News / Middle East

Zawahri Intervenes in Dispute Between Syrian, Iraqi al-Qaida Wings

Al-Qaida chief Ayman al-Zawahiri, November 10, 2001.
Al-Qaida chief Ayman al-Zawahiri, November 10, 2001.
Reuters
Al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahri has intervened in a dispute between the Iraqi and Syrian branches of his network, telling both to "stop arguing." Qatar-based Al Jazeera television reported.

Al-Qaida in Iraq announced in April that it had united with Syria's Nusra Front, which now spearheads the fight against President Bashar al-Assad. This upset Nusra, which affirmed its loyalty to Zawahri but said it had not been told of any merger.

Nusra leaders, aware that many Syrians had joined the Front because of its military prowess, rather than for ideological reasons, had previously sought to minimize the use of tactics such as indiscriminate attacks on civilians and Islamist crackdowns which had alienated many Iraqis from al-Qaida in Iraq during the struggle against the U.S.-led occupation after 2003.

According to a letter purportedly from Zawahri and posted on Al Jazeera's website, the al-Qaida leader annulled the merger declared by the leader of the Islamic State in Iraq, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, saying each group was separate.

"The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant is cancelled, and work continues under the name the Islamic State of Iraq," he said in the letter posted on the website on Sunday night.

"The Nusra Front for the People of the Levant is an independent branch" of al-Qaida, Zawahri said, urging both groups to "stop arguing in this dispute, and to stop the harassment among the Muslims."

He also said Baghdadi and Nusra Front leader Abu Mohammad al-Golani would continue to head their groups for a year, pending a decision by their respective consultative assemblies.

The letter's authenticity could not immediately be verified.

The Nusra Front burst into prominence early last year, when it claimed responsibility for several powerful bombings in the Syrian capital Damascus and the northern city of Aleppo.

Since then it has expanded operations nationwide, winning recruits among rebels who see it as the most effective fighting force against Assad's troops, and it has taken a leading role in capturing territory in the north, south and east of Syria.

Al-Qaida in Iraq, which suffered setbacks before U.S. troops left at the end of 2011, has bounced back with suicide bombings and coordinated attacks this year, including an ambush which killed 48 Syrian soldiers who had fled across the border.

Iraqi security officials have said since last year that the militants were again active in Iraq's western desert region next to Syria, where cross-border Sunni tribal ties are strong.

Al-Qaida's Iraqi wing and Syria's Islamist insurgents share a hatred for Assad's Alawite-based power and for Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's Shi'ite-led government, which they see as oppressors of Sunnis in both countries.

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Video Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid