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New article from Shaykh Abū Basīr al-Ṭarṭūsī: “The Sunnah of Iraq Between Two Swords: The Sword of the Ghulāt al-Rawāfiḍ and the Sword of the Ghulāt al-Khawārij”

Click the following link for a safe PDF copy: Shaykh Abū Basīr al-Ṭarṭūsī — “The Sunnah of Iraq Between Two Swords- The Sword of the Ghulāt al-Rawāfiḍ and the Sword of the Ghulāt al-Khawārij”

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Source: http://abubaseer.bizland.com/

To inquire about a translation for this article for a fee email: azelin@jihadology.net

Hizballah Cavalcade: IRGC’s First Martyr vs. ISIS in Iraq?

NOTE: For prior parts in the Hizballah Cavalcade series you can view an archive of it all here.

IRGC’s First Martyr vs. ISIS in Iraq?

By Phillip Smyth

Is This Iran IRGC martyr5

Figure 1: Post claiming the IRGC member was killed fighting in Samarra.

According to Iranian media outlets Ali Reza Moshajari, a member of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), was reportedly killed in an accident on June 14, 2014.1 In another article written by the IRGC-linked Tasnim News, Moshajari was killed in “Western Iran” while on “a mission.” In all of the articles he is described as a “martyr” or “hero martyr.” However, his death was not such an open and shut case. In fact, Moshajari’s death may be further evidence of direct IRGC presence in Iraq.

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Figure 2: Moshajari in his IRGC uniform.

Before official announcements were made by groups such as Kata’ib Hizballah or Lebanese Hizballah stating they were both involved in fighting in Syria, both organizations would give vague explanations for the funerals of their members. The former would claim members had died due to illness or for other non-combat related reasons. Lebanese Hizballah would often only state that their fallen fighter had been “killed doing his jihadist duty.” Nevertheless, on social media run by many of these elements, it would be stated that the fallen fighters had in fact been killed in Syria. This may be the same type of structured announcement.

In some ways, this mirrors the announcements for the fallen IRGC member who was not only listed as a martyr for battle on a mission of some sort, but had competing accounts for how and where he died.

On Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-linked (often these pages are run directly by the IRGC for internal and narrative purposes) social media networks–which run the gambit from Twitter and Facebook to Google Plus and YouTube—have cast Moshajari as an IRGC fighter who had been “martyred” in the IRGC deployment to Iraq.

It is possible that Moshajari was actually killed in an accident while deploying with IRGC units to sections of Iraq bordering Iran. CNN reported that 500 IRGC had been deployed to Diyala, an Iraqi province on the border with Iran.2 In Diyala Province, Kata’ib Hizballah and other Iraqi Shia Islamist groups backed by Iran have also reported being engaged in combat against units belonging to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS).

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Figure 3: An IRGC Facebook page claiming Moshajari was the first IRGC martyr in Iraq while defending the shrines.

However, other Facebook-based sites with links to Iran’s regional Shia Islamist proxies and the IRGC also claimed that he had been involved in the “defense of Samarra.” Samarra has been a city of heavily publicized deployments by Iran’s Shi’a Islamist proxies within Iraq, mainly due to the fact that the holy Askari Shrine is located in the city.

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Figure 4: Killed IRGC member’s martyrdom poster. The poster was circulated primarily on Facebook and Twitter. It claims he was an “Iranian defender of Karbala.”

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Figure 5: A photo of Moshajari’s face prior to his funeral.

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Hizballah Cavalcade: Singing Hizballah’s Tune in Manama: Why Are Bahrain’s Militants Using the Music of Iran’s Proxies?

NOTE: For prior parts in the Hizballah Cavalcade series you can view an archive of it all here.

Singing Hizballah’s Tune in Manama: Why Are Bahrain’s Militants Using the Music of Iran’s Proxies?

By Phillip Smyth

Singing Hizballahs Tune in Manama

Figure 1: A screenshot of a Hizballah musical band performing at the 2013 “Resistance and Liberation Festival”

Bahraini officials have repeatedly accused anti-government militants and protesters in the country of being supplied, trained, and supported by Iran and its numerous regional proxies. Still, the government of Bahrain has done little to bolster their claims of deep and intrinsic links between Bahraini militants and Tehran. Along with official Iranian denials, the issue of Iran-Bahraini militant links is still quite hazy. Nonetheless, this does not mean that within the material released by Bahraini militant organizations that there are not hints of some level of Iranian influence. One of the more intriguing pieces pointing to influence from Iranian-backed organizations comes from the utilization of specific types of music in the many propaganda videos released by Bahraini militants, their sympathizers, and amplifiers.

