IS militants 'fighting among themselves over Baghdadi's leadership'

IS militants 'fighting among themselves over Baghdadi's leadership'
Local residents in Mosul tell al-Araby al-Jadeed that IS group is splitting over disagreements about the decisions of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
2 min read
21 July, 2015
Islamic State group have made advances on the ground, but are their divisions increasing?

The Islamic State group is on the verge of a schism in Mosul, with violent internal clashes over the leadership and decisions of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, local residents have told al-Araby al-Jadeed.

"IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is no longer able to control his followers and his word has become less effective than it has been in the past," Anas, a Mosul resident, said.

"He is no longer popular among leaders and members of the organisation."

"Chats and arguments have started to emerge into the open, and by virtue of my profession, I hear a lot of their chats and differences," he added.

It appears that the extent of the differences and their recurrence in Mosul, Anbar, Raqqa, Kirkuk and other cities controlled by IS, have made it more difficult to keep a secret.

The current tension reportedly stems from disagreements over Baghdadi's decisions to fight other militant factions, such as the Nusra Front, Jaish al-Sham and the Free Syrian Army, and the dissidents include people from the top of IS' leadership.

The dissidents are also angry at IS' involvement in killing leaders of Jaish al-Mujahideen, a Sunni group in Iraq, and members of the military councils of anti-government tribes in Iraq.

"Baghdadi is no longer as popular a 'caliph' as when he appeared in June last year in the city's Grand Mosque," a prominent tribal leader in Mosul said. "His followers have detected dozens of daily errors in decisions he made, and he also does not have the charisma of a leader."

"There exist within the organisation eloquent figures with strong influence in battle... we expect him to begin purging them," he said.

An Iraqi cleric close to the organisation's circles in Mosul also spoke of divisions.

"IS has now split into two parts known popularly as 'pre-victory' and 'post-victory'," the cleric said.

"Those who entered Mosul and other parts of Iraq see themselves as better than those who joined the organisation after that period, and there are many divisions and problems, including concerning the distribution and allocation of salaries and Baghdadi's late decision to prevent families from leaving the city."

He added that despite the growing rivalry within the organisation, it was doubtful it would result in open warfare.