Extremists debate merits of Islamic caliphate’s message

July 12, 2014 - 1:56:27 am

WAZIRISTAN:  The Afghan Taliban have urged Muslims to avoid extremism and remain united, a message apparently aimed at the Islamic State (ISIL), which recently declared an Islamic caliphate in territory it controls in Iraq and Syria.

The Arabic message, posted on the Afghan Taliban’s website on Thursday and translated by SITE intelligence group, addressed fighters in Iraq and Syria whose announcement of a caliphate last month poses a direct challenge to Al Qaeda’s dominance of global Islamist militancy.

“It is worthy for a shura (consultation) council to be formed from the leaders of all the jihadi factions and the distinguished people among the experts and the scholars in Sham (Syria) in order to solve their conflicts,” the message said.

“Muslims also should avoid extremism in religion, and judging others without evidence, and distrusting one another,” it said. “They should avoid conflict and dispute, and not think their opinions are better than others. Mercy and compassion should prevail.”

On June 29, an Al Qaeda offshoot previously known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant announced that it had renamed itself Islamic State and proclaimed its leader Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi as “Caliph” - the head of the state.

The group had fallen out with Al Qaeda over its expansion into Syria, where it has carried out beheadings, crucifixions, and mass executions.

In recent weeks, fighters from the Islamic State have overrun the Iraqi city of Mosul and advanced towards the capital of Baghdad. In Syria they have captured territory in the north and east, along the border with Iraq.

Taliban spokesmen in both Pakistan and Afghanistan declined to comment on Al Baghdadi’s claim to be the global leader of all Muslims. The Afghan and Pakistani Taliban are separate but allied.

Privately, some commanders said that they did not want to anger Al Qaeda, who they considered a long-time ally in the fight against Nato troops in the region.

Some Taliban, including some of the younger commanders, were enthusiastic about ISIS.