May 8, 2009
A 29-page Arabic-language book entitled Sharpening the Blades in the Battle Against the Government and Army of Pakistan was released by al-Fajr Media Center on April 30. The author is Abu Yahya al-Libi, a leading al-Qaeda ideologue and Pakistan-based member of al-Qaeda’s core leadership.
Most of Abu Yahya’s work is dedicated to vilification of Pakistan’s security services, and condemning the army, intelligence agencies and police as collaborators in “the non-believer alliance that is waging war on the religion of Islam”, saying “They have established military bases and private air spaces for the various types of aircrafts of the disbelievers. They have facilitated and protected their supply lines and set up prisons to detain the monotheist believers…There is no doubt after this that this criminal army is an accomplice to the Christian armies in the crimes they carry out. They are their accomplices, and the punishment will be jihad against them.”
Abu Yahya calls on scholars of religion to promote jihad in preparation for a decisive battle against the disbelievers. “This is an invitation for the virtuous scholars of Pakistan and their righteous proselytizers to recognize the responsibility they have in inciting the believers to fight, and that the day of epic and dire meeting is coming, regardless of how hard we try to postpone or avoid it.”
The al-Qaeda leader outlines three reasons to fight the Pakistani military and “the rest of the institutions that are considered the pillars of their tyranny”:
1. Islamic scholars are agreed that non-believing rulers must be removed from power. “The non-believer (whether he is a non-believer to begin with or an apostate) is an object of humiliation and contempt, inferiority and lowliness.” Abu Yahya insists that Salafists have always taken the lead in preventing non-believers from assuming power in Muslim communities. Abu Yahya takes care to present the arguments made by famous religious scholars in support of overthrowing non-believers, relying heavily on the works of Hanafi scholars (the dominant school of Islamic jurisprudence in Pakistan) such as Abu Bakr al-Jassas al-Hanafi (d.961), Imam Ja’afar Al-Tahawi (d.935) and Ali ibn Sultan al-Qari (d.1605).
According to Abu Yahya, the president of Pakistan is just another in the line of non-believers, arguing, “If Muslims in Pakistan are ordered by the Shari’a to remove those non-believing and corrupt rulers, it will be achieved only through fighting their army and intelligence services that defend and protect them, strengthen their power, stand in the path of Muslims, and prevent them from fulfilling their duty.” Abu Yahya dismisses the idea that the army provides collective security to the Muslim community and should not be fought as contradictory. “How would [Shari’a] order us to disavow a non-believer’s rule over us and at the same time forbid us from that because the non-believing ruler’s group that defends him pretends to be Muslim, or is Muslim?” Abu Yahya notes the Pakistani armed forces are a volunteer force and thus their members are legitimate targets for the mujahideen.
2. The Pakistan Army rejects Islamic law. Abu Yahya says the army and intelligence services do not abide by most Islamic teachings and use all their power to prevent the implementation of Shari’a.
Abu Yahya makes numerous appeals for believers to attack NATO supply lines running through Pakistan. “[The government] opened the doors of supplies to the occupying enemy so that now more than 80 percent of its military, logistics and other supplies come through Pakistan, under the protection of the Pakistani army… These forces guarded their convoys, military bases, and secret prisons, and were used to pursue the mujahideen wherever they are- directly handing them over to Christian America to violate their honor and desecrate the book of God before their eyes to spite them.”
3. The Pakistan Army is an enemy that assaults Islam and must be fought. Abu Yahya accuses the military and the security services of Pakistan of invading homes, demolishing houses and torturing men and women. “It is needless to wait for them to launch a new assault. I want to emphasize that it is imperative for people to be compelled to fight these sects [i.e. the security services]. The fight is not limited to Waziristan, Peshawar, Suhat or other places, but extends to every speck of Pakistani territory.” Abu Yahya sees no difference between the current situation and that encountered at the time of the “apostate communist Russian occupation of Afghanistan.” With Pakistani forces clearly allying themselves with the “Christian Crusaders and their helpers,” the al-Qaeda ideologue concludes there is no law that would prevent Muslims from fighting them.
Condemning the government’s decision to allow Shari’a rule in Swat, Abu Yahya insists this is nothing less than an admission that the rest of Pakistan is not ruled by Shari’a and that the armed forces were fighting Muslims in Swat with the intention of preventing the implementation of Islamic law. Pakistan’s army “was established and founded not to implement Shari’a, as they claim, but to prevent it; not to help those seeking to implement it, but to fight them and not remove non-Islamic rulers, but to strengthen them and fight with them.”
This article first appeared in the May 8, 2009 issue of the Jamestown Foundation’s Terrorism Monitor