Qaeda urges worldwide Muslim support of IS

Qaeda urges worldwide Muslim support of IS

DUBAI - Al-Qaeda's deadly Yemen-based franchise on Friday urged Muslims worldwide to support Islamic State jihadists in Syria and Iraq in the face of attacks by a US-led military coalition.

Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, classified by the United States as the network's deadliest franchise, "prohibits taking part in the fight against" IS, which controls swathes of both Iraq and Syria, AQAP said in a statement posted on jihadist forums.

"We urge all mujahedeen (Muslim fighters) to set aside their differences and inter-factional fighting and move instead against the crusade targeting all" jihadists, it added.

"We also urge all Muslims to back their brethren, with their souls, money and tongues, against the crusaders." AQAP urged "whoever can weaken the Americans to weaken them militarily, economically, and media-wise."

"This is a campaign against Islam" that has brought together "crusaders (Christians), majus (a pejorative term for Iranians), and traitor apostate leaders," it said.

Warplanes from four Arab states of the Gulf - Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates - have since last month taken part in US-led air strikes on IS targets in Syria.

The coalition now includes, on paper, about 60 countries.

President Barack Obama told military chiefs from more than 20 allies this week that they are facing a "long-term campaign" to defeat IS.

Despite its own break with IS, Al-Qaeda's Syrian franchise, Al-Nusra Front, has said the air strikes constitute a "war against Islam" and threatened to attack the worldwide interests of participating nations.

Washington on Tuesday slapped US$45 million (S$57.3 million) in rewards on the heads of AQAP leaders.

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