ADL: Prominent Public Figures Across Muslim World Connecting Jews to Creation of ISIS

New York, NY, August 26, 2014 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today expressed concern over the promotion of conspiracy theories in some countries in the Muslim world connecting Jews to the creation and activity of the terror group the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Prominent public figures including scholars, government officials and clerics from Iraq, Iran, Egypt and Pakistan and elsewhere are promoting a conspiracy theory which suggests that ISIS was “created” by Jews and Zionists with the goal of harming Islam.

“Once again, some religious leaders across the Muslim world are actively promoting and perpetuating anti-Semitic conspiracy theories of Jewish control,” said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. “This absurd and incendiary claim is gaining traction on social media and only serves to distract people from the deep anti-Semitism in some parts of the Muslim world and combating the serious threat which ISIS poses.”

According to ADL’s Center on Extremism, the following are examples of the growing popularity of the conspiracy theory:

  • An umbrella group based in Egypt for schol­ars con­nected to Al-Azhar Uni­ver­sity, Egypt’s top reli­gious author­ity, pub­lished a state­ment describ­ing how ISIS and other extrem­ist groups are “[a] Jew­ish prod­uct under var­i­ous names that change every now and then” and cited the head of the association’s chap­ter in Pak­istan as say­ing, “The ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tion ISIS is a Zion­ist plot which aims to mur­der Mus­lims, shed their blood, and rape [their] women and girls.”
  • Pop­u­lar Iraqi scholar Ahmed al-Kubbaisi stated on a television interview that ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is “no more than a Jew­ish agent,” and added that the terror group is “an orga­nized Jew­ish move­ment to tear apart” the Islamic nation.
  • Mohsen Rezae, Iran’s Sec­re­tary of the Expe­di­ency Dis­cern­ment Coun­cil, said dur­ing a television interview that the “Zion­ist Entity” is behind ISIS, and that “Zion­ists” usu­ally try to get rid of oth­ers by mak­ing them fight each other, with claims that Israel provided training to the ISIS leadership.
  • Aya­tol­lah Sayed Mor­tada Al-Qazwini, a prominent Shia’a cleric in Iraq, described ISIS dur­ing an Eid ser­mon in Karbala as “a Jew­ish Israeli orga­ni­za­tion, estab­lished to tear apart the land of Muslims.”
  • Sev­eral Arab media outlets have also cir­cu­lated a story claim­ing that ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is a Jew­ish Mossad agent by the name of Simon Elliot.
  • An ad cam­paign against ISIS appear­ing on Iraqi satel­lite tele­vi­sion Afaq showed a snake with the mark of ISIS com­ing out of the Jew­ish Star of David.

“In places where anti-Semitism is already deeply entrenched into society, the promotion of such a theory can instantly go viral and potentially threaten the safety of Jewish communities,” Mr. Foxman said. “What makes this so absurd is that those who are claiming that ISIS is a Jewish creation conveniently ignore the fervent anti-Semitic nature at the group’s core.”

A recent ADL poll in 100 countries found that 74 percent of those surveyed across the Middle East and North Africa harbor anti-Semitic attitudes.