Mobile  |  About us  |  Photos  |  Videos  |  Subscriptions  |  RSS Feeds  |  Today's Paper  |  Classifieds  |  Contact Us
The Daily Star
FRIDAY, 25 APR 2014
11:18 AM Beirut time
Weather    
Beirut
28 °C
Blom Index
BLOM
1,214.01down
Middle East
Follow this story Print RSS Feed ePaper share this
Syrian Al-Qaeda group gives ISIS ultimatum
A rebel fighter fires towards pro-regime forces during clashes in Sheikh Najar area of the restive Syrian city of Aleppo on February 25, 2014. (AFP PHOTO/ALEPPO MEDIA CENTRE/FADI AL-HALABI)
A rebel fighter fires towards pro-regime forces during clashes in Sheikh Najar area of the restive Syrian city of Aleppo on February 25, 2014. (AFP PHOTO/ALEPPO MEDIA CENTRE/FADI AL-HALABI)
A+ A-

BEIRUT: The leader of a powerful Al-Qaeda-linked group in Syria gave a rival breakaway group a five-day ultimatum to accept mediation by leading preachers to end infighting or be “expelled” from the region.

The ultimatum, announced in an audio recording by the leader of the Nusra Front, aims to end months of deadly violence between the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) and other Islamist factions. The fighting has killed hundreds of people since the beginning of the year and is undermining their wider struggle against President Bashar Assad.

It comes two days after the killing of Abu Khaled al-Suri, who had acted as Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahri’s representative in Syria. Nusra accused ISIS of killing him, a charge sources close to the splinter group have denied.

Both the Nusra Front and ISIS are considered terrorist organizations by the United States.

Zawahri has named the Nusra Front Al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria and broken ties with ISIS, which has increasingly clashed with rebel brigades in opposition-held areas of Syria. ISIS has angered other factions with its brutal tactics and campaign to Islamize areas under its control in the northeast.

More than 2,000 people have been killed in the fighting between ISIS and rebel groups, including the Nusra Front.

Abu Mohammad al-Golani, the Nusra Front leader, suggested in the audio recording arbitration by preachers to stop the infighting. He warned ISIS that it would be driven from Syria and “even from Iraq” if it rejected the results of arbitration. He did not elaborate on how his group might do that.

Sources on both sides said Golani’s statement, the first since tensions between the two groups erupted, was a declaration of war.

“We are waiting for your official answer within five days of issuing this statement,” Golani said in the audio message posted on militant websites. “By God, if you reject God’s judgment again, and do not stop your arrogant overlording over the Muslim nation, then [we] will be forced to launch an assault against this aggressive, ignorant ideology and will expel it, even from Iraq.”

Golani suggested the arbitration be conducted by three senior Al-Qaeda ideologists, including two imprisoned in Jordan and one imprisoned in Saudi Arabia. He did not say how they would handle the arbitration while they are in detention.

The call for ISIS to submit to an Islamic court did not refer to a trial for Suri’s killers, but was instead a request for ISIS to accept rulings and decisions of non-ISIS preachers.

ISIS has never heeded the rulings of preachers from outside its ranks.

Suri, a friend of the late Al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden, had been appointed by Zawahri to mediate between Nusra and ISIS.

After the mediation failed, his Salafist group Ahrar al-Sham joined other Islamist brigades in Syria’s rebel-held north and east to fight ISIS.

Golani’s Nusra Front, which has sworn allegiance to Zawahri, had avoided openly confronting ISIS, with which it shares a radical jihadist ideology, despite deep rivalry and tensions between the two groups.

Al-Qaeda disassociated itself from ISIS after its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, of Iraqi origin, rejected an order by Zawahri last year to dismantle the group and return to Iraq.

In his statement, Golani differentiated between ISIS and Western-backed groups the Supreme Military Command and the National Coalition of exiled political opponents of Assad, both of which he described as infidels.

Sources from Nusra said the decision had already been made to fight ISIS. “This ultimatum is just words. The decision has been taken. Nusra will fight,” one of the sources told Reuters.

A source from ISIS denied the group’s responsibility for the killing of Suri and said his death had been used as an excuse to declare war against ISIS for the benefit of the United States.

“Sheikh Abu Khaled’s killing was tragic to all of us. I tell you the State [ISIS] has nothing to do with it until our Emir Baghdadi says otherwise. And there is no evidence that the State did it,” he told Reuters.

“Golani is doing a big favor to the Americans. His group is becoming a tool in the hands of Saudi intelligence too.”

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on February 26, 2014, on page 1.
Home Middle East
 
     
 
Syria
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
The leader of a powerful Al-Qaeda-linked group in Syria gave a rival breakaway group a five-day ultimatum to accept mediation by leading preachers to end infighting or be "expelled" from the region.

The ultimatum, announced in an audio recording by the leader of the Nusra Front, aims to end months of deadly violence between the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) and other Islamist factions.

It comes two days after the killing of Abu Khaled al-Suri, who had acted as Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahri's representative in Syria.

Zawahri has named the Nusra Front Al-Qaeda's branch in Syria and broken ties with ISIS, which has increasingly clashed with rebel brigades in opposition-held areas of Syria.

More than 2,000 people have been killed in the fighting between ISIS and rebel groups, including the Nusra Front.

Suri, a friend of the late Al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden, had been appointed by Zawahri to mediate between Nusra and ISIS.
Related Articles
 
 
Rival group accuses Al-Qaeda of betraying jihadist cause
Nusra Front: Rebel group not religiously committed
 
 
Any hope for long-held civilian hostages?
 
 
ISIS, Islamist rebels clash over eastern oil fields
 
 
Zawahri calls for unity as jihadist schism deepens
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- Thursday April 24, 2014
View all view all
Advertisement
Rami G. Khouri
Rami G. Khouri
Israel shows Zionism’s true colors
Michael Young
Michael Young
For Christians, blessed are the dividers
David Ignatius
David Ignatius
An Iran deal is close, but we’re not there yet
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