Abu Musab al-Suri's Military Theory of Jihad

First Part of Translated Excepts from The Call to Global Islamic Resistance:

In April 2008 in response to questions posed by jihadists all over the world regarding al-Qaeda’s strategy, Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri pointed to Abu Musab al-Suri and the ideas presented in his 1600-page book, The Call to Global Islamic Resistance. “The suggestions of Abu Musab [al-Suri] - may Allah release him - present rich thoughts from which the mujahideen can benefit…the intellectual treasure of Sheikh Abu Musab… is a rich river for the mujahideen,” Zawahiri stated in an audio message produced by as-Sahab.

 On password-protected jihadist forums, the results of Zawahiri’s endorsement have been notable; while al-Suri’s book has been viewed as a key strategic document, read and circulated by al-Qaeda supporters everywhere since its publication in December 2004, Zawahiri’s praise for The Call to Global Islamic Resistance has instilled a newfound interest among the jihadist community. Jihadist forum members are now uploading, downloading, distributing, and discussing the book with great fervor.

Indeed, Suri’s book outlines a future strategy for the jihadist movement with the cold pragmatism of a military commander. According to al-Suri, jihadi military theory is based on two key facets: (1) solo or cellular jihad, the act of individual jihadists organizing and carrying out attacks without any connection to or support from an established jihadist group, and (2) travel to and establishment of open jihadi fronts, areas of the world with conditions suitable for sustained urban and guerilla warfare.

The following are translated excerpts from “The Military Theory of the Global Islamic Call to Resistance,” a chapter of Abu Musab al-Suri’s book, preceded by a brief biography of the al-Qaeda strategist.

Background on Abu Musab al-Suri

Abu Musab al-Suri, AKA Mustafa bin Abd al-Qadir Setmarian Nassar, or Umar Abd al-Hakim, is an al-Qaeda operative who once ran one of al-Qaeda's training camps in Afghanistan. Today al-Suri is considered a key leader and strategist for the Global jihadist movement, following the publication of his 1600-page book, “The Call to Global Islamic Resistance,” outlining his strategy for the future of the jihadist movement. Though he was captured in October 2005 in Quetta, Pakistan and remains under arrest to date, his book was released in December 2004 and is currently a subject continually circulated and consumed by jihadists all over the world.

 Al-Suri was born October of 1958 in Aleppo, Syria, studied mechanical engineering, and was a member of the al-Talia’a al-Muqtial (the Fighting Vanguard), a Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated jihadi group founded by Marwan Hadeed. Al-Suri later received military training in Jordan and Iraq. He joined the jihad in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union and after the war in 1990 he traveled to Spain, France and England, and from there actively supported jihadi groups such as the Algerian Armed Group (GIA).

In 1998 he moved back to Afghanistan, took bayat (pledged allegiance) to the Taliban emir Mullah Omar, and was placed in charge of the “al-Ghuraba’a Camp” (Foreigners Camp). On November 18, 2004, the U.S. State Department announced a $5 million reward for information leading to the arrest of al-Suri.  Al-Suri, meaning “The Syrian,” was indicted in Spain in 2003 for allegedly training al-Qaeda sleeper cells for deployment in Spain, Italy, and France and is believed to have masterminded the Madrid train bombings in March 2004.

  In his book, "The Call to Global Islamic Resistance,” Abu Musab al-Suri expounds upon his theories of how to wage jihad in the next century. The breadth of this 1600 page manifesto is very wide, and topics range from a history of the Islamic world to autobiographical anecdotes about his role in the jihad. A significant portion of his book discusses the most effective strategies for waging jihad against the West. Focusing on the types of attacks that will bring the mujahideen the most success, al-Suri advocates small, individualized cells comprised of only a few people who are not officially connected to any jihadist organization. These cells operate to support the jihadist movement rather than a particular organization or leader.


In his book, al-Suri also describes the types of battlefronts in which the mujahideen should engage. Recognizing that the mujahideen will likely lose an open war with the West, al-Suri advocates guerilla and urban warfare instead of open confrontation, such as when the mujahideen fought the Soviets during the Soviet-Afghan War. Al-Suri embarks on a detailed analysis of the global jihad, ranking the order of the preferred countries and regions in which the mujahideen should attack and how individual cells should claim credit for their attacks. Likewise, he examines the best types of targets to and how to attack them. Al-Suri's trenchant analysis of the global jihad demonstrates he is extremely knowledgeable on how to effectively target the West and the enemies of the mujahideen. His evident experience in jihad and careful thought on how best to wage jihad renders this book a powerful guide for active and potentially active mujahideen.

 Following is a translation of one section from al-Suri’s book discussing the strategy of how to implement the idea of global jihad.

