In the latest issue of Inspire magazine, published by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, American al-Qaeda commander Anwar al-Awlaki declares that Sharia law requires American Muslims to commit robbery, embezzlement, and theft, for the purpose of funding jihad attacks, financially supporting groups committed to Salafi-jihadi causes, and covering their living expenses.
Al-Awlaki admits that Islamic law allows legitimate Muslim rulers to enter into binding treaties and covenants with non-Muslim nations, but he quickly dismisses this possibility by stating that there are no legitimate Muslim rulers in the world today because they are all apostates. He adds that — even if there were legitimate Muslim rulers — treaties and covenants could not be made with the U.S. because it is at war with Islam.
After a lengthy analysis of how the four schools of Sunni Islam view this topic, he concludes that:
In the case of the United States, both the government and private citizens should be targeted. America and Americans are the Imams of kufr in this day and age. The American people who vote for war mongering governments are intent on no good. Anyone who inflicts harm on them in any form is doing a favor to the ummah. … Since jihad around the world is in dire need of financial support, we urge our brothers in the West to take it upon themselves to give this issue a priority in their plans. Rather than the Muslims financing their jihad from their own pockets, they should finance it from the pockets of their enemies.
Many commentators have mistakenly focused on this new statement as a sign of al-Qaeda’s financial weakness, but they widely miss the point.
Al-Qaeda has never hidden the fact that it needs money. For years, Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and other al-Qaeda leaders have repeatedly cajoled and pleaded for more money from the faithful.
The actual point is that — as of about a year ago — al-Qaeda launched a dynamic new strategic campaign designed to turn American Muslims against their government and transform them into an active and self-sustaining arm of the global jihad. Al-Awlaki’s new declaration simply tells them how they can finance their attacks and make a living at the same time.
Most Americans do not fully comprehend or appreciate the degree to which the al-Qaeda organization has focused its attention on American Muslims. This new focus is a huge departure from al-Qaeda’s past approach, and the fact that its message is tailored for American Muslims in colloquial English written by influential American jihadists such as al-Awlaki, Adam Gadahn, and Samir Khan, delivered via an online magazine with cool graphics and punchy headlines, enables it to engage, influence, and recruit young American Muslims.
Using this tailored mass media approach, al-Qaeda takes American Muslims by the hand and patiently explains to them exactly where they fit into the grand jihad and how, as insiders, they are uniquely positioned to strike a blow against Islam’s fiercest enemy.