A senior Al Qaeda official has urged jihadists to “rescue the ship of jihad” from Islamic State (IS or ISIS) Saturday, according to an audio message released Friday and translated by the SITE Intelligence Group.
Muhammad al Bahtiyti, also known as Abu Dujana al Basha, does not mention IS by name in the speech, but it is clearly aimed at the terror organization and former Al Qaeda affiliate.
“We call to restore the rightly-guided Caliphate on the prophetic method, and not on the method of deviation, lying, breaking promises, and abrogating allegiances – a caliphate that stands with justice, consultation, and coming together, and not with oppression, infidel-branding the Muslims, killing the monotheists, and dispersing the rank of the mujahideen [jihadists – ed.],” al Basha stated.
“Abrogating allegiances” likely refers to the split between IS and Al Qaeda earlier this year. Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri disowned the group – claiming it was too extreme – after ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi repeatedly ignored calls to end infighting between ISIS and the Al-Nusra Front, Al Qaeda’s official branch in Syria.
“I address my speech and my advice to my brothers on the frontlines in Sham [Syria] among those who have been deceived by slogans and titles, to use your heads and have insight, and to weigh the matters fairly,” al Basha continued. “Rescue the ship of jihad, and reach it before it deviates from its course and settles on the path of the people of desires. Strive to turn off the sedition and restore cohesion among the mujahideen.”
ISIS is part of a group of jihadist rebels that declared swathes of Syria and Iraq to be an independent Islamist state, leading to a second civil war between moderate rebels and jihadist rebels in Syria and genocide in Iraq.
ISIS has executed dozens of rival Islamists as the group recaptured most territory it had lost in the northeastern Syrian province of Raqqa.
More importantly, it has introduced an extra element of chaos into the Middle East, as Arab leaders remain up in arms over what to do about the group and its frequent skirmishes along – and forays into – Lebanese, Jordanian, and Turkish borders.