From: “The Way Forward: An Islamic Mentoring Guide to Building Identity
and Resisting Radicalisation“
Furthermore, a letter from Al-Zawahiri (Al-Qaeda’s number two man) to Al-Zarqawi (Al Qaeda’s former number one man in Iraq) intercepted in 2005, before Al-Zarqawi’s death, sheds more light on the resistance that the Al-Qaeda ideologues feel is exhibited against their movement by the traditional Sunni establishment. In his letter, Al-Zawahiri describes the theological contradictions that exist between Al-Qaeda and the traditional Sunni Scholars. Al-Qaeda, which claims to be Sunni and which calls itself Salafi, declares traditional Sunni Scholars (i.e. followers of Al-Ash`ari and Al-Maturidi) to be heretics.
In the section entitled “Striving for the Ulema (Muslim Scholars),” Al-Zawahiri declares the theological parameters for the Al-Qaeda counter-movement by stating:
“From the standpoint of not highlighting the doctrinal differences which the masses do not understand, such as this one is Maturidi or this one is Ash`ari, or this one is Salafi… Many of the most learned ulema of Islam such as al-`Izz Bin `Abdul Salaam (d. 660 AH, 1262 RC), Al-Nawawi (d. 676 AH, 1278 RC), and Ibn Hajar (d. 852 AH, 1449 RC) were Ash`ari… And many of the most eminent military leaders, whom the ummah resolved unanimously to praise such as Nur Al-Deen Bin Zanki (d. 569 AH, 1174 RC) and Salahud-Deen Al-Ayyubi [Saladin] (d. 589 AH, 1193 RC) – were Ash`ari….Sayf al-Deen Qatz, Rukn Al-Deen Baybars, al-Nasir Muhammad bin-qalawun [leaders who fought against the crusaders], and Muhammad Al-Fatih [conqueror of Constantinople], were Ash`ari or Maturidi. They fell into…heresies”.
Al-Zawahiri inadvertently confesses to how he considers the creed of Al-Qaeda (what he calls Salafi) to be on a collision course with the creed of most of the ummah (i.e. Ash`ari/Maturidi), whom he considers to be following theological ‘heresies’. This again supports the approach of resisting Al-Qaeda’s creed with traditional Sunni theology.
This link here explains the difference between the genuine Sunni doctrine and the absurdities of the Wahhabi creed: