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Al-Qaeda's Second in Command Speaks Out on Pakistan

At some point in mid August, al-Qaeda second-in-command Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri released a statement regarding Pakistani instability and the impending departure of President Pervais Musharraf.  While the document proceeds with the usual litany of religious excerpts, requests, demands, and injustices, it does contain some interesting and noteworthy news.   Uniquely, it is written in English, an attempt to bridge the gap between his own limitations with Urdu and the average Pakistani's limitations with Arabic .

The following are excerpts that accurately reflect the overall themes and motivations behind his statement.
Document titled: "A Message from Sheikh Ayman al-Zawahiri to Pakistan Army and the People of Pakistan.'  August 2008.
The document is divided in to two distinct sections: first are his arguments that the Pakistani military acts according to the demands of America and the West, and second that this American dominance is the same as Pakistan's prior external ruler, the British and Indians.
After his initial apologies over the use of the "language of the infidels', al-Zawahiri immediately begins to link the Pakistani military leadership with politicians in Washington.
"All of us have enjoyed the warm welcome and the caring attitude of most Pakistanis which has been so evident during the current crusade being carried out in Pakistan by Pervaiz and his hunting dogs  in compliance with the orders of their masters in Washington."

"As I said before, I came into actual contact with what I considered to a hope. And by living in Pakistan I was given the opportunity by the grace of Allah to develop a deep understanding of the complex goods and evils of Pakistan. Moreover, I was able to compare the common powers and ills of many different Muslim societies. And after all those years and experiences I still consider Pakistan to represent a hope and a bastion for the establishment of a strong independent Muslim country not only in the post-colonial era but also in the face of  the contemporary Zio-Crusader campaign. This hope is not based on the so-called "Theory of Pakistan' which has now vanished particularly after the engagement of the Pakistani army and security agencies in the American war against Islam and the massacre of the Red Mosque. Rather, it is based on my belief that there are millions of Muslims in Pakistan ready to sacrifice all that can be sacrificed for the victory of Islam."

"When I was living in Pakistan it was difficult for me to imagine that one day we would be thrown out of Pakistan or that the liberators of Afghanistan and the defenders of Pakistan would be overnight declared the so-called Terrorists and pursued in every nook and cranny of the country. To this day there lies next to the border gate of Turkham a silent graveyard containing the remains of approximately two hundred Arab mujahideen and standing as a living material witness to how the rulers of the rulers of the so-called Islamic Republic of  Pakistan betrayed their Muslim brothers who inflicted no harm on Pakistan and committed no sin other than sacrificing their souls (in Allah's path) to liberate Afghanistan. After that, life taught me to be more realistic and I stumbled upon the bitter reality that these greedy rulers were not only prepared to betray their Muslim brothers and deport them from Pakistan but were also prepared to kill and arrest their innocent and cooperative Muslim neighbors and to help and support the neo-crusaders in occupying their lands bombing and burning  their villages and overthrowing their honest Islamic Emirate and replacing it with a corrupt anti-Pakistan puppet regime made up of traitors and drug traffickers many of whom are loyal to India and Russia.  And not only that but they are also prepared to kill their own citizens and demolish their houses over the heads of their women and children. They are even prepared to destroy mosques and madrassas and kill thousands of innocent male and female students just to appease and please their masters who pay them the neo-crusaders in the White House.'

"Pervaiz is the one who has ignited civil war inside Pakistan by indulging in a fruitless bloody struggle in the tribal areas in blind obedience to American orders resulting in catastrophic harm to Pakistan national security. The worst situation any army could possibly imagine is to be responsible for defending its borders even as it is entangled in an internal civil conflict Pakistan's collective memory has not yet forgotten the dire consequences of the civil war in East Pakistan."

"And everything that Pervaiz and his generals have done in Waziristan, Bajaur, Swat and
Balochistan they will not hesitate to repeat in Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar and any other place the
Americans order them to strike. Pervaiz is the one who has tried to change the combat doctrine of the Pakistani armed forces by repeatedly insisting that the real threat against Pakistan lies within and doesn't come from outside. The enemy is not outside, the enemy is within. We will have to handle the inside enemy."

"It is no secret that the Americans have exclusive control of many Guantanamo-like detention centers on Pakistani soil. Pervaiz and his greedy gang have committed all the crimes because of which Pervaiz claimed he took power so he could save Pakistan from their evils. If you were to read his memoirs you would find no single sin of which he accused Benazir and Nawaz which he himself has not committed subsequently. And because Pervaiz is thirsty for money and a bribe- seeker he is always trying to convince the people of Pakistan to look out only for their own material interests regardless of any Islamic or moral consideration"

After these initial indictments, al-Zawahiri then begins to link these current injustices with those of the past, making the case that contemporary American dominance of the Pakistani establishment is no different than British rule.  This is an outright attempt to inspire hope and nationalism among average Pakistanis, many of whom believe that America and its allies are far too powerful to defeat.

