There’s a deadly game of thrones underway for hegemonic dominance among militant Islamic jihadists. We all remember the fight between rival gangs in “West Side Story.” And speaking of gruesome, recall the opening scene from Martin Scorcese’s movie, “Gangs of New York.” Now, there’s something happening on a global stage with huge ramifications — and no one will be singing “Maria.”
As reported by Fox News:
Two of Al Qaeda’s spiritual leaders have said that the terror organization is barely functioning after losing money and manpower to the rapidly rising Islamic State group, according to a report.
Abu Qatada and Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi have described Al Qaeda as being without “organizational structure,” the Guardian reports. Maqdisi said Al Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri is isolated from his top lieutenants and “operates solely based on the allegiance.
“There is no organizational structure. There is only communication channels, and loyalty,” he reportedly said.
The Guardian report traces the beginning of al-Qaida’s downfall to the ascension of Zawahiri as al-Qaida’s leader, following Usama bin Laden’s death in May 2011. While Zawahiri has been forced to move in secret in the remote mountain regions along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, hundreds of thousands of militants have flocked to the new battlefields in Syria and Iraq. “What is leadership,” asked Dr. Munif Samara, an al-Qaida associate quoted in the report, “if your leader is in Afghanistan and your soldiers are in Iraq?”
The evolution of ISIS can be traced back to al-Qaida in Iraq (AQI) under the brutal Islamic jihadist Zarqawi, who was killed by U.S. Special Operations forces targeting for airstrike. (That’s why having ground troops makes your air campaign effective.) Of course, our forces had defeated AQI. However, the gap left by Obama’s campaign promise to pull out of Iraq — which then became a national security agenda — enabled AQI’s reconstitution.
al-Qaida has an ally in Syria called Jabhat al Nusra, also called the Nusra Front. But the resurgence of ISIS came from a virulent, savage and barbaric strain that’s become an infectious scourge. The phenomenon occurring now is one where demented jihadists are flocking to the winning team — out with the old, in with the new and successful. So now while President Obama is reinforcing failure and sending another 450 troops into Iraq, ISIS is advancing on the battlefield — both ideologically and physically.
As Fox News writes:
Last week, an Afghan Army corps spokesman told The New York Times that 10 Taliban fighters had been beheaded by ISIS fighters. Meanwhile, in eastern Libya, militants linked to Al Qaeda there declared holy war — or jihad — on the local ISIS affiliate after one of their senior leaders was killed Wednesday by masked gunmen. That sparked an hours-long battle in the coastal city of Darna that left 11 people dead on both sides.
Of course, there are those of you who say, GREAT, let them kill each other and Allah sort it out. And there are those who believe that ISIS is not a threat to America — explain that to the Manassas, Virginia 18-year-old who just plead guilty to conspiracy to aid and support ISIS. The strategic objective of the United States has to be a laser-like focus on destroying the global Islamic jihadist movement — and leading a coalition of ready and willing nations in the fight. No, I’m not looking to al-Qaida or Iran as an ally to defeat ISIS; all of them suck.
And just how bad has it gotten for al-Qaida, the group that planned, supported and executed the horrific 9/11 attacks?
Al Qaeda’s standing and finances continue to suffer. A former Al Qaeda member-turned-British intelligence agent tells the Guardian that at one point last year, the group was in such desperate times that it had to sell its laptops and cars to buy food and pay rent.
This is why isolating and cutting off financial support for ISIS and the global Islamic jihad is a strategic imperative. Sorry, 450 more troops in Iraq aren’t going to cut it — and that’s not a strategy, regardless of what Josh Earnest tries to sell.
The schism between ISIS and al-Qaida should have been realized early on:
In April 2013, the report claims, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who had been chosen as the leader of what was then called the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) in 2010 without bin Laden’s consent, announced that ISI and the Syrian rebel group the Nusra Front would merge to form ISIS. In response, Zawahiri ordered Beghdadi to restrict his operations to Iraq and said that Nusra Front commander Muhammad al-Joulani would lead Al Qaeda’s official branch in Syria.
According to the report, Baghdadi rebuffed Zawahiri’s decision, launching his own campaign of terror with the help of escaped prisoners from Iraqi jails and a massive influx of foreign fighters who had come to Syria to join the civil conflict aimed at overthrowing Syrian President Bashar Assad.
The question is simple: who in the Obama administration was asleep at the wheel in the intelligence gathering on this? We were being told in 2012 that al-Qaida was decimated and on the run. Why was President Obama not telling the American people about Al Nusra or the reconstitution of AQI? OK, that was a rhetorical question. At least one thing is for certain: Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi best beware, Obama may call a press conference and take credit for financially decimating “core al-Qaida.” Hey, he takes personal credit for everything else, like killing Osama bin Laden.
Our real concern must be that the new kid on the block — not the boy band from Boston, but ISIS — is inspiring every nutcase Islamic jihadist worldwide. They’ve gone from the declared “JV team” to being a viable jihadist military with recruits, arms and armament, a financial base and territory. They’re not just a terrorist group; they’re indeed becoming a terrorist state. They’re accomplishing and expanding that which al-Qaida’s name implies, “The Base” — the Caliphate. People flock to a winner and right now, that’s ISIS. The difference is clear as day when ISIS parades through Ramadi.
After 9/11 we identified the enemy and its base and relentlessly went after it — in Afghanistan. However, we got distracted, took our foot off the pedal and stupidly began to focus on nation building. There’s only one thing this enemy understands, and that is “Crushin’ It,” as Brad Paisley sings.
Sadly, the current occupant of the White House doesn’t listen to that channel — nor has he the required intestinal fortitude.