Superior Public Relations Wins the Contest; Mutilating Atrocities Come in Second
"What Al-Qaeda has been doing is to try to carry out spectacular attacks on its own and show capacity."
Fawaz A.Gerges, professor of Middle Eastern politics, London School of Economics
"There is a sense among Al-Qaeda that they had to act now in order to forestall any attempts by the Islamic State to seize the area."
Anonymous journalist, Yemen
"It isn’t hard to understand the appeal: al Shabab’s insurgency in Somalia is faltering against both African Union and Somali forces, whereas ISIS has made incredible gains in Syria. For now, much of the agitation to join ISIS appears to be coming from the foreign fighters within the group. This may be because their ideological commitment to global jihad, which brought them to Somalia in the first place, has led them to conclude that Syria is now the most important battlefield for the future of Islam. According to recent reports, al Shabab leaders have already detained five foreign fighters under suspicion of working to shift the group’s allegiances to ISIS. Judging from the fate of other fighters who have defied his leadership, their prospects are grim."
|Fighters from the Islamic State posted on a militant website on Jan. 14, 2014 (AP / Militant Website)|
There's a large enough geography to be contested by Islamists, and one might imagine room for all exists to express their devotion to Islamist jihad but human nature is volatile and jealous and the two main groups of Islamist zeal for the jugular are each trying to outdo the other, proving their Islamist credentials. It wasn't all that long ago that mentioning the name of al-Qaeda would send cold shivers of dread down anyone's spine. They have since become passe, and it surely cannot be because of the absence of Osama bin Laden, their guiding light.
And it does seem just a trifle absurd that the leadership of al-Qaeda finds the indiscriminate slaughter carried out by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant too gruesome to be Islamic in nature. The well-planned and -executed death by passenger jets aimed as missiles against the World Trade Towers with its exorbitant death toll surely represented an excess of Islamist zeal to satisfy bloodlust against the Infidels and Jews.
And in point of fact, all that the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant is doing in dispatching the same targets with beheadings and crucifixions and other imaginative forms of death-dealing is only what countries like Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan institutionally have in store for those who defy Islam, after all? But there it is, al-Qaeda expresses contempt for ISIL and ISIL dedicates itself to extolling the virtues of its martyrdom campaign as superior to al-Qaeda's.
And reality demonstrates that those migrating in support of these vast death squads of Islam are abandoning al-Qaeda and affiliates in favour of ISIL. Mind, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is capable of matching ISIL, atrocity-for-atrocity and just as proud of it, but they value their separate identities as messengers of Allah's jihad and compete for supporters' admiration and recruitment. Their competition is in fact, the fuel sparking many conflicts, held to be breeding Islamist radicalism apace.
Wherever each has situated itself it works to exploit dissatisfaction and to indoctrinate the locals with their ideologies. ISIL certainly has outdistanced al-Qaeda with the quality of its professionally-produced propaganda, appealing to greater numbers of wannabe jihadis, whom the West loves to address as 'vulnerable Muslim youth'. Its imaginative style of attacks, its formidable reputation, its zest and zeal for mass rape and enslavement holds out appeal to 'vulnerable Muslim youth'.