Shaykh Ayman Az-Zawahiri – General Guidelines for Jihad

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English: General Guidelines for Jihad

Arabic:  توجيهات عامة للعمل الجهادي

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General Guidelines for Jihad

Shaykh Ayman Az-Zawahiri
First: Introduction

1. It is not a hidden secret that our work in this stage has two aspects:
The first is military and the second propagational.

2. The military work firstly targets the head of (international) disbelief, America and its ally Israel, and secondly its local allies that rule our countries.

a. The purpose of targeting America is to exhaust her and bleed her to death, so that it meets the fate of the former Soviet Union and collapses under its own weight as a result of its military, human, and financial losses. Consequently, its grip on our lands will weaken and its allies will begin to fall one after another.

What transpired during the revolutions in the Arab world is a proof of waning American influence. After receiving relentless blows at the hands of the Mujahideen in Afghanistan and Iraq and facing constant threat to its national security since September 2001, America decided to create some outlet to allow the release of public pressure in Muslim countries. However, the situation blew up in the face of its proxies. By the permission of Allah, the coming stage will witness further decrease in American influence on world affairs and further retreat of America into its own shell, which will also weaken the governments of its allies an proxies.

b. As far as targeting the proxies of America is concerned, it differs from place to place. The basic principle is to avoid entering in any conflict with them, except in the countries where confronting them becomes inevitable.

For example, in Afghanistan, the struggle against them is a part of the fight against Americans.

In Pakistan, the struggle against them complements the fight for the liberation of Afghanistan from American occupation; then it aims at creating a safe haven for the Mujahideen in Pakistan, which can then be used as a launching pad for the struggle of establishing an Islamic system in Pakistan .

In Iraq, the struggle against them aims to liberate the Sunni territories from the Safavid (Shiite) successors of America.

In Algeria, where American presence is negligible and obscure, the struggle against the system aims to weaken it and spread Jihadi influence in the Islamic Maghreb, the West African coastal region and the countries of the southern Sahara. Recently, the prospects of a clash with America and its allies are also becoming evident in this region.

In the Arabian Peninsula, the struggle against them is because of their being proxies of America.

In Somalia, the struggle against them is because of their being the spearhead of the Crusader occupation.

In Syria, the struggle against them is based on the fact that the rulers of Syria do not allow the mere existence of any Islamic entity, let alone a Jihadi one, and their bloody history of trying to uproot Islam is a well-known fact.

In the environs of Jerusalem, the foremost and primary battle is against the Jews, and patience must be exercised, as much as it is possible, with the local rulers who have assumed power under the Oslo arrangement.

3. As far as the propagational work is concerned, it aims to create awareness in the Ummah regarding the threat posed by the Crusader onslaught, clarify the true meaning of Tawheed in the sense that the rule and sovereignty belongs to Allah alone, and stress upon the importance of brotherhood based on Islam and the unity of all Muslims lands. By the permission of Allah, this will serve as a prelude to the establishment of the Caliphate according to the methodology of the Prophet (peace be upon him).

In the propogational field, the basic focus must be on two fronts in this stage:

First: Educating and cultivating the Mujahid vanguard, which shoulders, and will continue to shoulder, with the permission of Allah, the responsibility of confronting the Crusaders and their proxies, until the Caliphate is established.

Second: Creating awareness within the masses, inciting them, and exerting efforts to mobilize them so that they revolt against their rulers and join the side of Islam and those working for its cause.

Second: Necessary Guidelines

Based on this prelude, we can put forth the following guidelines in the light of the rules of Al Siyasah al Shar’iyyah (Politics based on Shariah), which aim at securing interests (maslaha) and averting harm (mafsadah).

1. Focus on spreading awareness amongst the general public so as to mobilize it. Similarly, focus on spreading a greater level of awareness and understanding amongst the Mujahid vanguard to create an organized, united, ideological, and aware Jihadi force that strongly believes in the Islamic faith, adheres to its rulings, shows humbleness to the believers and deals with the disbelievers with firmness. At the same time, full effort should be put in immediately to ensure that people with scholarly and propagational abilities come forth from within the ranks of the Mujahideen so that the our message & ideology may be preserved and the call to Jihad may be spread amongst Muslims.

2. In the military sector, focus should be maintained on constantly weakening the head of international disbelief (America) until it bleeds to death both militarily and financially, its human resources are drained and it withdraws to its own shell after reaching a stage of retreat and seclusion, (sooner rather than later, with the permission of Allah) .

All Mujahid brothers must consider targeting the interests of the western Zionist-Crusader alliance in any part of the world as their foremost duty. They must exert efforts to the best of their ability for this purpose.

Similarly, the brothers must exert maximum efforts to free Muslim prisoners using all means possible, including raiding the prisons where they are being held or taking the citizens of the countries that are participating in the invasion of Muslim countries as hostages so that our prisoners may be freed in exchange.

This being said, it should remain clear that the policy of focusing on the head of disbelief (America) does not conflict with the right of the Muslim masses to wage Jihad with their tongues or by taking up arms against those who oppress them. Hence it is right of our Muslim brothers in the Caucuses to perform Jihad against the Russian aggressor and its allies. It is a right of our brothers in Kashmir to engage in Jihad against the criminal Hindus. It is equally a right of our brothers in Eastern Turkistan to engage in Jihad against the Chinese oppressors. Likewise, it is a right of our brothers in the Philippines, Burma, and in every land where the Muslims are subjected to repression to engage in Jihad against those who oppress them.

3. Avoid entering into an armed clash with the local regimes, except if forced to do so, for example when the local regime is a part of the American forces, as in Afghanistan; or where it wages war against the Mujahideen on behalf of the Americans, as in Somalia and the Arabian Peninsula; or where it does not tolerate the mere presence of Mujahideen, as in the Islamic Maghreb, Syria, and Iraq.

