ISIL’s views towards the Palestinian cause
It is interesting that for a fanatical Islamist group, ISIL does not appear to be fervently concerned with the plight of the Palestinians, an issue which is prominent in the eyes of most Muslims. ISIL’s lack of interest in Palestine has led some Muslims to theorize that they are in cahoots with Israel or that they are not really that Islamic, for why else would they be unconcerned with the liberation of Palestine. This issue has even caused some disgruntlement within the ranks of ISIL itself as evinced by a leaked letter sent by an ISIL member in the Sinai to Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, in which the former complains about the cooperation between ISIL’s Sinai province and Hamas.
While at face value ISIL’s indifference towards Palestine may seem puzzling, they themselves believe such a stance is well justified based on their interpretation of the Koran and Sharia. In their weekly newspaper al-Naba, ISIL provides an explanation and justification of their view towards the Palestinian issue and Israel. The article, Beit Al-Maqdis–First and Foremost an Issue of Shari’a Law, was translated into English by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).
The issue of Palestine, particularly the view that the Palestinian cause (i.e. waging jihad against the Jews) should be “Muslims’ top priority” and that “no other issue should be raised until Palestine was liberated” is considered by ISIL to be a distortion of Islam. This distortion has been utilized and promoted by atheists (Leftish groups), Shiites (Hezbollah and Iran), Arab Nationalists (Gamal Abd Al-Nasr, Hafez Al-Assad, Mu’ammar Al-Qadhafi, Saddam Hussein, etc), and other “organizations that falsely affiliate themselves with Islam.” All organizations that ISIL is against. In effect ISIL sees the dogmatic adherence to the Palestinian cause as an idolatry that has become more important to many Arabs and Muslims than faithfully following the true precepts of Allah.
According to ISIL “The foremost issue for the Muslims is to establish the Tawheed [Islamic monotheism]…for the sake of which Allah sent messengers and laid down the laws of jihad–in order to purge the land of polytheism and so that [the people] would worship the Almighty.” Wherever there is polytheism, jihad must be waged against it, as “Allah ordered His worshippers to fight all the infidels, without exception.”
Since in ISIL’s view polytheism rules the entire world, including Muslim lands, with the exception of the territory controlled by ISIL, this foremost precept of Islam applies to the whole world and not just to Palestine, as there is no Islamically derived priority for the latter. In other words jihad must be waged all over the world against all infidels, be they Jewish, Christian, Apostate Muslims, or Pagans.
In a sense ISIL’s strategy is one of decentralized jihad waged locally by the Muslims of a particular region against the infidels that are in power there or that are nearby, as opposed to all Muslims focusing on waging jihad against the Jews and in Palestine. As the author writes:
“Muslims under Jewish rule should fight them, Syrians should fight the Nusairi ruler [i.e. Bashar Al-Assad] and other infidels such as the Sahawat [anti-ISIL Sunnis] and the PKK, Iraqi Muslims should fight the infidel Shi’ites, Peshmerga, and Sahawat, and Muslims in Egypt and the Sinai should fight [the tyrant] ruling Egypt and so on in all the Islamic lands–until such time as the Muslims in every land have completed the fight against the infidels near them and have brought their land under Allah’s rule. [Then] they can move on to fight the infidels adjacent to them, until the world is purged of polytheism and unbelief.”
Strategically speaking once, the polytheists neighboring Palestine have been overthrown through local jihad, then the focus can be turned to Israel, as then Israel will be the nearest polytheist group to the lands of the ISIL caliphate (i.e. the land of Tawheed).
If there should be any enemy given priority in the jihad, “then waging jihad to rescue Mecca and Medina from the hands of the Saud family Taghout undoubtedly comes first.” This is because the “Land of the Two Holy Shrines” is the holiest in Islam. Interestingly in the view of ISIL “The apostate [tyrants] who rule the lands of Islam [i.e. the Saudi Arabia, etc.] are graver infidels than [the Jews], and war against them takes precedence over war against the original infidels.” It should always be remember that the hatred of apostates and heretics is usually far greater than that of non-believers.
There is another reason why ISIL is not too keen on liberating Palestine. If it were possible to evict Israel and institute an ISIL province in Palestine, then of coarse ISIL would be supportive of such a scenario. However, the current main powers in Palestine and the surrounding area that are opposed to Israel are Hamas, the PLO and Hezbollah. These groups are considered by ISIL to be apostates. So if Israel was overthrown and any of these three groups were to politically take control over Palestine, then in the view of ISIL this would be no different than having Israel controlling the area. To ISIL such jihad “is null and void – because it is being waged for the sake [of the Taghout], not for the sake of Allah.”
In summary ISIL, while they “pray to Allah” that Palestine is “rescued” from the Jews and that “all Muslims should work for” this outcome, they nonetheless do not believe it is the predominant or sole goal of jihad. First of all they see the Palestinian cause as being an idol of sorts for a variety of Shiite, Atheist, Sahawat and Nationalist groups that hinder the establishment of Tawheed. Secondly, jihad should be waged against all infidels by Muslims in their own environs. Finally defeating Israel, but replacing it with either Hamas or the PLO is no improve in the eyes of ISIL. For these reasons ISIL is not currently preoccupied with the liberation of Palestine.