Al-Qaida Disavows Main "Al-Qaida-Linked" Group

How It Works
Feb. 3 2014 11:31 AM

Al-Qaida Disavows Syrian Rebel Group

460948299-people-demonstrate-outside-the-offices-of-the-al-qaeda
People demonstrate outside the offices of the al-Qaeda-linked ISIS, demanding that they stop fighting with the rebels, on Jan. 6, 2014, in Aleppo, Syria.

Photo by Mohammed Wesam/AFP/Getty Images

It’s been fairly clear for a while that despite the common description of the Syrian rebel group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) as “al Qaida-linked,” the group has actually been operating on its own. It has defied instructions from global al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri and fought with Jabhat al-Nusra, another Syrian group linked to the international terror network.

Joshua Keating Joshua Keating

Joshua Keating is a staff writer at Slate focusing on international affairs and writes the World blog. 

Today, however, al-Qaida central seems to have made it official. In a newly released statement (translation via Aaron Zelin) it fully denounces the group once known as “Al-Qaida in Iraq”:

FIRSTLY: Qae'dat al-Jihad (AQ) declares that it has no links to the ISIS group. We were not informed about its creation, nor counseled.
2. Nor were we satisfied with it rather we ordered it to stop. ISIS is not a branch of AQ & we have no organizational relationship with it.
3. Nor is al-Qaeda responsible for its actions and behaviors.
Advertisement

ISIS fighters tend to be more international and less focused on the narrow political goal of overthrowing the Assad regime than other rebel groups. Rival rebel groups have suggested that ISIS may actually be cooperating with the Assad regime, and while there’s no direct evidence of coordination, there have been reports suggesting it is actually selling fuel to the government from oil fields it controls.

Whether or not the two are actually directly working together, it seems clear that ISIS’s rise to prominence, and the split it has contributed to among rebel groups, has certainly worked in Assad’s favor.  

Joshua Keating is a staff writer at Slate focusing on international affairs and writes the World blog. 

TODAY IN SLATE

History

Slate Plus Early Read: The Self-Made Man

The story of America’s most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth.

Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada. Now, Journalists Can’t Even Say Her Name.

Mitt Romney May Be Weighing a 2016 Run. That Would Be a Big Mistake.

Amazing Photos From Hong Kong’s Umbrella Revolution

Transparent Is the Fall’s Only Great New Show

The XX Factor

Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada

Now, journalists can't even say her name.

Doublex

Lena Dunham, the Book

More shtick than honesty in Not That Kind of Girl.

What a Juicy New Book About Diane Sawyer and Katie Couric Fails to Tell Us About the TV News Business

Does Your Child Have Sluggish Cognitive Tempo? Or Is That Just a Disorder Made Up to Scare You?

  News & Politics
History
Sept. 29 2014 11:45 PM The Self-Made Man The story of America’s most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 29 2014 7:01 PM We May Never Know If Larry Ellison Flew a Fighter Jet Under the Golden Gate Bridge
  Life
Dear Prudence
Sept. 30 2014 6:00 AM Drive-By Bounty Prudie advises a woman whose boyfriend demands she flash truckers on the highway.
  Double X
Doublex
Sept. 29 2014 11:43 PM Lena Dunham, the Book More shtick than honesty in Not That Kind of Girl.
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 29 2014 8:45 AM Slate Isn’t Too Liberal, but … What readers said about the magazine’s bias and balance.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 29 2014 9:06 PM Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice Looks Like a Comic Masterpiece
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 30 2014 7:36 AM Almost Humane What sci-fi can teach us about our treatment of prisoners of war.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 30 2014 7:30 AM What Lurks Beneath The Methane Lakes of Titan?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 28 2014 8:30 PM NFL Players Die Young. Or Maybe They Live Long Lives. Why it’s so hard to pin down the effects of football on players’ lives.