Two of al-Qaida’s most important spiritual leaders have reportedly revealed that the terror group is no longer a functional organisation after being ripped apart by the Iraq and Syria-based Islamic State.
Abu Qatada, a Jordanian preacher, who was based in London before being deported in 2013, and Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, regarded as the most influential jihadi scholar alive, told The Guardian in an interview that al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri has been cut off from his commanders and is keeping the group afloat with appeals to loyalty.
Senior insiders in Jordan have been further quoted, as saying that al-Qaida around the Middle East has been drained of recruits and money after losing territory and prestige to its former subordinate division.
The daily quotes them, as saying that the ongoing war between al-Qaida and Isis has left the US struggling to catch up with this jihadi tectonic shift.
The Isis was al-Qaida’s branch in the heart of the Middle East until the group was excommunicated from the network in 2014 after disobeying commands from Zawahiri and starting an internecine war with fellow jihadists in Syria which left thousands dead on both sides.
Today that fight continues and has expanded across Eurasia and the Mediterranean.
Since declaring the establishment of its so-called Islamic State a year ago, Isis has gone on to build a global network of affiliates and branches that now stretches from Afghanistan to West Africa and competes with al-Qaida in its scale.
Isis leaders have described al-Qaida as a “drowned entity” in issue six of their official English-language publication, Dabiq, and declared that they will not tolerate any other jihadi group in territory where they are operating.