-Sham project (the immediate predecessor to HTS), HTS leader Abu Muhammad al-Jowlani (who then led Jabhat Fatah al-Sham) apparently pledged to cease proceeding on breaking ties and pledged to take any further steps only after referral to the al-Qaeda leader and obtaining his agreement.
Below is my full translation of the document. Any parenthetical insertions in square brackets are my own.
Firm words in refuting the words of Sheikh Abd al-Rahim Atoun on The Six Issues
Praise be to God and it has sufficed and peace be upon His servants He has chosen. As for what follows:
I have reviewed the words of Sheikh Abd al-Rahim Atoun in his message "The Six Issues" and I have seen in them errors such that one must respond to them and make clear what we see in truth in these matters through the following points:
1. I am most surprised that he should issue the likes of these words, threats, intimidation and crude words from Sheikh Atoun raising the banner of fiqh of mumkin and mutah and ability and inability and balances and interest these days: broadcast in his recent writings.
For his mujahideen brothers who are asking them to resolve the issues on which there is disagreement through the judiciary and resorting to arbitration and referral back to the 'ulama are more entitled to use this fiqh than the enemies, and God is the One whose help is to be sought, but as has been said: live in fear and you see the wondrous!
2. This is advice to Sheikh Abd al-Rahim Atoun: he should revisit his old interpretations before speaking or writing, for on review- even superficial- of your writings, one can know the extent of inconsistency the sheikh has reached (God forgive us and him), and this issue is an example of that. Do you not see, oh sheikh, that you are contradicting your words by which you refuted the doubt of the Dawla organization [Islamic State] in your words: "Indeed you should make it clear to the people"? For you established in them the issue of referral to the Ahl al-'Ilm and at the head of them Sheikh Abu Qatada al-Falastini and Sheikh al-Maqdisi, and you contradict your words on the issue of allegiance that you brought forth in your response to Sheikh Abu Baseer al-Tartousi and much else besides that.
3. Do you not see, oh Sheikh Abd al-Rahim Atoun, that in these writings of yours you are assuming the role of al-Adnani and the leaders of the Dawla organization and their threats and method? Look at your threat and intimidation and look at your denial and rejection of our request to resolve the issue through the independent judiciary via the 'ulama. Does not your proposition today and their proposition yesterday come out from one lamp stand? I do not know in truth whether it is as some of the brothers say: as though the mubahala struck you and struck al-Adnani. We ask God for enduring sufficiency.
And I advise you before leaving this point to hear the words of Dr. Ayman (may God protect him) issued yesterday as "Sabeel al-Khalas."
4. It is to be noted in the article of Sheikh Atoun (The Six Issues) his use of the method of those who cannot face the truth and come down to independent judiciary by using the method of imputing meaning to the words of the one who disagrees besides what he means and attributing words to him that he did not say. For our words are very clear, arising on the basis of rejecting what you have begun to spread from a new project and demanding our weapons and our rights through the judiciary so we may complete our jihad far removed from caving in to regional pressure. So why do you attribute to us what we did not say?!
5. Concerning Sheikh Atoun's focus on the doubt that Sheikh Abu al-Khayr had established the arms belong to them! This is a claim, and we have claims and other proofs that contradict that, which we will show when you accept to meet for judgement or if compelled. For we consider that this claim and this doubt are not correct and you have no proof in it and I advise you here to go and review the correspondences that you usurped when we were arrested, for they are with your amir al-Jowlani and Abu Ahmad Hudud, in which you will find what falsifies your claims and annuls them by God's permission.
6. Even if we concede for the sake of argument and concede to your claims that Sheikh Abu al-Khayr had established and judged the issue organizationally, I say (even if we concede this): don't you know, oh Atoun, that our rights in what is before you are on three types:
Type One: Special Rights
Type Two: General Rights or General Right
Type Three: Right of Organization
So we were to accept the soundness of your words- and we do not accept that- come to resort to arbitration and judgement with the 'ulama in the rest of rights.
7. Regarding the refutation of your words on the subject of breaking ties and annulling the allegiance pledge, Dr. Ayman (may God protect him) has responded to you in his speech "Let us fight them as a structured edifice." And I have refuted that- by God's grace- in what I wrote under the title "For God then for history."
And I add here a new point here for God then for history:
Oh Sheikh Atoun, did not your amir al-Jowlani pledge to Sheikh Ayman (may God protect him) after the first message rejecting the announcement of Fatah al-Sham and before the announcement of the commission: did he not pledge to him in a message that we have reviewed that he would cease proceeding on breaking ties and would not adopt any step on this issue until he goes back to Dr. Zawahiri and obtains his agreement!!
Have you fulfilled this pledge of yours??!!
And do not say that that came after steps you could not go back on but rather it came before any step in the project of the commission. So this is a new annulment of the pact to be added to your register and God is the One whose help is to be sought.
Then see how you annulled the allegiance pledge and broke the wholesale ties without recourse to him and not even with the agreement of Sheikh Abu al-Khayr? For Sheikh Abu al-Khayr said: go back to Dr. Ayman, and he (may God have mercy on him) informed me of that and some of your leaders informed me of it. And this is what he wrote in his last message before his death and it is among you in the register of messages usurped when we were arrested, so go back to it.
And see how you broke in an organization sense and Sheikh Abu al-Khayr was among you and did not know of that except through media means? And when you sat with him 17 days later approximately he said to you the matter should be referred to Dr. Ayman.
Oh Sheikh Atoun, you may be able to get through these words of yours to a person who does not have review over the details and minutiae of events but you cannot get it through to the one who has lived through that stage in its small and large details. For these words of yours will only make you fall further in their view for what they know from your contravention of the facts (may God forgive us and you).
