THE LEVANT – Al-Qaeda’s Yemen-based franchise on Friday urged Muslims worldwide to support Islamic State group jihadists in Syria and Iraq in the face of attacks by a US-led military coalition.
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, classified by the United States as the network’s deadliest franchise, “prohibits taking part in the fight against” IS, which controls swathes of both Iraq and Syria, AQAP said in a statement posted on jihadist forums.
“We urge all mujahedeen (Muslim fighters) to set aside their differences and inter-factional fighting and move instead against the crusade targeting all” jihadists, it added.
“We also urge all Muslims to back their brethren, with their souls, money and tongues, against the crusaders.”
AQAP urged “whoever can weaken the Americans to weaken them militarily, economically, and media-wise.”
“This is a campaign against Islam” that has brought together “crusaders (Christians), majus (a pejorative term for Iranians), and traitor apostate leaders,” it said.
Warplanes from five Arab states — Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Jordan — have since last month taken part in US-led air strikes on IS targets in Syria.
The coalition now includes, on paper, about 60 countries.
“The global coalition has carried out a ferocious campaign against mujahedeen in Iraq and Syria, especially against our Islamic State brothers, which they bombed and killed,” said AQAP.
“When the enemies found the airstrikes to be useless… they are now speaking of a ground offensive,” the group said.
Despite its own break with IS, Al-Qaeda’s Syrian franchise, Al-Nusra Front, has said the air strikes constitute a “war against Islam” and threatened to attack the worldwide interests of participating nations.
Washington on Tuesday slapped $45 million (35 million euros) in rewards on the heads of AQAP leaders.
AQAP and its north African affiliate Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) had issued an unprecedented joint statement on September 16 urging their “brothers” in Iraq and Syria to “stop killing each other and unite against the American campaign and its evil coalition that threatens us all”.
AQAP was born out of a 2009 merger of its franchises in Osama bin Laden’s native Saudi Arabia and ancestral homeland Yemen.
It has been linked to a string of attempted attacks on the United States in the past, including a botched bid to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day 2009.
It has also been a major target of the US “war on terror”, sustaining repeated deadly drone strikes on its leadership since 2002, surpassed only by those on Afghanistan and Pakistan.
AQIM, which has desert bases in northern Mali, has carried out attacks and abductions of Westerners in the sub-Saharan Sahel region, as well as claiming attacks in Tunisia.