“The Military Theory of the Global Islamic Call to Resistance”

  This chapter is the heart of the book in both of its parts, the reason why the book was written, its introduction, and its chapter’s organization, for it is the core of our idea and its essence.  
     
  I wrote the Call to Resistance’s primary idea in the first statement at the end of 1990 and published it in the beginning of 1991. For its essence, I returned to Afghanistan during the Taliban's reign, and I performed a Herculean effort to transform it into a living, moving project. But it is Allah's will, and we understand [what events brought us to where we are now], and the hope in Allah is large.  
     
  We must concentrate on analyzing the strategy of open fronts and solo jihadi work as a resistance style that should be developed, so as to extract the appropriate military and mobility theory for the coming phase through techniques that have proven their worth.  
     
  And they are; working in open fronts, and covert resistance through solo jhadi work and small cells.  
     

  But before we discuss these two techniques, it is worth our time to look to an important matter, and this is the necessity of planting the idea of globalizing jihad in all aspects, for the enemy has forced us to do this. And so the circumstances will help us to act according to the beliefs of our Ummah in the first place, and this is one of the self-evident characteristics of the creed.  
     
  Our new way of doing jihadi work in the Call to Global Islamic Resistance, is the way and a global call. Also our military theory that we are in the midst of depends on mobilizing in the global horizon. It is the basis of military movement, as opposed to being a political, doctrinal, or religious strategy.  
     
  The idea of belonging to the aggregate of the Ummah and its necessity for jihad:  
     
  This is at a level of religious belief, self-awareness, and geographic belonging, and at every level. So if we come to any Muslim now and ask him where he is from, he will mention his country: Egypt… Syria… from Tunisia… from Saudi Arabia… etc… He will not mention his city first to say that he is from Damascus or Beirut or Cairo or Tashkent because he is resolved to accepting the borders of Sykes-Picot that the colonialists drew onto his mind. What we must reinforce now in the midst of the mujahideen who are insisting on resistance; is the truth of the feeling of belonging according to what Allah said:  
     
  And thank Allah that the military attack now has put us on one map entitled (the area of Middle Operations) and includes most of the countries of the Arab and Islamic World, and also in the political angle and the political and economic and civilizational attack.. for Bush has forced us into one map that comprises the same area and he called it the “Great Middle East”…  
     
  So the enemy globalized our cause by attacking us, thank Allah. And this helps those who were not able to grasp our ideas on the thoughts of the Ummah which is one of the tenets of our religion.  
     
  It should be noted that this belonging to the Ummah has an important military dimension that aids in the understanding of the military theory of the Call to Global Islamic Resistance.  
     
  For it rises strategically in the Ummah dimension to all the large Muslim nation, and it cannot succeed if we excised this global Ummah dimension.  
     
  So if we look at the jihad of the fronts and decided to face America in open fronts, we would find that for the jihad to succeed in any front that would require strategic conditions which are available only in certain, limited parts of the Islamic world. While these fronts need jihadis from any Muslim nation…  
     
  Also in the covert, solo jihad, the work is in the Ummah and global horizon, where the horizons of this work are opened by ignoring borders and nations. For the enemy invades Iraq and faces us there, and also in Palestine now… so is it a duty that a mujahid in Tunis, or Morocco, or Indonesia go to Iraq to come to save his brothers… a few can do this, and will be very difficult in a time when the traitorous regimes cooperate with the enemy in the field of standing with America against the mujahideen. But any Muslims who wish for jihad and resistance can participate in this battle against America in his country or anywhere else, and with hundreds of times more efficacy than if he could go to the field of open jihad.  
     
  Thus, one must feel like one is belonging to the Ummah and its world, in the geographic, political, and military aspects, and every aspect. But the strange thing is that those who look at these straight lines, bent lines, and strangely distorted lines that draw the maps of our lands see that when the pens and rulers of the infidels in the colonialist ministries delineated them, they dug in the hearts and minds of most of the sons of this Ummah. The strange thing is that this tragedy only happened tens of years ago, since the fall of the aggregate political essence of the Ummah in 1924, when the final symbolic Caliph of this Ummah fell. So we must open the minds of the youth and their hearts so they can feel a sense of belonging to the whole Ummah. And this is the basis of the religion and the creed, and it is also in the politics and the strategic military conception.  
     
  The military theory of the Global Islamic Call to Resistance  
     
  The military theory of the Call to Resistance rises on the reliance of jihad on two aspects:  
     
  1. Solo jihadi terror work and the covert work of small cells that are completely disconnected from each other  
     
  2. Participation in the open fronts of jihad whenever the circumstances allow it  
     
  And we direct attention to:  
     
  Cellular or solo jihadi terror according to urban or suburban gang warfare is the basis in tiring the enemy and making him reach a state of collapse and retreat, Allah willing.  
     