Numerous instances of Bahraini militants producing propaganda videos with different varieties of music created and utilized by Iranian-backed proxies could indicate a connection with Iran’s proxies. Nevertheless, this type of overlap should not be viewed as a “smoking gun” affirming Iranian involvement. However, it does assist in piecing together direct and indirect influences.

The pieces of music in question were originally developed and used by Iranian proxy organizations, particularly Lebanese Hizballah, Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq (AAH), and Kata’ib Hizballah. In fact, some of the songs that have been promoted fit a long standing media strategy employed by the aforementioned groups and Iran when manufacturing narratives and perceptions for themselves and other armed groups.

The use of music as a transferable propaganda medium follows a very formulaic strategy used by Iran and its “Islamic Resistance” proxy organizations for many years. Often, songs produced for one group are repackaged for newer organizations in other geographic locations. The songs are then altered in a way to make them appeal to the populations and target audience where the new group is located.

Possible Reasons for Using Specific Songs

Why would Bahraini militant groups utilize Hizballah and its Iraqi clones’ music and with such frequency? Some possible answers include:

  • Direct Iranian influence or assistance provided to the developing militant groups.
  • Video editing/production was offered to Bahraini militants by Iran and/or its proxies as a means to influence and shape militant organizations and to encourage the adoption of a more bellicose strategy to the broader (and more peaceful) protester audience.
  • Bahraini militants sympathize with Iranian-proxy groups, their exploits, and with the general concept of “Al-Muqawama al-Islamiyya” (“The Islamic Resistance”). The hope to be as successful, feared, and/or respected as those organizations has led them to adopt the same varieties of music.
  • Thumbing their nose at the government: With the government of Bahrain accusing protesters and militants of being Iranian proxies, militant groups may use the material as a way to subtly frighten or encourage speculation among Bahraini government and other observers.
  • Narrative Goals: One song by Lebanese Hizballah’s Ali al-Attar called “Wa’ad al-Asra” or “The Prisoner’s Promise” was written to celebrate the release of prisoners Hizballah sought to free during the 2006 Hizballah-Israel War. While the song makes clear references to Lebanese Hizballah and themes related to the 2006 war, the same song was employed by some Bahraini protesters (as background music for their uploaded clips) when they protested the government’s detention of key protest-leaders.

Auto-Tuning the Revolution: Examples of the Musical Overlap

In March 2014, a music video which was claimed to have been produced by “Saraya al-Bahrainiyya al-Muqawama” or the Bahraini Resistance Brigades, (which is likely another name used by The February 14 Youth Coalition’s Saraya al-Muqawama al-Sha’biya [Popular Resistance Brigades]) was posted by the popular Revolution Bahrain’s YouTube Channel. The video featured a montage of edited clips, which purported to show Bahraini militants engaged in training. The music video also included a number of videos of bombings orchestrated by militant Bahraini organizations.

Yet, the music used was strikingly familiar in the circles of Iranian-backed Shi’a Islamist groups. In fact, Iranian-backed Iraqi group, Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq had released the exact tune back in 2011 to commemorate attacks the group orchestrated against U.S. targets to demonstrate solidarity with Bahrain’s protesters. Later in 2011, when fellow Iranian proxy Kata’ib Hizballah released footage of attacks it had also launched in solidarity with Bahraini protesters, it too used the same song.

However, the song was neither originally Bahraini nor Iraqi, instead its origins were rooted father to the west, in Lebanon. The original song, “Risalat al-Thuwar” (“Message of the Rebels”), was performed by one of Lebanese Hizballah’s official bands, Firqat al-Fajr (The Dawn Band), following the 2006 Hizballah-Israel War. It first appeared on the band’s 2007 “Lahan al-Turab” or “Melody of the Soil” album. Still, the rendition dealing with Bahrain was not the only version of the song. Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq had their own Iraq/Grand Ayatollah Muhammad Muhammad Sadiq Sadr (as opposed to Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah) themed “Risalat Thuwar” produced in 2011.

