For now, I’m holding back on my version of whom we should and whom we shouldn’t call al Qaeda. Kevin Jackson provided a cool perspective at Jihadology on who is in the organization. Following up on his excellent breakdown, I now pose a question to all readers; no expert knowledge required and all are welcome to vote.
In the hypothetical scenario described below, would you call the following group “al Qaeda” or an “al Qaeda affiliate”? A simple yes or no answer. After you vote, you’ll see the results of everyone that chimed in.
Would you consider the following hypothetical group of armed men to be “al Qaeda?”
- A group of heavily armed men occupy a remote area in an African/Middle Eastern/South Asian country.
- 95% or more of the groups’ members are local people from the country where the terror group resides.
- The group publicly states their intent to institute governance by Sharia law.
- 2-3% of the group’s members served as foreign fighters in Iraq and Afghanistan after 2001 fighting in coordination with al Qaeda, the Taliban or al Qaeda in Iraq.
- The group calls itself “Ansar al (fill in the blank)” or “Lashkar e (fill in the blank)” but don’t mention al Qaeda in their name.
- Some of the groups’ spokesmen, at some point in the past, have publicly praised Osama Bin Laden.
- It is completely unclear whether any of the group’s members have publicly declared bay’a (allegiance) to Ayman al-Zawahiri.
- The group records videos of its attacks. At times, these videos show up on jihadi web forums. At times, these videos randomly show up on YouTube.
- The group’s funding streams remain unclear. News reports of unknown reliability claim the group gets some funding from kidnapping & local extortion and some from Persian Gulf donations.
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