Jihadis Criticize Abu Omar al-Baghdadi and the Islamic State of Iraq

Publication: Terrorism Focus Volume: 5 Issue: 37

Recent statements from the leadership of the so-called Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) have generated negative reactions from members of jihadi internet forums. Statements entitled “The Divine Promise” and “The Prophetic State,” from ISI leader Abu Omar al-Baghdadi and ISI Minister of War Abu Hamza al-Muhajir (a.k.a. Abu Ayyub al-Masri) respectively, accused resistance factions of treason and collaboration with the occupation and the Iraqi government (almarsaa.net, October 7). One response entitled “From Jihadis and Jihad Lovers to Shaykh Abu Omar al-Baghdadi” was particularly critical of al-Muhajir, who also serves as the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq (alboraq.info, October 14).

Many supporters of the Islamic Army of Iraq, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Iraqi Islamic Party and the Political Council of the Iraqi Resistance umbrella group approved a posting by a forum member, nicknamed “Shareef,” who called upon the ISI Amir al-Baghdadi and al-Muhajir to take heed of the great conspiracy being concocted against jihad in Iraq. As a consequence of this conspiracy, true jihadis are being targeted along with apostates by the ISI, with the shedding of honest jihadis’ blood as a consequence. Shareef warns the ISI; “You have tested our patience. We can no longer watch you fall for manipulations by hypocrites and infidels.” Shareef was responding to earlier statements by al-Baghdadi and al-Muhajir that accused the aforementioned resistance factions of treason and collaboration with the occupiers and Iraqi government (for al-Baghdadi, see muslm.net, October 2; for al-Muhajir, see al-hesbah.info, October 10).

Shareef questioned ISI’s religious criteria for identifying true jihadis (“whose hands are still dripping American blood”), as infidels. This practice revokes the immunity naturally bestowed on all jihadis by Islam and justifies the murder of jihadis and the confiscation of their wealth, leading in the end to further chaos in the Iraqi resistance movement. Al-Qaeda should investigate allegations against the jihadi groups before passing judgments, says Shareef, adding; “It’s insane to pass irrational judgments on other jihadi groups without carefully scrutinizing their actions and jihadi practices.” Shareef asserts that he and other supporters of jihadi groups accused of misconduct by al-Qaeda are very well informed about the situation in Iraq, refuting al-Qaeda’s pretext that common citizens are misled by these groups.

The rivalry among jihadi groups in Iraq has weakened the jihad against the Americans and its apostate government, says Shareef, who calls upon al-Qaeda to draw back from attacking jihadi groups and revert to the tactics implemented at the onset of resistance, when all jihadi groups would join efforts and attack American forces as their number one priority and the Iraqi government as their second priority. Shareef concludes his message by alleging the conflict between jihadi groups is manipulated by the Americans to disrupt jihad. The supporters of al-Qaeda commented on the Shareef’s message by saying that Muslim Brotherhood has collaborated with the infidels in Afghanistan and Iraq, leaving al-Qaeda as the guardians of jihad. Other participants were inquiring about ways to deliver Shareef’s message to al-Baghdadi and publicize it through international media.

Shareef was not the only one to post criticisms of the ISI. A forum participant, nicknamed “Abu Bakr Aqeeda,” posted a message entitled” The Disasters inflicted by the so-called State of Iraq on the Iraqi jihadi project” (muslm.net, October 16, 2008). Although disagreements and differences in opinion are normal and healthy among jihadi groups, killing jihadis because of these differences is neither religious nor acceptable, says Aqeeda, who accuses al-Qaeda of systematically liquidating fighters from other groups. Since the establishment of ISI, some jihadis, under duress, were given three options: to pledge allegiance to al-Baghdadi, quit jihad activities or be killed by al-Qaeda.

To prove his point, Aqeeda posted excerpts of communiqués released by jihadi groups accusing al-Qaeda of killing their fighters, including Jihad and Reform, the 1920 Revolution Brigade, the Islamic Army in Iraq, the Mujahidin Army, Iraqi Hamas, and Ansar al-Sunna. The debate became heated when participants on opposing sides posted conflicting statements by different Salafi-Jihadi ideologues. In support of al-Qaeda, Safar al-Hawali, a renowned Salafi-Jihadi ideologue said “Those who verbally attack al-Qaeda to please the corrupt hypocrites are committing a big sin.” In response, one forum participant posted excerpts of a stark criticism of Bin Laden by a leading Salafist, the late Saudi Chief Mufti, Abdul Aziz Bin Baaz; “Osama Bin Laden is one of the saboteurs of earth seeking rotten evil ways and disobeying the ruler.”