The New Arab Logo

Breaking News
Al-Qaeda’s fundamental disagreement with the Islamic State Open in fullscreen

Munir al-Mawri

Al-Qaeda’s fundamental disagreement with the Islamic State

Gadahn criticised the IS' attack on a catholic church in Iraq [Gianluigi Guercia/AFP]

Date of publication: 25 March, 2015

Share this page:
  • 0

  • twitter
Feature: Documents dating to 2011 indicate that al-Qaeda’s leadership was disillusioned with the forerunner of the Islamic State group over its targeting of Christians in Iraq.

Documents captured by the CIA has shed interesting light on the relationship between al-Qaeda and the forerunner of the Islamic State group in Iraq.

Al-Qaeda's US spokesman reportedly disowns what was then known as the Islamic State in Iraq, in correspondence the CIA obtained in 2011.

In a message sent to Osama bin Laden, shortly before his death, Adam Gadahn wrote that it was imperative for al-Qaeda to denounce the behaviour of the "so-called Islamic state" for, among other things, the harsh measures it has taken against Christians, and sever all ties with it.

Gadahn's message, sent to bin Laden himself, indicates that bin Laden's desire to unite the ranks of jihadists changed in early 2011.

Sheikh Mahmoud Atiyah

Gadahn described the targeting of Christians as a fatal mistake.

In another long letter, which bin Laden addressed to his closest associate Sheikh Mahmoud Atiyah, the founder of Qaeda asked him to provide substantial information on Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who had succeeded Abu Omar al-Baghdadi as head of the nascent group.

In the same message, which bin Laden wrote one year before he was killed, he asked for information about his first deputy without naming him, and about Abu Suleiman al-Nassir Lidin Allah.

"You better get information about them from brothers you trust. Information should be reliable for us to get the complete picture," bin Laden told Atiyah.

"I also want you to investigate the stand of our brothers in Ansar al-Islam group on the new emirs, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and his brothers," he continued.

In an indication he was aware of the differences that existed among Jihadist groups in Iraq, bin Laden called for doing "the utmost effort to patch up any disputes among Jihadists in Iraq."

Targeting Christians

Qaeda spokesman Gadahn used the attack on the Catholic Church in Baghdad in 2010 to criticize the IS.

"People consider the group one of al-Qaeda's offshoots in Iraq, which is not the case," he said. He accused the group's militants of "ignorance" saying "the attack came a few days after the Catholics' manifested strong opposition to Israel's policies. The Catholics repudiated the use of the Torah to justify the occupation and usurpation of Palestine, a stand that angered the Jews and their allies to a large extent."

"Historically speaking, the Catholics were the most hostile Christian group to the Jews. They were also the indigenous enemies of Evangelicals and Protestants. Today, they are more sympathetic with Muslims than other Christians like the Protestants and Orthodox," he said.

"Some rulings on Jihad were issued when Islam was at its peak, and cannot be implemented today when Islam is impotent."
- Adad Gadahn.

Gadahn pointed out that "targeting the Christians is a fatal mistake. The attackers threatened to wage an all-out war on the Christians in Iraq and the region if the Orthodox Church does not release Wafa Kastantin and Camilia Shahatah. But the Catholic Church has nothing to do with the Orthodox Church and the historical enmity between both groups still exists till this date."

"Speaking about the media discourse, Sheikh Osama mentioned a very remarkable thing in this regard. He said that the strong-worded expressions uttered by our predecessors in the times of pride and empowerment are no longer appropriate today in the era of vulnerability," the American-born al-Qaeda spokesman wrote.

"Some rulings on Jihad were issued when Islam was at its peak, and cannot be implemented today when Islam is impotent. This applies to rulings on destroying churches and burning deviant religious books and other matters that are not applicable to our struggle today," he explained.

In the same message, Gadhan compared the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Qaeda's visions when it comes to the Christians: "How can you compare the IS' stand on the Christians to the stand Sheikh Osama bin Laden revealed in his address three years ago? Is there room to compare their stand on the Christians to the letter Sheikh Ayman al-Zawahiri addressed to the Copts in his Acquittal book? Can we compare their stand on the Christians to the easy going stand of Sheikh Abdallah Azzam on Christians in the Arab world today? Can their stand be compared to that of Sheikh Abi Mohammed al-Miqdisi against the denotation of churches? Oddly enough, the words of our leaders and scholars contradict the actions of their followers or allies."

This is an edited translation from our Arabic edition

The New ArabComments

Most Popular

Most Popular

    Read More