Al-Qaeda: Old Evil in New Appearance

DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2017-61-7-27-34

A. Yashlavskii (,
Primakov National Research Institute of World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences (IMEMO), 23, Profsoyuznaya Str., Moscow 117997, Russian Federation 

Abstract. The rise of the terrorist group “Islamic State” (also known as ISIS, ISIL, Daesh) amidst conflicts in Syria and Iraq has aggravated a crisis inside the Al-Qaeda depriving it of the “terrorist group number 1 in the world” status. Nevertheless, this terrorist network still exists and is active. Moreover, Al-Qaeda was able to adapt to ever-changing conditions, and its affiliates in different parts of the world act as powerful actors in regional conflicts (e.g. “Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula”, “Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb”, “Al-Shabaab” in Somalia, etc.). Syrian Civil War has generated a split of the former Iraqi branch of Al-Qaeda (“Islamic State of Iraq”) and Al-Qaeda’s Arab veterans into two major rival groups (ISIS and “Al-Nusra Front”). The rivalry of these groups in Syria has resulted in an antagonism between the “Islamic State” and Ayman al-Zawahiri’s “historical” Al-Qaeda. Ideologically, the agendas of ISIS and Al-Qaeda are very similar (Salafi Jihadism, intolerance, pivotal hostility towards West and Shia Muslims, moderate Sunni Muslims and current political regimes in Islamic world, etc.). The difference between two of them is about the issue of a “caliphate” declaration. Ideological disagreements between Al-Qaeda and ISIS provide an opportunity to explain Al-Qaeda’s tactics and strategy which help it overcome the crisis and keep itself as a global organization pretending to be a leader of the international Jihadist movement. This group still poses a threat to the world, and it is necessary to unify efforts of a broad international community to counter this threat. 

Keywords: Al-Qaeda, extremism, Islamism, Jihadism, Islamic State, Syria, Middle East, terrorism, ISIS, aliphate, Al-Nusra Front, Jabhat al-Nusra, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham


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For citation:
Yashlavskii A. Al-Qaeda: Old Evil in New Appearance. World Eonomy and International Relations, 2017, vol. 61, no. 7, pp. 27-34.

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