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Abu Yahya al-Libi: Al-Qaeda's Theological Enforcer

This is a discussion on Abu Yahya al-Libi: Al-Qaeda's Theological Enforcer within the Global Affairs forums, part of the Main Topics category; Abu Yahya al-Libi: Al-Qaeda's Theological Enforcer - Part 1 By Michael Scheuer In the rising generation of post-9/11 al-Qaeda leaders, ...

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    Default Abu Yahya al-Libi: Al-Qaeda's Theological Enforcer

    Abu Yahya al-Libi: Al-Qaeda's Theological Enforcer - Part 1

    By Michael Scheuer

    In the rising generation of post-9/11 al-Qaeda leaders, Abu Yahya al-Libi seems to be assuming the unique position of insurgent-theologian. Since escaping from U.S. detention at Bagram air base in Afghanistan in July 2005—with three other al-Qaeda fighters, one of whom, Faruq al-Iraqi, has since died in combat in Iraq—al-Libi has become a frequent contributor to al-Qaeda journals and Islamist websites, and he has been the central figure in several lengthy videos produced by al-Qaeda's media production arm, as-Sahab [1]. Little information is available about al-Libi beyond his record as an insurgent, the fact that he was imprisoned by both Pakistani and U.S. authorities and his own claim to have studied Islamic law, history and jurisprudence "for years among excellent and great scholars" who were in the field with al-Qaeda and other Islamist insurgent groups [2]. In video presentations, al-Libi is never far from the weaponry of the mujahideen. In the background, there are often AK-47s, machine guns and RPG launchers, or footage of mujahideen training on shoulder-fired missiles or actually participating in combat [3]. Al-Libi's subject, not surprisingly, is the necessity for contemporary Muslims to wage a relentless jihad against the United States, Israel and apostate Arab regimes, particularly Saudi Arabia. Unlike al-Qaeda military commander Sayf al-Adl and Osama bin Laden himself, however, al-Libi offers no tactical military advice or instructions on how to stymie the U.S. military's use of airpower through dispersal and entrenching. Rather, al-Libi is something of an attack dog who engages those whom the Islamists deem to be enemies of the concept of jihad—especially those who are Muslim enemies—on the basis of theology and the expectations of God and the Prophet Mohammad.

    To date, al-Libi's main targets have been Hamas; the worldwide Islamic clerical and scholarly establishment; the Shiites and their faith; and the government of Saudi Arabia. This article will discuss al-Libi's handling of the first two targets, and a subsequent piece will cover the latter two.

    Al-Libi has used Hamas on several occasions to demonstrate that Western-style democratic elections are detrimental to Islam in two ways. First, the elections themselves are un-Islamic because they amount to the creation and subsequent worship of a secular "idol," which is the "polytheistic legislative council" in which the will of the people governs, rather than the word of God [4]. Second, after winning the Palestinian elections, the Hamas leaders began to speak in words that "sickened" the mujahideen and made "it hard for people to distinguish between [Hamas'] language and that of other non-Islamic Palestinian organizations such as Fatah and the Popular Front" [5]. Damning Hamas for abandoning "the methodology of jihad in the battlefields," al-Libi scathingly asked, "So, where is your religion, O leaders of Hamas, [you have gone] from the case of implementing the Sharia [to seeing] all the Sharia which you slaughtered with your own hands when you agreed to follow the infidel religion of democracy, which is founded on the basis of the rule and sovereignty of the people" [6]. Al-Libi also has made an effort to drive a wedge between Hamas and its military wing—the "pure young men" and "lions" of Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades—by claiming that its political leaders ensured that its "activities were frozen once…[they] walked into the legislative dome." Al-Libi urged Hamas fighters to ignore their leaders and continue military operations so as to "renew your glory and show us the enemy's towers collapsing" [7].

    In the first half of 2007, Abu Yahya has focused his critiques on Islamic scholars who are lukewarm in supporting, or who fail to endorse, the al-Qaeda-led defensive jihad. Too many scholars, al-Libi claims, have "disowned the mujahideen, repudiated their actions and dedicated their pulpits and mouths to slandering the mujahideen." Al-Libi is direct in admitting that the mujahideen have made theological mistakes and errors in judgment on the battlefield, but adds that it is the scholars, not the insurgents, who are to blame because the former "are negligent and absent from [the mujahideen's] midst" [8]. He warns the scholars that they are at great risk of losing the respect, honor and obedience that they have historically received from believers by claiming that young Muslims have a "choice" about joining the jihad.

