UPDATE 5/6/13 1:36 PM: Here is an English translation of the below Arabic statement:
In the name of God, the most gracious, the most merciful.
Praise be to God and prayers and peace upon the messenger of God.
We were surprised, just as many were surprised, by what Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State of Iraq, released concerning the announcement the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. We were similarly surprised by Abu Mohammad al-Jolani’s response, the leader of Jabhat al-Nusra, in which he pledged allegiance (bay’ah) to Ayman al-Zawahiri, the leader of al-Qaeda.
Given that we are watching with interest the implications of the event – and what it means in terms of its large impact on the internal and regional arenas – we wish to record some important points that make our position clear on what has come out. We take the approach of offering advice (al-nush) and admonition (al-tazkir):
1: We in the Islamic Ahrar al-Sham Movement are keen on concentrating efforts and unifying them in the battle to topple the aggressive Assad enemy, as nothing except for faith (iman) is more required and nothing comes before it.
2: God has set forth the legitimate norms (sunan) and universal laws to establish rightly guided states. Whoever breaches the laws is deprived of their consequences(note: this line was unclear to me). Religious leadership (al-imamah) over Muslims must have ability and authority to secure its interests. This does not exist among any of the factions and brigades on the ground.
3: The “emirate” is a method – enunciated in God’s law – to unify the message and the ranks, but it is not an end in itself. What al-Baghdadi announced did not unify the scattered groups and it did not reconcile conflicting factions, and this is what is called “corruption of the situation” among religious scholars. This is when what resulted from a ruling is the opposite of what is originally intended.
4: No one in this country – no religious scholars or sincere Islamists and FSA brigades working on the ground – was consulted in the announcement of the state. This opens up the field for anyone to announce initiatives on their own according to how they see fit
5: As such, the two announcements will drag parties into the conflict that do not serve – as we see it – the people’s revolution and Jihad. The principle is to not expand the scope of the conflict and to concentrate on fighting the Assad regime, undermining its pillars of support, and stopping its aggression.
Our wounded people. When we saw Jabhat al-Nusra’s dedication and valor in battle, their charity and their good treatment of the people, it was thought that they would continue being altruistic and serving the interests of the nation.
Based on what has preceded, we ask both parties to get a sense of the magnitude of the event, the danger of regionalizing the conflict in this way, and bringing in other parties. This is not based on arbitrary distinctions between members of the Islamic nation, but an objective reading of the situation. It is a presentation of what we see as being in the best interests of Muslims and their Jihad against the tyrant of Syria.
Lastly, we in the Islamic Ahrar al-Sham Movement announce that the establishment of a rightly guided Islamic state that rules its subjects with justice is a goal that we strive to achieve through legitimate means. As such, we take care to heed the requirements of the situation and the state of the Islamic nation, which has concealed its religion for a half century. We ask God to guide us rightly in both thought and action and to grant our nation what is best. He is the protector and enabler, praise be to God, lord of the worlds.
Click the following link for a safe PDF copy: Ḥarakat Aḥrār al-Shām al-Islāmīyyah — “Clarification on the Declaration of the ‘Islamic State of Iraq and al-Shām’ and Its Implications for the Domestic and Regional Arena”