Al-Qaeda is condemning ISIS’s “deviance” following the burning of Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kaseasbeh.
This rebuke comes after the groups reportedly severed ties a year ago. In early 2014, al-Qaeda disowned its Syria branch, then known as the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham, with leader Ayman al-Zawahiri stating that the older terrorist group was “unsatisfied” with the unruly jihadists waging war against President Bashar al-Assad.
As the Daily Mail reports, al-Qaeda added its voice to the chorus of Muslims, including violent jihadists, condemning the Islamic State for this particular murder. In a tweet from an account the Mail has identified as officially linked to the leadership of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula–the strongest branch of the group, based in Yemen–a representative of the group denounced the burning. The video depicting the killing of al-Kaseasbeh, the tweet stated, was “conclusive proof of ISIS’s deviance.”
The comment follows ISIS executions of at least two imams in Syria who condemned the burning of al-Kaseasbeh, in addition to the top Sunni Islam educational center calling for the crucifixion of Islamic State jihadists in response to the video. Independently, a significant number of Muslim clerics have condemned the attack as a violation of Sharia law due to the particularly gruesome manner in which al-Kaseasbeh was killed.
It is worth noting, however, that burning people alive has precedence in medieval Islamic law, despite many modern clerics condemning it as an illegitimate form of execution.
Islamic State supporters heralded the attack. On Twitter, supporters of the terrorist group (and, it should be noted, Western journalists like Glenn Greenwald) compared the death to the killing of individuals through airstrikes from planes or drones. Islamic State supporters within the parameters of their conquered land celebrated the killing through public screenings of the pilot’s death, where crowds chanted, “Allahu Akbar!” in response to watching him burn.
In February 2014, al-Qaeda disowned ISIS with a statement that made it appear as if the leadership of the senior terrorist group believed Islamic State members to be volatile and untrustworthy, potentially not loyal enough to leaders in Yemen. “We weren’t informed about its creation, nor counseled. Nor were we satisfied with it; rather we ordered it to stop. ISIS isn’t a branch of al-Qaeda and we have no organizational relationship with it. Nor is al-Qaeda responsible for its actions and behavior,” al-Zawahiri said in an official statement.