Successfully reported this slideshow.
We use your LinkedIn profile and activity data to personalize ads and to show you more relevant ads. You can change your ad preferences anytime.

Al-Qaida chief Ayman al-Zawahiri The Coordinator 2016 Part 19-142-Caliphate-ISIS-53-Coming Defeat-8


Published on

  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

Al-Qaida chief Ayman al-Zawahiri The Coordinator 2016 Part 19-142-Caliphate-ISIS-53-Coming Defeat-8

  1. 1. CdW Intelligence to Rent -2016- In Confidence “Know your enemy and knowyourself and you can fight a hundred battles without disaster” ― Sun Tzu, The Art of War CdW Intelligence to Rent Page 1 of 9 18/05/2016 Al-Qaida chief Ayman al-Zawahiri The Coordinator 2016 Part 19-142- Caliphate-ISIS-53-Coming Defeat-8 “If you fight us,” ISIS proclaimed in 2014, “we become stronger and tougher. If you leave us alone, we grow and expand.” The Coming ISIS–al Qaeda Merger It's Time to Take the Threat Seriously Only five years ago, al Qaeda’s downfall appeared similarly imminent. Its founder and leader was dead. By Bruce Hoffman “You are pitiful, isolated individuals! You are bankrupts. Your role is played out. Go where you belong from now on—into the dustbin of history!” Thus in 1917 Leon Trotsky consigned the Mensheviks, the non-Bolshevik faction of the Russian Social Democratic Workers’ Party, to perennial insignificance—a fate from which they never recovered. Only five years ago, al Qaeda’s downfall appeared similarly imminent. Its founder and leader was dead. A succession of key lieutenants had been eliminated. And the region was transformed by the Arab Spring. Civil protest, it seemed, had achieved what terrorism had manifestly failed to deliver—and al Qaeda was the biggest loser. As John O. Brennan, then deputy national security advisor for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism and assistant to the president, told an audience gathered at a DC think tank in April 2012, “For the first time since this fight began, we can look ahead and envision a world in which the al Qaeda core is simply no longer relevant.” Less than a month later, on the first anniversary of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden’s killing, U.S. President Barack Obama proudly proclaimed that, “The goal that I set—to defeat al Qaeda and deny it a chance to rebuild—is now within our reach.” How completely different it all looks today. In February, Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper painted a singularly bleak picture of a newly resurgent al Qaeda alongside an ambitiously expansionist Islamic State (ISIS) in his annual worldwide threat assessment. Al Qaeda and its affiliates, Clapper told the Senate Armed Services Committee, “have proven resilient and are positioned to make gains in 2016…. They will continue to pose a threat to local, regional, and even possibly global interests….” More alarming still was the rise of an even more extreme offshoot. ISIS, he explained, “has become the preeminent terrorist threat because of its self-described caliphate in Syria and Iraq, its branches and emerging branches in other countries, and its increasing ability to direct and inspire attacks against a wide range of targets around the world.” If a week is a long time in politics, five years is an eternity. It is easy to forget that, until very recently, there was no Islamic State ruled by ISIS; Abu al-Baghdadi’s putative caliphate was nothing more than a self-indulgent reverie. Indeed, the Sykes and Picot boundaries appeared indelible, and both Obama and Vice President Joe Biden were trumpeting the stabilization of democracy in Iraq and the attendant withdrawal of U.S. military forces as proof that “America’s war in Iraq” is “over.” Given this concatenation of astonishing developments in so short a period of time, it very likely that more surprises will follow. In fact, by 2021 al Qaeda and ISIS might reunite— or at least have entered into some form of alliance or tactical cooperation. Although admittedly improbable in the near term, such a rapprochement would make a lot of sense for both groups and would no doubt result in a threat that, according to a particularly knowledgeable U.S. intelligence analyst whom I queried about such a possibility, “would be an absolute and unprecedented disaster for [the] USG and our allies.”
