- The Washington Times - Friday, May 9, 2014

Even al Qaeda has come out in opposition to the kidnappings of hundreds of Nigerian school girls, saying their abduction and planned sale into slavery does not honor Islam.

On a website used by Islamic radicals, one poster criticized the abductions: “Such news is spread to taint the image of the Mujahedeen,” The New York Times reported.

Two-hundred and seventy-six of the girls are still missing, and defiant Boko Haram radical members have vowed to sell them at an auction block.

Now, some Islam-based and jihad groups have spoken out against the abductions, saying they pray that God will touch the kidnappers and “hold them steady to the path” of Islam, The Times reported.

Al Qaeda leaders, for instance, have been cautioning members and supporters to back off attacks on civilian innocents — a public relations move aimed at keeping its base together, Newsmax reported. But Boko Haram — which means “Western education is sinful” in the northern Nigerian language of Hausa — is much more violent, intent on spreading its view of Islam even if it involves mass murders and bloody confrontations, The Times reported.

Meanwhile, scholars and experts see this reaction of some of the Islam faith, like al Qaeda, as proof that the radical groups are splitting in view, fractioning off because of differences of opinion in what constitutes a valid battle against insurgents.

“The violence most of the African rebel groups practice makes al Qaeda look like a bunch of schoolgirls,” said Bronwyn Bruton, an Africa scholar at the Atlantic Council in Washington, The Times reported. “And al Qaeda at this point is a brand — and pretty much only a brand — so you have to ask yourself how they are going to deal with the people who are doing things so hideous even the leaders of al Qaeda are unwilling to condone them.”

• Cheryl K. Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com.

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