In an interview on MBC channel featured on 22 January 2016, translated by British think tank Integrity UK on 27 January, the leading Saudi cleric Aadel Al-Kalbani said that Daesh is an offshoot of Salafism.
“The thought of Daesh is Salafist. It is neither the thought of the Muslim Brotherhood, nor Qutbism, Sufism or Ash’ari.” These represent revivalist schools of modern Islamic thought.
“They (Daesh) draw their ideas from what is written in our books and from our own principles,” said Al-Klabani in reference to conservative Salafism.
Al-Kalbani indicated that those who criticise Daesh do not criticise its thought. They only criticise its actions.
“We do not criticise the thought on which Daesh is based,” Al-Kalbani added.
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While Al-Kalbani stressed that the ideological origin of Daesh’s thought is Salafism, he dismissed the widespread conspiracy theories in the Middle East that intelligence agencies created Daesh.
“There are those among us, who follow the same thought but apply it in a more refined way,” said Al-Kalbani. He also referred to the killing of journalists by Daesh as something based on Salafi edicts and hence not outside the Salafist framework.
In December 2015, Daesh threatened to attack Saudi Arabia "for its alliance with the Crusaders" by forming an Islamic military coalition to combat terrorism.
Interestingly, Saudi clerics don’t share the same views concerning Daesh. While there are indeed sympathizers, there are some clerics, such as the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, who declared Daesh as un-Islamic.
Others went even further and declared Daesh as the main enemy of Islam. The prominent Saudi cleric Sheikh Saad bin Nasser Al-Shathri previously said that Daesh is "atheist" and even worse than "Jews and Christians," adding that "Daesh followers" are fighting Allah and his Messenger and must be killed.