Helping Shiite groups in their military operations against Israel or the United States has always been a source of discord among Salafists.
Radical Salafists consider both Shiites and Jews the enemies of Islam. But anti-Shiite enmity is often stronger than that against Jews among Salafists, who consider the Shiites a fifth column and thus see "damage" by Shiites as more serious than that caused by others.
In the latest chapter of this contentious relationship, a number of Salafist clerics praised the deaths of Shiite leaders in an Israeli airstrike on the Syrian Golan Heights on Jan. 18. Among the most prominent of these Salafist clerics is Mohammed al-Barrak, a professor at Umm al-Qura and a member of the Muslim Scholars Association in Saudi Arabia.
He tweeted: “When the [Shiites] die at the hands of the Jews we thank God that he answered our prayers,” and “The damage inflicted by the [Shiites] on the Muslims is more than that inflicted by the Jews.” He also criticized Hamas for issuing a statement of condolence to the leadership of Hezbollah after the event. Barrak said that the statement “shows a theological deficiency within [Hamas], which is not fighting the Jews according to doctrine.”
He asked Hamas’ leaders not to be courteous at the expense of doctrine and the community, adding, “No matter what the [Shiites] gave to Hamas, it does not justify appeasing them or supporting them.”
Comparing Shiites to Jews, Barrak said over Twitter: “Shiites are more harmful [to the Muslims] than the Jews because the [Shiites'] crimes in four years have exceeded all the Jews’ crimes in 60 years,” adding, “Shiites are the Muslims’ worst enemy because they are polytheists in terms of belief and religion and because their religion is creation of the Jews, making [the Shiites] worse enemies than the Western infidels or the Jews loyal to the State of Israel.”