There is a widening split between armed Islamists, as two recent incidents show. In March the local Taliban in the Pakistani tribal zone of South Waziristan killed foreign fighters from the al-Qaida-affiliated Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. Almost simultaneously, infighting broke out between the Islamic Army in Iraq and the local branch of al-Qaida. The confrontation between the two strategies – and two different ideologies – of the Islamist struggle is getting more violent.
Many of the foreign volunteers who have flooded into Pakistan and Iraq since 2003 are Takfirists, who regard “bad Muslims” as the real enemy (see ‘Takfirism: a messianic ideology’). Indigenous Islamic resistance groups have reacted uncomfortably to the growth of this near-heresy within al-Qaida which, by waging war against Muslim governments, has brought chaos to the populations it claims to defend.