A recently published audio recording by al-Qaeda (AQ) leader Ayman al-Zawahiri once again exposes the deep divisions within the movement of global Jihad. While Zawahiri's speech focused on the need to unite the ranks of the Jihadists to defeat the "apostate" Syrian regime and its allies, it also slammed the Islamic State (IS), depicting the group as a "deviant sect" and "extremist," denouncing the legitimacy of its self-proclaimed caliphate.
IS supporters were quick to reply. A pro-IS cleric, Hussein Bin Mahmoud, published an article through social media and Jihadist forums challenging all of Zawahiri's claims. He claimed that by calling for unity on the one hand and preaching against IS on the other, Zawahiri is actually contradicting himself. He also attacked AQ leaders' call to establish an Islamic emirate when IS already "controls lands from Kirkuk to Homs."
Other supporters of IS used Twitter to bash Zawahiri. One activist tweeted that "Zawahiri is not satisfied with calling IS a deviant sect, he also demands unity with the allies of America." Others mocked Zawahiri for encouraging Muslims to go to Syria and join al-Qaeda while the group is being defeated in Yemen.