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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Split within Al Qaeda Over Syrian Rebels Grows -- Ultra-hardline splinter group gains jihadist backing -- By Bill Gertz, The Washington Free Beacon

ISIS fighters in Syria / APSharp divisions among al Qaeda terrorists in the Middle East are continuing despite a recent appeal by the group’s top leader to heal the rift between two warring factions.

While the split within the terrorist group behind the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington is real, so far it has not diminished the threat of attack against Americans, according to officials and counterterrorism analysts.

The divisions pit the remnants of al Qaeda’s central organization and its supporters in the Middle East and North Africa against a splinter group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS).

The internal conflict has resulted in fierce online debates, killings, and bombings on the ground in Syria, where ISIS has attacked both fighters and facilities belonging to the al Nusra Front, the official al Qaeda rebel group in the Syrian conflict.

ISIS continues to gain widespread jihadist support both in the region for insurgents in Syria and Iraq as well as from supporters worldwide.

That support came despite a speech last month by al Qaeda central leader Ayman al Zawahiri, successor to Osama bin Laden, and a statement earlier this month by the group’s “general command” that declared the ultra-hardline ISIS was not part of the global al Qaeda network.

“The al Qaeda of jihad group announces that it has no connection with the group called the [ISIS], as it was not informed or consulted about its establishment. It was not pleased with it and thus ordered its suspension,” said the Feb. 3 statement distributed on Twitter.

The statement said ISIS was guilty of “sedition” and was formed without consulting senior al Qaeda leaders. It also violated al Qaeda’s rules for waging Islamic holy war.

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