BEIRUT, Lebanon— Al Qaeda followers and the rival Islamic State shoved on social media whether which of the jihadist organizations were more virtuous and prominent. All this hype had started before the hostage crisis at a Malian hotel was over, and even before the identification of the gun men.
Apparent supporter of Al Qaeda on twitter tweets that the Islamic State could “learn a thing or two” from the Mali attack, which the fresher, unknown group had carried. The profile suggested that the user could be a fighter in Syria associated with the group.
The post mentioned that it’s God who knows best and “We all know who operated there.”
The Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL awed the world by attacking across Paris which almost killed 130 people. This happened exactly a week before Friday’s siege in Bamako, Mali. Activists allied with Al Qaeda acclaimed the hotel attack, while the group outraged and grieved as a rationale. This whole incident played a vital part in the growing rivalry between the two groups.
Opposing strategies in Syria has divided the group, which was once united in the single name of Al Qaeda. The group appeared as one of the most vibrant, and wide spread among Muslim fanatics. The group functioned for workers, trainers, cash, and conceited rights among fanatics who see bloodletting the only way to promote Islamist agenda.
The rivalry has headed towards fatal one-upmanship that is difficult to eliminate, given immeasurable soft targets, even if armies can deteriorate the groups in their bases in Africa and Middle East.
In January, the rivalry took a malicious turn in Paris when Charlie Hebdo, a French satirical newspaper office was attacked and the staff was slaughtered. Gunmen of Al Qaeda’s Yemen affiliated claimed accountability of one of the most daring attacks on the West. The group then began to be seen in the terms of jihadist, a bit grayish and cautious compared with the social media-savvy Islamic State.
Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the Islamic State operative who publicly claimed was mastermind of the last week’s Paris killings. According to some European analysts, January attack was a serious threat to something bigger. Mr. Abaaoud believed to be commended with the beginning of an Islamic State campaign of attacks in Europe. His former attempts were failed, including Paris-bound train attack that was clogged when passengers overpowered the gunman. Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, a senior leader of the group and Abaaoud’s mentor, pressurized him by publicly mocking and provoking Muslims who did not use any means at hand like “a bullet, a knife, a car, a rock” to make the “crusader blood” to flow.
Mr. Abaaoud pulled off last week’s attacks after months of futile attempts. In turn, some supporters of Al Qaeda rebelled and saw this in parallel with fearsomeness which exceeded their moral approach.
Hostages were demanded to recite verses from the Holy Quran to get free by the Mali gunmen.
A supporter on twitter tweets ,“Lions who carried out #MaliAttack separated Muslims from Christian in order2 protect the inviolable blood of Muslims.
Another who called himself Abu Sufian al-Libi, or the Libyan, responded enthusiastically on Twitter profile which suggested he was fighting in Syria with Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front affiliate.
He stated “This is how Muslims SHOULD act!” Moreover he wrote that Islamic state “should learn a thing or two and drop their crooked creed and methodology,” an inclination towards including Muslim civilian in its slaughter.
Al Qaeda captures the world’s attention with its unique act of terrorism a decade and a half ago on Sept. 11, 2001. Moreover, this continued to harass the United States and its allies with attacks and revolting on multiple fronts around the globe. However, recently this has all been concealed by Islamic State by rapidly conquering wide stretches of territory in Syria and Iraq, forming caliphate and deforming decades-old colonial border which astounded jihadists.
Richard Barrett, former head of global counterterrorism operations at Britain’s MI6 intelligence agency and now an analyst at the Soufan Group said, “All the attention has been focused on the Islamic State, Iraq, Syria and threats to the West. The guys in Mali saw a big opportunity to remind everyone that they are still relevant.”
Killing civilians has been a scheme and a plan for both Al Qaeda and the Islamic State. However, the difference lies over how much bloodshed is tolerable. Al Qaeda’s leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi supervised a bloody campaign of suicide bombings during the long insurrection against the American occupation of Iraq. American military and Iraqi civilians including Muslims were both targeted, especially Shiites. For the group, the Shiites were rivals for power in Iraq, and renouncers who, under an extreme theological doctrine known as takfir, betrayed Islam and deserve death penalty.
Ayman al-Zawahri, Al Qaeda’s global leader called on the group’s associates to avoid such extensive killings. It tainted the movement and hindered recruiting.
The Nusra Front in Syria pursued partnerships with other rebellious groups that the Islamic State wants to abolish. It did not carry out genocides with the scale or regularity of the Islamic State. It’s not to say that Nusra has been a model of good governance in the areas in Syria it had control over. It has not only killed opponents but also driven out minorities.
Their differences have been fewer over ultimate goals, than over modes of achieving it and it’s sequence. Al Qaeda has entrenched itself in local movements. It also helped them fight while planning attacks as well against the “far enemy” in the West. The Islamic State set out to constitute and rule a caliphate, and also to gain power from that claim of legitimacy.
In Syria, the collapsing president, Bashar al-Assad was prioritized by Nusra Front and the establishment of caliphate seems immature and only as a distraction.
However, to some extent each has adopted other’s tactics and methodology according to some analysts. Al Qaeda has roots in some parts of Syria and Yemen while the Islamic State attack in Paris was far from its base.
Being mindlessly violent and pessimist, members of both groups think that prominent and high-profile violence against civilians will help in accomplishing their goals.
This sort of approach according to Peter Neumann, a professor at King’s College London and director of its International Center for the Study of Radicalization labeled it “the propaganda of the deed” which is a type of violence as performance that was even utilized by 19th-century anarchists.
The aim is “to inspire overreaction, inspiration and retaliation” to trigger violence from governments that play its role in radicalizing people. For both the groups, that means achieving their vision of a clash with “crusaders” by aggravating the West to lash out helping the groups to depict as if it was waging war on Muslims.
However, there are other, more practical reasons for the attacks. They are a form of irregular combat, used against stronger opponents. Especially for Islamic State with its territorial determinations, they are a way to ensure obedience from the conquered. Public beheadings, shootings or even crucifixions are ways to frighten and threaten local population.
The Islamic State innovated the most shocking and gruesome violence explicitly. They film it to scare enemies and to draw attention with striking displays on social media. It built on tactics Al Qaeda had initiated; the on-camera beheadings of Daniel Pearl in Pakistan and, later, of other victims in Iraq. They filmed the videos with Hollywood production standards for instance using sophisticated moviemaking equipment to record dozens of Egyptian Copts being slaughtered at sunset on a beach.
For a generation glued to cellphone these techniques have proved to be effective. The Nusra Front and even other militant groups have started copying the high-quality, often overdramatic and sensational style of Islamic State videos. Such videos have even been delivered by the group to intensify the attack.
“This sense of inevitable victory was going, and now, with the attack in Paris, people are super enthusiastic again Like they are on a winning team”, Mr. Neumann said of Islamic State chatter on social media.
He tweeted on twitter, “I just wish we could all be brothers again& not argue.”