Mobile  |  About us  |  Photos  |  Videos  |  Subscriptions  |  RSS Feeds  |  Today's Paper  |  Classifieds  |  Contact Us
The Daily Star
WEDNESDAY, 16 APR 2014
07:05 PM Beirut time
Weather    
Beirut
23 °C
Blom Index
BLOM
1,214.01down
Middle East
Follow this story Print RSS Feed ePaper share this
Al-Qaeda breaks with ISIS in mounting feud
A rebel fighter holding a weapon watches snipers as he rushes to cross a street on February 3, 2014 in the northeastern city of Deir Ezzor.(AFP PHOTO / AHMAD ABOUD)
A rebel fighter holding a weapon watches snipers as he rushes to cross a street on February 3, 2014 in the northeastern city of Deir Ezzor.(AFP PHOTO / AHMAD ABOUD)
A+ A-

CAIRO: Al-Qaeda’s central leadership broke Monday with the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), who in defiance of its orders joined Syria’s fighting, fueling bitter infighting among militant opposition factions in the civil war.

The break, announced in a statement Monday, appeared to be an attempt by the terror network’s leader, Ayman al-Zawahri, to establish control over the feuding militant groups in Syria and stem the increasingly bloody reprisals among them.

It also reflected a move by Zawahri, who succeeded Osama bin Laden as the group’s leader, to re-establish Al-Qaeda’s eminence in the jihadi movement in general, at a time when new militant groups have mushroomed not only Syria but around the region, inspired by Al-Qaeda’s ideology but not linked to it by organization.

The announcement sharpens a dispute raging the past year between Al-Qaeda’s central leadership and ISIS, which spread into Syria in early 2013, led by the head of Al-Qaeda’s branch in Iraq, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. He formed the group to expand his operations into neighboring Syria in defiance of direct orders by Zawahri not to do so and to stick to operations within Iraq.

Now, the break is likely to spark a competition for resources and fighters between the two sides in what has become a civil war within a civil war as Syria’s rebels fight against President Bashar Assad. The test for Zawahri’s influence will be whether his decision leads to fighters quitting ISIS.

In a conflict that has seen atrocities by all sides, ISIS has been particularly vicious.

It is believed to be dominated by thousands of non-Syrian jihadi fighters, seen by others in the rebellion as more concerned with venting sectarian hatred and creating a transnational Islamic caliphate than with toppling Assad.

Since its creation, it has taken over swaths of territory in northern and eastern Syria, often imposing Shariah law penalties harsher than other Islamic-minded groups.

Its fighters have beheaded captured government fighters, carried out some of the deadliest massacres against members of the pro-Assad Shiite and Alawite minorities and kidnapped anti-Assad activists, journalists and civilians seen as critical of its rule.

It has increasingly clashed with other factions, particularly an umbrella group of Syrian rebels called the Islamic Front, which accuses it of trying to hijack the campaign to oust Assad. Even the group’s name, Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria, was seen as a declaration that it was the only real Islamic movement in the country.

Those frictions erupted into outright warfare in January. Since Jan. 3, around 2,300 people have been killed in fighting between ISIS and other factions, according to the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. ISIS Saturday killed two senior commanders from factions that make up the Islamic Front, one of them in a giant suicide bombing that killed more than two dozen people near the northern city of Aleppo.

Also on the ascendant in his homeland Iraq, where ISIS has sought to present itself as the voice of that country’s Sunni minority against the Shiite-led government, Baghdadi is a powerful force in the jihadi movement.

Rival Islamic factions in Syria accuse him of trying to take over their movement in that country.

In Monday’s statement, Al-Qaeda’s general command announced that it has “no connection” with ISIS, underlined that the group “is not a branch of the Al-Qaeda organization,” and said Al-Qaeda “is not responsible for its actions.”

Al-Qaeda did not condone the group’s creation “and in fact ordered it to stop,” the statement said.

It also condemned the infighting among Islamic groups, saying, “We distance ourselves from the sedition taking place among the mujahedeen factions [in Syria] and of the forbidden bloodshed by any faction.” It warned that mujahedeen, or holy warriors, must recognize the “enormity of the catastrophe” caused by “this sedition.”

The authenticity of the statement could not independently be verified but it was posted on websites commonly used by Al-Qaeda.

Capt. Islam Alloush, a military spokesman for the Islamic Front, said Al-Qaeda’s announcement came late but praised it for isolating ISIS.

“This faction is without cover or co-sponsor. It has been totally stripped after Al-Qaeda and the people abandoned it,” Alloush told the Associated Press.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on February 04, 2014, on page 1.
Home Middle East
 
     
 
Syria / Iraq
Advertisement
Comments  

Your feedback is important to us!

We invite all our readers to share with us their views and comments about this article.

Disclaimer: Comments submitted by third parties on this site are the sole responsibility of the individual(s) whose content is submitted. The Daily Star accepts no responsibility for the content of comment(s), including, without limitation, any error, omission or inaccuracy therein. Please note that your email address will NOT appear on the site.

comments powered by Disqus
Story Summary
Al-Qaeda's central leadership broke Monday with the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), who in defiance of its orders joined Syria's fighting, fueling bitter infighting among militant opposition factions in the civil war.

It also reflected a move by Zawahri, who succeeded Osama bin Laden as the group's leader, to re-establish Al-Qaeda's eminence in the jihadi movement in general, at a time when new militant groups have mushroomed not only Syria but around the region, inspired by Al-Qaeda's ideology but not linked to it by organization.

The announcement sharpens a dispute raging the past year between Al-Qaeda's central leadership and ISIS, which spread into Syria in early 2013, led by the head of Al-Qaeda's branch in Iraq, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Capt. Islam Alloush, a military spokesman for the Islamic Front, said Al-Qaeda's announcement came late but praised it for isolating ISIS.
Related Articles
 
 
'86 dead' as Syria's Qaeda, allies repel jihadists
 
 
More than 50 Syria rebels, jihadists killed: NGO
 
 
Syria Qaeda loses ground to jihadist rivals on Iraq border
 
 
Apocalyptic prophecies a powerful recruitment tool on both sides
 
 
Former ‘American jihadist’ dies of overdose
Show More
Entities
Advertisement


Baabda 2014
Advertisement
Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on Linked In Follow us on Google+ Subscribe to our Live Feed
Multimedia
Images  
Pictures of the day
A selection of images from around the world- Tuesday April 15, 2014
View all view all
Advertisement
Rami G. Khouri
Rami G. Khouri
Silencing Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s hate talk
Michael Young
Michael Young
The presidential chess game has begun
David Ignatius
David Ignatius
China moves to the scary side of its boom
View all view all
Advertisement
cartoon
 
Click to View Articles
 
 
News
Business
Opinion
Sports
Culture
Technology
Entertainment
Privacy Policy | Anti-Spamming Policy | Disclaimer | Copyright Notice
© 2014 The Daily Star - All Rights Reserved - Designed and Developed By IDS