ISIS vs. AL QAEDA: whoever wins-we lose



“Isis is a child of al-Qaeda and al-Qaeda still has capacity to drive and produce clones”

-Rohan Gunaratna, expert on terrorism

The global Islamic terrorism has some important phases  but I would gladly divide it into two of them.The first phase is before the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), when we have faced up with puppies of radical Islam:HAMAS, HEZBOLLAH and then al-Qaeda. The second phase was  started with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria(ISIS) which launched a very serious terrorism mixed with savagery and ancient absence of any humanity in conflicts. There are also many phases in between, with another subjects of terrorism, but their  international role hasn’t been so remarkable and destructive.

Al Qaeda has been a synonym for an Islamic terrorism for years before the world got  the Islamic State and something like a planetary Islamic terrorism virus. The debate about the origins of Al Qaeda and its influence and networks are usually based on international politics conditions and the political concentration of state powers. After World War II, the Cold War and the  tensions in international relations caused by geopolitical interests, there were so many hot spots around the globe, where super powers wanted to step in and to keep it. Hypocritical games in diplomacy and silent coughing in war industry opened the Pandora box and wake up local and regional forces, misusing them in daily political agenda, for or against, depending on interests. In one moment, those objects of manipulations by West,  became   subjects of terror against West. Al Qaeda is one of those subjects, which goal has always been seen in total destruction of the western world. This terrorist organization has had a goal to defeat the enemies of Muslims in the long period of time, through the synchronized terrorist activities and global jihad. The masterminds of Bin Laden’s group were focused on playing games more outside the Muslim world than inside. They profiled their strategies through the terrorist attacks in the USA or Europe, or on the diplomatic places and crucial political or economical  knots of the western countries. Their ideology was more oriented on daily basis and planing for the future and their recruitment of potential terrorists was slower and harder.

However, the Arab Spring and the Islamic revolutions all over the Middle East,in last 5 years,  helped the growing of violent aspects and forming the territories for establishing terrorism actors   into the state actors.Suddenly, the Al Qaeda as a parent wasn’t enough strict to control ISIS as a trouble making child with “I want it all and I want it now” strategy.The experts believe that ISIS was founded in 2004 by Ayman al-Zawahiri and it should have represented the  cell of Al Qaeda in IRAQ. Sunni Muslims who were gathered here were also very irritated with Shi’ite dominated government in Iraq and they were starting organizing plots and forming new name the Islamic State of Iraq. In Syria, there was also civil war so the establishing of the Al Nusra Front,  as the Syrian branch of the ISI was a logical step. Whenever ideologies and leaders fight, there is no cooperation so Al Nusra wasnt a loyal partner and very fast became an enemy of new made: the Islamic State in Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS):“On June 29, 2014, ISIS published a charter claiming an Islamic Caliphate with its leader designated as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. According to the document, the Caliphate ‘lies in eastern Syria and western Iraq. ISIS seeks to expand the
Caliphate throughout Syria and Iraq and finally take control of them. After that, the states belonging to ‘greater Syria’ will be annexed, that is, Jordan, Lebanon, Israel and the Palestinian Authority, and after them other countries in the Middle East and beyond.” Before Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi became a leader, ISIS totally split up with Al-Qaeda and Ayman al-Zawahiri. It wasn’t all only about the ideology. Actually, it was more about the strategy, tactics and leadership:“Some experts predict that if one of the two leaders disappeared — either Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi of Isis or al-Qaeda’s Ayman al-Zawahiri — the groups could merge again. In the meantime, competition will be fierce.”


