The expanding al Qaeda franchise

Ben Hubbard:
THE letter bore the corporate tone of a C.E.O. resolving a turf dispute between two middle managers. In formal prose and numbered lists, Ayman al-Zawahri, the leader of Al Qaeda, directed one of the group’s affiliates in Syria to withdraw to Iraq and leave operations in Syria to someone else.

The response was unequivocal. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, declared that his fighters would remain in Syria “as long as we have a vein that pumps and an eye that blinks.”

It was the first time in the history of the world’s most notorious terrorist organization that one of the affiliates had publicly broken with the international leadership, and the news sent shock waves through the online forums where jihadists meet. In no uncertain terms, ISIS had gone rogue.

That split, in June, was a watershed moment in the vast decentralization of Al Qaeda and its ideology since 9/11. As the power of the central leadership created by Osama bin Laden has declined, the vanguard of violent jihad has been taken up by an array of groups in a dozen countries across Africa and the Middle East, attacking Western interests in Algeria and Libya, training bombers in Yemen, seizing territory in Syria and Iraq, and gunning down shoppers in Kenya.

What links these groups, experts say, is no longer a centralized organization but a loose ideology that any group can appropriate and apply as it sees fit while gaining the mystique of a recognized brand name. In short, Al Qaeda today is less a corporation than a vision driving a diverse spread of militant groups.
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There is much more.

The organization has been doing this since the first US response to 9-11 forced its leadership to flea Afghanistan.  There is no shortage of Muslim religious bigots around the world who are willing to join their ranks and kill those who disagree with their weird religious beliefs.

In many cases we can find a local government to help in fighting them, but in places like Syria where we oppose the local government, we are left to support splinter groups who oppose both.  That is not a good place to be, and Obama's disastrous retreat from Iraq has also exposed that country to a resurgence of the bigots.

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