Unsurprisingly, the recent escalation of conflict in Israel and the Palestinian territories has attracted global attention, and it is no wonder that al-Qa'ida feels compelled to comment on the matter. The group's general command has issued a lengthy statement that can be summarised as follows:
(i) The events come as the mujahideen have been making advances elsewhere in the Muslim world against the 'Crusaders' and their allies, most notably in Afghanistan with the impending American withdrawal.
(ii) The Jews thought they could Judaify the minds of the generation of Palestinian Muslims who grew up after the 1967 war, but they have proven defiant and they are a generation that has its faith and believes in martyrdom and jihad. Their level of sacrifice and determination is something from which al-Qa'ida learns as it confronts the same 'Zio-Crusader' enemy elsewhere in the world.
(iii) The enemy would like the cause of Palestine to be confined to the Palestinians alone, but the necessity is for the Muslim Ummah to realise this is a cause of the entire Ummah and efforts shoudl be expended in that regard. The Ummah cannot abandon the people of Palestine: it must wage jihad in support of Palestine and all the causes of the Ummah. Liberating Palestine is connected with the wider cause of liberating the Ummah from American hegemony. Affiliates of al-Qa'ida should continue operations in line with the series on preventing the Judaification of al-Quds (Jerusalem).
(iv) Some Arab rulers have normalised their relations with the Jews, but the Jews (deemed in the statement 'brothers of apes and pigs' more than once) are a people with whom there cannot be peace, as they have never had peace with God and His prophets.
(v) Condolences to the people of Gaza on the 'martyrdom' of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades commander Basim Eisa ('Abu Emad'). This clarifies a distinction al-Qa'ida and many of its supporters make between Hamas and its military wing. Whereas the Hamas government is criticised for not implementing Islamic law fully and is seen by many al-Qa'ida supporters as an apostate government, takfir is not similarly applied to Hamas' military wing (cf. here).
Below is the statement translated in full. I have inserted some endnotes for context.
In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
Qa'idat al-Jihad: General Command
Love and veneration and support for our people in Palestine
Praise be to God who says in His Book: 'And when the second promise came, [we sent them] to sadden your faces and to enter the mosque just as they entered it the first time and to destroy completely what they had seized.'[i] And prayers and peace be upon our Prophet Muhammad the Imam of the mujahideen, the leader of the brave fortunate ones, who waged jihad for God's sake as per His right, and warned his Ummah about abandoning it, as he said: 'A people have not abandoned jihad in the path of God without being humiliated.' And prayers and peace be upon his good and pure family. As for what follows:
With the beginning of the blessed month of Ramadan in which our Muhammadan Ummah was blessed with the conquests of Afghanistan, Somalia and the Maghreb of Islam and the rest of the fighting fronts, and with the succession of Islamic victories and their following one after another with the fall of the Crusader forts and fortresses in the hands of the soldiers of the Islamic Emirate, and at the time in which God has determined on the Americans withdrawal from the land of Khorasan,[ii] after two decades in which they thought that their fortresses made them immune from God, the breezes of the pride of faith have been blowing on our precious Ummah with an uprising and jihad of our noble courageous people in Bayt al-Maqdis[iii] and defiant Gaza and the West Bank and lands occupied in 48[iv] against the brothers of the apes and pigs from the Zionist Jews, in order to reach our Islamic Ummah a lesson that affirms that the people of Islam in the holy land that God has blessed for the worlds are the valves of trust and the protectors of the al-Aqsa Mosque, and that the good in this Ummah is like the rain, where it is not known if its beginning is better than its end, and that these great sacrifices that have lit up with the beginning of the month of fasting and jihad at Bab al-Amoud,[v] and intensified in the last ten days of it at the blessed al-Aqsa Mosque and from it to Gaza of support and the rest of the areas of usurped Palestine. As a result, these sacrifices have destroyed among the Jews their deceptive plans that they wanted to lead to the Ummah in the name of peaceful co-existence with the Palestinians, as they were betting on the sons of the generation that grew up after the 67 war in that they should shape the according to the Jewish culture by Judaifying their minds and traditions, but their heroisms have come in this noble month to prove that this courageous generation is more obstinate and more powerfully determined, for it is the one that has resisted the Jews in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood with unrivalled intrepidness, and has fought against it with courage in the courtyards of the al-Aqsa Mosque, and has confronted it with stones and shoes shouting in their face with the takbir and tahlil,[vi] in nights in which the angels and spirit descend by the permission of their Lord. Then the help and support came from defiant Gaza to strike with the blessed missiles of its mujahideen the fortresses of the Zionists, and