Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri isn’t a happy guy these days.
In the wake of Osama bin Laden’s death, al-Qaeda has become something of a terrorist also-ran. Although the discord in Yemen is probably on balance a positive for AQAP (when there’s no rule of law, it’s certainly easier to operate an international terrorist cell), it’s not entirely clear that having Iran-backed Shiite militias running around is a good thing if you’re a Sunni extremist and from a PR perspective, the Houthis have stolen the show. Of course the bigger embarrassment is that an offshoot of al-Qaeda in Iraq has marked a meteoric rise into the terrorist history books on the way to declaring a caliphate and demanding that al-Zawahiri himself pledge allegiance.
Well, last month, al-Zawahiri accused ISIS leader Bakr al-Baghdadi (assuming he actually exists) of “sedition.” The al-Qaeda chief also made it clear that the group most assuredly will not be recognizing Baghdadi’s “caliphate.” Here’s the actual quote:
"But Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and his brothers did not leave us a choice, for they have demanded that all the mujahideen reject their confirmed pledges of allegiance, and to pledge allegiance to them for what they claim of a caliphate.”
Now, in what can only be described as another example of truth being far stranger than fiction in the surreal and often absurd world of geopolitics, al-Qaeda is out with a new message calling Baghdadi “a feeble and a failure person.” Here’s WaPo:
In a new 26-minute-long video statement, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) said the Islamic caliphate declared by the Islamic State was illegitimate, dismissively referring to that militant organization as "Baghdadi's' group," a reference to its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
The statement, which was shared on al-Qaeda's Twitter and Telegram accounts on Sunday, was read in Arabic by Khalid Batarfi, an AQAP official, with English subtitles added to the video. It is only the second time that AQAP and AQIM — al-Qaeda's affiliates in Yemen and North Africa, respectively — have released a joint statement, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which described the tone of the message as "scathing."
The new statement appears intended to rebuke the Islamic State for a recent speech by its spokesman Abu Muhammad al'Adnani, who had warned that Sunni Muslims who fought against the Islamic State needed to pledge allegiance to the group or face death. In their statement, AQAP and AQIM accused the Islamic State of "deviation and misguidance" for aiming their fight against fellow Muslims when they should be fighting Jews and Christians.
"The manhaj [method] of destruction, sowing and stirring dissension and corruptions, confusing efforts, making takfir [branding as an infidel] upon those who disagree with them, then this is a manhaj of a feeble and failure [person] who has no perfection except ruin," Batarfi says in the video.
Yes, “no perfection except ruin.” AQAP goes on to note that the ISIS caliphate can’t possibly be legitimate because - get this - it wasn’t established via the will of the people:
Bartafi added that any pledge of allegiance to the Islamic State was null anyway, because the caliphate declared by Baghdadi was formed through force and violence rather than consultation and mutual consent.
For their part, ISIS apparently thinks al-Qaeda are a bunch of “donkeys.” Here’s the actual quote from spokesperson Abu Muhammad al'Adnani:
“[Muslims opposed to ISIS] are being tricked by the fatwas of the donkeys and mules of knowledge."
If you think that sounds like the kind of petty bickering that might go on between US politicians remember: the apples sometimes do not fall far from the tree...
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Here's a screenshot from the AQAP video...
...and because we couldn't help ourselves...