To recap briefly, Jaysh al-Mujahideen is a Salafi nationalist grouping with anti-Shi'a sentiment and revolutionary aims. However, the group's tensions with the Islamic State in al-Karma (eastern Anbar province), where the group has had a strong presence from the beginning of the revitalised Sunni Arab insurgency this year with good links with local tribesmen, have been simmering for a while. For instance, in May, allegations arose that IS was attempting to gain a monopoly on commodities going in and out of al-Karma so that locals would be forced to buy fuel and food from IS. Further, Jaysh al-Mujahideen disapproves of IS on a broader ideological level for 'ghuluw' ('extremism'). For example, see the most recent prior statement, which, though not calling out IS by name and primarily intended to denounce notions of forming a new 'Sahwa' to fight IS, probably takes an indirect swipe at IS in mentioning rejection of 'extremism' and takfir (declaring others who profess to be Muslim to be non-Muslims).
It should be noted that Jaysh al-Mujahideen makes reference to IS demands for bay'ah ('allegiance'). That IS pushes for such a pledge should come as no surprise considering that IS has declared itself the Caliphate under which all Muslims must subsume themselves. The IS pressure for bay'ah has been reported to take place elsewhere in Iraq where there is a Jaysh al-Mujahideen presence. Thus, Sumaria News reported on 15 July:
'A local source in Diyala province disclosed on Tuesday that the so-called 'Jaysh al-Mujahideen' has been distributing pamphlets in al-Sa'adiya district in north Baquba in which it rejects pledging allegiance to the leader of the ISIS organization Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and considers the Caliphate as illegimate on religious legal grounds.
The source said in an interview with 'Sumaria News' that "an armed group calling itself 'Jaysh al-Mujahideen' distributed pamphlets in the northern neighborhoods of al-Sa'adiya district (60 km north of Baquba) in which it rejected a pledge of allegiance to the leader of the terrorist ISIS organization Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, pointing out that the organization considered the Caliphate Baghdadi announced previously to be illegitimate on religious legal grounds.
The source, who requested anonymity, added: "The Jaysh al-Mujahideen organization called for a retreat from the Caliphate and no spilling of the blood of innocents."'
However, it is clear that one trend that has emerged in the overall dynamics is that IS demands for bay'ah have often resulted in complete subjugation under IS. For instance, in the western Anbar town of Anah (according to a source with family and friends in this locality), the collapse of government control was initially spearheaded by local rebels- said to be ex-soldiers and officers from the Saddam-era army, but then IS subsequently moved in and demanded allegiance. The rebels refused, but faced with IS' strength, simply withdrew from the town without a fight and allowed IS to take over.
Entrance to Anah: "The Islamic State: Province of Anbar: Town of Anah"
A similar pattern has emerged here in al-Karma culminating in the withdrawal of Jaysh al-Mujahideen from al-Karma city, only this time there were real military clashes. The wider conclusion to draw here is that at least individually, the non-IS insurgent groups do not really have the ability to challenge IS' capabilities. More success would be achieved if they collectively united and had an external power with troops on the ground to help coordinate. Note the reference to Fallujah in the first statement: Jaysh al-Mujahideen originally had a presence in the town of Fallujah when it first fell out of government control, but its presence was eventually subsumed by IS.
Translation- 21 August Statement
Clarification about the organization of Dawla's attacks on our members in al-Karma.
It has not been hidden from any of the mujahideen in Iraq that the so-called organization of the Dawla has been trying for a while to take pledges of allegiance from the mujahideen by force and making them choose between pledge of allegiance, laying aside their arms and desisting from jihad, or fighting them, exploiting the avoidance of the rest for confrontation with them and opening up an internal front that only serves the interest of the enemy that has taken up positions against the Ahl al-Sunna; further they accuse all those who disagree with them of the worst sorts of falsehoods in order to declare takfir against them and spill their blood.