However, entering into an armed conflict against them must be avoided whenever it is possible.

If we are forced to fight, then we must make it clear that our struggle against them is a part of our resistance against the Crusader onslaught against Muslims.

Further, wherever we are afforded the possibility to pacify the conflict with the local rulers so as to avail the opportunity for propagation, expressing our viewpoint, inciting the believers, recruitment, fund raising and gaining supporters, we must make the most of this opportunity; for our struggle is a long one, and Jihad is in need of safe bases and consistent support in terms of men, finances, and expertise.

Yes, this policy in no way contradicts with giving these local regimes -the proxies of the Crusader onslaught- a clear message that we are no easy prey, and every action will meet an appropriate response, even if it comes after a while. This rule should be implemented in every front according to what is appropriate in the given circumstances.

4. Avoid fighting the deviant sects such as Rawafidh, Ismailis, Qadianis, and deviant Sufis, except if they fight the Ahl as Sunnah If they fight the Ahl as Sunnah, even then the response must be restricted to those parties amongst them who are directly engaged in the fight. At the same time, we must make it clear that we are only defending ourselves. Those from amongst them who do not participate in the fight against us and their families, should not be targeted in their homes, places of worship, their religious festivals and religious gatherings. However, this should not stop us from continuously revealing their falsehood and the deviation in their creed and conduct.

As for the areas that come under the control of the Mujahideen, these sects should be dealt with wisdom after inviting them to Islam, creating awareness in them, refuting the doubts, commanding good and forbidding evil in a way that does not result in a greater harm, such as the expulsion of Mujahideen from these areas, a revolt of the masses against them or creating unrest which the enemy may exploit to occupy these areas.

5. Avoid meddling with Christian, Sikh and Hindu communities living in Muslim lands. If they transgress, then a response proportionate to the transgression should suffice. This response should be accompanied with a statement that we do not seek to initiate a fight against them, since we are engaged in fighting the head of disbelief (America); and that we are keen to live with them in a peaceful manner after an Islamic state is established in the near future, Allah willing.

6. Generally, avoid fighting or targeting those who have not raised arms against us or aided in any such hostile act and maintain focus primarily on the Crusader Alliance and then upon their local surrogates.

7. Refrain from killing and fighting against non-combatant women and children, and even if they are families of those who are fighting against us, refrain from targeting them as much as possible .

8. Refrain from harming Muslims by explosions, killing, kidnapping or destroying their wealth or property.

9. Refrain from targeting enemies in mosques, markets and gatherings where they mix with Muslims or with those who do not fight us.

10. Observe respect of Islamic scholars and defense of their honour since they are the inheritors of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and leaders of the Ummah. This obligation becomes even more profound with regards to the scholars who declare the truth and give sacrifices for its sake. Our confrontation of evil scholars is restricted to refuting the doubts raised by them and publicizing incontrovertible evidence of their treachery. They should neither be fought nor killed except if they commit a military act against the Muslims or the Mujahideen.

11. The stance regarding other Islamic groups:

a. We cooperate on what we agree and advice and correct each other on what we disagree.

b. Our basic confrontation is with the enemies of Islam and those who hold animosity towards Islam. Therefore, our differences with other Islamic groups should not distract us from confronting the enemies of Islam on the military, propogational, ideological or political fronts.

c. If a group that claims allegiance to Islam is ever involved in fighting against us alongside the disbelieving enemy, it must not be responded with more than a minimal response that would be sufficient to stop its aggression, so as to close the door of strife amongst Muslims and to avoid harming those who do not fight alongside the enemy.

12. The stance regarding the revolutions of the oppressed against the oppressors :


1. Support: Since supporting the oppressed against the oppressor is an obligation in Shariah, irrespective of whether either one of them is Muslim or non-Muslim.

2. Participation: Since supporting the oppressed against the oppressor is a part of commanding good and forbidding evil, which has been made obligatory upon us.

3. Guidance: By explaining that the purpose of one’s actions should be to establish Tawheed by adhering to the commands of Allah, making Shariah supreme and striving to establish an Islamic system and an Islamic state.

13. Encourage and support everyone who supports the rights of oppressed Muslims and confronts those who transgress against them with his words, opinion or actions. Avoid directing any harm towards such people or attacking them verbally or physically, as long as they remain supportive and do not show hostility towards Muslims.

14. Protecting the rights of Muslims and respecting their sanctities, wherever they may be.

15. Providing help and support to the victims of oppression, whether Muslims or non-Muslims, against those who oppress them. Supporting and encouraging everyone who helps them, even if he is a non-Muslim.

16. The Mujahideen must strive to refute every false and unjust accusation hurled against them and clarify the truth regarding such accusations. And if it becomes clear to the Mujahideen that they have committed a particular mistake, they must seek the forgiveness of Allah for it, publicly disassociate themselves from the mistake of the person who has fallen in error and try to compensate those who have been harmed, in accordance with the requirements of the Shariah and to the maximum of their strength.

17. We call upon the heads of all groups and organizations that work under Qaidatul Jihad Organization (Al Qaida) and all our supporters and sympathizers to spread these guidelines amongst their followers, whether in positions of responsibility or ordinary individuals; for this document contains no hidden secrets, rather it is a general policy guideline. Its purpose is only to secure the interests established by the Shariah and avert harm in this stage of the Islamic Jihadi work by interpretive judgment (Ijtihad) that does not oppose the rulings of the Shariah and conforms to its principles.

We only seek the pleasure of Allah, and it is He alone who guides to the right path. And may peace and blessings be upon our Master, Muhammad, his family, and companions. Our last prayer is that all praise belongs to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds.

Written -for the sake of Allah’s pleasure- by:

Your brother
Ayman al Zawahiri

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