Once again, the conventional wisdom in Washington about al-Qaeda (AQ) and the broader jihadi terrorist threat has been proven wrong. The wishful thinking passing for analysis since the beginning of the year that the split within the movement resulting in the expulsion of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) from the AQ fold would simultaneously weaken both Core AQ and ISIS—now pretentiously re-named the Islamic State (IS)—has been dramatically disproven by the latter's lightning thrust into Iraq and seizure of the northern and western parts of the war-torn country.
SITE Intelligence Group Director Rita Katz appeared on CNN on August 12, 2014 to discuss the current threat of the Islamic State (IS or ISIS) as compared to al-Qaeda and the origins of its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Following is a section of the segment.
Al-Qaeda (AQ) addressed a message to the family of Warren Weinstein—a former American USAID worker kidnapped in Lahore, Pakistan in August 2011—telling them that the U.S. government has not made any "serious efforts" for his release and that it wants him to die in their possession.
In light of the Islamic State's (IS) advances in Iraq and Syria, many have asked about the group's shadowy leader and self-proclaimed Caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. In July 2013, users on jihadist discussion forums distributed what turned out to be a largely accurate biography of al-Baghdadi (AKA Abu Du'a, Ibrahim bin Awwad bin Ibrahim al-Badri al-Radhwi al-Husseini al-Samarrai) that may help to reveal more about such a powerful and infamous leader the world knows so little about. The unidentified author told of Baghdadi being an active jihadist for at least eight years in Iraq and having served in the Shariah Committees of both Jeish Ahl al-Sunnah wal Jama'a, a group he founded, and the Mujahideen Shura Council (MSC), IS's predecessor.
Libya is once again in the news as the collapse of the country continues apace. Two weeks ago, the U.S. and other nations evacuated their diplomatic corps from the capital of Tripoli while fighting raged across the city and militants assaulted the international airport. The weak central government in Tripoli has been incapable of stopping the violence; the parliament itself is being forced to hold sessions away from the capital.