  2. 2. CdW Intelligence to Rent -2016- In Confidence “Know your enemy and knowyourself and you can fight a hundred battles without disaster” ― Sun Tzu, The Art of War CdW Intelligence to Rent Page 2 of 9 18/05/2016 POOR PREDICTIONS Cees: -i - The United States suffers collective amnesia where terrorism and counterterrorism policy are concerned. After all, it was only recently that the conventional wisdom inside the Beltway was that the bloody split between al Qaeda and ISIS would consume, neuter, and ultimately destroy both groups. The conventional wisdom on al Qaeda has rarely been correct anyway, so it is not surprising that this particular expectation has proved to be little more than wishful thinking. And that is reason enough to explore why an al Qaeda–ISIS merger is not as farfetched as some wishfully contend. REUTERS A man purported to be the reclusive leader of the militant Islamic State Abu Bakr al- Baghdadi, July 5, 2014. There are at least four arguments that render this scenario plausible. First, the ideological similarities between ISIS and al Qaeda are more significant than the differences. Both groups fundamentally adhere to the principle first articulated by al Qaeda founding member Abdullah Azzam three decades ago: It is an obligation for Muslims everywhere to come to the defense of their brethren wherever they are threatened and endangered. In Azzam’s mind—as in bin Laden’s and current al Qaeda leader Ayman al- Zawahiri’s and ISIS leader Baghdadi’s—an aggressive, predatory war is being waged against Islam by its enemies. Those enemies are broadly conceived as infidels and nonbelievers, including the Western democratic liberal state, the corrupt and repressive Western- backed local apostates, and the Shia and other Muslim minorities. In this inevitable clash of civilizations, it is incumbent upon all Muslims to come to the defense of the worldwide Muslim community. The need for global jihad to defeat Islam’s supposed enemies is thus an integral aspect of both al Qaeda’s and ISIS’ ideology and mindset. Both movements, moreover, share the view that the Western state system is inimical to the imposition of sharia (Islamic law). ISIS, for instance, regularly inveighs against democracy as that “wicked methodology.” In that regard, the group reflects al Qaeda’s own longstanding view of this system of governance. Like al Qaeda, ISIS also rails against the West’s control over Muslims’ most precious natural resources—oil and natural gas fields—and the established order’s creation and support of corrupt, compliant local apostate regimes that facilitate continued exploitation and expropriation. Like al Qaeda in years past, ISIS similarly invites Western military intervention in Muslim lands, which, the group believes, will enervate the local regimes’ militaries and economies. “If you fight us,” ISIS proclaimed in 2014, “we become stronger and tougher. If you leave us alone, we grow and expand.” Second, the differences that do exist between ISIS and al Qaeda are rooted more in clashing egos and tone than in substance. For now, the most salient impediment to reconciliation is the strong personal enmity and vicious rivalry between Baghdadi and Zawahiri. It is patently obvious that they loathe one another. Their dispute, however,
  3. 3. CdW Intelligence to Rent -2016- In Confidence “Know your enemy and knowyourself and you can fight a hundred battles without disaster” ― Sun Tzu, The Art of War CdW Intelligence to Rent Page 3 of 9 18/05/2016 seems to be predicated mostly on timing and process. In a nutshell, Zawahiri still argues that the far enemy has to be eliminated and Muslim lands completely cleansed of Western and other corrupt local influences before the caliphate can be established. Baghdadi, as the events of June 2014 showed, saw no reason to wait and instead took the offensive by attacking near enemies both in Syria and Iraq and declaring himself caliph. The two men’s styles also differ. Baghdadi has created a cult of personality around himself that luxuriates in death and dismemberment; he’s more reminiscent of the Khmer Rouge’s Pol Pot or the Tamil Tigers’ Velupillai Prabhakaran than Azzam, bin Laden, or Zawahiri. Baghdadi’s megalomania is facilitated by his claims of a familial lineage that reaches back to the Prophet. His status makes a credible successor more difficult to identify. Accordingly, Baghdadi’s elimination could throw ISIS into total disarray and give al Qaeda an ideal opportunity to effect a voluntary or enforced reunification. For that matter, either Baghdadi’s or Zawahiri’s deaths could pave the way for a rapprochement, whether involving a consensual reunification or a hostile takeover of one group by the other. The attempted coup against Baghdadi in Raqqah in December 2014 by pro-al Qaeda ISIS members, however, suggests that a more likely scenario would be al Qaeda absorbing ISIS rather than the reverse. Regardless, the result would be a combined terrorist force of chilling dimensions. The third argument in support of an al Qaeda-ISIS merger is that the two groups embrace the same strategy—albeit one more faithfully and viciously applied by ISIS. In fact, it is Baghdadi’s adherence to the al Qaeda playbook that arguably accounts for his rush in June 2014 to declare the resurrection of the caliphate and establishment