  As for the jihad of open fronts, it is the basis of controlling the land and freeing it and establishing Allah's law on it, with Allah's assistance.  
     
  Solo jihadi terror and gang warfare done by small cells paves the way for the other type (the jihad of open fronts), and helps it, and supports it. But without confrontation and control, we can establish no nation. And this is the strategic aim of the project of the resistance.  
     
  This is the summary of what the military theory I crystallized in its final form and laid down in lectures that I recorded in the summer of 2000. But what happened after that in confrontations on the front lines between us and the American forces in the battles of the fall of the Emirate in Afghanistan in December 2001 and also some battles after that, such as the battle of Shahi Kot that the Americans called “Operation Anaconda”, where they suffered hundreds of casualties, and other confrontations we paid a high strategic price in these confrontations despite that the losses the America and its allies sustained.  
     
  And like what happened when the Americans destroyed some areas of the mujahideen in Kurdistan in Iraq in Kurmal by using the strategy of aerial bombardment and concentrated American rocket attacks, [facilitating] the movement of the troops of the agent regime supported by American special forces to the mujahideen sites.  
     
  All this proved that the operations confronting the American forces and their allies in an open away according to the style of open fronts, and launching from permanent defense centers, is still too early - and it will come Allah willing - and this is now due to the fairy-tale like technological superiority of the opposing forces, especially in the aerial aspect, and in the control of space and the amazing capabilities in reconnaissance and directing aerial and rocket bombardment, as well as the amazing, incomparable abilities of the opposing forces in aerial transport and incursions, so powerful that they put down squadrons of armor and cannons and commandos in strategic sizes to anywhere they want and in record speeds.  
     
  If we accompanied these current, important lessons with lessons of tragic jihadi experiences many of which come from gang warfare, “permanent defense”, like what happened with us in the jihad in Syria in (the battles of Hamah - February 1982), and in the battles of Tyre against the Syrian government forces, and in the defense of “Tel al-Zatar” in Beirut, Lebanon, against the Syrian and Lebanese forces by land and Israel by land and air!!!,... etc., we say that all of them confirm what we studied and have taught in (the rules of gang warfare), and what they preach when they say that “permanent defense” in the wrong time is one of the biggest mistakes of gang [warfare], as was laid down in the books by the most proficient practitioners of this art such as Mao Tse Tong, Guevara, Jiyyab, and Castro... and others.  
     
  The summary I came to is this:  
     
  The main focus of military operations for resisting America and its allies now, must remain in the context of “light gang warfare”, “urban terrorism”, and the covert style, and especially in the context of solo operations and small and wholly separated resistance cells.  
     
  But with that I say: Any change of balance in favor of the resistance and jihad, removes the influence of American hegemony in places that have the circumstances of open fronts, as I mentioned before, brings back the issue of open confrontation to liberate the land and establishing a base of operations on it and establishing the political and legal foundation of a Muslim power a goal we must always strive for whenever the opportunity allowed.  
     
  Now, we will discuss the details of the military theory of the Call to Global Islamic Resistance in the area of fronts and in the area of solo gang warfare. I begin with the fronts, due to the brevity of their details and our little need for it now. And I will elaborate about the primary technique in current situations, which I think will last for a long time unless Allah's mercy will change the balance of power.  
     
  First: The jihad of open fronts  
     
  If one can perform solo jihad in any part of the Arab and Muslim world, indeed in the whole world, because this is not tied to certain objective conditions, then the jihad of open fronts needs certain strategic conditions necessary to provide the circumstances of success Allah willing.  
     
  The necessary conditions for the success of open fronts jihad:  
     
  Geographic conditions:  
     
  And they are conditions of the land which are:  
     
  Wide area  
     
  Varied terrain and long borders  
     
  Difficult to surround  
     
  Possesses relatively rough areas with mountains and forests or both which would help to regroup and face the forces on the ground, and I prefer tree-covered mountains.  
     
  Another of the conditions should be that the land be rich in nutritional resources and have enough water in case of a siege.  
     
  Population Conditions:  
     
  This is the need for a large population whose movement cannot be tracked, especially if it is spread in suburban or highly concentrated urban centers, and so the people of that region would know its military mettle, and its ability for confrontation and have patience for it, and to have weapon sources in that region.  
     
  Political conditions:  
     
  This is the presence of a cause that provides the potential for the local inhabitants to have faith in, in a manner sufficient to make then do jihad in its name. And the idea must be able to rally the Muslim Ummah behind it, so support these people in religion and jihad with souls and money.. and other means of support. The best of the causes that lead to resistance are outside invasions and the plentitude of religious political and social-economic reasons for revolution and jihad. And this is what is referred in gang warfare books as the revolutionary climate and we will dub it in our literature the “jihadi climate”.  
     
