El Mercurio Interview on Al-Qaeda and ISIS

[I was recently interviewed by Javier Méndez about Al-Qaeda and ISIS for an article in Santiago’s  El Mercurio newspaper. Here are my answers to his questions.]

Q. What is the difference between Al Qaeda and ISIS?

A. Al-Qaeda is a network of militants seeking to violently overthrow the rulers in the Muslim world and has declared war on the Western powers they see as sustaining those rulers, while ISIS has declared itself to be a restoration of the Islamic “caliphate” currently operating as a state in Iraq and Syria but intent on eventual world conquest. Al-Qaeda has not sought to impose immediately its harsh interpretation of Islamic law in order to cultivate support among Muslims living in the areas it seeks to affect, while ISIS seeks to impose its interpretation of the law in full upon taking any territory in the belief that its harshness, like its brutality, is a recruiting tool. Both have tried to inspire terrorist acts against the West, but some analysts believe that al-Qaeda is more hands-on in managing such attacks while ISIS simply promotes them (primarily through social media) and then takes credit when those they inspire act.

Q. Do you think that there is an existent relationship between Al Qaeda and ISIS?

A. The current relationship between al-Qaeda and ISIS is one of rivals. They occasionally clash as when ISIS fights al-Qaeda affiliate Jubhat-al-Nusra. A claim once made by someone in ISIS that at one time Baghdadi was a member of al-Qaeda has been denied by al-Qaeda and appears to be a reference to the fact that Baghdadi was the head of a group allied with its now disaffiliated offshoot al-Qaeda-in-Iraq against the American occupation of Iraq shortly before that group (under Abu Mus`ab al-Zarqawi) rebelled against its parent group (under Ayman al-Zawahiri).

Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad, Ph.D.
Minaret of Freedom Institute






2 responses to “El Mercurio Interview on Al-Qaeda and ISIS”

  1. Robert D. Crane Avatar
    Robert D. Crane

    Al Qa’ida originated and consisted mainly of Islamic Brotherhood members from Egypt who dropped out because the MB was not radical enough. The “Arab Spring” in Egypt failed because the remaining radicals in the Ikhwan(MB)took over power in a coup a year before the Arab Spring started. The Da’ish is largely a product of desperation among radicals who have concluded that peaceful paths to “liberation” have failed and that therefore the only road to success is to destroy all that exists. Da’esh, like Communism and Al Qa’ida, is motivated by the wealth gap both within and among countries. Oddly, however, Da’esh, as shown in its name dawla, has borrowed the other major cause and manifestation of injustice in the Arab world, which is the Western secular concept of the sovereign state, defined in Western international law as whoever can control more than 50% of a given territory. This, of course, eliminates the very concept of morality and explains why Israel exists and Palestine does not, as well as why the millennium generation of both Jews and Muslims worldwide increasingly share the common ground of support for the classical essence of all world religions as the only cure, rather than as the major cause of global chaos. Ibn Taymiyah had the clearest answer to the problems of the modern world when he said that the Islamic Caliphate is not a military institution, nor even a political phenomenon, but the consensus of the wise men and scholars on the meaning of justice within a cosmopolis of autonomous nations, each with a unique identity based on their common sense of origins, common values in the present, and common hopes for the future.

  2. Robert D. Crane Avatar
    Robert D. Crane

    Shaykh Taha Jabir al Alwani’s last message for us today is the best expression of the perennial and primordial common ground among all world religions and all civilizations.

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