Last week, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the head of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and the man the group has proclaimed the head of their self-proclaimed caliphate, issued an audio recording announcing the expansion of the militant group's control.
In the recording, released in the aftermath of rumors that he had been killed or wounded in a U.S. airstrike, Baghdadi declared "the expansion of the Islamic State to new lands, to the lands of al Haramain [meaning Saudi Arabia] and [to] Yemen, and to Egypt, Libya and Algeria."
That announcement was the latest in a string of moves that ISIS has taken over the last year to challenge al-Qaeda for supremacy in the jihadi movement. ISIS itself was once known as al-Qaeda in Iraq before the two groups publicly severed ties earlier this year.
Now, the Yemen-based al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) — who the United States believes to be the most dangerous of al-Qaeda's off-shoots — is fighting back. On Friday it issued a half-hour long video denouncing Baghdadi's announcement.
In the video, Shiek Harith bin Ghazi al Nadhari — a senior leader in AQAP and the "purported spiritual guide" of the group — said ISIS' expansionism is "driving a wedge" among jihadi groups.
Nadhari also completely disavowed the notion that al-Baghdadi is the head of a new caliphate. "They revoked the legitimacy of all the Islamic groups across the Islamic world .... and drove a wedge among Mujahedeen ranks by collecting allegiances from within the Jihadi groups," he said. "They announced the expansion of their caliphate in a number of countries in which they have no mandate."
"The announcement of the caliphate for all Muslims by our brothers in the Islamic State did not meet the required conditions," Nadhari continued, according to a translation from SITE, a group that tracks extremism online. He also renewed AQAP's oath of loyalty to al-Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri and Taliban leader Mullah Omar.