Arlington VA April 23, 2016
This week’s newsstand issue (April 21-27) of Epoch Times has a lead article by Joshua Philipp, “ISIS versus Al-Qaeda”. Philipp posits that there is a growing internal battle between the two for control of the Jihadi Movement. There I agree; that battle has been growing since early 2014, when the ISIS leadership announced it would no longer be part of the overall al-Qaeda network, and the al-Qaeda leadership basically said ‘good riddance’.
The question here is the implications of this split on the ever-increasing impact of both groups, despite what the ineffectual Obama Administration may be spouting to the world. This split may be simply one more fracturing of the movement created by Bin Laden and Al-Zawahiri years ago, which has had several previous ‘separations’, but none with more public consequences than this. The death of Bin Laden, and the recovery of some message traffic in his Abbottabad fortress showed the increasing disconnection of al-Qaeda Central from the various arms of the Movement, including that of the al-Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula, which many credit as the precursor of ISIS, so splits are occurring, but it is the impact of this split that has many analysts worried
Philipp discusses at length the differences between the two in their approach to global Jihad; ISIS is now at the dangerous stage, as was al-Qaeda ten years ago. The chief prize, the Caliphate, eluded Bin Laden, who, while likening himself to Saladin, the medieval Muslim conqueror of Jerusalem during the Crusades, never achieved the standing or control of the territory now effectively controlled by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS and self-proclaimed ‘Kaliffa’.
In many ways, al-Baghdadi has a demonstrable claim; his forces control much of Syria, a large swath of Iraq, some parts of Libya, and infiltrations of varying degrees in several other parts of the world. These people follow him as a prophet—the successor to Muhammed—and their sometimes excessive ‘religious zeal’, which I prefer to call simply murderous tendencies, is well known. Philipp brings much of this out in his excellent article. This is one piece worth reading.
Next Wednesday, the 27th at the Catholic University of America Bookstore, I will be discussing this very subject from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM and please feel free to come by and discuss, object, argue, or even listen. The bookstore is the Barnes and Noble Bookstore at Michigan Avenue, NE in Washington DC opposite the Catholic University.