Of the various jihadist groups in northwest Syria, Ansar al-Tawheed ("Supporters of Monotheism") is perhaps the most obscure to observers in terms of its orientation. Is it an al-Qa'ida front? Or is it pro-Islamic State? These are some of the questions that circulate about the group.
It is probably in light of these questions that the group has issued a statement on its position and affiliations, declaring itself to be independent and not having an allegiance pledge (bay'a) to any organization, not even of a secret nature. This is likely intended to address the various claims that the group is aligned with al-Qa'ida or the Islamic State. The group also says it does not come under any operations room or alliance. The latter point in particular addresses the misconception that Ansar al-Tawheed is part of the 'And Rouse the Believers' operations room comprising Hurras al-Din, Jama'at Ansar al-Islam and Jabhat Ansar al-Din. Though the group had previously struck a coalition with Hurras al-Din, that coalition no longer exists.
In my view this Ansar al-Tawheed statement should be accepted as it is in terms of its official independent status. The best explanation I have heard about Ansar al-Tawheed is that the group itself- which partly originated in the old Jund al-Aqsa- has people of a spectrum of jihadist orientations: ranging from some who are more closely aligned with Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham in terms of its ideas and approach, to others who are sympathetic to Islamic State-style ideas on takfir and implementing the rule of God's law.
Below is the statement translated in full.
Praise be to God alone and prayers and peace be upon the one after whom there is no prophet.
As for what follows:
We your brothers in the Ansar al-Tawheed group announce and make clear to the Ummah in general and our people in al-Sham in particular that our aim is to fight the aggressor enemy, and we are an 'independent' group not tied by an organizational bay'a, external or internal, 'secret or public'. And we do not come under any 'operations room' and we have no 'alliance' with any group or faction except an alliance we had contracted previously and we today are in a state of 'absolution' from it.
And our battles are established after God on the basis of independence or in coordination with some of the factions.
And God's blessings and peace be upon our Prophet Muhammad and all his family and companions.
10 Ramadan 1441 AH
3 May 2020 CE.