On January 13 Reuters and the cable news networks are making a news story of a very interesting short video from Iraq, addressed to “people of the world.” I’d encountered this on line, via an antiwar.com link to Information Clearinghouse, as early as December 19, and found it noteworthy enough to draft at that time what appears below. One wonders why the mainstream press has taken three weeks to find it newsworthy.
The video is elegantly produced in English by the “Media Platoon” of a group called the “Islamic Jihad Army.” The written message accompanying the opening martial music indicates that the Islamic Jihad Army was formed by the merger of the Iraqi Islamic Army and the Islamic Jihad Brigades, and that the Army “reports to the Mujahadeen Joint Command,” along with nine other named organizations, plus “other small supporting cells.”
Since it’s not likely to remain available long, one should, if interested, check out the website immediately. (That, again, is: http colon slash slash informationclearinghouse dot info slash article 7468 dot htm.)
The transcript of the message is included on the site, so if you want to, you can print it out and share it with your friends. Not that I’m suggesting you do so, of course. There’s a law against providing “material assistance” to terrorism, which, I suppose, should I specifically urge you to circulate this material (authored by those that the government deems terrorists) I would by definition do. Nor will I use such adjectives as “reasonable” or “moving” to describe the presentation, but just summarize it dispassionately.
The video describes the resistance movement as one conducted by “simple people who chose principles over fear,” resulting not only from the invasion but from the UN “sanctions, which we consider the true weapons of mass destruction.”
It explains the invasion in geopolitical terms, not simplistically as a war between Islam and the West, or stupidly as a war between Good vs. Evil. “We have not crossed the oceans and seas to occupy Britain or the U.S.” declares the narrator, “nor are we responsible for 9/11. These are only a few of the lies that these criminals present to cover their true plans for the control of the energy resources of the world, in face of a growing China and a strong unified Europe. It is ironic that the Iraqis are to bear the full force of this large and growing conflict on behalf of the rest of this sleeping world.”
The video implicitly links the Iraqi resistance with the international movement against imperialist globalization, thanking “all those, including those in Britain and the U.S., who took to the streets in protest of this war and against Globalism.” It thanks France and Germany for their “wise and balanced” position on the war. It indicates sympathy for the American people, saying they “sufferin general” from “never-ending and regenerated fear.”
It calls upon the people of the world to “form a worldwide front against war and sanctions.” Here it gets a bit mystical, urging that the front be “governed by the wise and knowing” who will “bring reform and order” and create “new institutions” to “replace the now corrupt.” But the message is also practical and specific: “Stop using the U.S. dollar, use the Euro or a basket of currencies. Reduce or halt your consumption of British and U.S. products. Put an end to Zionism before it ends the world.”
As it displays gruesome footage of dead foreign soldiers, it declares, “We only wish we had more cameras to show the world their true defeat.” It boasts that the enemy is “on the run” and pinned down, but indicates empathy with the invaders’ plight. If you “lay down your weapons,” it declares, “we will protect you, and we will get you out of Iraq, as we have done with a few others before you.”
Perhaps in response to U.S. charges that “foreign fighters” play a significant role in the insurgency, the message says, “We do not require arms or fighters, for we have plenty.”
Finally, the smooth, confident voice of the narrator urges the invading foe: “Go back to your homes, families, and loved ones. This is not your war. Nor are you fighting for a true cause in Iraq. And to George W. Bush, we say, ‘You have asked us to ‘Bring it on,’ and so have we, like never expected. Have you another challenge?'”
Despite the name of his group, the spokesman does not promote Islamism as a political doctrine. He makes no reference at all to God or religion, except when he urges U.S. troops, who “can choose to fight tyranny with us” to “seek refuge in our mosques, churches and homes.” And never, not even once does he say, “We hate your freedoms.”
GARY LEUPP is Professor of History at Tufts University, and Adjunct Professor of Comparative Religion. He is the author of Servants, Shophands and Laborers in in the Cities of Tokugawa Japan; Male Colors: The Construction of Homosexuality in Tokugawa Japan; and Interracial Intimacy in Japan: Western Men and Japanese Women, 1543-1900. He is also a contributor to CounterPunch’s merciless chronicle of the wars on Iraq, Afghanistan and Yugoslavia, Imperial Crusades.
He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org