Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb released a joint statement on 11 September, which lamented that the fighting that erupted earlier this year as the Syrian opposition went to war with IS has redounded to the benefit of “Zionists, the Cross worshippers, the Rafidites, [and] the Nusayris,” while opening the space for “America, the head of disbelief …, [to lead] the Crusader attempt to wage war on Islam and Muslims … under the pretext of striking the Islamic State”. The statement called for an end to intra-jihadist fighting, specifically praising the “mujahideen of the group Ahrar al-Sham,” the powerful Islamist group that serves as a bridge for al-Qaeda into the Syrian rebellion, and added: “As for this oppressive Crusader effort, we can only stand with Islam and Muslims, against Crusader America and its alliance (Jewish-Crusader-Safavid-Apostate) that is the true enemy of the umma”. It was an olive branch, in other words, for IS to come back into the fold.
AQAP put out its own statement on 17 October that was somewhat sterner in its support for (even misguided Muslims) against America and the West. “[T]he Crusader war on Islam … has undertaken a fierce campaign against the mujahideen in Iraq and Syria, especially our brothers in the Islamic State, including bombing and killing without any observance of taboos,” AQAP said. “In this context we affirm our support for our brothers against the global Crusader campaign … We also affirm that it is forbidden to participate in the war against [IS] on the grounds that they are khawarij, and indeed they are no such thing. We call on all the mujahideen to forget their disagreements, put an end to the infighting between themselves, and strive to push back the Crusader campaign that is targeting all [of them]. Indeed, this campaign is a Crusader campaign against Islam, a campaign against the rule of God’s law, a campaign whose aim is to ensure that Muslims remain subservient to their enemies … For this end, there is an agreement on this campaign by the Christians, the Majus [Iranians], and the traitor apostate rulers [Arab governments]. … [S]upport for the Muslim is obligatory on his brother … We also affirm our call on all who can wear out the Americans to strive to do so by military, economic or media means. For they are the leaders of this war, and the foundations of this campaign.”
Maysar al-Jiburi (Abu Mariya al-Qahtani), an Iraqi, was a member of IS’s predecessor from at least 2004 and moved into Syria in late 2011 to set up IS’s secret wing, Jabhat al-Nusra, which has now split from IS and operates as al-Qaeda’s official branch in Syria. Al-Jiburi was sanctioned as a global terrorist for this activity by the U.S. Treasury in December 2012. Al-Jiburi had been the overall deputy to al-Nusra’s leader, Abu Muhammad al-Jolani, and led al-Nusra’s most powerful wing in Deir Ezzor until IS overran the area in July using weapons captured during the fall of Mosul, at which point he was removed and replaced with the Jordanian cleric Sami al-Uraydi. Al-Jiburi still retains influence over al-Nusra, and today he released a fierce statement of condemnation against AQAP for their message three days ago. Al-Jiburi’s statement is reproduced below.
Regarding the statement of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula supporting Islamic State
In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful,
Commenting regarding the statement released by our brothers from al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, we agree with them about the danger of the crusader campaign. But we have some legal points to be noted since they described the group “The State” saying that they are not khawarij. And we are afraid that the brothers’ statement may be understood to mean that they support [Abu Bakr al-]Baghdadi’s gang in the spilling of impermissible blood that they have spilt in Syria and while they have risen to kill the mujahideen and their leaders.
And with the presence of the Rafidi alliance on land and air, we did not find from our brothers from AQAP a statement condemning the crimes of Baghdadi’s gang who killed the best of the mujahideen and the leaders. And neither did the brothers in AQAP have a clear stance, nor did they release any statement even if it be with shyness, declaring in it those who did such acts to be criminals. Indeed, those near and far have come to know of all the crimes of that gang and today, in just a second, they are forgetting all of those crimes under the pretext of the crusader alliance. And everyone knows that the crusader alliance have targeted the leaders of Jabhat al-Nusra and Ahrar [al-Sham] before they targeted the khawarij of Baghdadi. So the brothers in Yemen must review what they have stated regarding Baghdadi’s group that they are not khawarij.
And we say, the people of Mecca know better about the condition of the people. And the one who confirms is given precedence over one who denies. Umar had considered Ibn Muljim to be good but the nation has consensus that Ibn Muljim is the killer of Ali and he is from the head of the khawarij. And some of the predecessors refused to condemn Ibn al-Arabi, and among them are those who praised him but the Sunnis have consensus over the astrayness of Ibn al-Arabi. So the brothers’ justification of Baghdadi’s gang will not change any of what has been confirmed with us and what we have directly seen with our eyes with regards to the crimes. And what both those near and far have testified to the misguidance of Baghdadi’s gang, will not be erased just by a mere statement.
We also ask the brothers in Yemen’s group, what is your stance regarding those who slandered our Emir, as well as your Emir, the splendor of al-Qaeda, the Mujahid Shaykh Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri and accused him with false accusations?
What is your stance towards the one who announced his caliphate and declared all the mujahid groups to be cancelled and invalid, including AQAP, and split the ranks of the mujahideen and killed them?
We do not disagree with you with regards to calling the mujahideen to confront the crusade campaign. We have called for it and we did not wait for any statement from anyone. But we disagree with your justification of a renegade group.
What is your position towards those who killed the leaders of mujahideen while the Rafidi alliance is gathering against them? It was more befitting you, our dear ones, for us to hear a statement from you declaring criminality of Baghdadi’s gang and not denying their crimes.
And we ask our brothers in Yemen’s group, have you known the leaders of “The State” very well so that you could approve of and defend them? Indeed, you have been silent towards their crimes and hurried to exonerate them, glory be to Allah.
Is this your stance towards the ones who declared your brothers in Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham to be kafirs and targeted their centers with explosives? Do you support them in that? We fear that your words may be understood to mean that.
We fear from your statement that it may be understood to mean you accept their killings and their causing of corruption for the Sunni people in Syria and their mujahideen. This is what people would understand from your statement. Fear Allah, our beloved ones!
So your support for the actions of Baghdadi’s criminal gang, we fear that it will be followed by your followers. And your statement is not going to change our stance, but it will confuse the minds of your followers and they may see the actions of that gang as if it is religion and they may then follow them in making takfir on Muslims and in declaring their blood to be permissible and announcing their imaginary caliphate. So this statement will create confusion in your soldiers and your supporters.
And so we will never betray the blood of the Sunnis in Syria and our mujahideen, who were killed by Baghdadi’s fairy tale gang. And truth is more worthy to be followed. We have had enough of “flattering” at the expense of the blood the Muslims.
And we repeat here that we are neither with the people of the hell fire nor with its dogs. The crusader campaign has targeted Nusra and Ahrar before that of the khawarij gang.
And we declare our innocence to Allah from all those who allied with the crusaders and supported them. And we also declare our innocence to Allah from the khawarij and their deeds. And we declare our innocence to Allah from all those who supported them in their takfir and killing of the Sunnis in Syria. And Allah is the granter of success.
And I say this as giving victory to the people of Syria and defending them and being loyal to their blood takes precedence over all groups and organizations. And so we are with the people of Syria and their revolution and against the crusaders and their dogs.