Translation of Abu Muhammad al-Golani's speech announcing his Islamic Emirate in Syria.
N.B. This is NOT my translation: It collects @hxhassan's tweets translating the speech earlier tonight. Any comments from me are in square brackets.
Golani announced to a cheering crowd that Nusra would now start implementing the shari'a "in the full sense of the word." The Holy Law will be implemented "without compromise, leniency, ambiguity, or politeness," says Golani. The time is now to form an Islamic Emirate on a-Sham. This imposition will involve "small to big" things, and will collect and distribute zakat and apply hudud [which Nusra has very deliberately not done so far, saying war conditions suspended these most extreme punishments according to the Holy Law. At a more secular level, it avoided garnering them bad press for savagery against the civilian population.] Golani says that everyone has to work toward implementing this project, that nobody is exempt, and that anybody who refuses "has no place among us". This Emirate will border all enemies of this umma: the regime, ghulat, the corrupt, the PKK. (No mention of Israel). The crowd at this point starts chanting: "March and we will follow; by God, if you go through the sea, we will follow you."
Golani says that Nusra is very powerful and will now be divided into groups and divisions, including an "army that's mobile". There will be outlets for policy, quick intervention forces, and checkpoint forces to protect the faithful, says Golani. [This sounds rather a lot like the "Islamic State's" quasi-State structure in its conquered zones.] He says shari'a courts will be formed within a week in some Nusra-held areas. He calls on his "soldiers" to be subordinate to these courts. Golani says that these courts will bind him too: If I wrong someone and someone complains about me, my neck will be stepped on before this court, says Golani. Borrowing from the first Caliph, Golani says these courts will take the view of "advise me when I am wrong" instead of "fix me". The judges will also be accountable: if they pass a death sentence that is carried out and it is found to be in violation of the Holy Law, they will be killed.
Golani contemptuously dismisses the secular insurrectionists—including the political wing, the SOC—several times as "groveling" and "consulting the West" on every detail.
Very importantly, Golani says the army will fight with faith: when we declare war, he says, there is no point in withdrawing. We will fight to the death. There will be no leniency for anyone—the regime, ghulat, the PKK, the corrupt. Anyone wanting to join this project, let him make it clear, says Golani. We don't want him to leave us halfway through because we won't show leniency. Golani then says to the crowd: "Anyone here who doesn't want to take part in this, speak now". The Crowd returns: "we all sacrifice ourselves to shari'a." Golani says that in recent fighting, some insurgents withdrew without orders from their Emirs: this is one of the "grave sins". The ghulat are fighting alongside the regime, Golani says, and have ceased to fight Assad's forces. Ghulat has exploited the religiosity of Nusra but from now on there will be no Emirs who fight from behind; they will all be on the frontlines.
Very broad hints are delivered that Jabhat an-Nusra will be trying to push I.S. back in Deir Ezzor [which it overran on Jul. 5]. Referring to events in Gaza, Golani says that nothing separates us from "the Jews" except a fence, which is within reach. The crowd shouts: "Oh Gaza, we are with you till death" (a slogan borrowed from the Syrian protests against the regime). The U.S. has never been weaker, Golani says, and this is the product of your jihad. America can no longer invade by land. And this means that only the "Islamic State" and the Assad regime stand between Nusra and "the Jews".
[By Hassan's reckoning, Golani sounds as if he is from Deir Ezzor, and there was a report on Jul. 3 from @TahrirSy that Golani was from Shuhail, and that his real name was Osama al-Haddawi.]
Golani's army will be divided into saraya (groups) and kataib (divisions), and from now on, all ghanima (spoils of war) will be given to soldiers.
Turning to I.S.'s Caliphate, Golani says: It is "void," built on the demolition of jihad. [Al-Qaeda believes the present phase is holy war, with the Caliphate to come later.] I.S. helped the regime in fighting you, Golani says. Even if I.S. announce the Caliphate a thousand times, it remains void and nobody should be deluded by it. You're the ones who sacrificed. Golani's army will be in Aleppo, Deraa, Idlib, and Ghouta, and all these Emirates will unite under one Emirate, forming an army to strike at "the Jews". At Golani's side is Abu Firas as-Suri*. Golani says that there has been a lot of backbiting within Jabhat an-Nusra and this has to cease; some of its leaders will be younger and this has to be accepted. He claims—which would be extraordinary—that $1.5 billion has been either squandered or stolen by the Islamic State. [If this is true, and Nusra has lost that much money and is still functioning at this level, then it must be extremely powerful, and a power that lasts too—it would have to have real entrenched support within the population.]
[*] Firas fought in the Muslim Brotherhood revolt against Hafez al-Assad between 1979 and 1980, leaving before it ended at Hama in February 1982, fleeing to Jordan where he met Abdullah Azzam and Osama bin Laden. Abu Firas was in Afghanistan fighting the Soviets by 1981 and was a founding member of al-Qaeda. He personally knew Abu Musab az-Zarqawi, was in Yemen from 2003, and has now been dispatched into Syria by al-Qaeda "central" to oversee Nusra's efforts, including the ideological battle with the Zarqawi'ite network now calling itself the "Islamic State". On Mar. 18, as part of a slickly co-ordinated Nusra anti-then-ISIS effort, Abu Firas was featured in a video that stressed condemnation for ISIS for its use of takfir and its murdering Abu Khalid as-Suri.