ISIS and al Qaeda are ‘one and the same’ to Obama despite evidence of schism

The Guardian reports: The Obama administration is publicly conflating the Islamic State (Isis) and al-Qaida, taking a legally convenient position for its new war that dismisses a major public split between the two jihadist organizations.

While several US officials contend the rupture between Isis and al-Qaida is irrelevant – Secretary of State John Kerry has mocked it as a “publicity stunt” – the administration line undercuts its previous distinctions between al-Qaida’s core leadership, various affiliates and unrelated terrorist groups.

Amongst counter-terrorism veterans, the conflation is considered tendentious – and, to some, reminiscent of the Bush administration’s exaggerated linkages between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaida, part of the language that tried to sell the 2003 Iraq invasion.

While Isis began life as al-Qaida in Iraq, al-Qaida’s leadership ultimately renounced all ties and condemned the group in February 2014. It is believed to be the first time al-Qaida has declared itself “not responsible” for a former affiliate.

“We know from open sourcing that they are not part of al-Qaida,” said Nada Bakos, a former CIA analyst. “Zawahiri denounced them. Baghdadi has declared his caliphate separate. We have no reason to believe they are currently operating as part of al-Qaida,” she said, referring to the respective leaders of al-Qaida and Isis.

Glenn Carle, a former CIA official who supports taking action against Isis, said that while the US public may not need a catalogue of the differences between Isis and al-Qaida, “each of them is different, and they are not one group.”

Much of the administration’s conflation of Isis and al-Qaida has occurred in a legal context, part of its argument that Obama possesses authority to attack Isis in Syria ahead of a congressional vote. But the contention is starting to migrate beyond legal discussions. [Continue reading…]

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2 thoughts on “ISIS and al Qaeda are ‘one and the same’ to Obama despite evidence of schism

  1. Robert

    While they may be having a pillow fight based on power struggles between the groups all of the Sunni Jihadhi groups in the Levant are basically the same.

    Obama knows this since he was an integral part of the group, along with Britain, France, Israel, Turkey and the Gulf States that collectively organized, armed, trained, financed, gave logistical support to and a place to put it all together, (Turkey) for every single one of these Jihadhi groups.

  2. Paul Woodward

    Back in the 1980s the CIA created an international terror network which they claimed was controlled by the Soviet Union. The operation was so successful that CIA director William Casey, unaware that the network was fictitious, ordered that its operations be investigated.

    Now we have the internet and the propagators of similar conspiracy theories inhabit comment threads and websites where they pass along information which as far as each messenger is concerned is the “inside truth.”

    The kernels of these stories come from mainstream news reports and think tank studies from which a few factual details are extracted, gradually embellished and stitched together into a myth that then gets reduced to a meme e.g. “the CIA created ISIS.”

    The engine that propels all rumor mills is bald assertions that generally pass unchallenged. Those who are not already in the know are too timid about challenging the bearers of knowledge. The put down — “oh, this is common knowledge among experts on this subject” — is enough to silence most questioners.

    Another factor is that the complex narrative always struggles to compete with the simple narrative. It’s much easier to refer to “Gulf state support for jihadis” than to read a 34-page report that gets into the intricate details of expat Syrian private donors in Kuwait, the role of internal Kuwaiti politics, the varying legal constraints in different Gulf states etc.

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