ISIS and Al-Qaeda Condemn Muslims Fighting in Russo-Ukrainian War

ISIS and Al-Qaeda Condemn Muslims Fighting in Russo-Ukrainian War

The reactions of Al Qaeda and ISIS supporters were almost identical; favorably viewing the war as a helpful development for Muslims and jihadis and advising Muslims to not get involved in wars of “crusaders.”


Another tactic the magazine recommended is to spread disinformation in Europe. It also urged Ukrainian Muslims to incite Ukrainian refugees to participate in demonstrations calling on Europe to support their home country and exploit such events to carry out attacks.

Urging Muslims to be prepared for the days to come, the magazine editors advised them to plan for attacks targeting Western logistics, media personnel, and diplomats in Ukraine, saying this could drag Western countries in this war. Additionally, they suggested carrying out attacks upon return to their country in Europe or in “the protector of the cross,” a reference to the United States. “You may consider going to Russia to plan your act [i.e., attack] there. You may also stay in Ukraine to prepare yourself to be a nucleus for jihad in the country,” they recommended.


Predominately, Al Qaeda supporters reacted in a similar manner to that of ISIS, gloating over the war, denouncing the involvement of Muslim fighters on behalf of Russia, and arguing again that Muslims are not supposed to side with any party of this war.

On Twitter, Jordanian-Palestinian Salafi-Jihadi ideologue and Al Qaeda supporter Abu Muhammad Al-Maqdisi, whose real name is ‘Isam Ibn Muhammad Ibn Tahir al-Barqawi, posted a tweet gloating at scenes of destruction and death in Ukraine, accusing “crusaders” of destroying Muslims’ cities. Al-Maqdisi also questioned: “Have you forgotten Iraq and Mosul, Syria’s al-Baghuz, Afghanistan, Gaza, Yemen, and Libya and many others?!” He then retorted: “We have not forgotten. Therefore, we are enjoying watching this war, just as you were enjoying watching the destruction of Muslim countries.”

In another tweet, Al-Maqdisi denounced a photo of Chechen Muslim fighters performing prayers, stating “the prayers of those who have not been cleansed off the tyrant’s vile will not be accepted” since they do not abide by the principle of monotheism requiring renouncement and non-support of the tyrants. He further declared a Muslim should not fight on behalf of the Russian “tyrant” nor to defend the Ukrainian “tyrant”: “So beware, oh Muslim, not to fight under the banners of the jahiliyah [pre-Islam] regimes. Do not support a tyrant over another. They use you to support their dirty regime; then they throw you as they do with toilet papers.”

Condemning Muslims who expressed sympathy or solidarity with Ukraine, possibly referring to members and supporters of the Syrian jihadi group Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) which is also engaged in fighting Russian forces in Syria, Al-Maqdisi wrote a tweet, including a photo of Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy wearing a kippah. He commented by claiming Zelenskyy is “a Jew of Russian origin with Israeli citizenship” and Ukrainian prime minister Denys Shmyhal and ten other ministers are also Jews with Israeli citizenship. He concluded by wishing that Zelenskyy and Putin would “destroy each other.”

For his part, Canada-based pro-Al Qaeda Egyptian cleric Tariq ‘Abd Al-Halim said on Telegram that Muslims have nothing to do with the Russo-Ukrainian War, adding that the outcome of the ongoing war will create a new order, which will significantly affect Muslims who seek to have monotheism emanate throughout the world.

Echoing the same anti-HTS sentiment of Al-Maqdisi, he expressed in another post that Azerbaijan exploited the ongoing situation, Russia’s weakness, and began to attack Armenia to reclaim the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh. He further denounced the inaction of Syrian jihadis of HTS and the Turkish-backed National Syrian Army, calling them “the dogs of the Syrian north” who “continue to lick the shoes of the Turks and Americans.”

As the Russian war is raging in Ukraine, jihadis and supporters of ISIS and Al Qaeda will continue to hope that it will be a protracted one in which the “enemies” of Islam will wipe each other out. But ISIS and Al Qaeda supporters’ calls to exploit the war ought to serve as a wake-up call about how jihadis are searching for any crack to penetrate to spread their ideology and even carry out attacks against the Western “Crusaders” and “infidels.”

Romany Shaker is a research analyst monitoring global jihadi and terrorist groups. He is based in the Washington DC area where he previously worked for the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) and the Middle East Media Research Institute’s (MEMRI) Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitoring (JTTM). Follow him on Twitter @RomanyShSS.

Image: Reuters.