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article imageISIS garnering more jihadi influence than al-Qaeda?

By Paul Iddon     Jun 6, 2014 in Politics
With Islamic State of Iraq and Great Syria (ISIS) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi requiring an increasingly large support network it seems possible that his group is vying to be more influential in the jihadi world than the Al-Qaeda network.
Al Arabiya explored ISIS's growing influence about a month ago. The author of that report points out that the fact that the al Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahri has rejected the claim that ISIS has allowed al-Baghdadi to establish himself as a more capable jihadi. He has claimed that he is a descendant of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad among other things, and has already claimed to be the global leader of unwavering jihadist groups who wish to bring about the restoration of the Caliphate.
The ISIS of course has struck fear into its opponents in Syria and has even participated in clashes in the Iraqi Anbar province where a whole city — Fallujah — was taken over by the ISIS and other groups. Furthermore ISIS influence reaches Yemen where the local AQAP (Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula) leader Maamoun Hatem has declared he supports the ISIS and its policies and actions.
His Islamist credentials and his pronouncements have garnered him quite a few western fighters who have traveled to Syria to take up the ISIS cause, prompting many fears in Europe and the United States that these recruits will make it back to their home countries and carry out terrorist attacks.
AFP has a good report today on Baghdadi's rise and his competition with the al Qaeda chief.
Richard Barret, the former MI6 counter-terrorism chief, outlined the following,
"For the last 10 years or more, [Zawahri] has been holed up in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border area and hasn't really done very much more tha nissue a few statements and videos.
Whereas Baghdadi has done an amazing amount – he has captured cities, he has mobilised huge amounts of people, he is killing ruthlessly throughout Iraq and Syria.
If you were a guy who wanted action, you would go with Baghdadi."
The report goes on to quote him saying that Baghdadi's leadership challenge to Zawahri is "a really interesting development," adding that, "Where that goes will determine a lot about how terrorism is [executed in the future]."
As reported here it is estimated from the estimated 12,000 foreign fighters who have traveled to fight in Syria some 3,000 have emanated from western countries.
ISIS is clear that it is not fighting for the Syrian people but for the restoration of a caliphate. It explains that,
"If you are a Brit or a French guy who has no family connection in Syria, you're not wanting to fight for the Syrian people … The reason you're going there is because you see Syria as essentially the centre of gravity or the potential birthplace for that Islamic state that you're hoping to create."
King's College London Professor Peter Neumann estimates that approximately 80% of the aforementioned 3,000 western fighters have likely joined and fought for this terrorist network.
More about Isis, Syria, Iraq, Jihad, Islamism
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