“Risalat al-Thuwar” is not the only Hizballah song which has been adopted and rebranded by Bahraini militants and their amplifiers. Another song used by Bahraini militants also comes from Firqat al-Fajr. The song, “Ya Wa’ad Allah” (“O Promise of God”) can be found on the group’s 2008 album, “Sharit Wa’ad Allah” (“Take the Promise of God”). The song has been released in different formats, with more recent music video varieties showcasing the assassinated Hizballah terror-mastermind Imad Mughniyeh. The album also included an instrumental version of the song. Both versions have been prominent features on productions done by Hizballah’s Al-Manar TV network.

In Bahrain, “Ya Wa’ad Allah” was used as background for clips released to the popular (particularly with militant groups) Revolution Bahrain’s YouTube account. One of these videos included the firebombing of an armored car used by Bahraini government forces.

It is not just the polished music video-quality material finding its way into Bahraini militant propaganda productions. Bahraini militant group Saraya al-Mukhtar released a video of their April 2014 targeting of Bahraini police with an improvised explosive device. Another bomb attack in Bani Jamra also utilized the same background music.

The musical selection in the background matched with instrumentals used by Iraq’s Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq. This music was first featured on the AAH-affiliated Al-Ahad TV in the late summer/fall of 2013 to commemorate Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq members killed fighting in Syria. Further pointing to some level of Iranian or Iranian proxy influence, is highly unlikely that this particular musical element could find its way into so many pieces of released footage. This may indicate some Bahraini militant footage being sent abroad (possibly to Iraq) where the footage is re-edited and put back together for a later introduction.

Another similar instrumental used by Bahraini militants with Saraya al-Mukhtar and Saraya al-Ashtar was also the same exact tune utilized in a number of Kata’ib Hizballah video releases (see: 00.17-00.40 on “Kata’ib Hizballah Anti-America Video”).

The use of the last two instrumentals create further questions. Why would these groups, which have resorted to using a variety of improvised weapons, and exist under increasing heavy security crackdowns, spend the time to find, edit, and utilize background instrumentals which already have obscure points of origin. Why pick these two exact instrumentals, which have only been found in the repertoire of Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq and Kata’ib Hizballah? Other Bahraini protest organizations have utilized a variety of different musical accompaniments. Thus, the use of these particular musical pieces seem out of place when compared to the rest of what has been released.

Whatever the reasons, closely assessing the propaganda published by these organizations may provide insight into rather opaque organizations. While assessing the musical selections may appear to be a tangential escapade, AAH, Kata’ib Hizballah, and Lebanese Hizballah have all demonstrated their strategy of using this material as another method to push the narrative of the “Islamic Resistance.”

Hizballah Cavalcade: Asa’ib al-Muqawama al-Bahrainia: An Emerging Militant Group in Bahrain?

NOTE: For prior parts in the Hizballah Cavalcade series you can view an archive of it all here.

Asa’ib al-Muqawama al-Bahrainia: An Emerging Militant Group in Bahrain?

By Phillip Smyth

Asaib al-Muqawama al-Bahraini

Figure 1: Asa’ib al-Muqawama al-Bahrainia’s logo.

Asa’ib al-Muqawama al-Bahrainia (The League of Bahraini Resistance or AMB) was first established and marketed as an independent militant organization on February 22, 2014. The group’s founding announcement claimed that the time had become ripe for armed opposition against Bahrain’s ruling monarchy due to the government’s actions. As with other Bahraini militant groups, little is known about AMB’s manpower or armed capabilities.

Regardless, unlike other Bahraini militant organizations, AMB’s founding announcement has found its way onto many different online venues catering to a wide range of readers.[1]

AMB’s statements appear online in bursts. February 22 and February 28, 2014 have been the two dates this organization has placed a series of announcements in public. This pattern is reminiscent of another Bahraini organization, a proto-militant group which went by a similar name, Asa’ib al-Muqawama (The Resistance League). Using Twitter, Asa’ib al-Muqawama released 33 announcements (in both Arabic and English) between April 21 and 22, 2012. Asa’ib al-Muqawama’s threats centered on Bahrain’s controversial Formula One race. One of these statements claimed responsibility for planting three homemade bombs at the race location.  At time, there were also instances of Molotov cocktails being thrown at some (from Team India) affiliated with the race.[2] Additionally, on April 9, 2012, seven Bahraini police were wounded due to an improvised bomb planted in the town of Akr.[3] Albeit, neither of these attacks were linked to Asa’ib al-Muqawama.

