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.”