al-Qaeda disavows ISIS in Syria


As Syria’s infighting between rebel groups continues after a month of fierce clashes, killing almost 1500 Mujāhidūn, there have been some initiatives trying to reconcile the battling parties. ISIS, the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, however refused all of these peace initiatives. On the very first days of February ISIS killed some high ranking leaders in rival groups like Liwā at-Tawhīd (see here)

In the mean time al-Qaeda’s central command keeps on trying to gain any control and influence on Jihād in Syria. A perfect example is to be found in the last audio message by Dr. Ayman az-Zawāhirī, published last week (see blogpost). On Sunday, February 2nd, Shaykh al-Muhaysini, launched a new peace initiative (to be posted and commented later on), but to no advance. ISIS, considering itself as the only lawful representative of Jihād in Syria, didn’t even dignify it with an answer. As ISIS sees itself as a real state (hence دولة الإسلامية), their interpretation of Sharī’a would be considered the only one applicable, thus refuting AQ’s diverging interpretation. This would also explain why ISIS seems unlikely to follow rulings like Shaykh al-Muhaysini published.

Yet, AQ central command has always been clear about ISIS; as from the very beginning they said ISIS had no role in the Syrian conflict, calling upon them to return to Iraq; Jabhat an-Nusra was to be the one and only AQ affiliate in Syria. The Battle of Words, emerging early last summer, continued, but last night (February 3rd) it reached a whole new level. It would seem someone in AQ central command got quite fed up with ISIS ruling the show in Syria.

    al-Qaeda’s Statement about ISIS




    A translation by @IraqiWitness

Firstly: Qae’dat al-Jihad (AQ) declares that it has no links to the ISIS group. We were not informed about it’s creation, nor counseled. Nor were we satisfied with it rather we ordered it to stop. ISIS is not a branch of AQ and we have no organizational relationship with it. Nor is AQ responsible for its actions and behaviors. The branches of AQ are those that have been announced by the Central Command, those are the ones we acknowledge. With our assurance of loyalty and love and support for every Mujahid, and our care for all our Muslim and Mujahid brothers.

Secondly: Al-Qaeda would like to reconfirm some of the important meanings in the Jihadi work for example:
* Shura and united work and making important decisions after consultation between the Mujahideen and endorsement of their leaders.
* That problems between the Mujahideen are solved amongst themselves and not through the media.
* That we are a part of nation and that we don’t take their right to choose who will rule them as long as he meets Islamic requirements.
* and that we don’t hasten to create states/emirates without consulting scholars, leaders, mujahideen and then enforcing it on people.Making sure we mobilize the nation around main issues which is the ideology of Osama bin Laden who elevated with it the Jihadi work. Therefore we published the “Victory of Islam” document to clarify the issues that the people should be mobilized around.
* Making sure to get rid of behaviors that will harm the Jihad therefore we published the “General Instructions” document.
* Distancing from any behavior that will result in oppressing a Mujahid or a Muslim or a non-Muslim.

And here we declare ourselves innocent of Fitnah in Sham between Mujāhidīn, and we declare our innocence of blood that has been shed. We call upon everyone to fear God and realize the huge responsibility that has befallen upon them. And to realize catastrophe that happened to the Jihad in Syria and the future of this Muslim Nation due to the Fitnah that they are in. We call upon all those who have religion to take care of the Jihad and work to extinguish this Fitnah by stopping this fight. And then settling the affairs by Islamic Courts to judge between the Mujahideen.

Thirdly: We confirm that the door of advice between us and all is open. And any Muslim Mujahid will have the right of brotherhood, support and loyalty.


It is most likely ISIS will reply to this harsh condemnation. But ISIS, stubborn and convinced of its idea of a new Caliphate in the Levant, covering Iraq and Syria, will not leave Syria soon. More infighting is to be expected. Question however remains, how will Jabhat an-Nusra, al-Qaeda’s official branch in Syria, respond …

One comment on “al-Qaeda disavows ISIS in Syria

  1. […] of some counter terrorist strategists came true when Zawahiri announced publicly in April 2014 that “ISIS is not a branch of AQ and we have no organizational relationship with it.” It has intuitive appeal to think that a divided movement is in a weaker position to reach its goals […]

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