Sunday, November 15, 2015

Quotable: Thomas Joscelyn on rival messaging by al Qaeda and ISIS

Saturday, November 14th 2015
Thomas Joscelyn, Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, reviewed recent media appearances by Ayman al Zawahiri in an August 19, 2015 article, “Ayman al Zawahiri discusses the importance of jihadist media,” in the Long War Journal.

  • Since the 9/11 attacks, [Zawahiri] says, the jihadist media has “exposed the lies of the Americans and the lies” of NATO’s “Crusader” coalition.

  • But while the jihadist media supposedly earned victories over America in the past, the situation has been reversed, with the American media “moving the battle to us.”

  • Of particular concern to bin Laden’s successor is the way in which the jihadist media has “become a tool for the destruction” of the jihadists’ cause.

  • Here, Zawahiri is clearly referring to the rivalry between the Islamic State and al Qaeda, which has garnered more and more attention in the jihadists’ media sphere.

  • The “jihadist media” today is filled with “insults” and “curses,” Zawahiri laments, with everyone from the mujahideen’s leaders to the rank and file being “guilty” of spreading “abuses.” He calls on jihadist media operatives to abstain from disseminating material that further sows discord in their ranks.

  • In a message clearly aimed at the Islamic State’s men, Zawahiri says the jihadists should refrain from calling one another “nonbelievers” or saying that some belong to the “awakenings.” The latter is a reference to the Islamic State’s habit of lumping in their jihadist rivals with members of the US-backed awakenings in western Iraq, where tribal forces battled the Islamic State’s predecessor organization during the height of the Iraq War.

  • The content of the al Qaeda emir’s third message this month is drastically different from the Islamic State’s messaging. In late June, for example, Islamic State spokesman Abu Muhammad al Adnani called on all rival factions to “repent” for daring to fight Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s “caliphate.”

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