The extremist who fought deportation from Britain reinvents himself as a columnist for al-Qaeda propaganda
Abu Qatada, the radical preacher who fought a decade-long battle to avoid deportation from Britain, has denounced “filthy” Shia Muslims in a propaganda article for al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria.
In this four-page missive, written in English, Abu Qatada predicts that Islam will “dominate every land” and the “state of the Jews” will “collapse by the Grace of Allah”.
Stung by the sophistication of the online propaganda of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil), al-Qaeda’s Syrian branch has responded by launching its own glossy online magazine, known as “Al Risalah”. This consciously imitates the imagery of Isil, seeking to present al-Qaeda in Syria - known as Jabhat al-Nusra - as the true leader of the struggle to impose “Allah’s rule” on the world.
Along the way, the magazine aims some subtle digs at Isil – while implicitly conceding the latter’s success with attracting money and recruits. “Gold Plated Attraction” reads a full-page advert, adding: “So it looks like gold. It looks beautiful from the outside, but on the inside it is nothing.”
The target of the attack is made clear by the choice of photograph above these words: the face of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of Isil.
Yet Abu Qatada’s article shows that Jabhat al-Nusra shares Isil’s visceral hatred of all Shia Muslims. Referring to Shias by the derogatory terms “Rafidha” or “Rawafidh”, Abu Qatada writes that Allah “exposes our enemies from amongst the filthy Rawafidh, heretics, and their beloved friends from the amongst the polytheists”.
Abu Qatada, who was finally deported to Jordan in 2013 after struggling for 12 years to stay Britain, adds: “If particular goals are fulfilled and victory is gained for Islam across the globe, it will dominate every land and the state of the Jews will soon after collapse by the Grace of Allah”.
Abu Qatada makes a point of condemning Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hizbollah, the radical Shia movement based in Lebanon. This “evil leader” has set out to “deceive” the people of Syria, writes Abu Qatada.
Elsewhere in the magazine, Abu Mohammed Al-Goulani, the leader of Jabhat al-Nusra, offers a reward of €2 million (£1.4 million) for “whoever kills Hassan Nasrallah”, promising: “We will provide security for him and his family and deliver him to wherever he wishes, and I am guarantor of that, Allah willing.”