    Joining the jihad is not optional but mandatory on all youth, al-Libi writes, and scholars "have degraded it by adding this ugly word to it and saying (and what a terrible thing they say) 'the choice of jihad' or the 'choice of resistance,' thus dirtying [the jihad's] face and fiddling with its meaning. Jihad is a prescribed, obligatory devotion made compulsory by the Lord, He who sent down the book from above the seven heavens" [9]. Seeking to shame the scholars whom bin Laden describes as the "clerics of the king," al-Libi insists that the scholars do what is essential for the success of the jihad: they must join it in the field. "So, rush and go forth to [the mujahideen]," Abu Yahya writes. "If you are remiss, who will lead the way…if you delay, who will step forward. O scholars of Islam: the battle awaits you, and the fields of jihad, preparation and strength await you and look forward to you. And by Allah, you will find nothing in them but respect, honor and pride from your devoted sons, the mujahideen" [10]. The scholar's model for action, al-Libi explains, should be the late-Taliban scholar-commander Mullah Dadullah, whose loss of a leg exempted him from mandatory participation in the jihad, but who died fighting the U.S.-led coalition because he was determined to "limp my way to heaven" [11].

    Therefore, Abu Yahya is emerging as a more pointed and acerbic complement to the comments made by Ayman al-Zawahiri and Osama bin Laden; indeed, by seeking to divide Hamas leaders from their military wing, he has done something bin Laden and al-Zawahiri have not. While both of the latter have strongly criticized the un-Islamic tendencies of Hamas and many of the scholars who are in the pay of Arab governments, al-Libi has gone much farther and has been more scabrous in both his comments and his effective wielding of the hammer of shame, a tool which retains enormous influence in an Islamic civilization where the idea that a man must maintain his honor unbesmirched is still relevant. When al-Libi's commentary on Shiite Muslims and the Saudi regime is examined, it will be clear that on these two issues al-Libi again is much franker and more direct than bin Laden and al-Zawahiri, perhaps giving the West a better look at the core of al-Qaeda's beliefs on those issues.

    Michael Scheuer served as the Chief of the bin Laden Unit at the CIA's Counterterrorist Center from 1996 to 1999. He is now a Senior Fellow at The Jamestown Foundation.


    1. Abu Yahya al-Libi, "Combat Not Compromise,", November 3, 2006.
    2. "Interview with Abu Yahya al-Libi,", June 21, 2006.
    3. Each of these martial ingredients can be found in the video presentation, "Abu Yahya al-Libi Calling for Jihad," al-Meer Forums, July 28, 2006.
    4. Abu Yahya al-Libi, "Hamas has Dug its Own Grave," Islamic Renewal Organization, February 1, 2007.
    5. Ibid.
    6. Abu Yahya al-Libi, "Palestine: Warning Call and Caution Cry," al-Fajr Media Center, April 30, 2007.
    7. Abu Yahya al-Libi, "Hamas has Dug its Own Grave," Islamic Renewal Organization, February 1, 2007.
    8. "Interview with Abu Yahya al-Libi,", June 21, 2006.
    9. Abu Yahya al-Libi, "To the Army of Difficulty in Somalia," as-Sahab Productions, February 2007.
    10. Ibid.
    11. Abu Yahya al-Libi, "Mullah Dadullah: I Pray I Limp My Way to Heaven," Global News Network,, June 6, 2007.

    Posted By: Jamestown

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    May Allah subhanu wa ta ala preserve the respected Shaykh AAAmeeeen.
    “And say not concerning that which your tongues put forth falsely: “This is lawful and this is forbidden,” so as to invent lies against Allaah. Verily, those who invent lies against Allaah will never prosper.” [al-Nahl 16:116].

    Syed Qutb (ra) when asked to seek pardon from nasser said
    Verily the index finger that testifies to the oneness of Allah in prayer utterly rejects to write even one letter that endorses the rule of the tyrant

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    and his own claim to have studied Islamic law, history and jurisprudence "for years among excellent and great scholars" who were in the field with al-Qaeda and other Islamist insurgent groups
    It would be interesting to know what ulama and shuyookh he studied with.

    I remember reading an article on the website of Ja'maat al-Muqaatilah, the main Islamic group which confronted Qaddafi and his regime in Libya, that some of them visited Shaykh Hmood ash-Shu'aybee(rahimahullah) in Buraydah at his farm. He gave them tazkiyah and made du'a for them. He also warned them that the muhkabaraat were watching him and keeping track of his movements. It also mentioned another aalim in Saudi Arabia who praised the group but didn't reveal his name because he requested them not to do so.