ISIS is something between terrorist organization and terrorist state. It has origins in Al-Qaeda terrorism paradigm but it developed itself and turned into the  unique  global security threat.  ISIS changed a lot of Al-Qaeda modus operandi and adopted more violent and more aggressive approach. There where Al-Qaeda shows some kind of common sense, if something like that exists among terrorists, ISIS shows no mercy and no humanity but only pure radicalism and extremism. Al-Qaeda has not punished Muslims or at least tried to not hurt Muslims in Holy War but ISIS has its own logic: whoever is not following ISIS, that one is an enemy, no matter who is. You can not be moderate Muslim under ISIS regime. You must be radical Muslim, jihadist and fighter for Allah’s name or you will be dead Muslim. I do not want to comment what happens with infidels. The sword of ISIS madness kills everyone who is not doing what  ISIS leaders are saying. This is one tactical fight, ISIS is trying to get rid of Al-Qaeda framework because it firmly believes that parent’s policy failed as a too much slow attack on the West. ISIS is attacking West now and here, no time for waiting. ISIS wants Islamic Caliphate now and everywhere. This terrorist organization uses all technical advantages of modern times. The recruitment of jihadists is easier for ISIS than it was for Al-Qaeda. ISIS knows how social media works and it feeds its popularity through the online world full of young people ready to be vacuumed into the space without logic. ISIS opened the cyber competition with the West. It is advertising itself like any other company does. No shame, no limits, no fear. ISIS forces its strategy and ringing with its threats like sheep with bells. Sometimes, I have a feeling that ISIS is a country which will never adopt the civilized protocols of international politics. Unfortunately, it is a state or a state within state, but it is definitely not only a terrorist organization and that is a big step forward for some subject of terrorism.It took over the  system of previous states and all its attributes. It became a state. It is one fantastical moment for all researchers to see how terrorism actor transforms into state and then spread its terrorism network using state infrastructure in any way. Robert Brown writes the following:“According to a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) intelligence assessment, ISIS had between 20,000-35,000 fighters in 2014. In addition, 15,000 of these fighters have come from outside of Syria and Iraq.Unlike Al Qaeda, which gets its fighters almost exclusively from the Middle East/North African region, ISIS has been effective at recruiting individuals from Western nations to join their cause. The same CIA report states that more than 2,000 of the groups’ fighters have come from France, Britain, and the United States.” The global domain of ISIS helped that this terrorist organization reached popularity among potential jihadists and the online propaganda awaken the sleeping Islamic extremism in the Europe and in the USA. ISIS has specific approach to terrorism. Its attacks everyone on the West, not only governmental targets but also the people, as the most  fragile elements of the state. They do not care who they will kill and how they will kill. They want to kill and to bring their own praise into the paradise full of virgins. They kidnap, they torture, they behead people. At the end of all sadistic activities, they kill. No mercy. No regretting. Pure evil with one goal:to defeat the enemy and to please God. Their God. Allah.


Al Qaeda is not much better than ISIS but there are slightly differences in operating. While Al Qaeda is showing some kind of control, ISIS is trying to show absence of control, total anarchy, failure  in following any rules which is not barbaric,  but in the same time awareness of the international digital community. Al Qaeda was almost invisible in online universe. ISIS is visible and laud in world wide web. ISIS supporters aren’t scared to follow their ideologists, they are proud to be among them, chosen to bring the flame of war for Allah’s name.

Families never fall apart or at least they do not fall completely. No matter which are the differences between parents and children, there are always so many similarities. The same is with the terrorist organizations. Al Qaeda lost its popularity but ISIS inherited a lot of it and upgraded the base. We need to focus on defeating the Islamic terrorism as an idea, by defeating the subjects of terrorism and their great supporters. Even if that means making conflicts between parent and child, so be it. We can use  leadership tensions and greedy instincts  to make them annul each others. We can help them to reveal themselves what they are really:political subjects with love for power, nothing better than the West they are fighting against. We need to show them to the Muslim world they are mobilizing or hoping to mobilize in Jihad. Once they see that Al Qaeda and ISIS are only bunch of “barking dogs” which want the biggest bone, they will give up to die for Allah.


3 thoughts on “ISIS vs. AL QAEDA: whoever wins-we lose

  1. I read the Trump administration took down Al-Baghdadi the yesterday. Is that true? I read that this guy was living in Syria. I say good riddance. I’ve had enough of the Islamic State.


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About Sarahowlgirl1982

I am a master of Political Sciences, with special focus on Security Studies, Islamic Counter Terrorism and Weapons of Mass Destruction. I enjoy discovering and commenting things which are " in the air" but still not spoken.I also do like science writing and planing to move myself into the pure science journalism !