Baghdadi vs. Omar: The Islamic State Hints at Fight with the Taliban
Jihadists and jihadist supporters not aligned with the Islamic State (IS) condemned a recent speech by IS spokesman Abu Muhammad al-'Adnani, released on January 26, as further dividing the global jihadist movement. Along with a renewed call for lone-wolf attacks, the speech, entitled, "Say, 'Die in Your Rage!'," touted the recent pledges of various group leaders from Khorasan, the Afghanistan/Pakistan region:
...we bring the mujāhidīn the good news of the Islamic State's expansion to Khurāsān...Indeed, the mujāhidīn from amongst the soldiers of the Khilāfah have fulfilled the conditions and met the requirements for the declaration of Wilāyat [Province] Khurāsān. They have announced their bay'ah [oath of allegience] to Amīrul-Mu'minīn [Leader of the Muslims] (may Allah preserve him) Khalīfah Ibrāhīm [Baghdadi]...
'Adnani then followed up that IS supporters in the region should "prepare" for the coming fight from "factions" in the two countries:
We call upon all the soldiers of the Islamic State who are in Khurāsān...to prepare for the great tribulations they will face. The factions will assemble against you and the rifles and bayonets will multiply against you. But you are up to it, with Allah's permission.
Though the claims in this speech were celebrated by IS fighters and supporters, supporters of al-Qaeda (AQ) and aligned groups—specifically, the Afghan Taliban—expressed unanimous anger.
"While 'Adnani's call for lone wolf attacks was to be expected, his statements regarding the Afghanistan/Pakistan region are highly significant—especially following the recent announcement of pledges to IS from the region," said SITE Director Rita Katz. "It seems that 'Adnani has implied for Islamic State followers in Afghanistan and Pakistan to fight al-Qaeda and Taliban members."
Most prevalent in social media responses from non-IS jihadists, to Katz's point, was the perception that 'Adnani had declared Afghan Taliban chief Mullah Omar, and all that remain pledged to him, to be enemies. Twitter user "Abu Mohammed Dutch," an alleged fighter with al-Nusra Front, AQ's Syrian affiliate, stated:
Another alleged fighter with al-Nusra Front fighter, under the Twitter username "GHAREEB," made a similar claim:
User "Talib Ali," who has pledged repeated oaths of allegiance to Omar, tweeted a screenshot of an English translation of the speech, circled at parts claiming Hafidh Saeed Khan, one of the leaders announced to have pledged to IS, as the "Wali [Governor]" of the Afghanistan/Pakistan region. The picture was accompanied by the message:
Subhaan Allah [Glory be the God] our AMIR [leader] in khorasan is Amirul Mumineen Mullah Muhammad Umar Mujahid hafidhahullah [May Allah preserve him]
Katz: "Therefore, it seems that the Islamic State is now trying to move its fight against al-Qaeda to the highest level."
"Mullah Omar is considered the highest religious figure within al-Qaeda leadership," said Katz. "Both Ayman al-Zawahiri and Usama bin Laden, among other AQ officials and leaders, have pledged allegiance to him. If al-Qaeda were to establish a Caliphate, Omar would likely be the Caliph."
"Therefore," she added, "it seems that the Islamic State is now trying to move its fight against al-Qaeda to the highest level."