"I request each Muslim in Pakistan to remember the glorious history of their noble scholars who resisted fiercely any and all cooperation with or support for the British Indian Army."

"Sheikh ul Hind Maulana Mehmood ul Hasan said in his fatwa to the students of Aligarh
University: "You have no choice but to abandon supporting and championing Islam's enemies whether in practice or in belief And the religious basis of this matter is undeniable.' And he wrote in his letter to the Jamiat-i-Ulamaa meeting in Amritsar: "The fiercest enemies of Islam and Muslims are the British so it is mandatory to stop supporting them'."

"And his student Sayyed Hussain Ahmad Madni stood up in court to say: "Joining the British army; helping another to join it or advising him to join; and supporting the British army or giving it loans for war: all are haram'."

"He also said: "Mr. Lloyd George, during the invasion of Bait-ul-Maqdas named this war a crusade Mr Churchill also called it a crusade. Therefore I declare now in plain and clear words that any Muslim who champions Christianity not only commits a sin but also become a kafir'."

"Don't you see how the Indian armies which were killing Muslims yesterday at the orders of the
British, are themselves the forces of Pervaiz what are today killing Muslims in Afghanistan and the tribal areas of Pakistan at the orders of the Americans? Don't Pervaiz's forces provide the Crusaders with information, bases, airports, and even detention and torture centers? Don't they supply them with food and fuel to kill, detain, torture, and humiliate Muslims in Pakistan and

"Don't you notice how when Sayyed Hussain Ahmad Madni quoted the statements of past British politicians about their crusade, he was quoting word for word Bush, when he declared his new crusade against Muslims? Isn't is clear that the Malta detention center, in which Sheikh-ul-Hind and Sayyed Hussain Ahmad Madni were jailed, is comparable to the Guantanamo camp? Isn't it clear that we are fighting a new battle in an old war? It is the same struggle against the same enemies. The facts are the same, only the names and faces have changed."

"The king's viceroy in Delhi has become the American ambassador in Islamabad, the British Indian Army has become the American Pakistani Army, the prime minister in London has become the president in Washington, and Sayyed Ahmad Shaheed and Shah Ismail Shaheed and their mujahideen are today the mujahideen fighting to expel the neo-crusaders from Afghanistan, Pakistan and the entire sub-continent. But the difference is that the jihadi awakening of today is by the grace of Allah much stronger, wider spread, and not limited to the sub-continent and the
American crusader empire is facing by the grace of Almighty Allah  humiliating defeats in Afghanistan and Iraq."

The statement essentially concludes with al-Zawahiri posing a challenge to those serving in the Pakistani army: kill Muslims and you immediately legitimize yourself as a target.

"Every soldier and officer should absolutely disobey any order to kill Muslims or aid their killers.
I am also asking here anyone who has committed any of those sins to immediately repent and stop serving the devils of our age. Join and support the Mujahideen. It is the personal duty of every Muslim in Pakistan to perform jihad against the crusaders invading Afghanistan and
Pakistan but if he is unable to do so, he must at the very least support and aid the Mujahideen.
Examine yourselves: Are you really following and practicing Islam personally, socially and politically?  Or you are deviating from Islam in one way or another? Are you really championing
Islam? Or you are siding with the secular pro-Western, anti-Muslim forces cooperating with
America in its crusade against Islam, the so called war on terror?"

While there is nothing profoundly unique to these statements, they are interesting in that they attempt to rouse average Pakistani citizens to jihad, not current extremists.  Most Islamic fundamentalists speak Arabic as the language of the Qu'ran, thus the use of English is a direct effort to speak to the wider Pakistani community.  Also, by invoking Pakistani history and nationalism, al-Zawahiri is hoping to equate the current instability with the problems of the past; mainly the British.  It is an exceedingly smart statement.   Most citizens are already distrustful of the military and civilian government.  If he can convince the average Pakistani that a) the enemy is a non-Islamic civilian government directed by the West, b) this is an extension of previous conflicts with external empires, and C) just as the British were defeated so too can their current enemies ,  then Dr. al-Zawahiri might enjoy a long list of recruits come this fall.

Full statement can be found at:



Josh Hammer

Josh Hammer is an International Relations theorist, with expertise in terrorist ideology, American foreign policy, and war / conflict resolution. He currently holds a Master's of Science degree in International Politics from the University of Edinburgh, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Relations from the George Washington University. Josh's most recent work, his M.Sc. thesis, is a comparative analysis between Marxist / Leninist ideology and Osama bin Laden's global jihadi movement. He currently resides in New York.

Areas of Focus:
Terrorist Idealogy; American Foreign Policy; Conflict Resolution;


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