Al Qaeda has released a new audio message from Ayman al Zawahiri entitled, “Go Forth to the Levant.” Zawahiri is known for his long-winded lectures. By his standard, the new audio is mercifully short at just over ten minutes long. It was disseminated via social media yesterday.
The al Qaeda emir emphasizes, once again, that his men seek to build an Islamic emirate (or state) in Syria. And he heaps praise on Al Nusrah Front, which is openly loyal to him.
Zawahiri begins by saying that the “Levant today is the hope of the Muslim ummah [worldwide community of Muslims],” because it is the only “popular revolution” started during “the Arab Spring that followed the correct path,” which requires both dawa (proselytization) and jihad to establish the “rightly guided caliphate.”
Throughout his talk, Zawahiri contrasts the Islamic emirate that al Qaeda hopes to build in Syria with that of the “Kharijites,” a name given to a faction in Islam’s early history that is considered deviant. Today, the word is often used as a synonym for extremists. Indeed, Zawahiri uses “Kharijites” and “neo-Kharijites” as a way to refer to al Qaeda’s rivals in Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s Islamic State. Al Qaeda and like-minded jihadists have rejected Baghdadi’s project, arguing it is not a proper caliphate.