    I remember reading an article several years ago where there was an interview with the criminal Qaddafi where he said that the first thing that America should do in its "War on Terror" is bomb the maqar of hay'at kibaar al-ulama in Riyadh!

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    how do i start a thread???
    i broke the secured lock on the rubbish book called "Who's for Iraaq?" so that i can copy and paste from it to expose their book with commentry and evidences against their claims!
    i wish to start a thread so i can work at exposing this SICK and TWISTED book full of lies, deception, distortion and madness!

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    Before Shaykh Abu Yahya Al-Libby's arrest, he was studying in a Madrassa or an Islamic institute in Karachi. He was also previously member of a Libyan group.
    Last edited by AbuOmar; 1st August 2007 at 11:38 AM.

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    Yahya Al-Libi In Video Message On Red Mosque Conflict: "Among the Most Prominent Martyrs"

    On July 31, 2007, Al-Sahab posted a 21-minute video message by Yahya Al-Libi titled "Among the Most Prominent Martyrs." Al-Libi dedicates his message to the recent Red Mosque conflict between mujahideen and the Pakistani security forces.

    In the video, Al-Libi praises the mujahideen and their leader, Sheikh Abdul Rashid Ghazi,for not yielding to the government's pressure. He describes the mujahideen deaths as a just martyrdom, saying that by sacrificing themselves they had defended Islam, revealed the tyrannical nature of the Pakistani regime, and prevented it from "corrupting Islam" and subjecting Pakistan to the influence of "the worshippers of the cross."

    Al-Libi ends his message by urging Pakistanis to follow this example: "The Truth will not be established by begging; rights will not be regained by self-abnegation; oppression will not be lifted by petitions, but rather by earnest resolve, unwavering zeal, serious action, and sustained sacrifice..."


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    That puts to end the AQ "deep divide" stories hey... alhamdulillah
    "Arab rulers are slaves of the West, slaves of money and slaves of vainglory. The time has come to get free from these slaves"
    ash-Shaheed Amir Khattab
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    Here is part 2: Abu Yahya al-Libi: Al-Qaeda's Theological Enforcer - Part 2

    Here is an interesting article and video on Abu Yahya al-Libi:

    Rising Leader for Next Phase of Al Qaeda’s War
    By Michael Moss and Souad Mekhennet
    Published: April 4, 2008
    New York Times

    On the night of July 10, 2005, an obscure militant preacher named Abu Yahya al-Libi escaped from an American prison in Afghanistan and rocketed to fame in the world of jihadists.


    The breakout from the Bagram Air Base by Mr. Libi and three cellmates — they picked a lock, dodged their guards and traversed the base’s vast acreage to freedom — embarrassed American officials as deeply as it delighted the jihadist movement. In the nearly three years since then, Mr. Libi’s meteoric ascent within the leadership of Al Qaeda has proved to be even more troublesome for the authorities.

    Mr. Libi, a Libyan believed to be in his late 30s, is now considered to be a top strategist for Al Qaeda, as well as one of its most effective promoters of global jihad, appearing in a dozen videos on militant Web sites in the past year, counterterrorism officials said. At a time when Al Qaeda seems more inspirational than operational, Mr. Libi stands out as a formidable star whose rise to prominence tracks the group’s growing emphasis on information in its war with the West.

    “I call him a man for all seasons for A.Q.,” said Jarret Brachman, a former analyst for the Central Intelligence Agency who is now research director of the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point. “He’s a warrior. He’s a poet. He’s a scholar. He’s a pundit. He’s a military commander. And he’s a very charismatic, young, brash rising star within A.Q., and I think he has become the heir apparent to Osama bin Laden in terms of taking over the entire global jihadist movement.”

    The secrecy that envelops Al Qaeda’s leadership structure makes such estimates speculative, other analysts noted. But one Islamist insider said that in addition to youth and charisma, Mr. Libi possessed one skill that Al Qaeda’s leaders had been lacking: religious scholarship. Perhaps with this in mind, Al Qaeda is featuring Mr. Libi, who spent two years in Africa studying Islam, in as many of the videos as the group’s top leaders, Mr. bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahri.

    “Bin Laden is an engineer and Zawahri is a medical doctor,” said Dr. Muhammad al-Massari, a Saudi dissident who lives in London. “So it is important that they also present someone who has the role of scholar.”