The al-Karma area was among the first to be liberated from the Safavid army by God Almighty's preference with the forearms of its people and its tribes in cooperation with their sons waging jihad and the organization of the Dawla had no notable role in that, but after its liberation they began to penetrate, spread, extend themselves within it, and provoke equally the mujahideen and the tribes, reaching such a point that they undertook to kidnap some of our members yesterday and attacked a number of our soldiers after detaining them today, opening fire on others, so our brothers were compelled to defend themselves, and there were hits on both sides. Then members of this oppressive organization began to marshal and bring in their members from other areas from Fallujah, Tikrit and other areas.
Then they began to bombard the villages in which our fighters were spread with mortars and artillery, and they rejected tribal mediation that tried to shield the city and its people from war, even as they were the ones who kindled its fire, insisting on their terms of evil renown (pledge of allegiance, surrending of arms and going out from the city, or fighting). Then they blew up some of the houses of our brothers, and attacked a number of our barracks and tried to assault them. All the evidence points to their being the ones who are preparing for a great battle and creating outward strife just as they have done in ash-Sham, inflicting catastrophies and disasters on the Ahl al-Sunna and it will be the most valuable gift they are offering to the new Rafidite government that will surely not hesitate to exploit this sort of fitna [strife].
We affirm that we are in a position of self-defense and we will respond to any attack against us, our tribes and our people by any means of force. And our eyes turn to a hadith of the Messenger of God (PBUH) narrated by Said ibn Zaid (may God be pleased with them both): I heard the Messnger of God (PBUH) saying: 'Whosoever is killed with his wealth is a martyr, whosoever is killed with his blood is a martyr, whosoever is killed with his religion is a martyr, whosoever is killed with his people is a martyr.' Abu Dwud, al-Nisa'i, al-Tirmidhi and Ibn Maja narrated this. Al-Tirmidhi said: 'This is a very reliable hadith'. On the authority of Abu Hurairah (may God be pleased with him), he said: 'A man came to the Messenger of God (PBUH) and said: "Oh Messenger of God, did you see if a man came wanting to take my wealth?" He replied: "So don't give him your wealth." He said: "Did you see if he fought me?" He replied: "So fight him." He said: "Did you see if he killed me?" He replied: "So you are a martyr." He said: "Did you see if I killed him?" He replied: "He is in Hellfire." Muslim and al-Nisa'i narrated this.
And we warn them of God Almighty: them and all who stand with them and support them: that this conduct of theirs is the cause of the continuation of the stirring up of disasters for the Ahl al-Sunna, so may they not outbid those besides them in any deed they have undertaken, for what they have corrupted from the revolution of the Ahl al-Sunna does not compare with what they have offered, until they sought to incite all who have power against the Ahl al-Sunna and gave the excuses that America, Iran and all who stand with them wanted all along to strike the Ahl al-Sunna, destroy their revolutions and marshal enemies against them.
And indeed God is supreme over His dominion but most people don't know it.
Jaysh al-Mujahideen Media Committee
25 Shuwwal 1435 AH.
Translation- 22 August Statement
Statement of withdrawal from the town of al-Karma
After the organization of the Dawla undertook to marshal great forces, summoning them from a variety of nearby and far-away areas and besieging the al-Karma area, beginning a widespread battle with our soldiers on its frontlines, and making them choose between pledge of allegiance, throwing away their arms and withdrawing from the area, or fighting them, the sheikhs of our tribes intervened another time to end the infighting and prevent the spilling of blood of the mujahideen, their families and the sons of area, and to shield the town from the consequences of the battle. After the organization of the Dawla pledged before the sheikhs and notables of the tribes to undertake full responsibility including the consequences resulting from the withdrawal of our fighters from the front lines, we decided to withdraw from al-Karma, and we disavow responsibility before God Almighty from any harm that will result from this withdrawal that we were compelled to undertake out of preference for the interest of the Muslims and ruin the opportunity [of exploitation] for the Safavids.
And we will mention details of the events that happened in another statement.
Jaysh al-Mujahideen Media Committee
26 Shuwwal 1435 AH.