And both blame the United States and Israel.
From AP: “Hezbollah, al-Qaida mirror Islamic split”
BEIRUT, Lebanon – To the outside world, the two groups appear to have much in common: Devoutly Muslim, fiercely hostile to Israel and the U.S., and high on Washington’s list of terrorist groups.
Yet al-Qaida in Iraq and Lebanon’s Hezbollah are waging a worsening verbal dispute that threatens to burst into confrontation.
First came a fiery diatribe from al-Qaida in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi — just a week before he was killed by a U.S. airstrike — accusing Hezbollah of acting as a protective buffer for Israel.
Hezbollah, generally reserved in its comments on internal Islamic issues, began to react: One of its main political figures told The Associated Press it wasn’t his group at all but al-Zarqawi that was the “tool” of United States and Israel.
The accusations on their face could be seen as little but competing propaganda. But the animosity runs far deeper than these two radical groups. There is a growing divide in the Middle East between Sunni Muslim extremists, including al-Zarqawi’s group, and Shiite Muslim militants personified by Hezbollah.
Many see the emerging tensions as a dangerous trend that could lead to violent Shiite-Sunni conflict not just in Iraq but around the Persian Gulf.
In his last audiotape, al-Zarqawi accused Hezbollah of having “serious ties” with the Jewish state.
“The party has raised false banners regarding the liberation of Palestine, while in fact it stands guard against Sunnis who want to cross the border” into Israel to launch attacks, he said.
Hezbollah publicly has remained quiet on the issue, apparently so as not to inflame feelings. But its officials, when reached by AP, were quick to react.
Hezbollah’s political bureau member in charge of international relations, Nawaf al-Mussawi, accused al-Zarqawi of being a U.S.-Israeli tool against Arab resistance groups.
“His criminal acts are aimed at igniting civil wars and inciting sectarian fighting,” al-Mussawi said. “We will not permit the United States, Israel or its tools to kindle any kind of conflict in Lebanon — between Christians and Muslims or between Shiites and Sunnis.”
They can blame whomever they want, and may it drain the resources they would otherwise employ against the West.