this is what the governments and armies of shame and betrayal in the Islamic states have been incapable of doing, then the descendants of Salah al-Din in the rest of the blessed lands of Palestine held firmly together indicating the launching of the third al-Aqsa intifada that we ask God to be the beginning of the end of the tyranny of the Zionists. Truly this generation is one of the clear signs of God in this era, and one of its proofs against the rest of the nations. Indeed it is a generation that does not fear death and is not terrified of perdition, a generation that hopes for martyrdom in the path of God and exposes itself to it with all confidence and certainty; a generation supreme in its faith and determination against all colours of Jewish arrogance and aggression. So perhaps it will be the generation that God has ennobled in addition to its life in jihad against the Jews who will enter the mosque as their predecessors entered it the first time to destroy what the Jews had seized.
And we in this context send the most exalted letters of veneration and esteem and love to the place of our outstanding people in Bayt al-Maqdis, who are confronting the Zionists in the maharib[vii] and they only have the prayer rugs and Qur'ans in their hands, and to the place of our defiant people in mighty Gaza and its courageous mujahideen and our people in all of usurped Palestine whose Islamic zeal has meant they have refused to stand as bystanders over what is happening in al-Quds, so they have rushed to support their religion and their holy sites. And we say to them with all trust and honesty: we know that you do not need from us words of support and help and strengthening, for you are proceeding in your sacrifices upon evidence from God, and indeed we are the ones learning from you patience, steadfastness and jihad, but we stand today in front of you as those glorifying, venerating, loving and respecting on account of what we have seen from you in terms of great sacrifices, and God bears witness that we have stood in our frontlines dazzled by the solidity of your determination, and it provides us with deep provision from the honesty of your energy. So oh God how much zeal and determination has been woken up in us by those pure smiles that have come upon the mouths of those taken prisoner on the steps of al-Aqsa, and oh God how much life has been revived in us by your takbirs and cries in swearing sacrifice and your songs ('Khaybar Khaybar oh Jews, the army of Muhammad will return'). And how much our hearts have been healed by the launching of your jihadist missiles against the Zionists to make them taste some of what they have made the Islamic Ummah and our people in Palestine taste, and how much we have been hoping- and God bears witness- to sacrifice ourselves for you and to attain with you that great reward. And our consolation is what we are confronting the same enemy that confronts you in multiple fields, and the war in them between us and the Zio-Crusader enemy is open with no limits for it. We ask God Almighty to make use of us and the Ummah in defending you and avenging for you and dispersing the might of the enemy against you.
Our precious Ummah, indeed this jihadist leap from our people and our brothers on the land of the masra[viii] of our beloved Messenger (SAWS), shows clearly that our people in mighty Palestine are divinely qualified for jihad in the path of God, and that they have not deserved the honour of entry and residence in the holy land except for the wisdom of God as they are of the soldiers of God and His implantation that puts them to use in obedience to Him, and we ask that they should be the first of the people to defend the heart of al-Sham,[ix] the indication of whose distinguished place and station has been brought by the prophetic hadiths. And indeed these noble sacrifices confirm the truth of that by which the news has been established in that the angels are spreading their wings over this blessed region and this defiant mujahid people, so may you be proud, our Ummah, of this noble people, and may you stand with it in all you have been granted from force and power in defending it and its land and rights, and may you know, our Ummah, that among the aims of the enemy is to confine this course to our people in Palestine alone, so that the Jews and Crusaders may avoid their conflict with more than 1.5 billion Muslims on the face of the earth, but the wisdom of God (Almighty and Exalted is He) has demanded that the al-Aqsa Mosque should be the pivotal cause of the entire Ummah from is furthest end to its furthest end, so that every Muslim on the face of the Earth should obtain the honour of participating in the jihad and defending the al-Aqsa Mosque and the holy land. And therefore we confirm always with all that our jihadist words possess from meanings of force and might that the cause of Islam in al-Quds and Palestine is not only a cause of the Palestinians, but also it is a cause of the Muslims and the entire Ummah, because it is the masra of the Messenger of the Ummah and his inheritance, for indeed the holiness of the al-Aqsa Mosque and the holy land has not come from the fact that its people and inhabitants are Palestinians, but rather this holiness has come and become implanted in our hearts because we are the Ummah of Islam that has believed in what has come in the Book of its Almighty Lord and the Sunna of its Prophet (SAWS) regarding a distinguished place for the al-Aqsa Mosque and the holy land.
