Al-Qaeda’s leader in Iraq has defied orders from the group’s global chief, Ayman al-Zawahiri, to break up his union with the jihadist Nusra Front in Syria, according to an audio message released Saturday.
The remarks from Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) head Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi were posted in a message on jihadist forums online and reveal tensions between ISI and Al-Qaeda’s central command.
In April, Baghdadi announced that ISI had merged with Syria’s Nusra Front.
Nusra leader Abu Mohammed Golani acknowledged there was a relationship between the two groups, but he denied there had been a merger and publicly pledged his allegiance to Zawahiri.
Yet in Saturday’s message, the man identified as Baghdadi said “the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant remains, as long as there is blood in our veins and our eyes are blinking."
“It remains, and we will not compromise. We will not give up until we die,” he said in the message.
Translated and edited by the Syrian Observer