The jihadist terrorist group Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) claims to represent the interests of Sunni Muslims in Iraq, Syria, and the greater Middle East. One Sunni Mufti boldly debunked that claim on Lebanese television station Al Mayadeen, denouncing hundreds of murders of Sunni clerics by ISIS and Al Qaeda.
Speaking on a program on Al Mayadeen this week, Sunni cleric Khaled al-Mulla denounced Al Qaeda “and its ilk” for the mass murder of fellow Sunnis. ISIS claims to be the highest authority for all Sunnis and, upon declaring an independent state spanning Iraq and Syria, demanded all Sunnis pay allegiance to their leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Mulla gave specific examples of Sunni clerics who had been killed by ISIS. Mulla claimed that one cleric, Sheikh Hamzeh, had been gunned down “at his pulpit” for disagreeing with the extremist and violent views of their interpretation of Sharia law. “He was slaughtered like a sheep in Fallujah, only because he said something that ISIS and extremists couldn’t digest,” Mulla explained.
While ISIS has achieved unprecedented success in recruiting Muslims from Western countries to travel to Syria and Iraq and wage jihad, it has struggled to acquire the support of any officials within Sunni Islam. In one notable case, a female Sunni Iraqi politician was killed using a rocket launcher to attack clusters of ISIS militants fighting in Jabara. Her father, a Sunni official, had been killed by Al Qaeda, as well. ISIS has particularly struggled to receive the blessings (other than occasional support from political entities) of clerics. Given the lack of authority within the group, the establishment of the so-called “Caliphate” is likely a violation of Sharia law.
In addition to attacking Shia religion sites and calling for the deaths of non-Muslims, ISIS has been known to commit mass murders of Sunnis, and even jihadists, whom the terrorists consider insufficiently extreme in their ideology. In Syria, ISIS jihadists crucified nine men, deemed too moderate in their Islamic loyalties, who were fighting the forces of President Bashar al-Assad.