December 12, 2013
Jihadi forums have begun posting a recent interview conducted with al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) commander Nasr bin Ali al-A’ainisi by Yemen’s al-Wasat daily. In the course of the interview, al-A’ainsi described the reasons why AQAP prefers armed rebellion to politics, saying the movement rejected partisanship and democratic activities. When confronted by systems that oppose religious principles, it becomes impossible to form a political party when the imperative is to “remove this system” with all available means, “including jihad and forming an armed organization.” To turn to democracy and the political process would be a type of surrender: “Abandoning arms under a colonial crusader control and hegemony, means acceptance and subordination and bowing before those occupier, and leaving arms under the absence of Shari’a and ruling with what Allah have not revealed, means accepting this reality…” 
Nasr bin Ali al-A’ainisi
The AQAP commander warned that a recent direction from al-Qaeda leader Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri ordering jihadis to refrain from killing non-combatants “even if they are the families of those who fight us as much as possible” would have little effect on AQAP tactics and targets:
This is a clear phrase, and it came when speaking about dealing with the local governments and sects that live in the Islamic lands and it doesn’t require what you mentioned from stopping attacks against the American civilians, since the stance of the organization and the fatwa which it adopts is that the American people is a combatant people, while the speech is specific about non-combatants.
In commenting on the September 16 Washington Navy Yard attack by alleged Buddhist Aaron Alexis, al-A’ainisi noted that “the injustice and oppression of America is not only limited to the Muslims.” The commander went on to remind Americans that many nations had not forgotten their humiliations at the hands of the Americans, including Japan and Germany, and were only waiting for the appropriate time to take their revenge: “That’s why I give [Americans] glad tidings of a horrific dark future awaiting them, and the moment of revenge not only from the Muslims but rather from many enemies who cannot forget it even if the Americans forgot them.” Al-A’ainsi says it is important to remember that the American “war on terrorism” has cost five times what the United States spent on World War II, and that this was the principal cause of the forthcoming collapse of the American economy.
Al-A’ainsi rejects the notion that armed rebellion only invites external interference against Yemen: “If we refused any movement or action against the Arab and non-Arab tyrants under the pretext that it increases their tyranny or aggression, that means that we rule on ourselves to be slaves to them for life, for example: is it fair to say that the revolution of the Syrian people against the tyranny of Bashar only brought more foreign Russian – Iranian interference?… The question that should be asked: what have been achieved through submission, subordination and surrender to America for decades?”
AQAP was not invited to the national dialogue conference, according to al-A’ainisi, because the dialogue was sponsored by the United States and excluded the possibility of a Shari’a state. AQAP’s demands are non-negotiable – the prevention of external influence in Yemen, particularly that of the United States and the West, and the implementation of Shari’a “in all the matters of the country.”
1. Abdulrazaq al-Jammal, “Interview with AQAP commander Nasr bin Ali al-A’anisi,” al-Wasat, Sana’a, November 13, 2013; posted on http://www.ansar1.info/showthread.php?p=173586, November 28, 2013.
This article first appeared in the December 12, 2013 issue of the Jamestown Foundation’s Terrorism Monitor.