of the Islamic State. The strategy was set out by al Qaeda’s operational chief, Saif al Adl, in 2005. ISIS is currently at the fifth step in the seven-stage path. The first was the Awakening (2000- 2003), which coincided with the 9/11 attacks, and is described as “Reawakening the nation by dealing a powerful blow to the head of the snake in the U.S.” That was followed by the Eye-Opening Stage (2003-2006), which unfolded after the U.S. invasion of Iraq and was allegedly designed to perpetually engage and drain the United States and the West in a series of prolonged overseas ventures. The Rising Up and Standing on the Feet Stage (2007-2010) involved al Qaeda’s proactive expansion to new venues of operations, as it did in West Africa and the Levant. The fourth stage, the Recovery Stage (2010-2013), was originally intended to allow al Qaeda to consolidate its previous gains and catch its breath. In light of the death of bin Laden and new opportunities to topple apostate regimes afforded by the Arab Spring, this stage ended up having to be adjusted. Caught off balance itself by the uprisings sweeping across North Africa and the Middle East, al Qaeda scrambled to take advantage of the political chaos and vacuum of authority to reestablish its presence and exploit the internal upheavals as new opportunities for retrenchment and expansion. It was facilitated in this respect by the freeing of thousands of imprisoned jihadis and persons formally occupying key leadership positions. This fourth stage, in Adl’s strategy, would be followed by the Declaration of the Caliphate Stage (2013-2016) when al Qaeda would achieve its ultimate goal of establishing trans- or supra-national Islamic rule over large swaths of territory in the Muslim world. ISIS clearly stole a march on al Qaeda in this respect. The sixth stage, the Total Confrontation Stage (2016-2020), was meant to occur after the caliphate had been created and an Islamic army could commence the final “fight between the believers and the nonbelievers.” The final Definitive Victory State (2020-2022) comes when the caliphate ultimately triumphs over the rest of the world. It is disturbing to see that, from ISIS’ vantage point, the movement is right on schedule.
  4. 4. CdW Intelligence to Rent -2016- In Confidence “Know your enemy and knowyourself and you can fight a hundred battles without disaster” ― Sun Tzu, The Art of War CdW Intelligence to Rent Page 4 of 9 18/05/2016 Likewise chilling is that the apocalyptic elements of the seventh and final stage are clearly evident in ISIS’ ideology and strategy. Its vision entails an eventual clash between Islam and the infidels prophesized to occur in Dabiq, Syria—which is the name chosen by the group for its online magazine. In other words, ISIS’ aims will never be exclusively local but, like al Qaeda’s, are global in ambition. The fourth reason that al Qaeda and ISIS might eventually merge is that efforts to reunite the groups have been a regular feature of the behavior and rhetoric of both sides. ISIS portrays itself as the most faithful embodiment and effective agent of bin Laden’s vision and asserts that, under Zawahiri, al Qaeda has deviated from its historical mission and the grand ambitions it was once on the verge of achieving. In this respect, it is therefore not surprising that ISIS’ propaganda is profoundly reverential of bin Laden and deeply respectful of al Qaeda (although not al Zawahiri), referring to its soldiers, emirs, and sheikhs in a positive manner and continuing to glorify bin Laden’s accomplishments. For his part, Zawahiri has been very careful in his publicly released statements to hold out the prospect of reconciliation. In a September 2015 statement, for example, he made this assertion: I here confirm clearly and unequivocally that if there is fighting between the Crusaders, the Safavids, and the secularists, with any group from the Muslims and the mujahideen, including the group of Abu Bakr al- Baghdadi and those with him, then our only choice is to stand with the Muslim mujahideen, even if they are unjust to us and have slandered us and broke the covenants and stole from the Ummah and the mujahideen their right to consultation and selecting their Caliph, and evaded to be ruled by the Shariah in disputes. These overtures are not exclusively rhetorical, as past serious attempts to achieve some modus vivendi make clear. On at least three occasions in the second half of 2014, the stars have almost aligned: in September, shortly after U.S. and coalition airstrikes against ISIS began in earnest; in November, after Baghdadi was incapacitated by a U.S. bombing run; and in December, following the coup in Raqqah. PLAUSIBLE PROBLEMS For almost a decade and a half, al Qaeda and the Salafist terrorist network that it spawned have defied Western efforts to bring the struggle to any kind of meaningful conclusion. Its longevity is as much a history of U.S. missteps and misreading of the threat as it is of adversaries’ enormous capacity for change, adaptation, and regeneration. The West now faces an enemy that has transcended terrorist tactics to evidence credible conventional military capabilities, which attests that the terrorist challenge has only become more variegated, diffuse, complex, and, quite simply, exponentially more difficult to defeat.
