Abu Mohammed al-Maqdisi, a Jordanian scholar who is one of the most influential voices in jihadist thought, warned on Wednesday that a radical Islamist group’s declaration of a caliphate in Iraq and Syria would deepen already bloody infighting among jihadists.
The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) on Sunday renamed itself the Islamic State and declared its leader “caliph” – the historical title of successors of the Prophet Mohammad who ruled the whole Muslim world – after its forces captured swathes of territory in a lightning drive across northern Iraq.
“Will this caliphate be a sanctuary for every oppressed one and a refuge for every Muslim?” Maqdisi asked in a posting on his website. “Or will this creation take up a sword against Muslims who oppose it, and with it sweep away all the emirates that came before … and nullify all the groups that do jihad in the cause of Allah in the different battlefields before them?”
Many in the online jihadist community had been waiting for Maqdisi’s views on ISIL’s advances, and Maqdisi himself said he had been lobbied by both advocates and opponents of the group.