After their last tweet on April 22, 2012, Asa’ib al-Muqawama went quiet. This is similar to how AMB went silent after their last February 28, 2014 statement. There is a possibility of a link between AMB and Asa’ib al-Muqawama, considering the groups espouse the same militarism, utilized a similar name, and have released announcements in bursts over two-day periods. In fact, AMB’s official Twitter account also describes itself as “Asa’ib al-Muqawama.” It is possible that AMB developed out of the original Asa’ib al-Muqawama. However, beyond these assumptions, there is little substantiating open-source information to assist in confirming any links.

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Figure 2: Asa’ib al-Muqawama’s English language Tweet-announcement, declaring they had planted 3 bombs at the Bahrain F1 race.

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Figure 3: Asa’ib Muqawama’s logo.

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Figure 4: AMB’s first announcement.

On February 28, 2014 AMB announced the launch of their, “Fist of Righteousness” operation to avenge the death of Ja’afar al-Derazi. Derazi, whose burial occurred the day of the announcement, was a 22 year old anti-government activist. According to opposition and pro-Iran sources, Derazi died due to torture and other forms of maltreatment when he was detained within a government jail cell.[4] In revenge for Derazi’s death, on April 11, 2014, Saraya al-Mukhtar claimed responsibility for an attack targeting Bahraini police. Nevertheless, AMB has not yet claimed any other attacks as part of their “Fist of Righteousness” campaign.

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Figure 5: AMB’s second announcement from February 28, 2014.

AMB Joins YouTube

AMB’s official YouTube account claimed to release a video introducing the group on February 21, 2014. However, the first publicly accessible copy of the video was uploaded and released on February 22, 2014. In the video, supposed AMB members are shown marching in formation, extending their arms in a Roman salute. Demonstrating their potential roots as militant offshoots of the larger Bahraini protest movement, young balaclava wearing men hold tires in one of their displays. Tires are a regular feature in some protests; often laid across stretches of road, coated in gasoline, and lit on fire.

Furthering religious themes was also a feature of the film. Young marching militants are seen holding Qurans, wearing white (in addition to other colors) burial shrouds symbolizing a willingness to be martyred, and holding flags with “Ya Husayn” (“O Husayn”) written on them. The “Ya Husayn” flags symbolize a Shia-centric theme, recalling Husayn’s martyrdom via beheading, at the pivotal Battle of Karbala.[5] These flags have also made regular appearances during anti-government protests.

The promotional clip also claims to show AMB launching operations against internal security elements (primarily the Bahraini police). Segments of film featuring Molotov throwing youths are a main theme. However, these clips are usually from earlier films recorded by more violent activists associated with the February 14 Youth Coalition. It is possible this footage demonstrates a further link to the February 14 Youth Coalition or it was simply repackaged by AMB to show a broader theme surrounding the “resistance” against the Bahraini government and their forces.

AMB also appears to have a preoccupation with utilizing weapons which can burn their foes. This may be the result of protester use of Molotov cocktails. Utilizing the limited available tools, some Bahraini protesters, particularly younger male militants, have often thrown Molotov cocktails at Bahraini internal security forces. The theme of the Molotov thrown at Bahraini police, particularly their vehicles, was regularly utilized in AMB’s introductory video. However, the focus on using weapons which can kill and injure using fire does not appear to stop with Molotovs. In one part of their video, AMB shows Bahraini police engulfed in a wall of flame, likely caused by a bomb or another incendiary device.

AMB’s Badge

AMB’s logo may also show links to Saraya al-Ashtar (SaM), one of the first publicly established Bahraini militant organizations. Featuring two crossed M16-style rifles within a circle (which could potentially symbolize a pearl, a recognized emblem of Bahrain), the group’s logo mirrors SaM’s official symbol. This logo also included two crossed rifles (albeit, of the Kalashnikov variety) within a circle representing a pearl.

