Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri has denounced what he said was a dishonest propaganda campaign against his group by rival "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL) in an audio message released Thursday (January 5th), AFP reported.
In the message, found and translated by the SITE Intelligence Group, the al-Qaeda leader accuses ISIL leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi of slandering his group.
Al-Qaeda, founded by the late Osama bin Laden, is locked in a battle with ISIL, which sprang from its Iraqi faction, for the leadership of a global extremist movement.
In his message, al-Zawahiri complained that al-Baghdadi had alleged that al-Qaeda opposes sectarian attacks on Shia and was prepared to work with Christian leaders.
"The liars insist upon their falsehood, to the extent that they claimed we do not denounce Shia," al-Zawahiri said, according to the translation of the message, released by al-Qaeda's media arm.
The al-Qaeda leader, who took charge after bin Laden was killed in 2011, is thought to be somewhere in Pakistan's border region hiding from a global manhunt.
He communicates with the group's remaining supporters through semi-regular video lectures, though Thursday's message did not include any footage of al-Zawahiri speaking.