  5. 5. CdW Intelligence to Rent -2016- In Confidence “Know your enemy and knowyourself and you can fight a hundred battles without disaster” ― Sun Tzu, The Art of War CdW Intelligence to Rent Page 5 of 9 18/05/2016 HAMID MIR / REUTERS Osama bin Laden sits with his adviser Ayman al-Zawahiri, November 10, 2001. The insistent claims of the past five years that al Qaeda is poised on the brink of strategic defeat have been around longer than it took the United States to defeat Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. It is difficult to imagine a worse constellation of terrorist threats than those posed by ISIS and al Qaeda along with their piebald affiliates and associates and franchises and provinces. Any kind of coordination of terrorist operations, much less a more formal modus vivendi, would have profound and far-reaching consequences for international security. That scenario is no less plausible than the notion in 2014 that a Salafist movement would exercise sovereignty over parts of Iraq, Libya, and Syria, with multiple outposts in North, East, and West Africa, the Sinai, and Afghanistan. It is also plausible given the fact that this movement has withstood a concerted onslaught from the most technologically and doctrinally sophisticated military in history. That expectations of triumph have repeatedly been dashed by new tragedies such as the November 2015 Paris and March 2016 Brussels attacks is reason enough to take seriously the possibility of an ISIS–al Qaeda alliance. In the Event of the Islamic State’s Untimely Demise… Even a caliphate needs a Plan B. Here's what Baghdadi's might look like. By Brian Michael Jenkins May 11, 2016 The power of the Islamic State is waning. With its loss of Ramadi and Palmyra over the past several months, and the steady advance of U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters in northern Syria and Iraq, the group is shedding territory. It is also losing recruits to casualties and desertions, as its finances are being squeezed by coalition strikes on bulk cash storage sites and oil refineries. Meanwhile, the coalition campaign to eliminate high-value battlefield targets is succeeding. Yet, defeat does not appear imminent. The Islamic State still controls key territory, including Raqqa, the capital of its caliphate; the Iraqi city of Mosul and large swaths of territory in the surrounding Nineveh province; and hardscrabble Sunni enclaves in Anbar province, such as Fallujah, Hit, and Haditha. Furthermore, though the coalition has deprived the Islamic State of hundreds of millions of dollars, it is likely to find new, creative ways to replenish its diminishing war chest. For Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State, surrender is out of the question. And given the Islamic State leadership’s horrific behavior and stated objective of establishing a caliphate governed by sharia, a negotiated settlement is a non-starter. In the past, insurgencies that have come to an end in this way featured moderate leaders, insurgents open to compromise, and governments willing to accept insurgents as legitimate negotiating partners. The Islamic State and its opponents share none of these attributes. That’s why, if they haven’t already, the Islamic State’s leaders in Raqqa will soon formulate a contingency strategy — a “Plan B” that the West will then be forced to contend with. Here are some of the options they may be considering. Going underground Like successful insurgencies of the past, one option for the Islamic State could be establishing a shadow network of governance and taking the fight underground. Such a network could resemble what the Taliban has already created in Afghanistan — a system where shadow governors rule in sharia courts and often become the preferred method of justice over officials of the Afghan state. This form of governance, in turn, grants the group legitimacy among certain segments of the population.