An Asa’ib of Their Own?

When investigating potential links between AMB, Iran, or Iranian-backed proxies, there was some evidence of overlap between AMB & Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq (AAH). On March 13, 2014, AMB’s founding statement was circulated on AAH’s extensive network of Facebook pages. This often coincided with claims that AMB was representative of AAH’s spreading brand. Claims of this nature may be an Iranian proxy attempt to demonstrate a substantial link to the Bahraini militant group. Both groups utilize similar language, with AMB describing itself as the “Bahraini Resistance” and AAH calling itself the, “Islamic Resistance in Iraq.”  Still, there is the possibility that AAH could be jumping on an organically constructed (in Bahrain) group while skillfully playing on AMB’s similar name, all in an effort to claim a connection and demonstrate a broader reach. It is important to note that it took AAH nearly a month before pages associated with the group started to carry AMB’s founding statement.

Another potential link includes religious and ideological themes. The AMB’s founding statement mentioned the group was following their taklif. A taklif, or religiously mandated order, was developed and utilized for political and social events by those embracing Iranian Islamic Revolutionary concepts.[6] The mention of a taklif mirrors a similar statement made by fellow Bahraini militant group, Saraya al-Mukhtar, which also mentioned they were picking-up arms against the government due to a taklif.

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Figure 6: A post promoting the first AMB declaration on an official Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq Facebook page.

Is AMB Dormant?

At the time of this writing, the last statement issued by AMB was released via their Twitter account on February 28. Since that time, AMB has not itself claimed any new attacks, seen related militant groups, protest organizations, or the official Bahraini media, cite any new actions by the group. While little has been heard from this organization since it’s nearly 2 month-long period of silence, AMB’s release of formal statements, broad web-presence (including their YouTube video release), overlap between itself and other Bahraini militant groups, and other attack claims, may indicate AMB is still active.

AMB’s activities may be continuing as members of the organization act as integral elements within other Bahrain militant groups. If there is a true link between the AMB and Asa’ib al-Muqawama, it is possible that following the established model, a new wave of attack-claims could be registered on an entirely new online/social networking apparatus.

Nevertheless, until AMB claims another attack or has an allied organization claim an attack for them, it will be impossible to know what has become of this group

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[1] Note: Numerous Sunni Islamist and Shia Islamist forums, Facebook pages, and Twitter profiles have all spread around AMB’s founding statement.

[2] See: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/formulaone/article-2131934/Bahrain-Grand-Prix-2012-Force-India-caught-petrol-bomb-attack.html.

[3] See: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-17663642.

[4] See: http://alwefaq.net/cms/2014/02/28/27444/. This post was written by the main Bahraini opposition party, Al-Wefaq. See also: http://www.almanar.com.lb/adetails.php?fromval=2&cid=221&frid=21&seccatid=221&eid=760912. This article originated from Lebanese Hizballah’s Al-Manar TV network

[5] See: http://books.google.com/books?id=Idp6FWByq6oC&pg=PT191&dq=beheaded+Husayn+battle+of+karbala&hl=en&sa=X&ei=37xQU_DtFIWR0QHI_ICQBA&ved=0CDIQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=beheaded%20Husayn%20battle%20of%20karbala&f=false.

[6] http://brown-moses.blogspot.com/2013/10/hizballah-executing-syrian-prisoners.html. See my writing about the relevance of the Taklif Sharii among Hizballah and allied Iraqi Shia Islamist groups.

New statement from Jabhat al-Nuṣrah in Lebanon: “Blessed Martyrdom Operation on the Stronghold of the Dreaded Ḥizb Irān in the Region of al-Nabī ‘Uthmān”

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Click the following link for a safe PDF copy: Jabhat al-Nuṣrah in Lebanon — “Blessed Martyrdom Operation on the Stronghold of the Dreaded Ḥizb Irān in the Region of al-Nabī ‘Uthmān”

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Source: http://justpaste.it/nabyothman

To inquire about a translation for this statement for a fee email: azelin@jihadology.net

Hizballah Cavalcade: Bahrain’s Saraya al-Muqawama al-Sha’biya: Militants of the February 14 Youth Coalition

NOTE: For prior parts in the Hizballah Cavalcade series you can view an archive of it all here.