Our beloved precious Ummah: indeed God Almighty has entrusted you to lead the world and its policy and oversee its affairs as He has made you the best of the nations, so you truly are the Ummah suitable to bear witness over the nations by the text of the words of God in which there is no doubt. And you are the Ummah of da'wa and the Ummah of jihad in the path of God as God (Almighty and Exalted is He) has said, so there is no surprise that you should be the Ummah entrusted to establish the religion of God in the land and reform the affairs of the world. So be, our Ummah, on complete readiness in all circumstances to confront the emergencies so that you should not be taken by surprise. And this means that you should take the initiative in making the preparations that God has commanded in His Book as the Almighty has said: 'And prepare for them what you can from force and tying of horses by which you may terrify the enemy of God and your enemy.'[x] So every enemy of God like the Jews is an enemy of us, and indeed the great capabilities that you possess, and the abundant capabilities that you hold, only require you to exploit them well, for if they were to be exploited well, they would actively contribute to changing the reality of the Ummah from weakness and degradation to force and mastery. So here today are our children, youth, and mujahideen in Palestine, despite the forsaking and betrayal of the states and systems and the negligence of the governments and commissions to support them, they are nonetheless not neglecting any means to deter the Zionist enemy from its arrogance even if it is a shoe and stone, which makes no difference with regards to the deadly weapons that the Jews use, and they have in that the example of the Prophet of God David (peace be upon him) when he stood in the face of Goliath the enemy of God and pelted him with a slingshot that was in his hand, so he wounded him in the top of his head and killed him. Therefore the most determined of the believers will not lack the means in fighting the enemies however weak and ineffective it may seem to be in the eyes of the others. For the intention is that they should inflict a blow on their enemy and make him feel that he is always threatened as the Almighty has said: 'And that is in that they are not struck by thirst or hunger in the path of God and they do not tread on a place that enrages the disbelievers and they do not inflict a blow on an enemy except it has been recorded for them as a just deed. Indeed God does not make the reward of those who do good go to waste.'[xi]
Our Muslim Ummah, indeed leaving alone the brothers of apes and pigs in the alliance with the forces of disbelief and the Zionists of the Arabs who are tearing apart the bodies of our children and women in Palestine and destroying the homes over their heads and burning their mosques and desecrating their Qur'ans without mobilising to support them with lives and wealth: this is shame and forsaking that necessitate the revenge of the Mighty, so beware lest we should be of those about whom God has said: 'If you do not go forth, He will torment you with a painful torment you and He will replace you with a people besides you and you cannot do Him any harm.'[xii]
So oh Muslims in every place, this is a call from your brothers in the leadership of Qa'ida al-Jihad for war and the greater jihad to support the cause of Islam in Palestine, and to support all the causes of the Ummah, for our first cause in al-Quds is but an important part of the most important of your Islamic obligations, and liberating it is connected with the liberation of the Ummah and freeing it from the American hegemony whose criminal president has declared that the killing of children and women in Gaza is not a disproportionate response, and the tyranny of its agents against the Islamic peoples from the Arab Zionists who have equated between the flayer and the victim and indeed have supported them in their evil attacks, so the true believer is the one who stands with the entire Ummah, and supports all its blood without arbitrary distinction between blood and blood. So be servants of God, people of strong might, for indeed you are a greater terror in their hearts than God.[xiii] And in this place we direct the call to all the mujahideen of Qa'idat al-Jihad in all the frontlines for the necessity of continuing the series of jihadist operations- 'al-Quds will not be Judaified'- so perhaps God will heal by your aids the hearts of our brothers in Palestine from the criminal Zionists and their American supports and the wretched Zionists of the Arabs.
