Readers may recall that I interviewed the Gazan jihadi group Jama'at Jaysh al-Islam fi Bayt al-Maqdis ('The Group of the Army of Islam in Jerusalem') in January 2019. During that interview, the group's pro-Islamic State stance became apparent, though the group did not explicitly declare itself under allegiance to the Islamic State.
The new statement issued by the group mourning the deaths of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and its spokesman Abu al-Hassan al-Muhajir fits within this framework. The statement does not describe Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as caliph of the Muslims but speaks in very positive terms about him. Meanwhile, the statement affirms the need for the monotheist mujahideen to be united against the disbelievers waging war against them, and the monotheists should not think the cause of the religion somehow ends with the death of Baghdadi and Muhajir, just as it did not end with the death of the Prophet Muhammad.
Below is the statement translated in full. Any parenthetical insertions in square brackets are my own.
In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
Date: 3 Rabi' al-Awal 1441 AH
'If Muhammad has died, God lives and does not die.'
Praise be to God the Lord of the Worlds and prayers and peace be upon the master of those sent and all his family and companions, and the one who follows them with ihsan to the Day of Judgement. As for what follows:
Verily the eye sheds tears and the heart is sad at the loss of the two mujahid sheikhs, the heroic amir Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi the amir of the Islamic State, and the official spokesman for the Dawla [Islamic State] Sheikh Abu al-Hassan al-Muhajir (may God have mercy on them both), but we only say what pleases our Lord: to God we belong and to Him do we return. And for every monotheist in the words of the first rightly-guided Caliph Abu Bakr al-Siddiq (may God be pleased with him) are consolidation and consolation- on the event of the killing of two knights of glory in the time of humiliation and degradation (thus we reckon them and God is their reckoner and we do not vouch for anyone over God)- when he said to the second Caliph Omar bin al-Khattab and those with him of the Companions (may God be pleased with them): 'Whoso has been worshipping Muhammad, Muhammad has died. And whoso has been worshipping God, God is alive and does not die.' Then he recited the Almighty's words: 'Indeed you are dead and indeed they are dead.' So, oh monotheists in ever place, let not the news of the killing of the two beloved ones make you say or do what angers God Almighty. And ask God Almighty to grant them the highest level of Paradise for what they offered to Islam and Muslims despite the haughtiness of those who curse from every path and creed. And we in Jama'at Jaysh al-Islam as amir and soldiers affirm the following:
1. Embrace endurance oh monotheists, for the killing of the two sheikhs is of the tribulation that is embodied in the loss of lives and other things. God Almighty has said: 'And do not say to those who have been killed in the path of God: they are dead. But rather they are living. But you do not realize. And indeed We test you with something of fear, hunger, and loss of wealth and lives and fruits. And give good tidings to those who endure.'
2. The religion of God remains and God Almighty will make it supreme over all religion in glorious might or lowly humiliation. So the supremacy of the religion of God Almighty over all religion and its remaining do not depend on the life or death of a mujahid, for the remaining of the religion of God Almighty and its supremacy did not stop for the death of the Prophet (SAWS) so why should you think of others besides him?
3. The killing of the two sheikhs is only one of the forms of the gathering of the disbelievers and their fight against the mujahideen monotheists with one hand, and in this are a lesson and admonition for those who differentiate among the mujahideen for flimsy reasons that go back to ignorance and whim of the soul. And the remedy for that is in clinging to God's rope and taking down those sowers of corruption.
4. The killing of the two sheikhs is but one of the forms of the clarity and firmness the enemies display in waging war against the monotheist mujahideen. And in this are a lesson and admonition for those who bear what they believe upon shame or fear, that they may settle their matter and be as clear as the Sun in broad daylight in the religion of God and following it and bearing its costs, so there is no place for the one who causes takhdil [i.e. causes people to fall short and abandon] and the one who causes irjaf [i.e. causes consternation and demoralization].
So by God we ask Him to have mercy on the two sheikhs and accept them among the martyrs and reward them best for what they offered for the two are of the riding camels in this time. Oh God, prepare for the Islamic Ummah a substitute for them, better than the two of them. Indeed You are the Granter.
God Almighty has said: 'Those who have done wrong will know what their return will be.'
And God's blessing and salutations be upon his Prophet Muhamad, his family and companions.
Jama'at Jaysh al-Islam