Islamic State’s Rivalry with al-Qaeda Runs Deep

Originally known as al-Qaeda in Iraq, Islamic State (IS) had been in increasing tension with bin Laden’s organization for several years before it split ties altogether and took on its current form. Since then forces loyal to IS have clashed with those loyal to al-Qaeda in Syria, Gaza, and Yemen. The Yemeni IS province issued a video on April 29 condemning its rival, and showing that the conflict between the two terrorist groups isn’t going away. In his analysis of the video, Thomas Joscelyn writes:

For those who have followed Islamic State’s messaging since its rise to power in 2014, . . . the allegations [it makes against al-Qaeda] will be familiar.

[But] al-Qaeda’s senior leaders and the group’s regional branches are not the only ones featured in the video. Islamic State harshly criticizes various other Salafists and Islamists, especially [the former Egyptian president] Mohammed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood’s men in Egypt. There are brief glimpses of Turkey’s leader, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as well. The former caliphate argues that all of them are insufficiently religious and have “betrayed Allah’s sword.” Those same figures are used mainly to impugn al-Qaeda’s own jihadist reputation, as the organization cooperated with some of those same parties, or took a lenient approach to them, during the Arab Spring.

The fact that some of the IS’s current criticisms of al-Qaeda are identical to those it voiced in 2014, writes Joscelyn is evidence that the group has “a deep institutional memory.” He concludes:

It is always possible that some factions within each group are currently working together, or they will do so. . . . But the video indicates that a grand reconciliation between the two jihadist rivals is unlikely in the near future.

Read more at Long War Journal

More about: Al Qaeda, Islamic State, Jihadism, War on Terror, Yemen

On Thanksgiving, Remember the Exodus from Egypt

Nov. 27 2020

When asked to design a Great Seal of the United States, Benjamin Franklin proposed a depiction of Moses at the splitting of the Sea of Reeds, while Thomas Jefferson suggested the children of Israel in the wilderness after departing Egypt. These proposals, writes Ed Simon, tapped into a venerable American tradition:

The Puritans from whom Franklin descended had been comparing their own arrival in the New World with the story of Exodus for more than a century. They were inheritors of a profoundly Judaic vision, melding the stories of the Hebrew scripture with their own narratives and experiences. . . .

For the Puritans, Exodus was arguably a model for understanding their own lives and history in a manner more all-encompassing and totalizing than for any other historical religious group, with the obvious exception of the Jews. . . . American Puritans and pilgrims like John Mather, John Winthrop, John Cotton, . . . and many others placed the Exodus at the center of their vision, seeing their own fleeing from an oppressive England and a Europe wracked by the Thirty Years’ War to an American “Errand Into the Wilderness” as a modern version of the Israelites’ escape into Canaan. . . . [Thus the] Exodus . . . has become indispensable in comprehending the wider American experience. Through the Puritans, the story of Exodus became a motivating script for all manner of American stories. . . .

We read its significance and prophetic power in accounts of slaves who escaped the cruelty of antebellum plantation servitude, and who crossed the Ohio River as if it were the Sea of Reeds. . . . We see it in photographs of the oppressed escaping pogroms and persecution in the Old World, and in the stories of later generations of refugees. Exodus is an indispensably Jewish story, but what more appropriate day than Thanksgiving, this most American and Puritan (and “Jewish”?) of holidays, to consider the role that that particular biblical narrative has had in defining America’s civil religion?

Read more at Tablet

More about: American founding, American Religion, Exodus, History & Ideas, Thanksgiving, Thomas Jefferson