Al-Qaida and ISIS have both issued statements on the Islamic terrorist attacks in Paris last week, unintentionally emphasizing their strained and rivalrous relationship.
Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, the Yemeni stronghold of the network’s central leadership, made its florid and sometimes rhyming statement in a 12-minute video entitled “Vengeance For The Messenger Of Allah: A Message Regarding The Blessed Battle Of Paris.” (RELATED: Paris Attack Suspects Had Links To Al-Qaida, Al-Zarqawi)
The speaker in the video said the group’s members “claim responsibility for this operation” and that “the one who chose the target, laid the plan, financed the operation and appointed its [commander] is the leadership of the organization.” According to the statement, the attack was performed on “the order of” the late al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, “following the will of” Osama bin Laden. It also says the Kouachi brothers coordinated the details with American al-Qaida leader Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed by a U.S. drone strike in 2011.
The ISIS message, titled, “Interviews About The Blessed French Operations,” is more ambiguous. It features several French-speaking jihadis on the busy streets of Raqqa, the ISIS-controlled province in Syria, saying that “it was assumed for a long time that this would happen in France,” and warning that “the Islamic State will come to Europe… and these attacks will continue.” To those unable to join their presumptive caliphate in the Middle East, they urge their “brothers” to “keep it up,” to “kill any infidel you may meet in the street,” calling jihad “the true path to dignity.”
The al-Qaida spokesman called on Muslims to boycott Western products and to aid Muslims suffering in refugee camps. He also accused Western governments of hypocritical use of “free speech,” saying they rush to defend blasphemous journalists and cartoonists while suppressing those who incite terrorism.
Al-Qaida’s video called Amedy Coulibaly’s subsequent attack on a kosher grocery store a “good fortune from God” that coincided with its own raid on the Charlie Hebdo offices, asking god to welcome “all [the attackers] among martyrs.”
ISIS stopped short of claiming responsibility for either of last week’s terrorist attacks in Paris. Coulibaly made a video last week pledging allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and claimed some level of coordination with the Kouachi brothers. It remains unclear if he acted on direct orders from the group, whose methodology has focused on state-building rather than attacks against the West. (RELATED: Terror Widow Flees To Syria As New Paris Jihadi Facts Emerge)
Though it originated in al-Qaida’s Iraqi operations, ISIS formally cut ties with al-Qaida in early 2014 after several years of disputes with al-Qaida’s central leadership over strategy. Since then, ISIS has openly clashed with al-Qaida’s Syrian affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra. By blessing the operations of an ISIS-inspired attacker, al-Qaida’s latest video may be an attempt to outflank ISIS legitimacy on the stage of global jihad.
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