The leader of an al-Qaeda faction in Yemen has urged Muslims to back rival Islamist faction Isis – evidence of a deep split in the ranks of the extremists.
As its name suggests, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsular has long been a part of the wider al-Qaeda organisation, which supplies the Yemeni-based group with money and arms.
But in an online audio track, entitled Contemplations on the Fruits of Victory in the Land of the Tigris and Euphrates, a senior AQAP leader calls on all Muslims to support rival Islamist group Isis and its call for an Islamic state.
In the recording, dated 17 June – days before Isis declared it had established a caliphate in Iraq and Syria – Sheikh Mamoun bin Abd al-Hamid Hatem praises Isis leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and says that any act against Isis is the work of the devil.
His pronouncement is evidence of a major split within al-Qaeda triggered by the rapid advance of Isis, which it spawned. The recent successes of Isis, which also now goes by the name of Islamic State, have inspired and attracted many AQAP members.