Bahrain’s Saraya al-Muqawama al-Sha’biya: Militants of the February 14 Youth Coalition

By Phillip Smyth

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Figure 1: Saraya al-Muqawama al-Sha’biya’s logo.

Saraya al-Muqawama al-Sha’biya (The Popular Resistance Brigades or SMS), sometimes also called Saraya al-Muqawama (The Resistance Brigades), was listed by the government of Bahrain as a terrorist organization following the deadly March 3, 2014 bombing. The group, along with fellow militant group Saraya al-Ashtar, claimed responsibility for the attack. SMS has been operationally active and publishing its activities online since April 2012. Importantly, Saraya al-Muqawama al-Sha’biya does not hide that they are affiliated with one of the main anti-government protest groups, the February 14 Youth Coalition (which was also listed as a terrorist organization by the government of Bahrain). This is hardly a minor connection, since, both the February 14 Youth Coalition and SMS have also distributed images sharing one another’s logos, organized events (such as protests) together, and share a similar narrative. Other militant groups—namely Saraya al-Ashtar and Saraya al-Mukhtar—have only vaguely claimed to represent links to protestors, let alone main protest organizations.

In June 2013, the Bahraini government accused the February 14 Youth Coalition of having a “spiritual leader” based in Karbala, Iraq and of, “frequently travel[ing] between Iran, Iraq and Lebanon to obtain financial and moral support as well as weapons training.” However, Bahraini authorities provided little substantiating evidence dealing with claims of Iranian or Iranian proxy involvement. Nevertheless, according to Iranian reports, February 14 Youth Coalition representatives have thanked Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei for his comments supportive of their activities. Iranian media has also expressed their support for the “revolutionary activities” of the Bahraini group. Despite these pronouncements, the actual relationship between Iran and the February 14 Youth Coalition, particularly dealing with any attempts at training or equipping militant elements attached to the organization, is still unknown.

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Figure 2: Both the February 14 Youth Coalition and Saraya al-Muqawama al-Sha’biya’s logos on a promotional image released onto multiple February 14 Youth Coalition pages.

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Figure 3: SMS supporters carry the group’s flag during a march.

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Figure 4: SMS and February 14 Youth Coalition supporters march together and carry February 14 Youth Coalition flags.

Initially, the February 14 Youth Coalition did not embrace violence. However, after publishing a series of “warnings” to the Bahraini government, Gulf Arab states (namely, Saudi Arabia and the UAE) which have deployed forces to Bahrain, and foreigners recruited into the Bahrain’s internal security forces (often referred to by the group and other Bahraini militants as, “mercenaries”), the coalition issued communiques demonstrating they would choose a more militant path of “resistance.” In a January 27, 2012 English-language statement made by a February 14 Youth Coalition affiliated page, the group issued a statement reading:

“We have so far preserved our right to use force for self-defense, hoping that would make you hesitant from attacking peaceful protestors, women and children. However, common sense and human logic do not seem to work on you…Our people have decided to bring an end to the illegitimate regime…We shall take no responsibility for whatever might happen to the mercenaries after this final warning.”

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Three months after this announcement, SMS pushed for a response to the holding of the controversial 2012 Bahrain Grand Prix Formula 1 race. The group released images urging protestors to throw the gas (the group claimed it was poisonous) used by Bahraini police at the race cars. However, no armed action was taken against the race by SMS. It is likely that in such an early stage of development and combined with Bahraini government crackdowns, the group was unable to act.

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Figure 5: One of SMS’s English language posters calling for action against the 2012 Grand Prix race.

Narrative Structure

SMS considers its fighters to be “jihadists,” refer to their attacks as “jihadist operations,” and believe they are fighting a “jihad against the infidel Khalifas [Bahrain’s ruling royal family].” While the message of jihad is repeated in many SMS statements, these statements do not share the same level of more complicated religious and ideological messaging found with other non-Bahraini Shia jihadist elements.

SMS also lacks a specific goal for what type of government will rule in Bahrain following a theoretical collapse of the currently ruling Khalifa royal family. Still, this has not stopped the group from constructing complex narratives via militant activity for their enemies.