  6. 6. CdW Intelligence to Rent -2016- In Confidence “Know your enemy and knowyourself and you can fight a hundred battles without disaster” ― Sun Tzu, The Art of War CdW Intelligence to Rent Page 6 of 9 18/05/2016 While this option may be compelling for some in the Islamic State, the group’s foreign fighters would not easily survive underground, especially the thousands from Western countries. Even those European nationals of Moroccan or Algerian origin would stand out among native populations, which may be why many of them — including an estimated 20 to 30 percent of the European nationals who went to Syria to fight — reportedly have returned home. Non-European foreign fighters may join other jihadi groups, including Nusra Front, al Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria. On the other hand, it will likely be a long time, if ever, before either Syria or Iraq has stood up effective intelligence and police institutions capable of identifying and capturing underground resistance fighters. And if the local Sunni populations view the armies that defeat the Islamic State as Shiite or Alawite oppressors, the jihadis may still find a sympathetic audience. But the Islamic State’s Sunni victims could just as easily turn on their former Islamic State oppressors, seeking revenge for the savagery inflicted upon them. Relocation Alternately, the Islamic State’s leaders could flee to another jihadi stronghold, like Libya. While in the short term, this relocation would be a blow to the militant group’s credibility since the caliphate narrative has been carefully cultivated, a strategic change of venue could prolong the group’s survival. The Islamic State would still have to battle Libya’s disparate tribal militias in order to carve out its own space. It could see this as a worthwhile gamble, betting that President Barack Obama’s administration (and its successor) will prefer to avoid opening yet another military front in the ongoing global war on terror. But moving the Islamic State’s central leadership to Libya would be risky. It would signal retreat to the group’s supporters. It would also give up the group’s claim on Syria, which is closely linked with apocalyptic prophesies about fighting in al-Sham, including the northern town of Dabiq, where the jihadis believe the final battle of good versus evil will occur. Robbed of its territory in the heart of the Middle East, the Islamic State would no longer be a unified state with a caliphate based in Iraq and Syria. Instead, it would resemble an archipelago of affiliates and offshoots spread across the region, from the Levant to North Africa. But it can remain a state of mind. It would be a mistake to assume that a geographically dispersed Islamic State would not be able to maintain the loyalty of its fighters. Escalation The Islamic State’s Plan B might also include a desperate attack to demoralize and distract its foes. The options could include throwing everything into an all-out military offensive, like Nazi Germany’s Ardennes offensive, which led to the Battle of Bulge in 1944, or the Tet offensive in 1968, which both devastated the Viet Cong and shattered America’s political will. An all-out attack by the Islamic State could involve the assassination of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a campaign of terrorism in Baghdad or Damascus, or a spectacular attack designed to draw the United States or Europe further into the war, thereby changing the dynamics of the conflict. Baghdadi might also consider a major assault on Mecca or Riyadh, a capstone to the series of attacks he has recently ordered in Saudi Arabia. To demonstrate to the group’s followers that the caliphate remains a potent force and its organization is still virulent, Plan B might also include efforts to destabilize Jordan or Lebanon, an attack against Israel, or a campaign in the northern Caucasus to punish Moscow for its involvement in Syria.