  According to these conditions we can benefit by studying these conditions in three major examples that happened in the past in the jihad of open fronts: In Afghanistan, Chechnya, and Bosnia…  
     
  If we exhibit the countries of the Muslim world and its provinces, according to the political divisions, from the viewpoint of these strategic conditions, you will find that provinces and countries where these conditions are fulfilled, especially the geographic and population requirements, are weak in most of these artificial countries and are weak in extremely cunning ways.  
     

 

 

  As for the cause, if the whole Ummah is not behind it, then it will be weak. Regarding the revolutionary climate due to religious or social or economic motives against the tyranny of the rulers and their agents, it has been smothered by the scholars of the sultans and those lethargic callers to faith that are to be found everywhere. They planted in the mind of the Ummah that those who do not rule according to Allah's law... are the ones who are the believers! And those who befriended the enemies is our caretaker and the crown of our head!!  
     
  Therefore, one must search for the keys to the revolution and the resistance and jihad, under the emblem of facing the American Zionist invasion today for the entire Ummah. So that the scholars of the Sultans and the media outlets can succeed only in falling along with their rulers and their master America when they attempt to thwart this call, and this is what is happening today.  
     
  As for the suitability of areas of the Muslim world in open front confrontations, I rank them according to the fulfillment of the conditions according to provinces and not political constructs. And the areas are:  
     
  1. Afghanistan:  
     
  I have already shown its characteristics.  
     
  2. Countries of Central Asia and those behind the river:  
     
  This is a large area almost 5 million square kilometers. and has nearly 50 million Muslims and fulfills all the conditions of open fronts combat, especially with the continuing presence of the Soviet invasion in some of them and the leaking of the semi-public American invasion in the rest of them by the way of modern colonialism in the American way. I have written a research paper entitled, “Muslims in Central Asia”, where I dealt with this matter in detail.  
     
  3. Yemen and the Arabian Peninsula:  
     
  This is a huge area whose aggregate area exceeds 2.5 million square kilometers and its combined population [of] approximately 45 million people. And its main fort for open fronts is Yemen. And it has fulfills several strategic and religious and economic and location requirements…and I have also written a research paper about this jihad in the Arabian peninsula and its main focal point Yemen[,] which nullifies the need for doing so here. [The author here includes a footnote, saying that one should refer to the letter of “The Responsibility of the People of Yemen for the Riches of the Muslims and their Holy Sites” written by Abu Musab al-Suri.]  
     
  4. Morocco and North Africa:  
     
  This is also a large area with open land borders, with long water borders, with many mountains and natural forts with enough resources and weaponry [making it] hard to surround due to its variety and number of borders. Also, its Arabic and Berber population have been known historically with hardiness, courage, and fighting ability. The area has many weapon resources from central and West Africa, and its marine proximity to Europe provides many advantages, not to mention that the area in North Africa and especially Morocco fulfills most of the conditions of a jihadi revolutionary climate, [with] economic invasion and Western and Jewish control providing the golden key to spark jihad, as well.  
     
  5. The Levant Area and Iraq:  
     
  This would be a continuous and complete province has an area exceeding 700,000 square kilometers and fulfills all the requirements of an open front confrontation, especially in the hilly areas of north and west Iraq, and north and west Syria, and in most of Lebanon, and also in the plateaus in the east of the River Jordan and to its north…and a population size exceeding 60 million people.  
     
  The American invasion that now has declared its intent to stay for the long run has paved the way for its aggression against Syria to control the entire Levant area, after the Jews invade Syria and the Christians control Lebanon, and America controls every little detail in Jordan.  
     
  In addition, there are many weapon resources in the area, and there is a variety of borders and coasts and pathways. Also, Israel is a global Muslim motivator, and the American invasion adds a great revolutionary dimension as the key to jihad…  
     
  There are similar areas that have fulfilled many of the requirements, for open fronts such as Turkey, which is one of the most suitable countries for jihadi gang warfare, where all the needs are met, and even more so Pakistan and some areas in the Horn of Africa. But the great majority of nations and Muslim regimes, whose number comes to almost 55 nations, do not work for open fronts confrontations, since they do not fulfill all the conditions.  
     
  And here, one must note the political cause that will be the issue of struggle and rallying to confront the enemy. For it must be, as I explained earlier, a matter of throwing out the American invasion in the area, and a matter of the conflict with the Jews, a matter of throwing out the infidels from the Arabian Peninsula, a matter of oil and resources, a matter of American hubris, and the tyranny that came with the invaders and their allies in the area.