After much questioning whether al-Qaeda (AQ) would pledge to the Afghan Taliban's new leader, Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour, AQ leader Ayman al-Zawahiri swore allegiance to the new chief on August 13, promising to him, "We are your soldiers and your supporters and a brigade of your brigades." This pledge, produced by AQ's as-Sahab Media Foundation and titled, "A Biography of Faithfulness," will serve as test of AQ's leadership strength and the ties to its affiliates.
Any celebration made after the U.S. raid that killed high-ranking Islamic State (IS) official Abu Sayyaf was likely halted after reports of the group’s take-over of Ramadi.
A recent Guardian report states that the head of the Islamic State (IS), Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was seriously injured in an air strike by the US-led coalition in Iraq. A more detailed report from Newsweek suggests that Baghdadi has been incapacitated—at least temporarily—and is currently unable to lead IS. An Iraqi expert on IS says that a new leader, Abu ‘Ala al-‘Afri, who trained in Afghanistan and who seems to be open to working with al-Qaeda (AQ), has taken over the day-to-day running of the group.
For several months, I have been writing about signs of cooperation—generally on a local level—between al-Qaeda (AQ) groups and others that have sworn fealty to the Islamic State (IS). It might seem counterintuitive that the two, which have accused each other of assassinating leaders, engaged in a very public mutual disowning, and fought each other openly in some areas, would work together at all. But there is growing evidence of localized convergences between the two organizations, especially in Lebanon, Syria, and Tunisia. Whether this will turn into something more comprehensive is unclear.
The release last month of eight new documents, captured during the raid that killed Usama bin Laden, is allowing us to re-examine conclusions reached earlier about al-Qaeda (AQ). Two previous posts used the new evidence to look at the relationship between AQ’s leadership and affiliates, and at Bin Laden’s involvement in running his own organization. This post examines what the documents have to say about the complex relationship between AQ and Pakistan.