Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), one of al Qaeda's official branches, posted a statement on jihadist forums on Jul. 1 praising the Islamic State's recent military gains in Iraq. AQIM also calls for reconciliation between the ISIS and rival jihadist groups in Syria. The message was first obtained and translated by the SITE Intelligence Group.
The statement was authored on June 22, one week before the Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham (ISIS) rebranded itself as the Islamic State and declared that it now ruled over a caliphate. The Islamic State's controversial caliphate announcement is not, therefore, addressed in AQIM's statement.
AQIM's message is addressed to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham (ISIS), which is how the group will be referred to here.
AQIM begins by praising "the victories of our people the Sunnis in Iraq under the command of their mujahideen sons, and on top of them the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham" (ISIS). Interestingly, AQIM argues that ISIS' advances in Iraq have "alleviated our calamity in" Syria and "mended the rift and directed arrows of the mujahideen to the necks of the enemies of the Ummah and the religion: the Crusaders, the [Shiites], and the apostates."
Therefore, AQIM sees ISIS' advances in Iraq as aiming the jihadists' "arrows" at their appropriate common enemies, instead of one another. However, the gains made by the ISIS in Iraq have not put an end to the infighting in Syria, where the ISIS and its rivals have battled for months.
After calling for broad support for the jihad in Iraq, AQIM's statement then says the jihadist factions should reconcile their differences. AQIM first addresses the ISIS. "We call upon our mujahideen brothers in Iraq and on top of them, our brothers in the Islamic State in Iraq and Sham [ISIS], to take advantage of these conquests and winds of victory to gather and meet, and forget the past of dispute and conflict, and open a new page with their brothers," the group's statement reads, according to SITE's translation.
Without naming any specific groups in Syria, AQIM addresses jihadists there, arguing that they should support the ISIS' efforts in Iraq. "We call upon our mujahideen brothers in Sham to strongly support the conquests of their brothers in Iraq and protect their backs and provide them with what they need to continue their march and complete their victory, as recommended by our Sheikh and Emir Sheikh Dr. Ayman al Zawahiri, may Allah preserve and protect him, because Iraq is a debt upon the entire Ummah."
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Long War Journal