And you know oh Atoun that we have not mentioned all we know from facts and messages about the subject.
8a) As for the issue of resorting to the judgement of the 'ulama or the Ministry of Justice in the liberated areas, I say oh Sheikh Atoun you know that this issue is an issue of resorting to arbitration as a number of the 'ulama have established in their response to our request, so let us sit down and choose who will rule between us. you choose from the Ministry of Justice for this is your right and it is of our right to choose from the 'ulama to judge the case, and we announce our acceptance of what is issued from judiciary from the independent committee of implementing the ruling established by the choice of the two sides.
b) Oh Sheikh Atoun, what is the difference between these words of yours and the words of the leaders of the Dawla organization who rejected resorting to arbitration or independent judiciary with the factions in the beginning of their fitna, except in the courts of the Dawla organization.
c) Sheikh Atoun made clear in the case of Abu Khattab al-Urduni's diminishing the place of the Prophet (SAWS) and characterizing him in oppression (and refuge is to be sought in God) that they contacted a number of those pointed to in the statement from the mashaykh of knowledge in the Islamic world and they investigated the issue with them. Also you have made clear you had recourse in inserting the Turkish points to one of the eminent mashayakh and you said to him that they are limited and confined, but the contrary of that has become apparent to all.
So as you had recourse in these issues to the 'ulama in the Islamic world, we let us have recourse in this issue likewise to them.
9. Atoun's focus on the use of the method of intellectual and physical terrorism is a method that does not concord between the mujahideen brothers and shows the disturbance of the one who does it and the weakness of his proof.
For Atoun focused on the case of arms as a settled issue in reason, law, convention, and organization etc.
Even if it were like that, come, let us sit among independent judiciary and show the falsehood of referral of the case from its foundation among the judges, and seek your right from us in that we have asked you for what is not ours among you and we are prepared for what the judiciary will rule in this regard.
10. Regarding the military council, we will work in the field militarily with the operations room "Wa Harridh al-Mu'mineen" [operations room comprising Hurras al-Din, Ansar al-Islam and Jabhat Ansar al-Din] and it has its military project.
And in regards to refutation of what Sheikh Atoun mentioned on this point, I find nothing better than Atoun's advice to go back to the muzawadat (as he describes it in his article)!! He mentioned these muzawadat in his letter "In the shade of the big tree of jihad" and the "Audio interview with al-Manara Foundation After the Withdrawal of Jabhat al-Nusra from the Northern Countryside." And the muzawadat of his leadership- as he describes it in his article- in rejecting the project of the Islamic Front and their response to the revolutionary honour covenant and other things besides that. For in them is what refutes his words entirely.
11. Regarding the refutation of his words on the issue of opening up the international routes and that the highway and international routes have been open for years. If the reality is as Atoun mentioned then why all this media mobilization by leaders in the commission and their condemnation of the one who attributed that to the leadership of the commission and charging the one who asserts it of lying and describing them with strong expressions!!
So are these leaders absented from the reality and do not know that the routes are open such that they come out with the likes of those statements? If it is as such, that is a calamity, and if otherwise, the calamity is greater?!
Then oh Sheikh Atoun, your talk about opening the international routes with this simplicity does not concord with a student of knowledge and leader in the field and I transmit to you the words of Sheikh Dr. Abu Abdullah al-Fajr in the statement of that when he (may God protect him) said:
"Delusional is the one who thinks that the political impact of opening the international routes in considering it one of the clauses of Sochi differs from the political impact of opening the Nasib crossing or reopening the embassies with the regime of collaboration, for all of them contribute to the re-operation of the Ba'athist regime and legitimizing the occupation of its masters."
12. Sheikh Atoun's words in "The Six Issues" included the suggestion of greater issues connected with the fate of what remains of mujahideen, so why does this issue remain under the table until the time of implementation comes?!
For the principle in these issues is that they should be referred to the Ahl al-'Ilm and expertise and truth in Islamic knowledge to make clear the ruling of God on them.
And in conclusion
We can respond to the threat and intimidation with threat and intimidation, but this is not our manhaj and we were not raised on it so as to counter the one who seeks us for judgement with threat and intimidation! For this is the manhaj of al-Baghdadi and al-Adnani and we know the outcomes and impact of that. So it has been necessary for Sheikh Atoun and the leadership of the commission to consider it, for the field cannot bear new fighting in particular among brothers who were yesterday under one roof, so it is better for our brothers in the commission leadership to accept independent judiciary that will review the issues and rights that are disputed, better than threats. For they know we were not interested in al-Adnani's threat before them so why they do repeat the same method?! And God is the One whose help is to be sought and He is our reliance and suffices as trustee.
And we say to our brothers the soldiers of HTS you are our brothers in religion and the disagreement is not with you. For we are showing our Shari'i position on the new project, and we demand our right in arms and rights, for we consider that we have a right in that, just as you have a right in it, and we ask you oh our brothers to make us and the leadership of the commission embrace resolution of the issues of dispute through the judiciary among the Rabani 'ulama.
And we repeat our demand from the brother Jowlani to agree to meet for the judiciary among the 'ulama whom we have mentioned and others besides them, for we want to resolve our cases through the judiciary among the 'ulama as Jowlani himself demanded from the Dawla organization at the beginning of their fitna.
So will he respond to what he was demanding of others besides him?
We await the response.
Written by Dr. Sami al-Oraidi Abu Mahmoud al-Shami
1 Jumada al-Akhir 1440 AH