June 18, 2013 Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 983

Jabhat Al-Nusra And The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria Squabble Over Leadership Of Jihad In Syria

June 18, 2013 | By R. Green*
Syria | Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 983

In recent months, the jihad movement has been embroiled in a row over the control and leadership of the jihad front in Syria, the centerpiece of Al-Qaeda's global campaign in recent years. The row was set off in early April by the Islamic State of Iraq leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi's surprising declaration of the establishment of The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), which was rejected by the leader of Jabhat Al-Nusra, Abu Muhammad Al-Joulani. Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri was forced to intervene in the dispute, which was punctuated by mutual accusations and even deteriorated into violence.

On June 9, two months into the dispute, Arab media circulated a letter from Al-Zawahiri in which he ordered that the ISIS be abolished, and that the separation between the Syria and Iraq fronts be maintained. However, Al-Baghdadi openly defied this order, declaring that he and his men remained committed to the new group. By doing so, he transformed the affair from a dispute over the leadership of the jihad in Syria into a direct challenge of Al-Qaeda's role as the leader of the global jihad movement.

The following document will summarize the events and review some of the important reactions to them within the jihadi movement.

Table of Contents

Recap of Events

Al-Baghdadi Rejects Al-Zawahiri's Decision

A Behind-The-Scenes History, As Told By A JN Member

The ISI Strives To Establish A Presence On The Ground

Reaction On Jihadi Forums: Al-Joulani And Al-Baghdadi Supporters Bicker As Administrators Seek To Stress Unity

Attacks On The ISI; Al-Qaeda Responds

Religious Scholars Debate The Declaration Of The Establishment Of The ISIS

Religious Scholars Supporting The Merger Stress Obedience And Unity

Religious Scholars Opposing The Merger

The Men Of Authority Were Not Consulted

The Virtual "State"

Disadvantages Of The Merger



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