Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri called on all Muslims to reject the Islamic State militant group and support Afghan Taliban, in a new video released on Sunday.
The leader of one of the world's largest jihadi groups said that ISIS and his rival leader of the group, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was only intent on trying to “split the ranks of the mujahideen,” or jihadis.
In a video Zawahiri says that all Muslims and jihadists around the globe should “rally around the emirate,” meaning the Taliban, which refers to itself as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, according to the Long War Journal.
The Islamic State frequently accuses al Qaeda’s leaders of being “deviants” and argues that al Qaeda has fallen into a state of “nonbelief.” Zawahiri challenges Abu Bakr al Baghdadi and his men to provide proof of al Qaeda’s supposed ideological lapses.
The al Qaeda master warns all of the Islamic State’s followers that they risk being found “complicit” in the “crimes” ordered by the group’s leadership. Zawahiri demands that Baghdadi provide the names and biographies of all the men (a “minority”) who swore allegiance to Baghdadi and declared him “Caliph Ibrahim.”
In particular, Zawahiri says that all “those who were members of Saddam’s Army” and even “more so those who were in Saddam’s intelligence” service should be identified.
Zawahiri’s vocal support for the Taliban is not surprising. Fifteen years after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the Taliban and al Qaeda remain closely allied.
However, Al-Qaeda lost the propaganda war to ISIS, pushing it into second place. The group also lost its most prominent arm in Syria, the Nusra Front,last month when its leader Abu Mohamed al-Jolani announced it had cut ties with Zawahiri’s group, renaming itself the Jabhat Fatah al-Sham. It is a seeming bid to have itself removed from the U.S. list of extremist organizations, according to Newsweek.