Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri is apparently a little miffed that Islamic State has grabbed most of the publicity when it comes to evil deeds and evildoers. Plus, he’s upset that Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi went ahead and set up his very own 10th-century caliphate without consulting him.
Accordingly, al-Zawahiri has declared war on ISIS because they “did not consult Muslims” before al-Baghdadi proclaimed himself “Caliph.”
“Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and his brothers did not leave us a choice, for they have demanded that all the mujahideen reject their confirmed pledges of allegiance, and to pledge allegiance to them for what they claim of a caliphate,” he said, further accusing the Islamic State leader of “sedition,” according to the U.K.’s Mirror.
The Islamic State was formally renounced by al Qaeda shortly before it started making huge territorial gains in Syria and Iraq in the summer of 2014, but Zawahiri, who succeeded Osama bin Laden in 2011, seems to have taken it a step further this week.
The Islamic State grew out of the former al Qaeda in Iraq, which throttled coalition forces and the civilian population of Iraq in the middle of the last decade.
The Washington Examiner reported earlier this month on how al Qaeda and its affiliates have begun fighting the Islamic State in Syria and elsewhere, and that former General David Petraeus, made famous by his “surge” in the Iraq War and leading a “counterinsurgency” in Afghanistan, thinks the U.S. should consider siding with an al Qaeda group, al-Nusra, fighting the Islamic State in Syria.
There is nothing new about this, as al-Qaeda/al-Nusra in Syria and Islamic State have been at loggerheads for most of the civil war, fighting several pitched battles. They reached a truce of sorts last year, but it fell apart in short order.
The two terrorist groups want to dominate a Syrian failed state. But elsewhere, al-Qaeda affiliates are being confronted by a growing Islamic State presence in places like Yemen, Afghanistan, and Libya. Is there room for two publicity-seeking terror groups in the same country?
The ideological differences don’t seem to matter as much as the personality conflict. Al-Zawahiri thinks Baghdadi is too big for his britches and needs to be taken down a peg or two. Baghdadi obviously thinks he should be the leader of radical Islamists and is willing to fight to prove it.
As long as they’re busy killing each other, they’ll have less time to make trouble elsewhere.