Following Saraya al-Ashtar’s and SMS’s claim of responsibility for the March 3, 2014 bombing (which killed two Bahraini police officers and a police officer sent by the United Arab Emirates [UAE] to Bahrain), SMS used the opportunity to criticize government claims that forces of the Peninsula Shield Force were being used in conjunction with local Bahraini police forces to counter protests and riots.

Sent to Bahrain in 2011, the Peninsula Shield Force included hundreds from the Saudi military and the UAE’s police force. Officially, these units claimed they were not involved in internal matters in Bahrain and were only interested in securing strategic bases and locations from “external influence.” Regardless, the death of a UAE police officer attached to Bahraini police served as a propaganda coup for SMS.

The timing of the SMS’s bombing claim and messages which proceeded it also fit into a broader message dealing with the Peninsula Shield Force and particularly Saudi Arabia. SMS has demonstrated a specific ire for the Saudis. The organization’s communiques have called Saudi Arabia the “usurper of land,” “occupiers,” and have stated their operations are to “purge the land of its Saudi and Khalifa occupiers.”

In part, this may tie back to February 14 Youth Coalition links to Saudi Shia activists. Researcher Fredric M. Wehrey noted that an “important attribute of the February 14 Youth Coalition is its strong affinity with Shi’a activists in neighboring Saudi Arabia.” Wehrey went on to explain how coordinated protests were conducted by Bahraini and Saudi groups out of solidarity. The February 14 Youth Coalition’s and SMS’s links to the Saudi Shia is also important when viewed in context with announcements by fellow militant organization, Saraya al-Mukhtar. Saraya al-Mukhtar has issued a number of announcements saying they share the cause of the “people of the [Saudi] Eastern Region” –an area heavily populated by Saudi Shia. The shared narrative may demonstrate deeper links between Saraya al-Mukhtar, SMS, and the February 14 Youth Coalition.

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Figure 6: A poster released by the February 14 Youth Coalition asking, “Who are the terrorists?” The photo shows Saudi forces crossing the King Fahd Causeway which links Bahrain to Saudi Arabia.  

As part of the view casting the Saudis as foreign occupiers, activists from SMS and the February 14 Youth Coalition have drawn parallels between Israel and Saudi Arabia; accusing both counties of using the same techniques of occupation. Prior to a series of March 2014 protests against “Saudi occupation”, the February 14 Youth Coalition and SMS circulated images attempting to link Saudi Arabia and Israel as fellow occupying states. This also extended into the realm of February 14 Youth Coalition partisans attempting to directly link the causes of Palestinian and Bahraini demonstrators.

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Figure 7: The Israeli flag flies behind Jerusalem’s Dome of the Rock (left) while a bulldozer is shown destroying the 400 year old Amir Mohammed Braighi Mosque with a Saudi flag behind it (right). The latter incident occurred in 2011 along with the Bahraini government destruction of other Shia mosques. This picture was used as a tool to organize activists for protests and events against the “Saudi occupation.”

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Figure 8: A poster showing a Bahraini protester (with February 14 Youth Coalition) and a Palestinian activist. The former looks to the now demolished Pearl Roundabout statue, the latter looks to the Dome of the Rock. The picture attempts to show a unity of purpose and cause between Palestinian and Bahraini demonstrators.

Symbols of the “Popular Resistance”

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Figure 9: SMS protesters at a February 14 Youth Coalition event demonstrating against “The Saudi Occupation.”

Shia symbolism is heavily featured in the group’s logo.  The most prominent image is the symbolic hand of Shia leader Abbas Ibn Ali; son of the first Shia imam and loyal aid and military leader for the third Shia imam, Husayn ibn Ali. Serving as Husayn’s flag bearer during the historic Battle of Karbala, Abbas’s hand was cut off by one of the forces of Yazid, the reviled leader of the Umayyads, as Abbas went alone to collect water for Husayn’s dehydrated camp. Abbas went on to fight singlehandedly until his other arm was cut off by sword strikes from Yazid’s forces and was then killed. Abbas’s loyalty and steadfastness until being cut down remains an important message for many Shia Muslims.

Another unique feature from the logo is that “The Sacred Defense” is written within the symbolic hand of Abbas. This helps convey that the group’s conflict with the government is viewed as both a defensive and religiously justified action. Intriguingly, the Shia jihad in Syria and the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988) have (by Shia actors) both been described as “The Sacred Defense.”

