Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri today issued a statement through his organization’s media arms accusing ISIS of carrying out a propaganda campaign intent on slandering the group, with an eye toward challenging them as the leaders of the global jihadist movement.
In particular, Zawahiri faulted ISIS as “liars” that “claimed we do not denounce Shi’ites,” noting that al-Qaeda is as hostile to the Shi’ites as ISIS is. He also denied ever saying Christians could be treated as “partners in governance” in a future global Islamist caliphate.
“What I have said is that they are partners in the land, such as agriculture, trade, and money, and we keep their privacy in it, in accordance with the laws of our Sharia,” Zawahiri insisted. He also said he’d never suggested Shi’ites could be spared from death for apostasy.
Rather, Zawahiri insisted that he was urging people to stop attacking marketplaces and mosques for the time being, and to concentrate on fighting Shi’ite police, military, and militiamen. ISIS, of course, has been fiercely attacking civilian Shi’ite targets all along.
Zawahiri’s statement appears aimed at portraying him as every bit the extremist the ISIS leadership is, which risks undercutting efforts in the ISIS war among several nations to portray al-Qaeda as “moderate” allies in the fight against ISIS.
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