IS Spokesman Issues Appeal to End the Inter-Jihadist Rivalry

Publication: Terrorism Monitor Volume: 12 Issue: 19

Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, the spokesman of the Islamic State organization, recently released a new audio message. (Source: video screenshot)

On September 29, jihadist media outlet al-Furqan published a message by Abu Muhammad al-Adnani al-Shami, the so-called spokesman of the Islamic State (formerly the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria – ISIS) and the amir of ISIS in Syria. This 41-minute audio message was posted to YouTube as well as other jihadist forums and media outlets. In his message, al-Adnani does not attack the other jihadist factions like he constantly did in previous messages. Conciliatory remarks were an attempt to end the rivalry among the various jihadist factions in Syria, vying for a leadership position, which has led to fighting between these groups. Al-Adnani’s message comes as result of effective coalition airstrikes against the Islamic State

The message, titled “Indeed Your Lord Is Ever Watchful,” cited several verses from the Quran, encouraged Muslims everywhere to attack Western and coalition targets and threatened to kill Western and Arabic coalition citizens:

O America, O allies of America and O crusaders, know that the matter is more dangerous than you have imagined and greater than you have envisioned. We have warned you that today we are in a new era, an era where the [Islamic] State, its soldiers and its sons are leaders not slaves. They are a people who through the ages have not known defeat. The outcome of their battles is concluded before they begin. They have not prepared for a battle since the time of Noah except with absolute conviction of victory. Being killed – according to their account – is a victory. This is where the secret lies. You fight a people who can never be defeated. O crusaders, you have realized the threat of the Islamic State, but you have not become aware of the cure, and you will not discover the cure because there is no cure. [1]

Al-Adnani challenged the coalition to fight the Islamic State on the ground, calling the president of the United States and his allies cowards incapable of facing the mujahideen. Further, al-Adnani threatened to squash the Syrian opposition forces, labeling them infidels and apostates, and consequently, legitimate targets for the Islamic State.

Finally, al-Adnani called upon all mujahideen in Libya, Egypt and elsewhere to kill citizens of the coalition countries, but he refrained from mentioning other jihadist factions fighting in Syria:

So O muwahhid (Muslims), wherever you may be, hinder those who want to harm your brothers and state [the Islamic State’s caliphate] as much as you can. The best thing you can do is to strive to your best and kill any disbeliever, whether he be French, American or from any of their allies. If you are not able to find an IED or a bullet, then single out the disbelieving American, Frenchman or any of their allies. Smash his head with a rock, or slaughter him with a knife, or run him over with your car, or throw him down from a high place, or choke him, or poison him. If you are unable to do so, then spit in his face. If yourself refuses to do so, while your brothers are being bombarded and killed, and while their blood and wealth everywhere is deemed lawful by their enemies, then review your religion. You are in a dangerous condition because the religion cannot be established without wala (loyalty) and bara (disavowal). [2]

Al-Adnani abstained from addressing the big rift between other Salafi-Jihadist groups, mainly with Jabhat al-Nusra and al-Qaeda, and the Islamic State. The contention deepened between the Islamic State and pro-al-Qaeda supporters specifically after the release of al-Adnani’s message to Ayman al-Zawahiri titled “Excuse Me Amir of al-Qaeda” where the Islamic State refused to follow al-Qaeda’s lead only a few months ago. Al-Adnani said then that, “a state does not pledge allegiance to an organization, rather the opposite.” [3] The new message was seen as an attempt to mend fences with them, put aside their differences and unite against the coalition.

Prior to coalition strikes on the Islamic State, al-Adnani accused Jabhat al-Nusra of betrayal and treason and the Islamic Front of being loyal to Saudi Arabia. Further, in a tweet in August, al-Adnani said that the designation of al-Julani Front of al-Nusra by the West as a terrorist group was only a cover for the organization’s collaboration with the Western enemy. Al-Adnani said in the tweet: “Listing al-Julani Front with us on [the] Western embargo list does not exonerate them from apostasy and treason. We shouldn’t believe what the claim… old games by the infidel countries.” [4] Although, al-Adnani refrained from attacking al-Nusra and the Islamic Front in this latest audio message, al-Nusra supporters said al-Adnani’s speech is full of lies. These supporters also said that it was a pathetic attempt to solicit sympathy and a clear indication of weakness (al-Akhbar [Beirut], October 1).

Pro-Islamic State forum participants hailed al-Adnani’s message and reiterated the need to create a media team so that the Islamic State could monitor and counter the propaganda of Western and other big global media. Forum members claim these outlets are fueling the animosity among mujahideen factions. This media team would be able to translate foreign media reports into Arabic and then present them to Islamic State leaders. [5]

Due to the wide rift between other jihadist factions and the Islamic State, some jihadists posted an initiative and call for a truce between the factions in the Levant. The initiative appealed to all factions in Syria and Iraq to stop the bloodshed among them no later than October 3 – the holy day of Arafah during Hajj (pilgrimage). Mujahideen from Ansar al-Dine, a pro-al-Qaeda jihadist movement from Mali, would deploy on the border between the Islamic State and the other jihadist groups in Syria to observe the implementation of the truce. Thirdly, all factions would release any mujahideen in their captivity. Finally, the initiative called upon all factions to announce their position on this initiative within three days. The initiative was signed by nineteen prominent Salafi shaykhs. [6] So far, nothing has transpired from this initiative, but the fact that a serious ceasefire was proposed just after al-Adnani’s audio message demonstrates that there are some jihadists who are receptive to joining with the Islamic State.

The Islamic State’s endeavors to mend fences with other jihadist groups are expected to continue as long as the U.S.-led coalition sustains its bombing campaign. However, the success of these efforts at reconciliation are unlikely in light of all the negative comments posted online by pro-al-Qaeda and other jihadist groups. These commenters questioned the credibility of the shaykhs who signed the truce initiative, ending their posts by saying “Your initiative is already dead similar to previous initiatives.” [7] Thus the level of political will to seek compromise among the members of the various jihadist groups is very much in doubt.

Abdul Hameed Bakier is an expert on Internet media monitoring and analysis. He is based in Jordan.

Notes

1. Al-Adnani’s message can be heard here: http://www.hanein.info/vb/showthread.php?t=385249.

2. Ibid.

3. http://www.muslm.org/vb/showthread.php?532540.

4. https://twitter.com/Al_3dnani.

5. The pro-Islamic State forum can be found here: http://alplatformmedia.com/vb/showthread.php?t=64595&page=2.

6. The initiative can be found here: http://www.hanein.info/vb/showthread.php?t=386095.

7. Ibid.