  7. 7. CdW Intelligence to Rent -2016- In Confidence “Know your enemy and knowyourself and you can fight a hundred battles without disaster” ― Sun Tzu, The Art of War CdW Intelligence to Rent Page 7 of 9 18/05/2016 The military costs of such an attack would be significant, but it could change the dynamics of the conflict. A desperate offensive could cost the Islamic State’s leaders in Raqqa a significant portion of their fighters. But it would remind the world — and potential recruits — that the Islamic State remains a force to be reckoned with. Avoiding the fate of al Qaeda Whatever happens to the Islamic State, few doubt that it will remain a powerful psychological force. Whatever happens to the Islamic State, few doubt that it will remain a powerful psychological force. But if its fighters scatter abroad, we may see a replay of al Qaeda’s fragmentation, where key operatives scattered to Yemen, North Africa, Syria, and Iraq after Taliban rule collapsed in Afghanistan. This atomization considerably reduced the viability of the core al Qaeda in Pakistan, while injecting new life into its affiliates abroad. This would be undesirable for Baghdadi. It could render him a distant voice in an undisclosed location, exhorting others to fight, like al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri — a theoretical commander that Baghdadi himself has ignored. Various splinters of al Qaeda and the Islamic State, despite their rivalry, could also conceivably fuse together, while allowing others to remain separate entities. A fractured Islamic State could end up reinforcing existing terrorist groups, like al-Shabab in Africa or Salafi groups in the Sinai, as shock troops in their own more parochial conflicts. From the Horn of Africa to South Asia, there are already numerous examples of jihadis and factions of jihadi groups migrating away from al Qaeda and toward the Islamic State. In October 2014, six high-ranking members of the Pakistani Taliban declared their loyalty to the Islamic State. A year later, a prominent faction of al-Shabab led by Abdul Qadir Mumin did the same. Ultimately, there are more similarities than differences between the Islamic State and al Qaeda, especially where ideology is concerned. Can the Islamic State, which subsists on plunder, survive financially without territory? Will wealthy donors from the Gulf — hardcore proponents of Wahhabism and Salafism — play a bigger role in the group? These are two of the trickier questions, especially as the Islamic State has largely eschewed external state sponsorship and wealthy donors. But without territorial control, its ability to extort funds from those under its authority decreases substantially. Criminal activity in the form of kidnapping for ransom, robbery, smuggling, and trafficking would likely be less lucrative. Best-laid plans often go awry As the Islamic State’s caliphate crumbles, its leadership will likely be concerned with protecting itself, improving plummeting morale, and drawing recruits while maintaining its market share of the jihadi universe. But as the chief executive officer of any corporation knows, when a company is about to be acquired or merged with another entity, the internal atmosphere can grow desperate. Individuals abandon a teamwork ethos to focus on individual survival. So it may be with the Islamic State. Baghdadi may have his preferred plan, but all may not agree. The rank and file may be making individual calculations. After all, the Islamic State was borne of the split within al Qaeda — its leaders were never keen to take direction from those they disagreed with, especially on matters of tactics or strategy. Whichever course of action the Islamic State pursues, its Plan B is likely a closely guarded secret. This, in and of itself, could breed further mistrust among the rank and file, given recent leaks of a list of names of Islamic State fighters. That could make its leadership more paranoid than ever. There also may be differences of opinion at the top. Baghdadi’s lieutenants could turn on him. It’s hard to maintain loyalty and impose discipline while losing.
  8. 8. CdW Intelligence to Rent -2016- In Confidence “Know your enemy and knowyourself and you can fight a hundred battles without disaster” ― Sun Tzu, The Art of War CdW Intelligence to Rent Page 8 of 9 18/05/2016 Whether the group goes underground, relocates to another area, or stages a series of spectacular attacks, the United States and its allies must be prepared to counter it at every turn. The West should have no illusion that the Islamic State will simply slump into defeat. Instead, it must focus on thwarting the group’s Plan B. Regards Cees*** Al Qaeda’s centre of gravity is Islam, create “a new emirate” in Syria. Under Sharia law there can only be one caliphate and only one Amir al- Mu’minin—leader of the faithful. Zawahiriii says it is “our duty today” to work for the “unity of the mujahideen” until the Levant is “liberated” from the “Nusayri” (a pejorative term for Alawites) regime and their Shiite partners (meaning Iran and Hezbollah), as well as the Western “Crusaders” and Russia. The goal is to build a “rightly guided” Islamic “entity.” Secondly, it is also possible that al-Qaeda is anticipating the imminent destruction, or the severe curtailment, of Islamic State and is