With all eyes on ISIS, al Qaeda is feeling left out of the terrorism game.
In response to a U.S. assessment that the original Islamic terrorist organization is in decline, al Qaeda issued a defiant online message Sunday, dismissing the U.S. State Department’s annual terrorism report as “lies”.
In its annual terrorism report published in April, the U.S. State Department said:
“As a result of both ongoing worldwide efforts against the organization and senior leadership losses, AQ core’s leadership has been degraded, limiting its ability to conduct attacks and direct its followers.”
While the report notes that the group has expanded horizontally, with global affiliates grabbing territory and harassing Western-backed governments in Somalia, Algeria and Yemen, al Qaeda was not impressed with U.S. trying to downplay their presence.
“Whatever slip-ups or errors (regional branches)…may have committed are limited in number in the midst of mountains of good deeds and successes,” said Hossam Abdul Raouf, an Egyptian veteran of the militant group, adding that the organization was expanding across the world.
“How then can al Qaeda have shrunken greatly and lost many of its senior leaders at a time when it is expanding horizontally and opening new fronts dependent on it?” Raouf asked.
Noticeably absent from Raouf’s statement was any mention of the ultra-hardline Islamic State group, it’s archrival for the leadership of global jihad. Counter-terrorism experts say the aging al Qaeda leadership is struggling to compete with ISIS for young recruits.
ISIS, who broke away from al Qaeda in 2013 over its expansion into Syria, has everything young recruits are looking for in a terrorist organization: publicized beheadings of western journalists (and now aid workers), mass executions of innocent civilians, crucifixions, stonings, burying victims alive, ethnic cleansing – the works! Al Qaeda just can’t compete with this level of savagery.
Luckily for al Qaeda, thirty countries have pledged to help Iraq fight Islamic State (IS) militants “by all means necessary”. Even the Arab countries are pitching in! Following a conference in Paris to discuss strategy on how to combat the jihadists, several Arab nations have offered to carry out air strikes against the group in Iraq and Syria. And a few days before, ten Arab countries issued a communiqué with the U.S. endorsing efforts to “destroy” ISIS.
So don’t worry, al Qaeda. You’ll have your title as the world’s worst terrorist organization back soon enough. Unless Boko Haram has anything to do with it…