Behind the hand of Abbas are two crossed swords. In posts published by SMS and their supporters, these swords are often called “sword[s] of pride.” This could be a further symbolic message claiming to show SMS as reclaiming perceived lost dignity by anti-government Bahraini protest and militant elements.

In addition to the group’s logo, symbolic forms of dress are also used by SMS to portray their militant bent. As with many militant groups (in the Middle East and abroad), supporters of the organization dress in balaclavas, uniquely made shirts featuring the SMS logo, and often don headbands featuring religious and other types of slogans. The group’s partisans have also worn white burial shrouds during protests and lower-level attacks (using firebombs), symbolizing their willingness to be martyred.

Improvised Weapons & Many Targets

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Figure 10: An SMS photo from December 2013 claiming to show an attack against a power station.

It is no secret that groups such as Saraya al-Mukhtar and Saraya al-Ashtar have utilized improvised weapons. Yet, as an organization, SMS has not shied away from showcasing its improvisational abilities.

One of the more intriguing attempts to cause disruption within the kingdom involved the launching of small balloons around Bahrain International Airport. The balloon launches started in February 2013 with the hope that air traffic into Bahrain could be halted.  SMS also made sure to photograph and publicize their operation. In a February 15, 2013 announcement, the group stated its goal was to, “paralyze the airport and [gain] full vengeance for the martyrs [of the Bahraini Revolution].” These types of operations continued until mid-April, 2013 and were limited in their success.

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Figure 11: An SMS posted photo of one of the balloons they launched near Bahrain International Airport.

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Figure 12: SMS’s March 12, 2013 announcement calling for airliners not to land at Bahrain International Airport. The notice was published in Arabic and English.

Along with their use of more unique platforms to disrupt infrastructure, SMS has also used improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Their first operation involving explosives took place in August 2012 when SMS planted two “grenades” in the food court of a Bahraini mall. The group issued a communique warning those in the mall to leave. In mid-February 2013, the group targeted the National Bank of Bahrain in Sanad. Reportedly, the bomb exploded at night. As with the 2012 announcement that the group had placed explosives in a mall, it would appear the bank attack was less geared toward causing causalities. Instead, both operations were carried out to demonstrate the group’s capabilities and reach.

Security forces and structures the group claims to be linked to internal security forces have also been high on the SMS target list. In December 2013, the SMS claimed to have attacked a power station which gave energy to “military headquarters…[and] supplies centers of torture.” Also starting in December 2013, SMS also claimed to have planted car bombs in the Bahraini capital of Manama. According to the group, the first attacks were orchestrated to show the government’s weak security abilities in key areas. The group also claimed to have planted other car bombs on January 5 and February 13, 2014 (in the latter attack, internal security forces were attacked).

While the attacks did not result in deaths, the targeting of the airport, a bank, certain neighborhoods, and a mall food court demonstrate the group views that civilian sites are viewed as legitimate targets. In terms of rhetorical structure, SMS has also claimed that these targets were legitimate due to their links to the state. Albeit, it would appear the main thrust of SMS operations target internal security apparatuses and that the group is less inclined to hope for civilian casualties.

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Figure 13: SMS’s Facebook claim stating they had planted two IEDs/grenades at a Bahraini mall.

Despite the fact SMS has not explicitly criticized the United States, on June 29, 2013, the organization claimed to have planted and detonated an IED near the U.S. naval base in Juffair, a section of Manama. This operation appears to have coincided with other protests in the area. The purpose behind the bomb was not explicitly released on pages run by the group. However, it is possible SMS may have been trying to send the U.S. a message about the presence of the Fifth Fleet based in Bahrain and the American alliance with the Bahraini government.

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Figure 14: SMS’s claim of blowing-up an IED near an American base.

al-Awzā’ī Foundation for Media Production presents a new statement from the ‘Abd Allah ‘Azzām Brigades: “On the Raid of the Iranian Cultural Center in Beirut”

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Click the following link for a safe PDF copy: ‘Abd Allah ‘Azzām Brigades — “On the Raid of the Iranian Cultural Center in Beirut”

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Source: http://justpaste.it/bayanmstsh

To inquire about a translation for this statement for a fee email: azelin@jihadology.net

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