    The varied roles that Mr. Libi plays in these videos, from recruiter to ideological enforcer, also shed light on Al Qaeda’s shifting tactics. In recent months, those tactics have come to include defensive maneuvers aimed at defusing the media counteroperations of the United States and its allies.

    Mr. Libi delivers his message with a preacher’s cadence. His black turban drapes down his chest, and he alternates between white Arabic robes and camouflage jackets.

    “O Muslim youth in the East and West, who listen to God calling you: ‘Go forth to war, whether it be easy or difficult for you, and strive hard in God’s cause with your possessions and your lives,’ ” he said in a video sermon released this year.

    But increasingly, Mr. Libi uses his videos not to expand Al Qaeda’s base, but to shore it up. He has lashed out at moderate Muslim scholars who accuse Al Qaeda of using false interpretations of the Koran to justify jihad. He has mocked Saudi Arabia’s efforts to persuade jailed militants to give up the fight.

    In a 93-minute speech released last fall, Mr. Libi urged supporters to brace themselves for a surge in psychological warfare loaded with false propaganda. He cited a rumor that Al Qaeda’s constitution calls for killing anyone who breaks from the group: “Al Qaeda and its leaders are too noble and pure to descend to the rotten level of such nonsense.”

    These and other frank communications by Mr. Libi have led intelligence analysts at the West Point center and elsewhere to pore over his videos like Kremlinologists looking for operational clues to Soviet intentions.

    Mr. Libi began as a militant on a scholarly path, according to a Libyan man who says he knew him. His older brother, now imprisoned in Libya, had been a crucial figure in the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, whose members went to Afghanistan to help defeat the Soviet Union.

    Mr. Libi, who went to Afghanistan in the early 1990s, was sent back to northern Africa to study Islam in Mauritania. When he returned two years later, Afghanistan was no longer a battleground for militant Libyans, but rather a haven: the Taliban controlled most of the country.

    Mr. Libi’s training in warfare was minimal, and his early work as a preacher rarely touched on militant action, according to the Libyan man who said he had met Mr. Libi in Afghanistan, and who spoke on condition of anonymity out of security concerns. “He started to visit training camps and talk about Shariah,” or Islamic law, this man said in a telephone interview, about “morals, etiquette, how to act.”

    Then a year after 9/11, Mr. Libi was seized by Pakistani authorities and turned over to American authorities, who eventually put him in the Bagram prison.

    In one video produced after their escape in 2005, Mr. Libi and his fellow fugitives recounted their breakout, crediting God with distracting their captors. A new version now circulating on jihadist Web sites re-enacts some of the escape with dramatic flair.

    Mr. Libi, who has also used the names Hasan Qaiid and Yunis al-Sahrawi, is assumed to be in the Afghan-Pakistani border area.

    He appears to have worked his way quickly into Al Qaeda’s inner circle. He was among the leaders who sent letters of rebuke to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the militant leader who was killed in Iraq in 2006, who they felt was undermining the group’s global strategy by killing too many civilians.

    “I share with you your great jihad,” he wrote in a letter dated Nov. 20, 2005, according to a translation obtained from the West Point group. “I hope that you will lay open your heart for the acceptance of what I say.”

    In subsequent video appearances, Mr. Libi cast himself as a utility man for Al Qaeda. He rebutted Muslim scholars who criticized suicide bombers in Algeria; he urged Muslims to carry out attacks in Europe in revenge for the Danish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.

    Asked to assess Mr. Libi’s stature, the State Department’s counterterrorism chief, Dell L. Dailey, who retired from the Army as a lieutenant general, said in an e-mail message, “Abu Yahya is a senior Al Qaeda member, a top strategist for the group, and trusted and presented as one of the group’s most effective promoters of jihad.”

    He has also become the leader of a Libyan contingent of fighters in the Afghanistan and Pakistan region, particularly after the death this year of another key militant who went by the name of Abu Laith al-Libi, said Evan F. Kohlmann, an analyst who testifies as a government witness in terrorism trials. (The two Mr. Libis were not related.)

    Abu Yahya al-Libi’s most frank discussion of Al Qaeda’s information war with the West came in the video released last fall, “Dots of the Letters.”

    In assessing the state of Islamic militancy worldwide, Mr. Libi dwelled on “defectors” who have denounced violence, internal spats among militants and fatwas or Islamic legal pronouncements, from moderate Muslims who seek to criminalize jihadists. He went so far as to specify six ways that the United States and its allies might try to exploit this disharmony through psychological warfare.