positioning itself to inherit the remains of IS al-Qaeda has managed to create an 'arc of jihad' that stretches from West Africa all the way to Southeast Asia The death of Osama bin Laden was a significant symbolic blow to al-Qaeda, the violent jihadist organization that he co-founded in the late 1980s. But it was hardly the end of the group, which has lived on under the leadership of the bespectacled Egyptian doctor Ayman al-Zawahiri. "Al-Qaeda is maybe stronger today than it was even at the time of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001," says Scott Stewart, vice-president of tactical analysis at the intelligence firm Stratfor. "It's absolutely been diminished in some ways, but despite all the effort to stamp it out, al-Qaeda has managed to create an 'arc of jihad' that stretches from West Africa all the way to Southeast Asia." The organization now claims a presence in 60 countries worldwide, with recent inroads in India and Bangladesh. It's a situation that bin Laden always envisioned.  "Always be skeptical of claims that al-Qaeda is on the verge of defeat, or that they're irrelevant. Terrorist organizations wax and wane, but al-Qaeda has proven to be truly resilient," says Jeremy Littlewood, assistant professor of international affairs at Carleton University in Ottawa.  Al-Qaeda has always taken a "long war approach," a doctrine that bin Laden himself championed, according to Stewart.  Despite ISIS's battlefield successes, there's growing consensus that al-Qaeda poses a greater long-term threat to both stability in the Middle East and to security of Western nations. "Many more experienced jihadis have remained loyal to the idea at the centre of al-Qaeda that they should target Western states and meticulously lay the groundwork at the local level before a caliphate," says Littlewood.  "[ISIS] upended that and instead focuses on holding territory and achieving their goals through brute force, which seems to be appealing more to a younger generation of fighters." ISIS does have a branch dedicated to so-called external operations and has inspired attacks like those in Paris and Brussels. Its propagandists have also encouraged violence by believers outside of its self-proclaimed caliphate. But stamping out enemies within and surrounding the caliphate is its main focus.
  9. 9. CdW Intelligence to Rent -2016- In Confidence “Know your enemy and knowyourself and you can fight a hundred battles without disaster” ― Sun Tzu, The Art of War CdW Intelligence to Rent Page 9 of 9 18/05/2016  "That's maybe the biggest difference between al-Qaeda and ISIS. The Islamic State is hyper-sectarian, and is really fighting a war on, well, everything," says Stewart. No. 099/2016 dated 29 April 2016 Charles Lister, a leading terrorism scholar and author of The Syrian Jihad: Al-Qaeda, the Islamic State and the Evolution of an Insurgency, was among the first observers to point out that Jabhat al-Nusra's strategy will likely make it more difficult to defeat in Syria, in the long run, than ISIS.  "[ISIS] is all about imposing its will on people, whereas al-Nusra has for the last five years been embedding itself in popular movements, sharing power in villages and cities, and giving to people rather than forcing them to do things. That has lent it a power [ISIS] just doesn't have," he told the German newspaper Der Spiegel in a recent interview.  Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the group's affiliate in Yemen and Saudi Arabia, has taken a similar approach, with fighters marrying into prominent families and allying with influential tribal leaders.  Once al-Qaeda becomes the dominant force in an increasing number of regions, it will be able to turn its attention back to its quintessential enemy: the U.S. and its allies.  "It is fighting a long, long war, and its willing to fight that war for as long it takes, generation after generation. Al-Qaeda, more than anything, is an idea," says Stewart.  "As long as that idea lives on, al-Qaeda is very, very dangerous." i President Barack Obama’s deputy national security adviser, Ben Rhodes, “Rhodes has been a key player in shaping the administration’s false narratives about al-Qaeda being on the run, close to strategic defeat; minimizing the security risks of the total U.S. pullout from Iraq; and downplaying the threat posed by the Islamic State, which Obama famously dismissed as a “JV team.” Rhodes is "the master shaper and retailer of Obama's foreign policy narratives" who "strategized and ran the successful Iran-deal messaging campaign." Samuels lauds Rhodes as "a storyteller who uses a writer's tools to advance an agenda packaged as politics." The Cynical Spinmeister Who Helped Sell Obama’s Iran Nuclear Deal James Phillips / May 09, 2016 The latest case in point is the disturbing article published last week in The New York Times Magazine about President Barack Obama’s deputy national security adviser, Ben Rhodes, the callow “aspiring novelist” who hooked up with Obama’s presidential campaign as a speechwriter, and now has risen to become “the single most influential voice shaping American foreign policy aside from POTUS himself.” See also, Al-Qaida chief Ayman al-Zawahiri The Coordinator 2016 Part 19-138- Caliphate-The State of al-Qaida-57-Zawahiri-3 ii the-work-of-a-jihc481dc4ab22-en.pdf