By Isaac Cohen @IHWCo
Al-Qaeda are arguably at the lowest point in their history. They have been struggling to recruit and have been competing with the social media masterminds of Islamic State. The rivalry manifests itself in an interesting way.
Here is a good example. This is one of the Islamic State supporters I follow speaking on the Mali Attack that Al-Qaeda recently took responsibility for:
This brings up fascinating points and a lot of interesting aspects.
1. Groups and Sheikhs condemning the Paris Attacks seem to be actually condemning the people who engaged in it, rather than the acts themselves.
2. This shows the allegiances and locked hands on who is on what side in the ME terror game.
3. This shows that IS supporters are not foolish and can see tricks attempting to be engaged on them by people who are almost 1:1 on every aspect of their beliefs.
This rivalry is not one way either. Al-Qaeda affiliate Al-Nusra has released a new video – which was purely made to condemn the leader of IS Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi. This confirms previous claims by IS supporters and fighters that Al-Nusra was no longer neutral and that they have been anti-IS since late December last year.
Why does Al-Qaeda call for the blood of IS? Because they are obviously losing supporters to them. This is exemplified in the fact that they have practically adopted and stolen the methods in which IS makes videos to make their own. The videos from Al-Qaeda are much harder to find though because they lack any type of media structure such as a website. The IS website while under constant attack is constantly changing domain names and given to followers to spread around. If it goes down you can expect it back up within a couple of days.
The Islamic State is very well organized, archived and even has translation departments. Almost all the videos go up to 1080p and are all available to be downloaded and thus can spread like wildfire.
Below you can see on their home page they have a click bait essentially promoting their best or most popular films they’ve created.
And what would a Media site be without something as relevant as a top 10 pick list?
I hope this helps illustrate to you exactly how much IS has truly won the Media war. Their recruitment videos are infinitely more accessible than Al-Qaeda. Their narrative is much more seductive and prominent, and they honestly just have more people, more effort, and more uniformity in their messages.
They don’t have the issue of “Come and join Al-Nusra, or Al-Shabaab, or Al Qaeda our head branch.” No. One can join Islamic State in any country and any city that they control and they will put you or use you to produce media from your fronts over in these places.
The responses Al Qaeda are giving are incredibly interesting. In their newest video release they are condemning the Islamic State because they are too religious. They imply that ISIS are too extreme.
I want you to chew on that for a moment. These are the same people who hijacked 3 planes, yelled “Allahu Akbar” as they flew those planes into buildings- those same people- are calling the Islamic State religious “extremists.”
This response is an attempt for them to appear as if they are moderates. But there’s a huge problem with this response. In their most recent Vice News interview they very plainly spoke about their goals such as a Global Caliphate, and instituting the Sharia. These goals are no different than IS goals. Why are they speaking out of both sides of their mouth?
You can figure it out if you look at some of the other rebel groups that have lost jihadists in their ranks. Often times the people they’ve lost will claim that there is Fitna or Shirk (sin) going on, and that’s why they left those
This is because a Jihadist is obviously a religious extremist. They would like everything to be clean of sin and pure if it’s going to be involved in their lives. It also goes to show in the deeper root of things and how religion plays such a huge role in these Islamic Militant groups.
So, in response, the group posts a propaganda video showing them destroying alcohol bottles and making the cities flood with the liquid down some stairs.
The purpose of this was to show they are keeping true to the rules and regulations of their Sharia and are not engaged in Sin. This is what can really hurt or help your recruitment needs in terms of Jihadist.
Al-Qaeda is likely doing the same thing here by speaking out of both sides of their mouths. They are hurting in recruitment and need more recruits so they maintain the basic extremist rhetoric; but they also want to gain public appeal and support from other nations or groups by appearing to be the moderates or sane alternative to IS. In effect they are attempting to play both sides of the field.
This is why Al Qaeda is irrefutably a joke at this point. Their military capabilities are low, their grip on power is dwindling as shown by losses of Al Shabab fighters defecting, brigades defecting, and having to kill their own fighters to show they won’t accept defectors.
Hopefully this has helped you understand just how far behind Al Qaeda really is at the moment. They are lashing out towards the Islamic State in the most hypocritical way imaginable. All of this is absurd in every regard.