As it is written: The Jihadists in their own words — Part II, Advancing terror to ‘savagery’

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By Yossef Bodansky, Senior Editor, Global Information System / Defense & Foreign Affairs

[See: Part I, The subversion of Europe, May 13, 2016]

In 2004, Sheikh Abu Bakr Naji published his main book titled “Management of Savagery: The Most Critical Stage Through Which the Islamic Nation Will Pass” which would define the jihadist doctrine in both the Muslim World and the West. (The book is also known as Administration of Savagery and Governance in the Wilderness.) Naji articulated a strategy for the entire jihadist trend how to establish a Caliphate under the prevailing conditions.

Naji rejected Al Qaida’s core doctrine that the “the infidel” would succumb in the aftermath of a few spectacular strikes at the heart of the West. Instead, the jihadists would have to advance in incremental steps in both the West and the Muslim World. The jihad must become global — fighting everywhere, all the time, and against everybody. Terror-by-savagery is the primary instrument facilitating the spread and advance of the jihadist movement. “No one should feel safe without submitting, and those who refuse to submit must pay a high price. The aim of our movement is to turn the world into a series of wildernesses in which only those under our rule enjoy security.”

"The aim of our movement is to turn the world into a series of wildernesses in which only those under our rule enjoy security.”
“The aim of our movement is to turn the world into a series of wildernesses in which only those under our rule enjoy security.”

After the fall of Afghanistan, Naji argued, it would take a long time before it would be possible to establish a jihadist state in the Muslim World. Instead, the jihadists should undermine existing states and regimes through long-term strategy of attrition by both violence and propaganda. A campaign of relentless savage attacks within Muslim states “would eventually exhaust their ability and will to enforce their authority” making the population beholden to the jihadists “by implementing security, providing social services, and imposing sharia.” The regions liberated this way — “the regions of savagery” — would serve as the nuclei of the new Caliphate. Naji identified Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, North Africa, Nigeria, and Pakistan as the most vulnerable to such incremental jihadist campaigns.

In the “Crusader’s world”, the jihadists must create an archipelago of “wildernesses”: localized parallel societies from where it would be possible to strike the surrounding Western society and sow terror through “countless small operations” making daily life unbearable. Naji warned the leadership not to underestimate the effectiveness of such waves of savagery. “Those who have not boldly entered wars during their lifetimes do not understand the rôle of violence and coarseness against the infidels in combat and media battles,” he observed.

Ultimately, the campaigns of savagery launched from wildernesses at the heart of the West would deter the West from intervening militarily at the heart of Islamdom in order to contain the ascent of the local jihadist nuclei. “It behooves us to make [our enemies] think one thousand times before attacking us,” Naji asserts.

Naji concluded by describing a global strategic dynamic which would emerge with the establishment of the Islamic State/Caliphate a decade later. As the jihadists expanded their liberated zones and began to build their Caliphate, the jihadists “will confront the problem of the aerial attacks of the enemy — Crusader or apostate — on military training camps or residential regions in areas which [the jihadists] administer,” Naji wrote.

“The policy of ‘paying the price’ in this situation will deter the enemy and make him think one thousand times before attacking regions managed by a regime of the administration of savagery because [the enemy] knows that he will pay the price (for doing so), even if (the retribution) comes later. Thus, the enemy will be inclined toward reconciliation, which will enable the regions of savagery to catch their breath and progress. This reconciliation means a temporary stop to fighting without any kind of treaties and concessions. We do not believe in an armistice with the apostate enemy, even if it was brokered with the primary infidel.” It is the relentless launching of raids of savagery from localized wildernesses at the heart of the West which would keep the hostile governments from attempting to stifle the ascent of the jihadist Caliphate, Naji concluded in Management of Savagery.

In August 2005, Abu-Musab al-Suri completed a 1,600-page book called The Global Islamic Resistance Call. This book is still the most prescient thesis on the long-term evolution of the jihadist movement and particularly the conduct of “global jihad”. The Global Islamic Resistance Call provided both the practical and theological framework for the profound changes which the jihadist movement underwent in 2004-5 and articulated the future course. Abu-Musab al-Suri did so by adapting the jihadist doctrines of such luminaries as Abdallah Azzam to the prevailing conditions in the post-9/11 world. The Global Islamic Resistance Call is ultimately a practical and pragmatic study of previous jihads, emerging trends in the world, and realistically attainable objectives of the jihadist trend.

Abu-Musab al-Suri concluded that “global jihad” would ultimately be won by an evolving, pragmatic, and adapting vanguard whose spectacular struggle would excite and mobilize the grassroots into politically-significant “awakening” which would ultimately change the Arab-Muslim World. Despite Al Qaida’s post-9/11 notoriety, he warned against self-aggrandizement. “Al Qaida is not an organization, it is not a group, nor do we want it to be,” Abu-Musab al-Suri wrote. “It is a call, a reference, a methodology.”

Although Al Qaida was playing a major role in the then-current phase of the worldwide Islamist uprising, it would ultimately give way to a new generation of populist movements. Al Qaida’s leadership would be eliminated eventually, he predicted, and the jihadist trend had to be ready to smoothly hand over the mantle to a next generation of leaders whose task would be to consolidate jihadist movements in Islamdom. Abu-Musab al-Suri stressed that “without confrontation in the field and seizing control of the land, we cannot establish a state, which is the strategic goal of the resistance”.

In the West, the jihadist ideology for the mobilization of global jihad and struggle presently represented through Al Qaida would provide cover for the evolution of “leaderless resistance” comprised of a myriad of élite vanguard entities; that is, highly trained individuals or very small autonomous groups operating separately but in accordance with a common master-plan and grand strategy. Abu-Musab al-Suri stressed that these vanguards must be “small, completely separate non-central cells so that they will not be linked” with   or higher echelons of the jihadist movement. The initial objective of their campaign will be to “awaken the spirit of jihad and resistance in Muslims” living in the West.

The ultimate objective of these vanguard groups would be to wear down the enemy’s society and governments through relentless and ceaseless localized terrorism, or “raids”. Progress would differ from one country to another and from one region to another. Ultimately, Abu-Musab al-Suri asserted, sooner or later the “individuals’ jihad” will transform in some countries or regions into “open fronts”: that is, overt Islamist insurrections.

Over the next few years, the jihadist trend as guided by Osama bin Laden and his Shurah Kabirah focused mainly on sustaining and escalating the jihad throughout the “Hub of Islam”. Support and guidance for the jihadists in the West continued mainly via Afghanistan-Pakistan and the North Caucasus, but this was not a major priority. Nevertheless, the Muslim communities in the West, and particularly Western Europe, kept evolving and radicalizing on their own. Major strikes such as the March 2004 bombing in Madrid, the July 2005 bombing in London, or the June 2007 failed attacks in Glasgow and London, served as reminders of the presence and resolve of the jihadists at the heart of the West.

The driving engine of the evolution and radicalization of the Muslim communities of Western Europe, however, has been homegrown and locally motivated.


[See: Part I, The subversion of Europe, May 13, 2016]