September 14, 2015 | Quote
Al Qaeda Leader Calls for Lone-Wolf Attacks in U.S., Unity Among Terrorists
Ayman al-Zawahiri’s latest audio recording made headlines over the weekend by calling for lone-wolf attacks in the U.S., but the al Qaeda leader also pleaded for greater unity among jihadis worldwide — a shift in message that analysts say sheds fresh light on the complex rift between Osama bin Laden’s original terrorist network and newer Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq.
The recording carries a notably less hostile tenor toward the Islamic State, also known as ISIS and ISIL, than an earlier message in which Al-Zawahiri took an open swipe at Islamic State founder Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who claims to have eclipsed all other jihadi leaders by establishing a “caliphate” in Syria and Iraq.
The earlier message, which circulated just last week, featured what analysts say was al-Zawahiri’s voice accusing al-Baghdadi of “sedition” and insisting that the Iraq-born terrorist is not the leader he proclaimed to be when he named himself the “caliph” of the Islamic State last year, according to ABC News.
The message appeared to be the latest manifestation of an ongoing rhetorical and bullet war playing out between al Qaeda and the Islamic State, which clashed on the ground in Syria and Iraq over the past year.
But according to the Long War Journal published by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington, al-Zawahiri uses the more recent recording, which appeared online Sunday, to call on all of the “mujahideen” in Syria and Iraq to cooperate and “help each other” toward defeating common enemies.
Thomas Joscelyn, the Long War Journal’s senior editor, asserts that even as the rift between the Islamic State and al Qaeda festers, al-Zawahiri’s call for unity should not come as a surprise.
“It is likely that while al Qaeda considers Baghdadi and most of his inner circle to be a lost cause, the group still hopes that part of the Islamic State can be reconciled,” Mr. Joscelyn wrote in an article posted on the journal’s website. “At a minimum, Zawahiri hopes to limit the fitna (discord, or strife) that plagues the jihadists’ efforts, and so he hopes to convince followers of the Islamic State to avoid targeting their ideological cousins in al Qaeda-affiliated groups.”
Read the full article here.