WASHINGTON – Now that the Islamic State has issued a declaration that Muslims around the world must adhere to its recently announced caliphate, jihadist fighters say Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia will be the next targets after Jordan.
Sources say the Islamic State, former the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (or Greater Syria), is a rival to Saudi Arabia, even though both are Sunni. However, like the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamic State abhors monarchies. The Islamic State is hoping that the Saudi army will revolt against the King and join its caliphate.
The area between Iraq and Jordan, into Saudi Arabia, is mostly desert, allowing the Islamic State to make major inroads into the kingdom before meeting resistance.
Saudi Arabia is aware that it could be the target of the Islamic State and its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the recently announced caliph or leader with the title of Khalifah Ibrahim. Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz recently met with newly elected Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to obtain counter-terrorism assistance if there is an attack on the kingdom.
According to WND sources, Abdullah was accompanied by Prince Bandar bin Sultan, who once was the kingdom’s chief of intelligence and head of the Saudi National Security Council.
Abdullah made the move after finally realizing that Bandar’s strategy of financing and providing weapons to jihadist fighters in Syria could backfire on the kingdom, with various jihadist groups fighting among each other on the side of the Syrian opposition. Moreover, the approach was not bringing down the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Mecca and Medina are revered by all Muslims as two of the three most holy sites in Islam, with Jerusalem being the third. Islam’s founder, Muhammad ibn ‘Abd Allah, was born in Mecca and buried in Medina.
Establishment of the caliphate with the elimination in its title of Iraq and al-Sham, or Levant, means that Khalifah Ibrahim has designs on all lands where Sunni Muslims reside.
“Now that the Islamic caliphate is a fait accompli,” one source said, “all eyes will be on Mecca and Medina next.” Even backers of the al-Qaida-affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra Front, which grew out of the original Islamic State of Iraq under al-Baghdadi, has questioned the meaning of the caliphate.
The source said that the move means the Sunni Taliban and various al-Qaida-linked groups –whereever they might be active, such as al-Nusra in Syria or Ansar al-Shariah in Libya – would be “committing a sin.”
As a consequence, under a lengthy declaration from Islamic State titled “This Is the Promise of Allah,” fighting and killing fighters of these other jihadist groups would be a duty, “unless they accept Baghdadi as the caliph.”
As part of its slick public relations approach, the Islamic State provides the declaration not only in Arabic but also English, Russian, French and German.
The announcement provides a defense of the Islamic State’s decision to form the caliphate, which could prove to be unsettling even to other jihadist fighters.
Since the announcement, al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri has not commented on Baghdadi’s formation of the caliphate or on the challenge it poses, not only to al-Qaida and its affiliates but to his leadership, with the prospect that Khalifah Ibrahim could take over the Sunni jihadist movement.
Baghdadi sought to bring an al-Qaida affiliate, al-Nusra, which he along with al-Qaida created, under his ISIS and treated other jihadists with a brutality that even al-Qaida could not support, due to losing followers.
One of the more eye-opening statements in the lengthy announcement tells all Muslims why they must pledge allegiance to Khalifah Ibrahim or face attack. It also describes how their own groups now have become “null by the expansion of the khilafah’s authority.”
“We clarify to the Muslims that with this declaration of khilāfah, it is incumbent upon all Muslims to pledge allegiance to the khalīfah Ibrāhīm and support him (may Allah preserve him). The legality of all emirates, groups, states, and organizations, becomes null by the expansion of the khilāfah’s authority and arrival of its troops to their areas. Imam Ahmad (may Allah have mercy upon him) said, as reported by ‘Abdūs Ibn Mālik al-’Attār, “It is not permissible for anyone who believes in Allah to sleep without considering as his leader whoever conquers them by the sword until he becomes khalīfah and is called Amīrul-Mu’minīn (the leader of the believers), whether this leader is righteous or sinful.”
The announcement implies the misery Arabs have suffered under since enactment of the 1916 Sykes-Picot Treaty secretly negotiated between France and Britain, which formed the basis of carving up the Middle East after the demise of the Ottoman Empire following the end of World War I.
It spoke of the way of life of Arabs before Islam brought Arabs together.
“So the animosity and hatred they had for each other vanished from their hearts,” the proclamation said. “They were united by faith, and piety became their measuring scale. They did not differentiate between an Arab and a non-Arab, or between an easterner and a westerner, nor between a white person and a black person, not between a poor person and a rich person. They abandoned nationalism and the calls of (pre-Islamic ignorance), raised the flag of la ilaha ill Allah (there is no god but Allah) and carried out jihad in the path of Allah with truthfulness and sincerity.”
In quoting the Quran, the proclamation justifies the selection of Baghdadi as the new leader of the caliphate and its establishment.
“In light of the fact that the Islamic State has no shar I (legal) constraint or excuse that can justifying delaying or neglecting the establishment of the Khilafah such that it would not be sinful, the Islamic State – represented by ahlul-halli-wal-aqd (its people of authority), consisting of its senior figures, leaders and the shura council – resolved to announce the establishment of the Islamic khilafah, the appointment of a Khalifah for the Muslims, and thepledge of allegiance to the shaykh (sheikh), the mujahid, the scholar who practices what he preaches, the worshipper, the leader, the warrir, the reviver, descendent form the familyof the Prophlet, the slave of Allah, Ibrahim Ibn ‘Awwad Ibn Ibrahim Ibn ‘Ali Ibn Muhammad al-Badri al-Hashimi al-Husaynial-Qurashi by lineage, as Samurrah I by birth and upbringing, al-Baghdadi by residence and scholarship. And he has accepted the bay’ah (pledge of allegiance. Thus, he is the imam and Khalifah for the Muslims everywhere. Accordingly, the ‘Iraq and Sham’ in the name of the Islamic State is henceforth removed from all official deliberations and communications and the official name is the Islamic State.”
The announcement further justifies its declaration by showing how Allah has given permission for the caliphate’s creation to “carry out the order of Allah (the Exalted) and we are justified – if Allah wills – and we do not care thereafter what happens.”