Abu Khalil al Madani, a senior member of al Qaeda’s shura council, has released an audio message addressing the infighting between jihadist groups in Syria. The message was obtained and translated by the SITE Intelligence Group.
Despite ongoing mediation efforts, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham (ISIS) has continued to clash with other jihadist groups, including the Al Nusrah Front, al Qaeda’s official branch in Syria.
Al Madani says the factions are “required to form a High Shariah Committee in field of jihad, and this committee is to be led by a group of the knowledgeable ones, those known for success, those who are aware and understand the reality and the condition of the mujahideen.”
“The members of this committee should be taken from the best available from every active group in the field,” al Madani continues. “Among the tasks of this committee is to collect the word for the general interest; advise and direct; fix matters between each other; bring in viewpoints; and determine the reason for the defeat of the opponent.”
Al Madani’s suggestion in this regard is similar to past proposals. In a message released online on Jan. 23, al Qaeda’s emir, Ayman al Zawahiri, argued that the jihadist groups should “establish a sharia arbitration committee” capable of ruling “among different factions on all the accusations leveled by any group against its” jihadist brethren. Hours later, Dr. Abdallah Muhammad al Muhaysini, a popular Saudi cleric who has relocated to Syria, released his own reconciliation initiative, which included the same type of committee.
The ISIS rejected these efforts, however, and was subsequently disowned by al Qaeda’s general command.
In addition to the “High Sharia Committee,” al Madani says that a “security committee” should “be formed that belongs to the Sharia Committee, and is led by the people of experience and specialty, those who are aware of the situation and the condition.”
Al Madani continues: “All the active groups will participate in this committee, those present in the field, to deter and reveal the enemies and the conspiracies that are plotted against jihad and the mujahideen, and to reveal those without knowledge.”
Although al Madani does not explain why such a security committee is necessary, it may be because ISIS figures frequently claim that other jihadist groups have been infiltrated by the West or other outside parties. Such a security committee could be intended to allay such concerns among the jihadists.
Al Madani also criticizes unnamed Islamic “scholars,” saying that they are not doing enough to support the jihad in Syria. The al Qaeda ideologue claims that the infighting in Syria has persisted because more scholars have not relocated to the front lines, where they can supposedly provide direction.
“Among the reasons for the success of the Taliban in their blessed jihad in Afghanistan is that the scholars were present on the frontlines of the fight and they managed it, and therefore the blessing descended on their jihad,” Al Madani says.
Al Madani has made few appearances through the years. In July 2013, he released an audio message arguing that the community of worldwide Muslims is weak because it supposedly lacked faith. Prior to that message, he last appeared in an al Qaeda production in July 2008.