    Efforts by the Pentagon to undermine Al Qaeda have intensified in recent months in Iraq, said military officials in Baghdad, including using imams to meet with American-held detainees for religious talks before they are released and publicizing militants who disavow their violent ways.

    In his video last fall, Mr. Libi sought to brace Al Qaeda’s adherents for tactics like this, which he said would fail. The retractions of captured militants would be particularly ineffective, given their prisoner status, he argued.

    “Tell me,” Mr. Libi said, “what do you expect from someone who sees the sword above him, the rug in front of him and the sheik dictating to him the proof and evidence for the obligation of obeying the ruler?”
    UK News: Al-Qaeda urges militants to fight UN

    “Somalia - No Peace without Islaam”
    June 23, 2008
    Abu Yahya al-Libi

    Discussed in Arabic
    Discussed in English
    VIDEO: Part 1, Part 2
    His other speeches are:

    Taliban Videos Vol. 5 - Abu Yahya al-Libi's Eid al-Fitr Sermon 2005
    al-Qaeda Videos Vol. 35 - Abu Yahya al-Libi on 11 May 2006
    al-Qaeda Videos Vol. 31 - Abu Yahya al-Libi on 17 Jun. 2006 (English Subtitles)
    al-Qaeda Videos Vol. 42 - Abu Yahya al-Libi: Light & Fire in Eulogizing the Martyr Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (English Subtitles)
    al-Qaeda Videos Vol. 47 - Abu Yahya al-Libi: Jihadi Poems
    al-Qaeda Videos Vol. 49 - Abu Yahya al-Libi: Combat, Not Compromise (English Subtitles)
    Feb 1 2007 - al-Qaeda Videos Vol. 58 - Abu Yahya al-Libi: And the Crusade Continues... The AIDs Children in Libya (English Subtitles)
    Feb 8 2007 - al-Qaeda Videos Vol. 59 - Abu Yahya al-Libi: The Adha Holiday Sermon 1427H
    Mar 22 2007 - al-Qaeda Videos Vol. 65 - Abu Yahya al-Libi: Iraq: Between Indications of Victory and Conspiratorial Intrigues (English Subtitles)
    Mar 25 2007 - al-Qaeda Videos Vol. 66 - Abu Yahya al-Libi: To the Army of Difficulty in Somalia (English Subtitles)
    Apr 30 2007 - al-Qaeda Videos Vol. 73 - Abu Yahya al-Libi: Palestine, an Alarming Scream and a Warning Cry
    May 30 2007 - al-Qaeda Videos Vol. 79 - Abu Yahya al-Libi: The Tawheed of Saud... and the True Tawheed (English Subtitles) ()
    June 6 2007 - al-Qaeda Videos Vol. 82 - Abu Yahya al-Libi: Elegy for Mullah Dadullah (Eulogy for Taliban Commander Mullah Dadullah)
    al-Qaeda Videos Vol. 89 - Abu Yahya al-Libi: The Masters of the Martyrs (Of the Masters of Martyrs) - July 31 2007
    Sep 9 2007 - al-Qaeda Videos Vol. 97 - Abu Yahya al-Libi: Dots on the Letters (English Subtitles) [As-Sahab Second Interview with Shaykh abu Yahia Al-Libi]
    Nov 7 2007 - al-Qaeda Videos Vol. 110: Abu Yahya al-Libi: The Closing Statement for the Religious Training that was Held at One of the Mujahideen Centers (Final Session of the Shari’a Course Held at a Mujahideen Center)
    al-Qaeda Videos Vol. 116: Abu Yahya al-Libi: Going Forth
    al-Qaeda Videos Vol. 119: Abu Yahya al-Libi: An Eid al-Adha Speech
    al-Qaeda Videos Vol. 123: Abu Yahya al-Libi: The Companion
    al-Qaeda Videos Vol. 125: Abu Yahya al-Libi: I am Not a Deceiver, Nor Will I Allow Someone to Deceive Me
    Dec 18 2007 - Trumpet of War - Video
    Feb 11, 2008 - Selected Notifications Of Jihad - Transcript
    Apr 19 2008 - [Eid al-Adha 1428] Balancing Between Jihad and Seeking Knowledge - Video

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    Latest speeches:

    CBS News: Al Libi Addresses His Boss In New Audio

    “A letter to one of the Scholars”
    July 11, 2008
    Abu Yahya al-Libi

    Discussion in Arabic

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    "Theological Enforcer" is gibberish, senseless journalist newspeak.

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