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Jordanian jihadist leader ‘brokering truce’ between feuding brothers in Syria

By Taylor Luck - Apr 10,2014 - Last updated at Apr 10,2014

AMMAN — A leading Jordanian Salafist is currently brokering a ceasefire between rival Al Qaeda branches in Syria in a bid to end infighting that has cost thousands of lives and is dividing the global jihadist movement, Islamist sources say. 

According to the sources, Saad Al Huneiti, a leading member of the hardline Jordanian Jjihadi Salafist movement, is currently in Aleppo in a bid to reach a ceasefire between Jabhat Al Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), two leading Al Qaeda affiliates and jihadist forces in Syria who have been locked in internal fighting which has reportedly cost over 4,000 lives across the country. 

Sources close to Huneiti say the jihadist leader has travelled from the ISIL’s headquarters in Riqa to the frontlines of jihadist infighting in Aleppo in a bid to reach a consensus over the formation of a joint Sharia (Islamic law) court to rule on the disputes between the groups.

Prior to arriving in northern Syria late last month, Huneiti travelled across Saudi Arabia to gain the backing of top Salafist clerics for his ceasefire initiative, sources say.

The bid comes less than two months after the failure of the so-called “Al Umma initiative” by Saudi cleric Abdullah Al Muheissini to establish an umbrella Sharia court to look into disputes among the various jihadist and Islamist militias fighting in Syria.

A moderate figure within the hardline Jordanian Salafist movement, Huneiti had previously rejected calls from fellow leading scholars, such as Mahmoud Othman, or Abu Qatada, for the group to disown the ISIL, calling instead for “reconciliation” between the former Al Qaeda affiliates.

With some 2,000 supporters fighting alongside both the ISIL and Al Nusra, the Jordanian Salafist movement is viewed by the regional jihadist movement and Syrian Islamist groups as a key player and an independent mediator in the latest attempt to end the infighting. 

In previous statements to The Jordan Times, Huneiti had attributed the escalating violence between rival jihadist groups to “individual mistakes” and “outside influences”, accusing the Syrian regime and foreign media outlets of fabricating and instigating the jihadist schism.

Al Nusra and the ISIL have been locked in bitter infighting which erupted in late 2013 over the latter’s refusal to cooperate with rebel groups and summary execution of leaders of rival jihadist militias.

The rising violence, which has reportedly claimed over 4,000 lives, reached an apex in February after ISIL forces allegedly assassinated Abu Khaled Al Souri, the right-hand man of Al Qaeda leader Ayman Al Zawahiri and former confidant to Osama Bin Laden.

The incident moved Zawahiri to cut official ties with the group, which had its branch in Iraq, further deepening the crisis. 

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