And let there be in the table of your jihadist works the exposure of the plans of the traitors of the masra of our beloved Messenger (SAWS) and standing with determination against them, and in the forefront of them the betrayals of the Zionists of the Arabs- the Sa'ud family,[xiv] the Zayed family,[xv] the Khalifa family,[xvi] al-Sisi and Muhammad VI[xvii]- for they are of greater kufr and hypocrisy and it is more likely that they do not know the limits of what God has brought down,[xviii] and indeed they seek to deceive the Ummah with the deception of normalisation and peace with those who have fallen into disfavour, in the hope of reviving the Jews of the Banu Qurayza anew, and restoring the outline of their maternal uncles from the Banu al-Nadhir and the Banu Qaynuqa' to the region again.[xix] And indeed these Jews have never been conciliatory and have never normalised their relations with the Lord of the Worlds (Exalted is He in His Majesty) as the Almighty has said: 'And the Jews have said: the hand of God is shackled.'[xx] And they are 'those who have said that God is poor and we are rich.'[xxi] So how can peace come with a nation that did not make peace with the prophets as they killed them and cut them with saws, and accused them of gross immoralities and great sins, and stirred up against them the forces of kufr and supported them? Are we to expect from them after all this that they should peace with the people of Islam?!!
So oh people of jihad and war in the path of God in all the regions: the path has become clear, so might is might, and fighting is fighting. Plunge in groups or plunge all together into the fortresses of the Jews with iron and fire, and peer around with proactive strikes in the abode, and completely destroy their military bases that you have seized. Bring down the Crusaders from their spurs, and strike terror into their hearts. And lie in wait for the Zionists everywhere, and set upon them the horses, riders and commandoes that you may sadden their faces, so perhaps you will kill a group of them and you take prisoner another group.
And to conclude, we send our regards, indeed our congratulations to our people in Palestine for their outstanding martyrs, at the head of whom is the heroic leader Basim Eisa ('Abu Emad'), whom we reckon that the Lord has chosen in these blessed days to be of the purity of His creation among those who defend the religion and holy sites and offer in the path of that what is precious and dear. So God accept them in lofty abodes, and the make high their rack in the worlds, and leave behind good in succession to them among their people. And God is greatest and glory belongs to God, His Messenger and the believers but most of the people do not know. And praise be to God the Lord of the Worlds.
Qa'idat al-Jihad: General Command
Shawwal 1442 AH/May 2021 CE.
[i] Qur'an 17:7.
[iv] Referring to the war in 1948.
[v] The Damascus Gate in Jerusalem.
[vi] Saying 'there is no deity but God' (la ilaha ill Allah).
[vii] Part of the mosque.
[viii] Refers to the site of the al-Aqsa Mosque and its association with the Prophet's night journey
[ix] The greater Levant region.
[x] Qur'an 8:60.
[xi] Qur'an 9:120.
[xii] Qur'an 9:39.
[xiii] Cf. Qur'an 59:13.
[xiv] The ruling family of Saudi Arabia.
[xv] The ruling family of the United Arab Emirates.
[xvi] The ruling family of Bahrain.
[xvii] The monarch of Morocco.
[xviii] Cf. Qur'an 9:97.
[xix] The three Jewish tribes of Yathrib/Medina who came into conflict with the Prophet Muhammad and were eventually expelled (Banu Qaynuqa' and Banu al-Nadhir) or massacred and enslaved (Banu Qurayza).
[xx] Qur'an 5:64.
[xxi] Qur'an 3:181.